One day nerds will take over the world- Pinky and the Brain style. Data scientists will devise a scheme to steal peoples’ online identity and program virtual Artificial Intelligence (AI’s) to masquerade as them on Google. The nerds will siphon the net traffic of everyday plebs into a giant database, create various combinations of virtual people and make gazillion copies of Trojan Sims. Then they will band with equally nerdy biologists to make life-like AI’s to fill the meat of these data-people and then who knows, that intellectual but slightly robotic lecturer or class rep in your tute might actually be an AI. Right now that sounds like something ripped off of a sci-fi thriller, but it’s not a totally ridiculous concept. Of course, we’d have to cross the uncanny valley first. The really scary thing is that society is heading towards that path already.
When Google Home rolled out a few months back, so many people thought it was the coolest thing ever. You could say, “Ok Google, dim the lights” or “Ok Google, show my schedule” and it would do just that. But, how the heck does Google or any voice-activated device know when to become active? After some discussion a conclusion was reached. When the device is on, it is always listening. Always listening for “Ok Google”. Does that mean it hears everything else too? All of a sudden our phones, our treasured possession that hear our intimate conversations, secrets, and passwords could be used against us, should the information ever fall into the wrong hands. This is not okay.
Why is it especially not okay now? First of all, it is never okay to be snooping on other peoples’ private lives or eavesdropping personal conversations. Secondly because in March the US government passed legislation making it easier for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to sell clients’ personal data without their knowledge. This is means that ISPs can make profits at the expense of their clients’ privacy. If this makes your brows furrow or lips purse, it should. This is definitely not okay. And there are media and advertising groups pushing for Australia to follow suit.
The idea of corporations storing personal data is a scary thought. This is especially true if you add corruption and computer hackers into the mix. Currently, the online footprint of the everyday person is not much different to the next, so you won’t need to delete Facebook or smash your phone. But do be aware. Data mining is a real thing, and selling of personal data is also a real thing. At the moment it’s just a conspiracy theory that corrupt data scientists are secretly scheming to take over the world. Though in reality, it could be quite bad if evil scientists breached privacy and personal freedoms. It could be as terrible as the 17% rotten social media conspiracy “The Circle”, the other Emma Watson 2017 release. For the record, Google says that movie is not okay.
Featured Image by Atmoo koo