Congress’ complete lack of understanding when it comes things like the internet, cellphones, and technology in general is hilarious...for about a minute. Then it’s just sad. These are the people who are actually tasked with overseeing all of this? Ted Cruz and a bunch of dudes who probably still type “Google” into Google?
Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. The Senate’s Zuckerberg hearing was the Congressional equivalent of your parents’ calls to IT, with Zuck throwing out buzzwords like “data privacy” and “artificial intelligence” to ensure no one would ask a legitimate follow up. It was painfully clear that Congress’ understanding of AI doesn’t go very far beyond the general “smart but scary robot computer” presented in mainstream movies and TV shows. We’re at a crossroads when it comes to this sort of technology, and it has the potential to fundamentally change the world. The only way to ensure it’s used responsibly is through the development of proactive regulations and guidelines.
This is where “Privacy and Freedom of Expression In the Age of Artificial Intelligence” comes in. Written by the members of Article 19, a global human rights organization dedicated to promoting freedom of expression, and Privacy International, an NGO focused on privacy, the paper explains basically everything an informed citizen (or Congressperson cough cough) should know about AI as it relates to democracy, in simple, easy-to-understand language.
Though the paper begins with a wonderfully basic explanation of key terms like, “AI,” “algorithms,” and “machine learning,” it doesn’t stop there. It continues on to describe how AI affects freedom of expression and personal privacy, outlines the state of things currently, and provides suggestions as to where we should go from here.
Sure it's not exactly a beach read, but it’s about as close as a group of experts can get when writing about complicated technology with the potential to have profound effects on our lives. Definitely pull it out on the subway or during your next existential crisis; the future will thank you.