By Hyun Seo
“Big Brother is watching you.”
Big Brother is a dictator in George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984” that has total surveillance and control over people. This slogan is becoming a reality, but Big Brother isn’t a person. Big Brother is artificial intelligence, which, due to the lack of regulations concerning usage, is affecting us immensely. We need to keep Big Brother in check. We need international regulations concerning the application of artificial intelligence.
Big Brother surveils our activity.
In China, A.I. is used to surveil minorities. The Chinese government has a “advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs”. This technology incorporated in surveillance cameras tracks every single movement of Uighurs. “If originally one Uighur lives in a neighborhood, and within 20 days six Uighurs appear…it immediately sends alarms to law enforcement.” This clear intrusion of privacy of the Uighurs illustrates how A.I. can be used to surveil and oppress minorities, denying their right to public assembly.
Big Brother exploits our weaknesses.
A.I. collects, analyzes and records information about us easily. If you search “how to cure a cold” on google often, A.I. will catch that. Insurance companies now know that you have a weak immune system and that the company will have to pay you more for medical care costs.
The problem becomes more serious when this information collected creates discrimination. “A ZIP code might become a proxy for race; a choice of wording in a résumé might become a proxy for gender.” Although it is illegal in many states for insurance companies to collect these information, A.I. makes it possible for illegally collected information about race or gender to be the reason to deny insurance.
Big Brother steals our jobs.
A.I. robots are so attractive to companies because they offer maximum efficiency with no salary. If Grab replaces its drivers with A.I, the extra profit it will bring is innumerable. So what happens to the drivers?
People are saying that there will be new jobs created due to A.I, such as a mechanic for robots. The problem here is that humans aren’t perfect. We cannot expect a Grab driver to know how to repair robots, nor we can expect an unemployed person to pay for education on new areas.
Big Brother polarizes our world.
International gaps will be unbridgeable. In the A.I. industry, a virtuous cycle works: vantage begets vantage. Wealthy, advanced countries will continue to create more efficient, profitable A.I. to further propel their economy. On the other hand, the relatively poor countries without the technology will fall behind. This vicious cycle caused by the virtuous cycle will make the disparities between the haves and have-nots insurmountable.
This polarization can have grave threats on the poorer nations. If eugenistic, genocidal nations run ahead in the A.I. industry, they can develop autonomous weapons at a fraction of a cost to eradicate a whole race. No casualties occur to their own nation, so the Hitlers of tomorrow will not hesitate to exterminate certain races.
So how should Big Brother be controlled?
When governments and companies use A.I. against citizens, larger institutions must step in to stop them. I am talking about international organizations such as the U.N. International organizations must regulate the usage of new technologies to ensure that technology is used for everyone’s welfare.
There are many ways to ensure everyone’s welfare. If there are taxations set on companies using A.I, and that tax goes towards helping the poor, the social and international divisions can be assuaged. We can get rid of the vicious cycle causing division.
When new technologies come out, authoritative governments and avaricious companies avail themselves with the new technology. The rest of the world is squashed under their feet. It is the international organizations’ obligation to ensure that the new technologies benefit everyone.
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