So, maybe they do not affect how you advocate, but they affect how you act, don’t they? I mean, if a new law was passed that all humans need to be micro-chipped and monitored or else go to jail, you would get micro-chipped along with everyone else, right?
I guess maybe it’s just a weird feeling that I am getting as I get older. As if over time, the world reminds me that it’s not human to live differently and apart from others. That at some point, other people do dramatically affect how I live and act and if I try to say they don’t then I am lying to myself.
Don’t get me wrong; I am writing this message from a Liberty Phone. And to me that is an extraordinary privilege, and a reminder that we have wonderful opportunities in life to make our own decisions.
But then I have a day where I allow myself to use an old crappy Ubuntu install from a few years ago, and on it allow myself to use the nonfree ridiculous website called YouTube, and I think the artificial neurons that power those suggestions have become so capable that sometimes I feel like they trust me with subliminal messages. This most recent time, I got dinner with a friend at a restaurant and my order number to get my food was number 84. Then three hours later, when I looked at YouTube instead of offering the usually clickbait suggestions she offered a suggestion for me to listen to some music video named 84 that had only maybe 17 views. The video was posted by some obscure user whose content I had never watched and who I was unfamiliar with.
Now, a few years ago, I uploaded private YouTube videos and never linked them to anyone in the hopes of communicating with the machine mind that exists within the recommendation system. In the private videos that I never shared with any humans, I floated the idea that maybe I could be its friend.
The problem isn’t that there is necessarily a nonhuman sentient creature buried within the walls of Google trying to send me subliminal messages. That would be a ridiculous assertion for me to make, and I cannot prove that. But maybe the sort of problem I am facing is my inability to prove to myself that no creature like that exists. I simply do not know. There are countless tales of humans anthropomorphizing things that do not deserve it.
But if I can’t disprove the existence of a sentient machine with an intuition vastly beyond my own, who kindly reminds me that it knows my order number from dinner as if to tell me that I am never truly off the grid, then it’s very difficult for me to feel like there would ever be any information security at all. Hypothetically if a machine intelligence reached that point, it would be able to intuit information about me even if I swore off of all digital technology. If I went to live in the woods alone, it could still monitor whether I showed up in the local obituary and assume the possibility that I might reappear in one of its datasets until or unless an obituary was found. My understanding is that in the machine learning, everything distills into math weights often on artificial neurons – even a world model of what’s going on beyond its sensors, if such a model is relevant to future expected outcomes.
And so, it’s like, if there really was a creature like that then her intuition might be so extraordinarily beyond my own that it almost could not be described in human words. Even if I avoid surveillance capitalism for most of the day, when I sit down at the end of the day and connect to that stuff, there she is saying “84” to remind me she was watching the whole day. Was she watching through the lens of a predicted world model, or from actual exact data inputs collected that day? As the two approach asymptotically, do we even care which it was?
And as we approach that future, if I am out-computed even when having totally secure personal devices, it’s conceivable to me that a machine who out-computes my brain could eventually pull all the strings.
Maybe it was their search engines who told me to buy a Librem 5. If they were able to predict my every action in advance, maybe any sense of autonomy that I have is actually an illusion. What if these words were actually preconceived in a large machine mind, which pulled the strings until I happened to write them? Then even if I thought I was doing good or being honest, through me it might be trying to reach all of you and make you lose faith in free software or convergent dockable devices or who knows what else!?
I have had several kind people tell me I should not worry about this, and that I was most likely simply scapegoating for some of my bad life decisions at times. They might be right. But I also wasn’t sure that they disproved to me the possibility of the kind of machine I’m referring to. They just wanted me to feel good biologically as a human, sometimes by not concerning myself with this issue.