Man hiding under an umbrella.

Linked – AI and Mass Spying

Bruce Schneier makes an important point about AI and mass data collection. It has already made mass surveillance more dangerous, but now it’ll make outright spying on people more likely too.

“Spying is another matter. It has long been possible to tap someone’s phone or put a bug in their home and/or car, but those things still require someone to listen to and make sense of the conversations. Yes, spyware companies like NSO Group help the government hack into people’s phones, but someone still has to sort through all the conversations. And governments like China could censor social media posts based on particular words or phrases, but that was coarse and easy to bypass. Spying is limited by the need for human labor.

AI is about to change that.”

And I know I can already hear someone saying, “I don’t have anything to hide,” but that’s not the point. First, because everyone has something to hide, but in this case, because the AI is going to be making all kinds of connections and assumptions based on random bits of data that have been captured about you.

Some of it won’t be accurate. Imagine, if you will, your smart TV or home assistant listening in on conversations you’ve been having about layoffs in your industry, and that data is shared with a financial institution that then decides that you’re not a good credit risk. The AI took that conversation and combined it with a ton of financial information from other people who work in your industry and made that call. Is it accurate? Probably not, but when you start grabbing data from all over the place and building these huge algorithmic models, things can get a little messy. You become less of an individual and more of a conglomeration of all the people who do things like you, and when you add in a little spying, that can lead to all sorts of disastrous consequences.

Do we want governments and corporations to have that much power? No, but as Bruce rightly points out, we haven’t done much of anything to stop them from taking it so far.

Go read the whole thing.

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