In case you haven’t been paying attention, the battle over personal data, free speech and the free flow of information between the American people and the tech giants is heating up. As the Googles and Facebooks of the world take an unconstitutional role in deciding what speech and information should be online, it’s becoming clear much more is at stake than first meets the eye.
It’s also becoming apparent that there are some voices on the Right who are either deeply naïve and ignorant about what is at stake or they are in fact paid collaborators of the tech companies.
Most people who use social media are not entirely sure what their personal data is being used for, or to what extent they’ve actually given permission for the use of such data. Fact is, most people have given far more permission to the tech companies than they may realize.
As Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) pointed out, users of Facebook and other “free” services have been paying for them with their valuable personal information; there is nothing free in life, trust me. In light of the DASHBOARD Act, cosponsored by Warner and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Facebook even changed the wording of its user agreement to acknowledge for the first time it is paid by companies to show those companies’ advertisements to you by using your personal data.
But that pales in comparison to what else Silicon Valley is using your personal data for when it comes to developing general artificial intelligence in pursuit of automation and singularity. Your data is like nitric oxide and jet fuel to the algorithms feeding general AI. Now add that to the premise of Moore’s Law, which is the idea that the speed of processors doubles every two years. Technology is advancing at an incredible pace. But our thinking—especially policymakers’ understanding—is lagging badly.
We now see reports that robots will be replacing upwards to 20 million workers by 2030, most of which will be in manufacturing industries. What happens to the workers who are displaced? Where will they go? Even assuming a period of transition, what will become of an older generation of workers over the next 30 or 40 years? A universal basic income isn’t the solution for many different reasons, including the dignity that comes with actual work. I’ve suggested a new Great Works Program funded by royalties earned from energy exploration and use on federal lands.
Regardless of what the solutions might be, no one is really discussing them. Nor is anyone really discussing what the end goal is for Big Tech and the Silicon Valley oligarchy lurking in the wings. These companies are betting hundreds of billions of dollars to realize their vision for the future, which is “the singularity” in which robots run the world. This isn’t a joke or the stuff of science fiction. This is fast becoming real life, funded by people and companies who are convinced they know how to make us all “happier and healthier.”
In exchange, our lives as a self-governing people would come to an end. Freedom of speech and assembly would disappear along with the free flow of information. And while our leaders dither, this self-appointed oligarchy is running full speed ahead. The monopolies that have been allowed to form are also accelerating the process, and yet we have some on the Right mumbling about “muh free market” and how that will solve the problem.
Some of those spouting these ideas are hardcore libertarians like the Koch brothers and their allied groups, who should be ostracized and ignored. I have some rules in life, which include little kids should not play with matches and libertarians should not play with real politics. Both end badly.
There are others who are also spouting such idiocy, including David French and his colleagues at National Review, which has received, multiple times, direct funding from Google. Some of us think that perhaps French and his type are deeply ignorant (certainly plausible) or they’re just paid collaborators of the tech companies. Neither of those two scenarios is good. Any organization on the Right, whether a publication or think tank, that has accepted Big Tech money should be viewed with great suspicion on these questions.
It is incumbent upon the American people to come fully awake on these issues and demand our elected officials, in the immediate, protect our rights. To delay is to ensure the demise of our freedoms and to submit to the coming singularity and tech oligarchy.
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