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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Speaking of data...

I did an interview with Mythaxis Review last week.

Apparently the response to it has been way beyond their expectations. I don’t have current numbers, but the most recent numbers I do have show that it’s had nearly 1,400 views, in four days.

More surprising to me was finding the interview being quoted and cited on other web sites. I am unused to this level of attention, or rather, unused to having people take me seriously. 

If you haven’t read the interview, here’s what seems to be the money quote. The question was about supercomputers, AI, and nightmare scenarios. I’ll skip the tech talk about massively parallel processor architectures, interconnects, and computational fluid dynamics, and go right to the nightmare:

“...for me, the most frightening possibilities are those that involve the misuse by unscrupulous politicians and or corporations of the kinds of insights and inferences than can be drawn from such extensive data mining. The things that are being done right now, and that will be coming online in the few years, should scare the Hell out of any civil libertarian.”

In response to a follow-up question, I elaborated. Actually, this is the slightly further elaboration, that I sent too late to make their publishing deadline.

“What we’re talking about here is a field generally called “big data.” It’s the science of extracting presumably meaningful information from the enormous amount of data that’s being collected—well, everywhere, all the time. “Big data” tries to take information from disparate sources—structured and unstructured databases, credit bureaus, utility records, social media behavior, consumption patterns, “the cloud,” pretty much everything—mashes it together, looks for coherences and correlations, and then tries to turn it into meaningful and actionable intelligence—for who? To do what with it? Those are the questions.

“For just a small example: do you really want an AI bot to report to your medical clinic—or worse, to make medical treatment decisions—based on your credit card and cell phone dutifully reporting exactly when and for how long you were in the pub and exactly what you ate and drank? Or how about having it phone the Police, if you pay for a round of pints for your mates and then get into the driver’s seat of your car?

“That’s coming. In the future you will live your life constantly surrounded by a cloud of tiny AI gadflies, all tormenting you without pause or mercy, because it’s for your own good.

“And that’s the optimistic view. As a fellow from a government agency whose name or even acronym I am forbidden to say out-loud told me, “Go ahead and imagine that you have privacy, if it makes you feel better.” ”

Yeah. Cyberpunk Revisited, indeed. 

Anyway, the magazine is called Mythaxis Review. It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s bold, and it’s definitely worth paying attention to what they’re doing. Check it out.


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