Is the digital revolution becoming our digital oppressor?
Change is coming faster than our brains can comprehend
please bear with me as I develop my thoughts. First I need to put down everything that is on my wind and perhaps then I will be able to organise it into a text that ends with a more optimistic conclusion. The below are the type of thoughts that pass through my mind as I live in proximity to Silicon Valley and the digital revolution that (I apologise for the negativity) appears it could become a digital oppressor. In the future I would prefer to share text with you about PRO-active actions we can all take to create positive futures for ourselves. But today I need to get these concerns off my chest and put them somewhere.
- will NFT be useful to help us prove authorship over all digital creation? (not just vauous monkey pixel art but illustrations uploaded to instagram, photoshopped photos, any drawings, illustrations and art of any kind uploaded online, writing of all kinds including blogs, articles, essays, research papers, books, video editing…
- Does it matter than already we have no way of discerning who created what we see: Artificial intelligence or people with talent or a mix of both? (YES it absolutely matters, we would be completely ignorant to consider it a benign phenomenon.)
- The number of jobs that will be lost is staggering.
- Who has control over machine learning when a supercomputer can process data faster in a few seconds than humanity combined?
- How long ago was it too late to turn back from this tidal change that in due time we will see is changing our history beyond recognition and beyond access to a return?
- Meta is clearly modelled on Second Life by Linden Lab — I read that meta made an offer to buy Linden Lab, I haven’t followed up with the outcome. But likely Second Life was aquired.
- Why do these things matter to all my computer and internet shy friends and acquaintances? Because it will affect your world! You won’t be able to hide from this next stage of digitisation.
- Globally the trend of the World-Wide web is reversing. Countries are opting out. Some devising complete internet ecosystems of their own other controlling access, others modifying which pockets of the internet may be accessed, a few are barely connected.
- The accessible: ‘democratise education’ dream of MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) morphed in large parts into subscription based online education and pay-per-course programs. At first there were several dominant players, now every other digitally active entrepreneur is releasing a course to capture a slice of the pie. Learning got expensive. The dreamers saw money and it was just too tempting. Or perhaps it’s a confluence of financial temptation and the knowledge that if the tide and big(ger) tech is resisted there is a fair chance of just being copied and left behind. Better to capitalise and play the game by the rules that emerge as unavoidable.
Will digital technology, that also promised a more democratic future, turn against this promise and continue to lead to an ever more divided society? Those who embraced digital technology and those who hesitated or chose to refuse to participate. How will the lives of those that don’t get onboard turn out? It is already a fact that banking and various technologies are reducing website based access and moving towards app based access. This is problematic because controlling technology’s access to our personal data becomes ever more difficult, if not impossible. But to opt out is to become obsolete and in the words of Zygmunt Bauman, I don’t think I am going to dystopian far here, those not participating will be relegated to “Human waste”.
- The future we accept digital technology into our life the further we sign away our agency and control over our most personal data.
- For years we have trained AI in recognising our voice, each time we spoke to Siri and Alexa, asked a question and received a satisfying reply. It doesn’t matter that I personally never used voice recognition softawre, nore face recognition to unlock my phone or secure fingerprint technology to safeguard my phone, enough people appreciated the novelty at first and the practicality thereafter that collectively we are training the machines that may end up taking control over every aspect of our lives.
- Is this too dystopian? Too far-fetched?
- In San Francisco I now see the first driverless cars, completely empty, with no human to control it, driving on the streets. The other day I saw one not at nighttime, which is when I used to see the driverless cars with their human minder, but at daytime, driving on a street with traffic and pedestrians crossing the streets. There is something eerie about this. Something a step too far. Something also tantalisingly reminiscent of Science Fiction series of my 1980’s childhood.
- Am I really too concerned? Driverless cars are already on the streets. It may be only a matter of time before they displace all manner of delivery drivers, public transport employees and more.
- Did you realise that AI can now create images based on prompts that we provide it with? Give AI a brief and it will create the collage, illustration or photo realistic rendering. (add links in footnotes)
- Did you realise that AI can now write better articles with better arguments than a large part of the population? Not to put people down but writing well isn’t everyone’s top skill. AI as instant access to the entire library of knowledge and AI doesn’t need rest to accomplish complex or quantitative writing tasks.
- Can you REALLY hold on to your belief that AI won’t change the world as we know it? Consider the number of people engaged with image creation, content creation, and writing. And then consider what a life will look like if ALL of them lose their livelihood. Then consider how this huge loss of jobs will affect all of society as large numbers of people will not have the economic means to go shopping for essentials nor to participate in leisure activities. The economic fallout will be catastrophic.
- What are governments doing to keep population safe? Or are governments resigned to this tidal wave that they are powerless to stop.
- Amidst the unbelievable quantity of text available online it is becoming increasingly difficult to fact check. I have observed this concerning trend for several years. I consider myself to be an excellent fact checker but these days am coming up against the obstacle of mass of information. If AI can create Gigabites of content in the space of a second, how can I as a discerning and educated fact checker outpace the avalanche of potentially false or misrepresenting data? An age of propaganda may be in full bloom again, if it isn’t already (and I would argue it increasingly has been for some time.)
- Shall I continue?…
- If you are reading this: please remind me to add my footnotes to some of the things I referenced.
(Some keywords of my concerns about machine learning, AI, artificial intelligence, human integrity, economic opportunism, fact checking obstacles, digital tidal wave, digital revolution and digital technology as a potential oppressor.)
Does all of this point to Societal collapse being a possibility?