If you’re like most people in America today, you didn’t know it, but you’re to blame for the police state that we have now. How? Partially for who we have voted for. Partially for what we have tolerated and put up with. But, also, in many cases because we willingly helped the government to spy on us. How? By what you’ve chosen to purchase.
Now, we’re not talking about how companies track you through cookies in your internet browser (you do know about that, don’t you?). It’s because, the technology that you buy helps companies to be able to develop better and cheaper versions of the same technology. To be fair, that’s often a good thing (I like a less expensive, more powerful computer), but when it comes to things like making drones with cameras cheap, that means that government and law enforcement can buy even more and use them more often. Dave Gershgorn writes,
Affordable consumer technology has made surveillance cheap and commoditized AI software has made it automatic.
Those two trends merged this week, when drone manufacturer DJI partnered June 5 with Axon, the company that makes Taser weapons and police body cameras, to sell drones to local police departments around the United States. Now, not only do local police have access to drones, but footage from those flying cameras will one day be analyzed by AI systems.
Footage will be uploaded or streamed to Axon’s digital cloud for police cameras, like the body cameras it currently sells, where it can be analyzed by Axon’s AI and used for anything from crowd monitoring to search and rescue, the company writes on its website. [hat tip to here for the lead]
So, other than privacy issues (which are enough of a concern), why would law enforcement using drones and artificial intelligence (AI) software be a concern? Because they are trying to predict illegal actions before they happen which opens the whole situation up to all kinds of “Minority Report” type of abuse where people are accused of things that they haven’t done and punished for actions that they haven’t taken. In this case, all of this would be because of spying and AI software trying to figure out who is bad and who is not.
So, maybe you’re thinking that a little police harassment is no big deal. While many Americans who have dealt with police harassment would disagree with you, maybe this will make you reconsider your position. Again, from Gershgorn:
But now, AI-powered surveillance systems are becoming as easy for a police department to order as a car, handcuffs, or anything else they feel they need to effectively do their jobs.
And now, drones are already getting the green light for police use, not just for surveillance but also to dispense pepper spray and tear gas.
That’s right, you could be sprayed with pepper spray or tear gas because an AI using a drone mistakes you for someone doing evil things even if you’re innocent.
So, we’re not only dealing with a surveillance state issue; we’re dealing with a “crowd control” issue. And you and I and anyone who disagrees with the government is the crowd to be controlled.