Zuckerberg, Facebook and Skynet

Zuckerberg, Facebook and Skynet

Zuckerberg, Facebook and Skynet

The award for the most rehearsed testimony of the day had to go to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Throughout much of his testimony yesterday, he remained cool and calm, an answer ready for those daring to question him. Yet, a few gems came through. He admitted some conservative pages had been shut down. Interestingly enough, he couldn’t say if any “major leftist” ones had been. He danced around questions about whether or not he thought the European form of policing social media was a good thing. He even opened his company up to liability he probably would prefer not to be there, all but saying FB is a “publisher”. But it was his talk about an AI that would know if hate speech was going to be used before it was even posted that took his testimony into the realm of concern. How many heard that and had visions of The Terminator and Skynet?

What’s more troubling about that tweet? The fact someone like Snowden can point to what’s happening and draw comparisons to himself or the fact that Zuckerberg couldn’t – or wouldn’t – give a straight answer about just how much information FB gathers from its users after they log off of their accounts? If that latter isn’t troublesome enough, what about the amount of information it might be gathering from those who have the FB app on their phones and active all the time? Or those who leave it open in a browser on their computers as they work in other windows or on other programs? The potential amount of stolen data – yes, stolen, because they haven’t gotten informed permission from their users to grab that data, some of which most definitely will be sensitive – is breathtaking.

Sen. Ted Cruz pressed Zuckerberg for answers about any bias FB might have. Zuck tried. You have to give him that. Oh, he didn’t necessarily try to answer Senator Cruz’s questions. Instead, he tried to deflect. He tried turning it into how terrorism is bad and FB does all it can to stop speech that would support terrorism. Except it doesn’t. It does and has, by Zuckerberg’s own admission, shut down conservative pages. But he couldn’t say if any “major leftist” pages had been suppressed. If that’s not enough, remember the videos of the beheadings FB allowed to remain on its pages even as it shut down conservative pages for being so “hate filled”.

But Zuck has a plan. They are developing an AI that will be perfect for making sure hate speech of all flavors is shut down before it happens. Except there’s a problem with that, one Zuckerberg didn’t discuss. It’s a problem game designer Mark Kern wasted no time explaining, beginning with the fact Zuckerberg couldn’t define what hate speech is. If you can’t attach a definition to a problem, how in the world are you going to identify it when it happens? Or is this a case of “I’ll know it when I see it?” That’s worked so well in the fight against pornography, hasn’t it?

So, while sites like FB and Google are perfect for gathering data to train AIs it still comes down to the humans who “train” it. The beliefs and biases held by those trainers will then be held by the AIs. Then Kern asked the million dollar question. “So what values does Facebook have?” The answer, based on Zuckerberg’s testimony, should send chills down every libertarian’s and conservative’s spine.

Can anyone say “Skynet”? This so-called unbiased and fair AI will censor our postings before they happen. It will harvest data while we are signed into our FB accounts. We don’t know if it will continue to harvest data afterwards because Zuckerberg wouldn’t give a straight answer to that question. Are you willing to trust your privacy, your conversations and your data to someone like that?

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  • George V says:

    At this point, I cannot imagine why anyone would want a Facebook account. Or have, for that matter, a Google account, or have an Alexa or other voice response unit in their house. We were all so worried about an Evil Gov’t “Big Brother”. Instead Big Brother’s parents are those really smart guys on the leading edge of computer technology who formed their own startup companies.

    • Amanda Green says:

      Problem is it goes so much further than what you mentioned. Our computers, cellphones, etc., all have the same basic tech. Our new cars have gps installed. The key is knowing what you are getting and learning how to minimize the danger as best you can. Short of going low tech all the way, it is near to impossible not to have someone tracking you in some manner.

      Even if you have gotten rid of “Big Brother” in your home, it’s still there. For example, if you sign up for informed delivery notices from the USPS you have to prove your identity. Doing it online means you answer questions like the appraised value for tax purposes for your home, identifying cars you owned years ago, etc. Stuff they post office shouldn’t have instant access to but they do somehow. It shows just how much intermingling of databases are available to different governmental entities. That’s something we all should be aware of.

      • GWB says:

        I think the questions the USPS asks are to establish your identity via credit reporting. A lot of that stuff is there (and in the DMV).
        And yes, you should be aware.

        But, as we’ve seen, most people are NOT zealous in protecting their rights and their privacy.

  • CaptDMO says:

    Among the highly educated employees in our social media construct, we have every hope to further utilize Artificial Intelligence in eradication of foreign, and domestic, “hate think”.
    OK, got it.

  • GWB says:

    I do have FB/Google accounts – associated with an online virtual presence, and ONLY associated with that presence.

    And I only open those in “private tabs/windows” of my browsers. On top of that, my browsers delete most everything associated with web pages opened in the non-“private” tabs and windows when I close them.

    What? Me, paranoid? No, why do you ask?

  • askeptic says:

    Memo fm Zuck, to Zuck:
    Shit, this Cruz guy is one smart cookie, and he just wiped the floor with me.

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