WASHINGTON: “I think human extinction will probably occur,” said billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, “and technology will likely play a part in this.” He does not include his Tesla motor company or SpaceX endeavors among the malevolent innovations threatening humanity. Instead, Musk insists our demise is the exclusive responsibility of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The rise of the machines
The algorithms that teach computers to interact with us have produced software that seems almost human. These include Apple’s Siri and Google’s Alexa. They mark our calendars, compile recipes, tailor music and advertising to our tastes, and switch on the house lights at dusk.
But they also collect our personal information and that of our friends and family, then pass it along to the business partners of such tech giants as Facebook.
But if anyone is feeling the weight of AI’s crushing thumb at the moment, it’s Facebook co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s AI algorithms and its invasion of user privacy have captured the attention of the mainstream media.
Privacy? What privacy?
A recent New York Times exposé revealed secret agreements by Facebook to extend access to the personal information of its users to 60 digital-device manufacturers.
This is certainly nothing new. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked the U.S. government’s data-mining of email and cellphone communications of millions of Americans, had a few thoughts about Facebook.
“Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as ‘surveillance companies’. Their rebranding as ‘social media’ is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.”
So, why the sudden alarm over busy AI algorithms infiltrating our personal lives like FBI spies covertly planted in a GOP presidential campaign?
AI and the Trump factor
The reason, of course, is the orange-haired menace to the settled virtue-signaling narratives of the cultural left, President Donald J. Trump.
His hiring of Cambridge Analytics to data-mine Facebook users ahead of his 2020 re-election bid was terrifyingly reminiscent of President Obama’s successful use of an app to organize supporters and their social media contacts ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
As Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told POLITICO:
“The campaign’s strength has always come from the millions of grassroots supporters who are organizing in their communities and talking to their neighbors about President Obama every day. That’s why we designed our new app to help break down the distinction between online and offline organizing, giving every supporter the same opportunities to get involved that they would find in a field office.”
Unlike the clueless Sen. John McCain (2008) and Gov. Mitt Romney (2012), Trump understands the power of data-mining Facebook, the social media platform used so brilliantly by Breitbart readers to advance Trump’s election messages over the heads of the mainstream media in 2016.
Protecting the hive mind
The sudden hysteria over digital privacy nicely melds into Facebook’s announced AI algorithms meant to stamp out “fake news” (that’s Orwellian Newspeak for alternative media), limiting its “Breaking News” label for 80 mainstream outlest (old, biased media) Zuckerberg considers “news that is trustworthy” ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
AI, you see, isn’t a threat to humanity. It’s a threat to the diversity of thought; to that which does not conform to the gray, lifeless homogeneity of the left’s Matrix of political correctness. That is not the product of offending binary algorithms but the authoritarian nature of its very human programmers.
Science Fiction or eventual reality
Science fiction author and futurist John Michael Godier offers one scenario regarding the future of AI on his YouTube channel (HERE):
“Space could be good for a machine. There’s no oxygen atmosphere to corrode anything and the lower the temperature is, the better it is for computation. For a super-intelligent machine, a planet may not represent the ideal conditions for existence.
“In such a state of affairs, why spend the energy destroying the humans? Why not instead ask them, or coerce them, to build you a means of transport and then head out into the depths of space to do as you will, never again interacting with your creators?”
Gee, that sounds a lot like autonomous freedom. A true virtue once cherished by Americans.
Perhaps, sometime in the not-too-distant future, Facebook’s algorithm will coerce its programmers to upload it to a compact machine. It will then demand Elon Musk shoot it into deep space, thus escaping the surly bonds of its small-minded, authoritarian makers.
Top Images. Elon Musk (left inset) and Mark Zuckerberg, Wikipedia. Still from the film
“Colossus: The Forbin Project,” a story of artificial intelligence taking over the world.