Humanity has started down a new road in its history and those of us alive today get to watch it unfold. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and to some degree Apple are now beginning to train their artificial intelligence systems on your data. Data from real people, available for the first time in the vast amounts that are useful to AI programmers.
First attempts might be clumsy. Cortana might direct you to a Thai massage parlor that smells of smegma from ten meters away, when all you wanted was some Thai-Italian fusion food. But as you complain about bad results, Cortana learns and improves, her data size increases, the next results will be better.
Free comes without freedom
Have you wondered how Google can afford to give you unlimited storage for all your photos in original resolution for free? Storage costs money, data centers suck up huge amounts of electricity and some person or robot has to change failing hard drives and monitor the hardware and services. This might be offered for free to you, but it’s not free for Google. So what do they gain? Pictures taken by real people, plus GPS data about where the picture was taken, and thanks to the high-accuracy sensors in their new phone, Google knows the pitch, tilt and yaw of your phone when you took the picture. It gets placed into a sort of 3D collage of the world, owned by them, not you.
As pictures start to stream in from all over the world with position data, Google not only knows where you’ve been and what you’ve taken pictures of, but also who else was nearby and who those men, women and people of not strictly defined gender are that are laughing, smiling, crying or yelling at you in your pictures. All of this analysis works better the higher the resolution of the images. Slowly their AI learns about the world, and about you.
Google’s AI knows the size and shape of your labia and whether your ball sack is discolored, if you take pictures of your fun zone and send them around. If you use WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger for that, congratulations, Facebook’s AI now knows this as well. And you can bet your ass this goes somewhere into your invisible profile where it can be made into money. Because these companies also know whether you visit porn sites and what kind you like, so it’s easy for them to combine the data. Have a Prince Albert piercing? Wonderful, maybe there’s a way to exploit that information.
I’m not usually obsessed with sexual organs but as John Oliver has shown, people listen better about privacy when their dicks and pussies are part of the conversation.
Add the health data that things like iPhones collect, especially if you have a fitness bracelet, and you now have an accurate picture of you, down to your genitals and up again to your very heartbeat, through to your brain. Your political likes and dislikes, your sexual turn-ons and turn-offs, your religious leanings and all the alter egos you created on Reddit to secretly write Star Trek-slash-Harry Potter erotic fan fiction. It is all known to the AIs. Over there in AI-land you are just a model. But a model that will be more and more useful, especially to large corporations.
Insurance companies will be interested in your alcohol use, your sex life, how fast you’re driving. What, did you think those GPS sensors can’t detect where you’ve been and how fast you travelled? Location history is even enabled by default in some cases, how did you think that works? Right now companies have to piece together that information painstakingly with crazy Big Data algorithms. In future, the AI can directly generate likelihoods for insurance abuse from the model they have of you. Oh, you don’t have an AI model? Well, we have to assume the worst then. You probably have something to hide. You’ll have to pay the full premium.
You’re not on Facebook? Well, I’m sorry, but we won’t be able to give that hotel room to you at the discount that everyone else gets. We don’t know if you’re trustworthy. Your hotel guest trust rank is calculated directly by Facebook’s AI based on how you’ve fared at previous hotel visits. How many cum-soiled pillows had to be dry-cleaned when the GPS position of your phone and Wi-Fi access point signal triangulation indicated that it was you who blew your load on them.We don’t know if you’re likely to cum all over our room, so we’ll have to charge full price just in case.
Hell, what am I talking about? It can even be much easier once those pesky human cleaners are out of the picture. Cleaning robots can detect suspicious smells to separate the laundry into dry-clean and wash. And automatically chalk one up for the pillow-cummer.
Back to my hippie commune
More accurate sensors are useful for better VR using your phone. But they’re also useful for better tracking of and learning about you.
You can still choose not to join the happy land of the fully analyzed and the completely absorbed. You can pay for your own hosting where you can put as many pics of your dick and asshole as you can afford. But sending them to interested parties will be awkward if you don’t use one of those messengers, no? You’d have to send someone a link. They’d have to open that. It will appear in their browser history if they’re not careful, it’s suddenly not just another dick pic that gets “lost” in the noise of mobile messaging. Only it doesn’t get lost. Nothing will ever get lost again if it’s useful to train an AI with. This apparent noise is the gold of the new AI gold rush.
You can pay for email so the words you write and the thoughts you have are not absorbed into the AI by your email provider, but you have to find a reliable one. I’m anal about this subject, I researched this topic for months, and even I know only perhaps five or six worldwide who can match the offers of the big ones like Hotmail and Gmail and give privacy in addition. Then you do pick one of those, and a week later you figure out that 90% of your contacts use Gmail or Hotmail, so every single word you write ends up inside the AI’s head anyway.
Frank. I’ve got a bad feeling about it.
Dave. You do?
Frank. Yeah. Definitely. Don’t you?
Dave. (Sigh) I don’t know, I think so. You know, of course, though, he’s right about the 9000 series having a perfect operational record. They do.
Frank. Unfortunately, that sounds a little like famous last words.
(Dialog from 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968. Thanks for all the foreshadowing)
There won’t be many ways to escape the deep scans of our nascent AI friends. You can abandon the digital life, move to Vancouver Island and be labeled a troglodyte. Also, good luck with that web developer job now that you don’t want to have Internet access. Time to relish those delicious home-grown cucumbers.
I guess it’s safe to say that most of us will end up in the brains of AI systems run by very few, very powerful multinational companies. The question now is only how we feel about that.