Google is betting big on artificial intelligence and just released new tools for developers called Awareness API’s that can be used to track you better, track you more often, and provide you with context-aware notifications.
Skynet Spelled G-O-O-G-L-E
Skynet is a fictional, conscious, gestalt, artificial intelligence, from the Terminator movie franchise. Skynet rules the future. How far is Google from becoming a Skynet-like entity which knows everything you know?
Don’t let Google’s playful, colorful logo and cute name fool you. The context sensitive resources in Awareness API’s mean developer’s apps can track what you’re doing and offer suggestions for additional actions based on data collected by the device and managed by Google. Apps will get context signals from Android devices that can trigger specific actions that can be communicated to you, or, and probably soon, simply do what the app thinks is best.
Does anyone else see a problem here?
It’s a short hop, skip, and jump from an app on your smartphone which makes suggestions to an app which takes action without consulting you first. How is this not Big Brother personified?
I don’t want to be a fear monger here. Heaven knows we have enough politicians for that, but not many people are giving consideration to what Google could unleash upon the world with a few billion devices that track their owners whereabouts, actions, behaviors, communications, photos, videos, and who knows what else.
The Gene Example
A similar issue of blindly going forward without consideration or regard for what is being unleashed has been highlighted by Kevin Esvelt who heads up MIT’s Sculpting Evolution Lab, at the forefront of genetic engineering technologies.
We are walking forwards blind. We are opening boxes without thinking about consequences. We are going to fall off the tightrope and lose the trust of public. Lots of people are going to die… I occupy a strange position. I am probably the foremost critic of genetic engineering and yet I am also someone at the forefront of the work I critique… It is impossible for a single scientist to anticipate the consequences of their work. We need a different approach.
In other words, controls and a roadmap. What is Google’s roadmap for tracking users, collecting data about user behaviors, and where will it all end? What are the controls to prevent a disaster when Google’s artificial intelligence realizes that humankind is the Earth’s greatest problem?
To proceed with technology that will shape the global commons without public discussion is not only unethical, it’s delusional
Should that not apply to artificial intelligence projects, too? Understandably, there are forces that will work against public transparency. Google is a for profit company and unlikely to make the family jewels public.
To Be Forgotten
Should not all tracking endeavors by technology companies and governments have a specified right to be forgotten?
The issue has arisen from desires of individuals to “determine the development of their life in an autonomous way, without being perpetually or periodically stigmatized as a consequence of a specific action performed in the past.”:231 There has been controversy about the practicality of establishing a right to be forgotten to the status of an international human right in respect to access to information, due in part to the vagueness of current rulings attempting to implement such a right. There are concerns about its impact on the right to freedom of expression, its interaction with the right to privacy, and whether creating a right to be forgotten would decrease the quality of the Internet through censorship and a rewriting of history
If scientists are concerned about the direction of gene technology why shouldn’t citizens be concerning about the direction of artificial intelligence and its need to gather and process personal data?
Personally, I think both issues should scare people.