22 Comments
Sep 7, 2023Liked by Gary Marcus

Thanks ... I dont think that the connection between AI and surveillance capitalism gets enough attention.

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author

exactly!

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023Liked by Gary Marcus

This is the world we live in, yes. It is good to know all this. The next question is what to do about it.

Absolute privacy does not exist, and likely it is not even desirable. People who will benefit most from it are criminals, child abusers, and so on.

We don't get a cut when our info is sold, but we do benefit from free services, including Twitter and Facebook, which may not be profitable if they can't monetize their knowledge in some way. As a rule, people prefer the loss of some privacy and exposure to ads that know too much about you, rather than be willing to pay Twitter a fee.

So, the sensible approach is to focus on preventing abuse of privacy. Either by the government or corporations.

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This is hardly a call for "absolute privacy". The situation described is a complaint against absolute lack of privacy.

And the argument about "criminals, child abusers, and so on" is the old "think of the children". Those do their abusing just fine whether car companies, your e-toaster, and the various apps you use collect data about you or not.

It's even less about them selling your data (of course they only collect them to sell them or use them themselves for advertising and marketing purposes).

And, no, we don't "benefit from free services". We might not have to pay for them, but their impact is hardly a benefit, to society and democracy, and that's before we even added the privacy issues in that.

Besides, if you like them "free", they can still be free with static ads, without data collection about their users. They will just make less money, and that's fine. We could do with less powerful tech behemoths.

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Sep 7, 2023·edited Sep 7, 2023

Data collection enable tailored ads. This particular thing doesn't really bother me at all.

It is funny how in such discussions the list of complaints doesn't stop. People want free social networking, free online storage and email, free internet search and video streaming, free video calls to the other end of the world, but also all the privacy they care for, and for Google to keep inactive accounts with lots of data indefinitely even when the user doesn't use them.

If there are specific abuses that need to be dealt with, that would be a fair point. A general lament about how this is not the perfect world where everything is free and you get to have it all is not helpful.

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"Data collection enable tailored ads"

That's just another word for personalized propaganda: for your wallet but also for your beliefs (political ads, "message" ads, and so on).

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I suspect you're right, but I don't like the fact that this trade-off has not been presented clearly to the public.

"You like all these free websites, right? Well the reason they're free is they collect and sell your data."

Most people will still take this deal. But, it's a crap choice: consent to lord-knows-only-what, or pay individual subscription fees for every single website you want to visit.

My dream is that a bunch of high-quality websites get together and bundle subscriptions, much like how we buy bundled groups of TV channels. People used to moan about this: "why can't I just pay for the channels I want?!". But now that we've seen the alternative (pay for gazillions of separate individual subscriptions), the old way looks alright. So let's apply it to subscription websites.

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"Absolute privacy does not exist, and likely it is not even desirable. People who will benefit most from it are criminals, child abusers, and so on."

With respect, you have been conditioned to think this is the case. What's actually happened is a slow but inexorable descent from a state where citizens had a right to privacy and a reasonable expectation of privacy, to one where privacy has been stripped from nearly all citizens. Like the frogs in the proverbial pan of boiling water, we have been bought to the boil slowly so our privacy peeled away softly, without clinging, just like the frog's skin.

What you might consider is protest. Organized, mass protest. Before abuse of power follows.

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There's precious little specifics here. Seems more on the line of "companies should be nicer than that and not sell our data". Not much one can do with this.

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Sep 7, 2023Liked by Gary Marcus

An AI that feeds from data is the worst paradigm we ever had. And at the same time, this obfuscate the real things to be done for AGI.

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BINGO leaders even the Greatest like Noam Chomsky have said that the new LLM has detoured maybe 20-30 years our goal of reaching AGI;

LLM is just throwing shit at the wall, an only calling the 'art' out, and just not seeing the non-art, which they now call 'hallucination'

...

Yes, LLM is trained on facebook and twitter, so at best its the most conversant dumb bitch chat-bot in human history, but can fool 99% of the morons who use social-media, which is the only reason gov loves chatGPT. ( +60% of posters on social-media are now bots, and +80% of real humans can't tell if they're human or not )

...

There are people working on real AGI and self-aware AI, but sadly all the money will now go down the drain too LLM, because its where the money is, until it dead-ends.

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In todays research, if you publish a paper about symbolic or Good Old Fashion AI no one cares about it. At least, it must be something about LLMs on it.

