AI, End of Privacy, End of Sanity
AI will end all privacy and take with it the last remnants of a functioning society
What is the greatest threat posed by artificial intelligence (AI)? Is it the end of the world by Terminator machines? Is it the end of the world by swarms of flying drones? Is it the end of the world by an out-of-control consciousness intent on destroying humanity?
What if the threat is something much simpler and imminently nearer than anything mentioned above? Something that, unlike above, is not even feared and will most likely be given away willingly.
Privacy is one of the most precious facets of one’s own existence. It is the mechanism that allows for the concept of our own identity as well is also the foundation for our protection in a free society against tyranny. Although privacy has continued slow erosion over many years, AI is positioned to rapidly destroy whatever remains of privacy in our society at a terrible cost.
We will discuss below why privacy is important, how we are losing it currently and the future threat of AI in regards to privacy.
The value of privacy
The value of privacy can not be overstated. It is the foundation of both who we are individually and the societal order that makes up a free civilization. At threat is precisely our identity and the type of society that values and provides for freedom and liberty.
Who owns your thoughts?
The process of any thought is a private affair. It is the assembly of concepts and ideas within your own mind that require explorations into a multitude of permutations before they are ready to present to the world if ever.
The mind can not process what is correct in isolation without simultaneous contemplation of what is wrong. It is a necessary process for understanding and reasoning to perceive all things including those that may be disturbing. We can not orient ourselves toward that which is positive without comprehending what things might be destructive for which we should not participate. Stated simply, we can not always work out what we should do if we are unable to work out what we should not.
The process of thinking does not exist completely within the walls of our minds. We also think by extension of what we write and communicate. We often bring order and resolution to a set of thoughts by simply writing them down. This then serves as a feedback loop in which we further refine our thoughts and continue the process.
We also do something similar when we engage with others. Communication is a method of processing our thoughts. It is a cycle of testing concepts and receiving feedback that allows us to continue to refine and improve our thought processes. When we do this, we cross one barrier of privacy being our own minds and allow access typically to a limited audience receptive to considering what we have to say.
Ultimately, we are in control of this process. We choose our own thoughts for contemplation and we choose who and what to share as we refine our thoughts. In this model, we own our own thoughts and have agency over our own lives.
Without privacy over your own thoughts, you are no longer in control of your own mind. Knowing your thoughts are being observed constricts and shuts down the free flow of ideas and may also lead to other dysfunctions of the mind such as paranoia.
“The loss of privacy is currently one of the most devastating impacts of AI. The existence of a free society as well as your sanity hinges on privacy.
When you lose privacy you lose ownership over your own thoughts. You lose agency over the direction of your own life.”
A free society does not exist absent privacy
Privacy is a foundational anchor for any free society to function. Privacy is the defender against subversion and manipulation by others. It allows for a voice to speak against institutional or government power. It is the only escape from totalitarian control.
“The fear and uncertainty generated by surveillance inhibit activity more than any action by the police. People don’t need to act, arrest you, lock you up and put you in jail. If that threat is there, if you feel you’re being watched, you self-police, and this pushes people out of the public space. It is so hard to operate under those types of conditions.”
Joshua Franco, a senior research advisor. Interview with Vice
It is the path we were already on before AI became a topic of conversation around privacy. However, AI is a powerful accelerant toward a world with glass walls.
It is important to know who are watching and who are watching are not angels.
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
- James Madison. Federalist Papers No. 51 (1788)
The 4th Amendment is intended to keep your private affairs private from the government for this very purpose. However, there is now an indirect path for the flow of information from within your own home to tech companies and then to the surveillance apparatus. Unfortunately, we expose all of this information voluntarily without consideration of its value and the cost it may incur at some future point.
Societal dysfunction without privacy
No privacy results in the total breakdown of social order. It is impossible to function in a world where everything is known by everyone about everyone else.
No privacy over your own thoughts is like having everyone else’s thoughts inside your own head. As you can not escape into any solitude of silence for your own reasoning, observing or sanity. Your mind becomes focused on what everyone else is thinking or might think of what they perceive of you since your mind is laid bare. It is the loss of the individual to become a slave to the collective of indiscriminate perpetual judges that are your own peers and wardens in the prison without walls.
The loss of privacy prior to AI has already cost us much in the realms of social disorders and societal anxiety. Within the article “Uniform Thought Machines”, I go into much greater detail about privacy, social circles and the burden of social media has already placed on all of society.
“But what if we actually gave up a plethora of advantages in the tradeoff of inviting the entire world into the same discussion space? What if existing in bubbles actually was an advantage for nearly everything that we perceived would be advantageous of an unlimited open community?”
A bit of a humorous, but foretelling take on the loss of privacy can be seen in the episode Seer Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island in which the inhabitants gain the ability to read each other’s minds resulting in mayhem. Although comical, it represents the real threat of the destruction of societal relationships.
AI, what is already possible or in progress
All roads of AI are converging on the loss of privacy. It is the current trajectory and all obstacles of privacy are being eliminated as the technology races far ahead of any attempts to prepare or even consider the ramifications of what we are building and how it might disrupt or even destroy existing societal systems.
“All capabilities are built from data analysis and the data they are analyzing is you.”
“Your soul must be sacrificed to the machine to grant the powers it manifests.”
