The Smart Life

What do you think about artificial intelligence? Is it a good thing? A bad thing?

For me, it depends on how far it goes. I can appreciate AI in some circumstances. Like self-learning thermostats for the home, and similar things. Beyond that, I’ve got some problems. Self-driving cars are great but do they record all of your trips? Alexa and products like that– collect information about you. Smart TVs that can do that and more. All of that information about you is stored somewhere. These products will learn to tailor ads and whatnot to your preferences.

To some, this might be a dream come true but it scares the hell out of me. Our privacy has been compromised enough, with products like Facebook, not to mention the web browsers we use. Zuck once said, “there’s no such thing as privacy anymore.” And he’s right. Where does it end? It doesn’t. AI products are getting smarter all the time. What if, say, you’re buying bomb-making equipment using your Alexa. If it finds your purchases suspicious, will it alert your local police and the ATF? There are some who’d be cool with that. I appreciate the sentiment. But I don’t think I’d want something recording my every purchase and whatever else. That’s why I don’t have one.

A long while ago, I read a novella where people were constantly under surveillance. Everywhere. Can’t take a dump without somebody watching. All in the name of security. I wouldn’t want to live like that. Would you?

Then there are these robots, especially the sex robots. It’s my understanding that some of the advanced models are being equipped with AI. Would you really want to fuck a robot that’s gawd-knows-how-many-times stronger than you are? What if you’re a guy and while it’s giving you head, it malfunctions and bites your dick off? What if you’re a woman and it spazzes and fucks you to death? What if it starts beating on you and the remote doesn’t work?

Let’s not forget the military. Their toys are routinely about 20-30 years beyond what’s available on the consumer market. I watched a TEDx talk about AI, and the Army, I guess, was showing off this new AI-enhanced robot with a gun mount. Well, the damned thing malfunctioned–of course–and the turret swiveled toward the spectators. A lone Marine raced over and tackled it, knocking it over. I don’t know if the thing was armed or not but can you imagine the death toll if it had been? The Navy has another toy, an AI invisible drone. Not just invisible to radar, but invisible period. The underside of the drone in covered with LED screens and the top is dotted with cameras. The cameras stream pictures of the sky above and show them on the screens. So if you’re standing on the ground looking up, all you see is the sky. The AI part is what’s really scary. The drone is armed to the teeth and the AI makes the kill decisions. Not humans. In fact, I’m given to believe that allowing non-humans to make kill decisions is illegal–but they’re doing it anyway. It’s said that the military wants to take all these types of decisions out of human hands, that the machines can do a better job.

I’m reminded of the movie “I, Robot” with Will Smith. Remember that one? It was an okay movie, but remember that the AI decides to take over because humans can’t govern themselves? And do you remember the little speech it gave to justify its actions? Well, guess what–it’s true. Humans claim to want peace but all we do is war on each other. It might be the other way around, too–the AI decides what humans really want is war, so it’ll keep us in a perpetual state of war.

As for the rest…yeah, my privacy was compromised years ago. I’ll also grant I gave up that privacy without much thought. After reflection, I’ve realized I traded privacy for convenience and I value that convenience. But it also means I’m under constant surveillance, my likes and dislikes being recorded, my internet browsing being recorded (and don’t give me that crap about being able to erase browsing history) and who knows what else. Would I do it again? Maybe. But I’d think long and hard about it first.

My father is someone who’s kept his privacy. Or as much of it as he can, anyway. He has a computer but uses it only for email. He pays for everything by check–doesn’t have an ATM card. His life is about as private as it can be.

Just in case you were thinking I might go off the deep end, no, I’m not making a tinfoil hat for myself. I suspect it’s way too late for that.

Ciao.

P.S. Of course, one doesn’t need AI to put someone else under surveillance. RFIDs do just fine. There was a case in Pennsylvania some years back where the wife sued for divorce on grounds of infidelity. The husband denied having an affair. The wife produced the automatic toll records which proved that on certain nights, he was not where he had claimed to be. The judge granted the divorce and ordered the ex-husband to pay his ex-wife some serious alimony.

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