Controversial Reads 101423

Imagine a future in which AIs automatically interpret—and enforce—laws.

Using the proposed “Web Environment Integrity” means websites can select on which devices (browsers) they wish to be displayed, and can refuse service to other devices. It binds client side software to a website, creating a silo’d app.

When Alexa wouldn’t respond to his commands, he called the Amazon help desk to see what the issue was. Evidently, the company locked him out because of his apparent racism: “I was told that the driver who had delivered my package reported receiving racist remarks from my ‘Ring doorbell’ (it’s actually a Eufy, but I’ll let it slide).” Later, without any explanation or apology, Amazon allowed Jackson access again.

According to Harari, “AI has all it needs in order to cocoon us in a Matrix-like world of illusions,” and, even more chillingly, “you don’t really need to implant chips in people’s brains in order to control them or to manipulate them.”

Yet given how most of the internet is currently structured, our online expression largely depends on a set of private companies ranging from our direct Internet service providers and platforms, to upstream ISPs (sometimes called Tier 2 and 3), all the way up to Tier 1 ISPs (or the Internet backbone) that have no direct relationships with most users.

In the past decade, China was a black sheep when it came to social media. Whatever the new app was, odds were it was banned in China. X/Twitter? Banned. Facebook? Banned. Instagram? Banned.

You can see it in the discourse surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) over the last year: AI is going to change everything. Some think it’s going to do this for the better. Others think it’s a technological handmaiden for world destruction if its programming goes awry — or worse: AI becomes self-determining and sentient.

ChatGPT, the famous friend of students, is a good starting point if for no other reason than we’ve heard of it. One engineering prof estimates it can take up to 10 Gigawatt hours (GWh) to train the latest iteration of ChatGPT.