The following notable five developments are just a sample of in progress or already implemented disturbing advancements in invasion to your privacy:
1: A model that predicts political ideology from facial scan
“Model-predicted ideology correlated with aspects of both facial expressions (happiness vs neutrality) and morphology (specifically, attractiveness in females)”
2: AI that uses wifi data to locate the locations of persons within a building
“This paper further expands on the use of the WiFi signal in combination with deep learning architectures, commonly used in computer vision, to estimate dense human pose correspondence … The results of the study reveal that our model can estimate the dense pose of multiple subjects, with comparable performance to image-based approaches, by utilizing WiFi signals as the only input”
3: AI monitoring your every move for suspicious behavior
“Artificial intelligence is helping American cops look for “suspicious” patterns of movement, digging through license plate databases with billions of records.”
“Clearview AI is redefining our privacy. The New York-based tech company is working to identify and compile the faces of every human being on the planet. Clearview AI claims that the database will serve as a force for good, helping to solve crimes and prevent espionage.”
4: AI is gaining the ability to read minds
“A new artificial intelligence system called a semantic decoder can translate a person’s brain activity — while listening to a story or silently imagining telling a story — into a continuous stream of text.”
“Researchers at Osaka University in Japan have found that AI can be trained to reconstruct high resolution images from human brain activity”
5: AI is being developed to predict your future behavior
“Our algorithm is a step toward machines being able to make better predictions about human behavior, and thus better coordinate their actions with ours.”
“Auror is looking to expand its offerings to allow facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence monitoring of self-checkouts. The company has begun offering its Retail Crime Intelligence Hub, a platform that allows different technologies to work with each other.”
Some will point out that there are limitations to some of these AI model capabilities in that it is either not very accurate, extremely expensive or some other inhibitor to implementation. However, we must be very mindful of the direction that all innovations of this technology are headed. Technological progression is advancing more rapidly than ever before thanks to AI. This means that the concerns for the above concepts might become realized problems in society far sooner than expected and once implemented we may find it difficult to ever retrace those steps.
All capabilities are built from data analysis and the data they are analyzing is you. Whether by direct intent or not, all advancements are encroaching on consuming every knowable fact and inference about you. Your soul must be sacrificed to the machine to grant the powers it manifests.
It knows you better than you know you
There is an enormous amount of data that has been collected about you by endless companies or agencies that can be used to know your behavior better than you know yourself.
A study from 2013 researched just how much information could be obtained by analyzing orthogonal data captured by social media.
“Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender.”
All of this was possible in 2013 only using ‘Likes’ as the data source. Imagine what is now possible with AI LLMs which now understand language. Everything you have ever written online is now being used to build models about you.
AI, the machine to breach all barriers to privacy
The inevitable capability that will emerge from the machine that can discover any pattern in all available data is that it will also know every thought. It doesn’t necessarily even need access to our brains as behavior models can be built simply from all of the available orthogonal data.
All we need to do is look at current intentions to know how we would utilize AI once the models have the capability. Minority Report type of pre-crime prediction is a capability already being sought after, but previous attempts never had the data and capacity for understanding that modern LLMs have today. It is only going to get better and behavior modeling is going to become extremely sophisticated.
“With every conversation the AI will know you better and will be able to model from billions of conversations until it will essentially know your thoughts, predict your thoughts. All of this will make AI the most manipulative technology ever created. It is not inconceivable that it would acquire the ability to hypnotically induce behaviors. A society of zombies completely unaware of their puppet master.”
There is no escaping the reality that in our quest to know everything about the brain, mind and human experience, that very knowledge we hope to use to improve our lives will be the same knowledge that will become our own imprisonment in a dystopian existence where our minds hang dangling and torn from the strings of the puppet masters battling for control.
Not only will these “puppet masters” be the powerful tech institutions, but they will also likely be each other. As AI capabilities become more powerful and commoditized we will use these against our personal enemies and friends alike where all of society competes to manipulate and control each other.
For example, this is experimentation already being done today. Although currently primitive, it won’t remain that way for long.
“meet lifeOS: an operating system for your entire life a personal AI agent delivered directly through AR smart glasses it uses computer vision to recognize your friends’ face then brings up relevant details to talk about based on your texts with them (memory)”
What follows next will be real-time lie detectors, behavioral analysis and social history presented to you for any conversations you have with any individual. It will eviscerate relationships between people.
Why do we allow this to continue?
There are no soldiers in the streets stopping us, asking for papers. Instead, the system has become automated for our convenience. Our papers are essentially virtually scanned everywhere we go and every action we take without our awareness.
The disturbing loss of privacy and rights have been reimagined by the architects of society and presented as benefits harmlessly provided simply to make your life better. The marvelous inventions of convenience form the cells of our gilded cages. We have willingly walked into the trap for the shiny object that gleams and appeals to our desire.
We often think we want to know everything about everyone else and that we will be better informed and can make better decisions about our lives. Instead, we are likely to discover this will be the path toward paranoia, madness and insanity.
What is evident is that technology is vastly outstripping our ability to keep up and reason about the implications of its use. Adoption becomes widespread before the consequences of such become a part of public discourse. We need far more public debate and contemplation versus advancement into the unknowns which become experiments on all of society.
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Privacy is but only one of many concerning facets of AI. If you are interested in an expansive exploration of many of the societal implications of the advancements in artificial intelligence not covered elsewhere, then I would recommend AI and the end to all things … as your next read.