Forget the humans versus machine dichotomy. Our relationship with technology is far more complicated than that. To understand AI, first we need to appreciate the role humans play in shaping it.
Talking the hard questions of privacy and freedom with the Yale Privacy Lab podcast
Cory Doctorow takes a dive into the world of encryption, privacy and ‘free’ software. Always so many questions to consider.
Even by the time of the Macintosh, Apple’s strengths were becoming clear. The company was not the trailblazer: the Apple II was not the first microcomputer, and the Macintosh was not the first with a GUI. Instead, it was the company that brought concepts to the mainstream. And that is what it did almost 20 years after the Macintosh, with the product that remade Apple and put it on the path to becoming the world’s first trillion-dollar company: the iPod.
About half of Google’s workers are contractors who don’t receive the same benefits as direct employees
So often we talk about technology doing the banal work, however this perspective often overlooks the army of workers doing banal jobs that make this possible.
Millions of publications—not to mention spy documents—can be read on microfilm machines. But people still see these devices as outmoded and unappealing. An Object Lesson.
More recently, Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, a computational privacy researcher, showed how the vast majority of the population can be identified from the behavioural patterns revealed by location data from mobile phones. By analysing a mobile phone database of the approximate locations (based on the nearest cell tower) of 1.5 million people over 15 months (with no other identifying information) it was possible to uniquely identify 95% of the people with just four data points of places and times. About 50% could be identified from just two points.
Whatever its other ethical contortions, Silicon Valley has an environmental conscience. Facebook has pledged to, sooner or later, power its operations using “100% clean and renewable energy”. Google says it has already achieved that goal. So does Apple. Yet even if you factor in efficiency improvements, beneath many of these claims lies a reality in which the vast and constant demand for power means such companies inevitably use energy generated by fossil fuels, and then atone for it using the often questionable practice of carbon offsetting.
Harris also touches on James Bridle’s new book.
I also feel that if everything is done by card then it makes it easier to profile users.
Cory Doctorow’s novel, Little Brother, was intended as an act of science fiction, not a prediction. Other countries – like China and the UK – are already moving down the path of facial recognition in schools. In the U.S., we would do well to follow a different path.