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Sep 7, 2023Liked by Gary Marcus

The fact that they find all this in privacy statements is more or less the lawyers creating legal room, but that in itself doesn’t mean they are doing it. But the fact that the commercial car data hubs are booming (and what these leeches purport to be able to sell) suggests they are. I also wonder how this works in the EU where there are stricter rules. Both here and in GAI we are starting to see that Joseph Stalin was right when he said “quantity has its own quality”. And that is the league these surveillance capitalists are in.

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I drive a 1991 Acura. It ain't collecting a thing :)

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From “dumb phones” to “dumb cars.” I like it.

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Sep 20, 2023·edited Sep 20, 2023

Hi Gary.

Some more sketchy behavior in A.I. land is in mathematics and automated theorem provers. Read from Peter Woit's blog:

"A company called Prolific is advertising work paying 20-25 pounds/hour doing tasks in Lean 3. This company is in exactly the business described in the NY mag articles, hiring people to do tasks as part of “studies”, which often are generating AI training data.

One unusual thing about this whole industry is that if you sign up for this work you often have no idea who your employer really is, or what your work will be used for, and you sign a non-disclosure agreement to not discuss what you do."

https://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=13550

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When the car companies were building robots to help build cars, they bragged that it would make employee’s lives easier. They lost their jobs. AI is going to do the same thing, only on a huge scale. It’s even learning how to write poetry!

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Regulate 3rd party access to data. It covers privacy as well as ML safety (trademarks, accountability, disclosure, etc).

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Due to the nature of the human mind, any human enterprise is typically going to include both the good, the bad, and the ugly. As the scale of power available to us grows, the bad and the ugly increasingly obtain the ability to erase the good.

The good is very real, it does exist. AI is likely to achieve constructive miracles in many arenas. But those constructive miracles depend for their existence upon a stable society, which becomes ever harder to maintain as the scale of power available to the bad increases.

To the degree the above is true, our focus should extend beyond particular technologies to our relationship with knowledge and power as a whole. It doesn't really matter if we make one technology safe if dozens of others are left running wild.

Currently, we seem to be making the mistake of confronting the bad properties of technology on a case by case basis, such as the privacy invasions of the car industry as referenced in this article. This case by case approach seems doomed to failure, because an accelerating knowledge explosion will likely present such challenges faster than we can meet them.

How much power do we intend to give our imperfect selves? Is there any limit to that? Are we assuming that we can safely manage ANY amount of power delivered at ANY rate?

If there is any hope of meeting the challenge presented by advanced technology through the processes of reason, such questions must be addressed.

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Yes, surveillance is a different animal than "AI", which was always about mentoring and grooming the children.

Having lived a lot in china the past 40 years, I can say that 40 years ago there were mil/cops every where with guns ( same in south-korea ), and now past +10 years I go to places like Kunming and never see a 'cop' ( its all cameras now ), and there is NO ICE, its all EV motorcycles (scooters), which drive you crazy cuz they drive on sidewalks with lights off ( conserve power )

...

But like I said, replace PIGS on the street with "CAMS" is what it is, but this GREEN/RED kill ID thing that MUSK&Peter-Thiel sell to US-GOV to kill people all over the world called "Clearview" by Palantir ( pre-crime AI too ) is terrifying.

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This was a very informative post. I now know that absolutely anyone can have a Substack.

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“ Given that 99.9% of the AI is HOMO built, engineered and managed, the only known-known is they'll be grooming lots of little new homos” is like saying that 99.9% of AI is built by left-handers and they’re grooming lots of little new left-handers. (I.e. the. most likely source of all kinds of gender and sexuality fluidity is genetic variations that individually have some advantage and combine to create a range of sexual orientations and genders; just like left-handedness is no longer suppressed by society, this sexual orientation and gender fluidity has been less forced into a single pattern and you’re not seeing people changing their makeup, but seeing the removal of some suppression). If this scares you, don’t be. Nobody is going to be able to make you other-handed, and the fact that there are people who are other-handed is not a threat.

But the “X in, X out” is mostly true. Humans are not very analytic, their energy efficiency (that brain uses maybe 25W) requires a lot of autopilot, including during creating your convictions which mainly come from copying sources you trust or you consume often. Both attention-driven social media and GAI exploit our ingrained vulnerability on this point. So, the above will not make you change your convictions…

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