I remember reading an internet joke which was a job placement. It was looking for someone who would be willing to work for 40 hours a week, clean up messy spills and deal with diapers and up to 128 hours of unpaid overtime. Without actually referring to the positions title, “mom”, the list of all the tasks and hours sound pretty incredible to the average person who does not have this list of responsibilities.
I think about this as sometimes when I read articles about some of the voice operated assistants that are being invited into people’s living-room. Who would have thought even a few years ago that you would ask personal questions of a computer device that you might not say to a coworker or to your parents. This information is not only going to a big room full of computers but in many cases they are being stored for later analysis and evaluation by people.
- Siri What are the symptoms of a STD?
- Alexa I weigh 120 pounds am I obese?
- Cortana Where is the best place to bury a body?
- Google now How many sex partners are too many?
Not only are you sharing your most private thoughts but you are actually helping a nameless faceless corporation get better at understanding speech. Nobody actually thinks that this will be used against us in the future. Despite the lack of enough people to analyze everything I might have to say considering that there are millions of other Americans or billions of other Asians this becomes less of a problem when you start to include computers into the mix.
Thinking about being spied on at home is not something that usually causes any lost sleep. If you don’t want to be spied on then don’t give your money to a corporation that will be mining through your personal life trying to maximize their profit on their knowledge of you. What usually gets me is how many people are willing to trade their personal details for little or nothing.
Just recently a smart phone app Zao will allow you to upload a few photos of your face with various differences (blinking, moving mouth, …) to allow their system to analyze your face so it can then create deep fakes of other video footage. Your face could then replace Leonardo DiCaprio as the star of the Titanic or perhaps you become Tony Stark of Ironman.
For me what is shocking is not just the people giving up their likeness but that the company could if they wanted create a database of people. The users sign up with their telephone number which allows a unique id for people who are already providing their picture.
The most important aspect of this situation is the input data for their developers. As a software developer it is often difficult to get good test data. This particular app had become an overnight success and ended up on the top download spot in the Chinese IOS store despite the with it despite rather draconian permissions.
Neither the Chinese government nor Zao are the only companies or governments that want or use facial recognition. Abuses of facial recognition will inevitably occur simply due to the number of closed circuit television cameras and the ravenous nature of both private industry and government to track people.
I cannot stop the eventual tides of survellience but I do have the power to not invite the intruders into my house.