I have written for years that the development in artificial intelligence technology will be revolutionary for redefining how we think about security and public monitoring. What once was desired by all dictators throughout history is now going to become a reality at some point as science fiction comes to life.
According to a recent report, a new artificial intelligence technology is allowing for police to scan faces in a crowd using a phone app, which then links all data about said person to a database including photos and social media.
A startup called Clearview AI has made that possible, and its app is currently being used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies in the US, including the FBI, says a Saturday report in The New York Times.
The app, says the Times, works by comparing a photo to a database of more than 3 billion pictures that Clearview says it’s scraped off Facebook, Venmo, YouTube and other sites. It then serves up matches, along with links to the sites where those database photos originally appeared. A name might easily be unearthed, and from there other info could be dug up online.
The size of the Clearview database dwarfs others in use by law enforcement. The FBI’s own database, which taps passport and driver’s license photos, is one of the largest, with over 641 million images of US citizens.
The Clearview app isn’t currently available to the public, but the Times says police officers and Clearview investors think it will be in the future. (source)
The story sounds like something out of Minority Report, but it is happening right now. However, what about the possibility for this to be abused? It assumes that the people using it have good intentions, but what if they do not?
“The weaponization possibilities of this are endless,” said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. “Imagine a rogue law enforcement officer who wants to stalk potential romantic partners, or a foreign government using this to dig up secrets about people to blackmail them or throw them in jail.” (source)
Likewise, who is going to ensure the “security” of the “database” of information that things such as this gather?
To that, as one report noted, once the company began to be investigated, the company started using its own tool to spy on the journalist.
While the company was dodging me, it was also monitoring me. At my request, a number of police officers had run my photo through the Clearview app. They soon received phone calls from company representatives asking if they were talking to the media — a sign that Clearview has the ability and, in this case, the appetite to monitor whom law enforcement is searching for. (source)
The company notes that its founder, Hon Ton-That, has received funding from Peter Thiel. Shoebat.com has reported about how Thiel has noted his extensive support of ideas directly involving and related to transhumanism, population control, and eugenics, and how he is known to use his monies to advance these causes.
While there is talk of releasing this thing to the public, what is to say this particular app is the problem, but rather the concept? That is, a company might make its own copy of this using its own technology, following the same philosophy and principles. As such, there is no longer a social prohibition or standard against it. Thus just as people will look somebody up by means of an Internet search engine, people will start to look up people by face, tone of voice, and body as a person walks down the street. Thus private conversation, photos, and just being in public would no longer be a private act, but a public advertisement of what one is doing because a single photo could expose a personal secret with only a few clicks. It would be the end of any expectation of anonymity.
If things socially come to this point, what is to say they are any different than what existed during the “surveillance states” of East Germany or the Soviet Union?
As I have said before many times, a concern that I have seen is that in the future, one may long for the days of Stalin, Lenin, and even Hitler or Mussolini, all who had their secret police and many evils, because these people, while all did many very evil things (and certainly am not attempting to justify their behaviors), they could have only dreamed of tools such as these, and the people in their societies many times did not like or resisted them. Yet today, the common man is only accepting these things passively, but likes them and support them, and wants to use them for himself.
The nature of man does not change. There is always a latent dictator in every society that has the danger to come out, and it is the perpetual vigilance of the people that tends to keep them away from power, but even then, they still do rise either by force or deceit, and they cause a lot of problems when they do rise. With technology such as this, any future person in a similar context- it does not matter where or how it happens -will have the true potential to create an all-encompassing surveillance state that monitors all people and is able to ruthlessly persecute people with more efficiency that ever before experienced in human history.
It is something that a dictator could have only dreamed of, but is now a reality.
The future is not something in the distance, but it is something taking place right now.
As I have written, there is current technology to edit photos that can effectively be used to undermine the validity of photo and video evidence.
It is terrifying to think of these two technologies working in union with each other, because then nobody is able to be ensured of a fair trial, and rather, people can have evidence created against them or men can be freed from their crimes by making false witness that will exonerate them.
This does not help advance any cause of freedom, but rather is a tool that once promised freedom being used to enslave people worse than what they were before.
One can only imagine what future things will be introduced.