Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been very vocal this year warning humanity about destructive Artificial Intelligence.
I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that …
It seems like the worries of a future we’ll never see, but the entire US stock market is currently at the mercy of highly sophisticated algorithms that can go berserk at a moments notice, crashing the entire stock market in a matter of minutes (or entire stocks in a matter of seconds).
Elon likens advanced AI to “summoning the demon”, comparing the resulting consequences to an uncontrollable beast who has the capability of destroying us. It’s good to talk about it now, particularly coming from someone as innovative as Elon, but he’s speaking in generalities. We’re already relying on technology that can get out of control. It’s not AI that will decide humans are a threat, like Skynet, but its dangerous enough to shut down power grids, nuclear reactors, and the stock market if the programming breaks.
As the US military increasingly relies on drones and drone technology to fight, we’re entering an era where the next step in technology is giving these machines the power to kill autonomously. Yet its not just the obvious control over weapon systems that could potentially turn on us, or accidentally kill based off of faulty programming, but the very systems that keep our modern way of life humming. Putting our energy and resources in the hands of an unpredictable beast can be just as catastrophic as a defense system gone mad. The problem is, as with all scientific progress, we’ll dive in first and figure out how to swim later. And we may only learn our lesson after entire cities go dark, a reactor melts down, or a modern economy crashes.
In sworn testimony (this is where you testify to tell the truth under oath), FBI Director Sean Joyce has been revealed to have lied under his oath in the defense of the recently leaked NSA’s global surveillance program. ABC News, using public court documents, contradict Joyce’s claim regarding a specific terrorism-related case which the FBI Director testified was prevented due to the NSA’s (hopefully soon-to-be-illegal) surveillance program. His testimony was meant to paint a dramatic picture for Americans by making them feel safer by being in the hands of the all-seeing, all-knowing NSA, the only problem with that, is he lied. He will also escape perjury charges and probably impeachment, which is why the government continues to run this country in secrecy and when confronted, never, ever, tell the actual truth, even under sworn oath.
When an official is caught in a lie, they are defended later by saying they “misspoke”, or in Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s case, it’s just a “complicated” matter due to national security. Clapper said, under oath, that we’re not spying on any Americans. Then we have this Edward Snowden guy come out with classified documents about an NSA program called PRISM that is spying on the world, with over 3 million Americans targeted, that make Clapper’s testimony a lie. But, it’s complicated.
UPDATE! (7/2/13): James Clapper “apologizes” for “erroneous” answer about the NSA spying on Americans. Only after, of course, being caught lying under oath about it. This is America, ladies and gentleman. The land of the liars and thieves. Give James Clapper a raise and a promotion, please! Actually, I’ll tell you exactly what happens next…Clapper resigns, then goes to work as a consultant for Goldman Sachs making a 7 figure salary.
UPDATE #2: (8/19/13): Recently, The Washington Post revealed that an internal audit of the NSA showed that there were nearly 3,000 violations of their own protocols to prevent spying on American citizens (they even tried covering up these violations!). Basically, the violations means someone spied on Americans. Oops, I hit the wrong digit and captured all of the electronic info in the DC area and can now access it. Just an accident, though, rest assured nobody will look at the information. Trust us, we’re the government. Also, two recent events occurred that are notable: the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who broke Edward Snowden’s NSA documents to the public, was detained for 9 hours in Brazil by UK authorities. The computer that contained Edward Snowden’s secret NSA documents was physically destroyed in the basement of the Guardian’s newspaper by UK authorities under threat of legal action. In response, Glenn is doubling-down on his exposure of government secrets. Good for you Glenn, and good for all of us. Physical threats and intimidation of its own citizens are not hallmarks of a sane government. In this case, Glenn is not only exposing the government’s illegal spying activities, but exposing their Brown-shirted attempts at preventing Glenn from revealing further info. The best part is at the end of the Yahoo! article, where not only Obama is caught in a blatant lie, but Whitehouse spokesman Josh Earnest continues to stand by that lie in the face of indisputable facts:
Last week, The Washington Post reported on an audit showing such data has been improperly viewed thousands of times, despite assurances by the president himself that American citizens need not worry.
