Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Artificial Intelligence and the Survaillance State

Nicholas Wright has a very sobering article at Foreign Affairs (sadly behind a pay wall) about how developments in artificial intelligence will make authoritarian governments much more effective in controlling behavior.  Here is a sample:
As well as retroactively censoring speech, AI and big data will allow predictive control of potential dissenters. This will resemble Amazon or Google’s consumer targeting but will be much more effective, as authoritarian governments will be able to draw on data in ways that are not allowed in liberal democracies. Amazon and Google have access only to data from some accounts and devices; an AI designed for social control will draw data from the multiplicity of devices someone interacts with during their daily life. And even more important, authoritarian regimes will have no compunction about combining such data with information from tax returns, medical records, criminal records, sexual-health clinics, bank statements, genetic screenings, physical information (such as location, biometrics, and CCTV monitoring using facial recognition software), and information gleaned from family and friends. AI is as good as the data it has access to. Unfortunately, the quantity and quality of data available to governments on every citizen will prove excellent for training AI systems.
Even the mere existence of this kind of predictive control will help authoritarians. Self-censorship was perhaps the East German Stasi’s most important disciplinary mechanism. AI will make the tactic dramatically more effective. People will know that the omnipresent monitoring of their physical and digital activities will be used to predict undesired behavior, even actions they are merely contemplating. From a technical perspective, such predictions are no different from using AI health-care systems to predict diseases in seemingly healthy people before their symptoms show. 
Sadly,  China is already building such a digital authoritarian state, and countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Iran, Russia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are beginning to use chines surveillance technology. 

Read it all here.  What can be done?

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