Artificial Intelligence, Putin and Your Browsing History – is there a connection?

 

The Verge recently published a statement from Vladimir Putin that “artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind … It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”

Obviously we do not want a geopolitical adversary ruling us and we want us be the world leader in AI . But the fact is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to very wide range of applications – from use in unmanned drones for fighting distant war, in autonomous cars, to enabling smart agriculture or to technology companies making decisions for us.

Lets focus on AI as it applies to us in everyday life. The old adage garbage in garbage out applies to AI as well. AI engines are only as useful powerful as the data that is fed into them. As pointed out by TechCrunch recently: “The world’s largest technology companies hold the keys to some of the largest databases on our planet. Much like goods and coins before it, data is becoming an important currency for the modern world. Whichever company owns the data, effectively owns AI. Right now that means companies like Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, IBM and Microsoft have a ton of power.”

Many of these companies got our online data because we agreed to their terms of use for using their services. But some these giants also collect information on our internet browsing history beyond when we are on their sites or using their services. They aggregate our information from our online activity on other sites and offline sources to create a socio-economic composite profile on us. Feed that profile into their AI engines and they can “think” for us. Essentially some of them have bragged that using these datasets and our profiles, they could soon forecast what we will be thinking before we even start thinking about something.

Extrapolating this, it is not too farfetched to imagine Google’s Nest or Amazon Alexa which know when you are in house, to switch on your favorite show on your screen– but there may come a day that these devices and their cloud based masters will dictate what you watch and not let you change the channel unless you have spent 15 minutes watching their ad programming.   Or your autonomous car ride sponsored by Starbucks will go out of the way to stop at the coffee shop regardless of whether you are in the mood for coffee or not. Or worse, they sell results from their AI engine to insurance companies – results that predict your behavior and let these insurance companies charge you accordingly.

Some researchers think that enterprise sector will be the first to employ AI. Says Francesca Rossi, an AI ethics researcher at IBM Research. “For society at-large to get the benefits of AI, we first have to trust it.”

Hopefully we will see AI in practice in the corporate sector before we accept it. Until then we can limit what these tech giants now about us by protecting our privacy and keeping our browsing history data and online activities as private as possible. PrivatizeMe can help keep your browsing free from cookies, trackers and cyber stalkers. It lets you select which website you trust and can capture your data, while all others remain sites untrusted and even trusted sites cannot track us on third party partner sites.

 

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