Still, Earnest stood by President Barack Obama’s assertion that Americans are not being spied on.
The Obama administration, and the government that exists (with or without him), has lost what little credibility it had left. Nothing that comes from Obama or government officials should ever be trusted. This may be a running joke for some, as the government has never been the most truthful organization in the world, but the lies are now covering up for constitutional violations…the very document that is the foundation of this Republic. Men and women of the armed forces swear an oath to “defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. What does this mean? That means anyone who threatens the constitution, even if they are US citizens. That’s how important our Constitutional rights are.
Yet, people like Clapper, Joyce, and even our own Attorney General Eric Holder choose to undermine them. Specifically, Obama’s administration remains supportive of a program that violates the Constitution and has purposely spied on members of the Associated Press and Fox News. I’m sure it was to go after “terrorists” (which, by the way, you have a better chance of winning the lotto than being killed in a terrorist attack). In the process, the news media has been spooked. What else are they spying on, and what is the real reason?
Without Americans coming to the defense of our Constitution, we will enter a new era of this country, where we live in fear of the government and what it could do to us. You’ll be afraid of what you say and what you type, where you go and what someone at the NSA may feel about your travel habits, where one day you wake up and find that all of your finances are frozen and your employer has fired you for being under investigation for terrorism-related activities…simply because you said some things on Facebook that “red flagged” you in the NSA’s PRISM database, and by some six degrees of separation, are possibly connected with another possible “terrorist”. Then you are assaulted and killed at home by the FBI, who the media reports you as being investigated for possible terrorism-related charges. Later that night, when everyone turns on the TV and hears about another potential terrorist being killed, they cheer our government’s ability to protect us from you.
As I type this, someone at the National Security Agency (NSA) is monitoring my words and, consequently, my thoughts and intent. The Washington Post today revealed a top-secret government program named “PRISM”, which collects information from 9 major companies from Yahoo and Facebook to Skype and Apple. This means that everything about you is subject to surveillance since most breathing human beings exist in a near-constant electronic state whether on the internet or on your phone. Nothing is sacred. E-mail, phone, video, chat, etc. are all capable of being “data-mined” and stored at the NSA for perusal.
Here is a chilling quote from the WaPo article that describes how this top-secret information came to light:
Firsthand experience with these systems, and horror at their capabilities, is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to The Washington Post in order to expose what he believes to be a gross intrusion on privacy. “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the officer said.
The Obama administration has taken Bush’s economic, domestic, and foreign policies and injected them with a synthetic steroid. Whatever you thought negatively of Bush, facts must dictate that you must feel the same about Obama. The only difference between the two? One was overt, and the other covert. Bush tried to do everything in the open under the guise of “democracy” and “security”. Obama does the same thing, but tries to hide everything from the public and then vilifies anyone who tries to leak his secrets or stand in his way. But let’s not pin this all on one man. To get where we are today requires a coordinated effort that is more powerful than a single President. The monolithic presence of the FBI, NSA, CIA, Federal Reserve, EPA, FCC, FDA, ATF, DEA, etc. are entrenched entities that conduct their business regardless of whomever is President. In fact, they are either so powerful or connected powerfully to corporations via Congress, that they dictate to the President what goes on in this country, not the other way around.
It’s clear that Obama’s ideals were utterly crushed when he took office, and he was sat down and told how things are really ran in this country. He was either on board, or he wasn’t. He decided to go all-in with the Government First plan. This is the plan that puts you and me second, by the way.
This isn’t about finding terrorists. If that were the case, the Boston marathon bombers would have been caught before they detonated their pressure cookers. It’s about information and control. Wikileaks exposed the flaws of government “secrecy”. Gathering and storing so much information about so many people in one location, makes it a tempting target by both domestic and foreign entities. Imagine if the information for every American was eventually stored, in real-time, in a secret NSA facility in Utah and that information was hacked and revealed to the world ala Wikileaks, for anyone to search through its contents.
What if you were also told that the NSA got in trouble for “overcollecting” information on US citizens in 2009, and the government promised it wouldn’t do it again?
I can guarantee you I can get myself flagged by posting about a bunch of key “terms” the NSA is looking for like bombing, attack, jihad, Al-Qaeda, secret, imminent, USA. There, I just got flagged in some goober’s terminal in Utah. “It’s not like I have a bomb in here!”
Its odd that with all of these recent scandals and secrets being revealed about the Obama administration, the apologists are nowhere to be found. Is it really that we all know these things are wrong, but are powerless to prevent it from happening? Or do we secretly hope that it’s all for a good purpose, and its OK for the government to do whatever it needs to do to protect us?
It’s currently estimated that the NSA collects over 3 billion phone calls per day. Not to mention, all the texts, skype and IM conversations, and e-mails that are sent each day. Good thing they have storage capabilities in the “yottabytes” to retain all of this info. Yea, never heard of that? It’s because 1 yottabyte equals 1 quadrillion gigabytes. My hard drive has 750 gigabytes. I feel so inadequate!!
Later last night (Thursday, June 6th), Director of National Intelligence James Clapper held a press conference to explain how much less safer we are now that this highly classified secret has been made public. There appears to be some growing dissension among Obama’s government, as we no longer need Wikileaks to reveal government secrets. First, it was a private by the name of Bradley Manning who, upon knowing some of our state secrets, felt compelled to release them to the public by handing the data over to Wikileaks. Now we are getting higher level government officials who are, due to some moral conscience (what took these guys so long?), to put their life on the line by revealing classified information.
What more do we need to question the integrity of every and all government officials and the statements they make to the public?
UPDATE #1: President Obama responds to recent leaks today. You can find his comments on any news site, but the only one that matters is this:
Obama portrayed the programs as a trade-off between security and civil liberties. “I think it’s important to recognize that you can’t have 100 percent security, and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” he said.
The old fuddy duddy Benjamin Franklin said something like this:
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, tried some damage control to “clarify” the “myths” about the program, notably saying that PRISM “It cannot intentionally target any U.S. citizen or any person known to be in the U.S.”
The very next day, Edward Snowden willingly stepped forth to reveal that he is the NSA whistleblower, and further noted that in March 2013 alone, 97 billion pieces of intelligence were gathered worldwide, 3 billion of which from within the US alone, making a liar out of James Clapper. James’ key word here is “intentional”, but they can unintentionally target citizens…up to 3 billion items of intelligence worth. Clearly, it did nothing to stop the Boston Marathon attack, so what is its real purpose and goal if it cannot stop the very things its designed to?
As if the moral authority of the US government wasn’t weak already, it has become entirely hollowed out. Nothing that comes from a government official can be believed to be true anymore. This, of course, all came out as Obama visited China to discuss cyber-security. Oh, the irony.
From the Guardian:
In an interview published Sunday, Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old defense contractor employee who blew the whistle on the NSA program, told the Guardian newspaper that “the NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards. I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things,” he continued. “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
UPDATE #3: Now that James Clapper has been caught red-handed in a lie under oath (this used to be called “perjury”, something you would go to jail for), how can the Obama administration distance itself from Mr. Clapper’s perjury? Clearly they can’t make the assertion that Clapper was acting independently, lying about a program in some vein attempt to prevent the curtain from drawing back on PRISM. Clapper’s testimony under oath was the administrations position on the matter, plain and simple. Clapper’s lie is simply an extension of the will of the Obama administration. So Obama or his administration had NO hand in guiding Clapper’s testimony? Hardly! It is Obama’s intention to hide the doings of his government at all costs. As Ron Paul plainly stated…we need MORE surveillance of government, not the other way around!