How Artificial Intelligence Is Reshaping Repression

“Ethical Markets highly recommends this article “The Road to  Digital Unfreedom” from the Carnegie Endowment, which documents the current use of digital surveillance by autocratic regimes, facilitated by the dangers of mis-use of human-trained machine intelligence (so-called AI) now tracking individuals and groups. Dictatorships are using  big data collection schemes, surveillance, face-recognition, bots and trolls on social media sites, forged video and audio, to mislead and confuse citizens with widespread  bias in algorithms trained by narrow demographic profiles and prejudices of most trainers and coders.

While this article is an important, well-documented wake-up call to policymakers and civic organizations, it does not focus attention on the same mis-uses by corporations in psychographic tracking of social media users’ personal data, movements, health status, driving and other habits for advertising purposes and selling this data to brokers and marketers. The profit-making uses of AI and proliferating tracking devices in “smart homes“, digital assistants, etc. were all showcased at the recent Las Vegas expo.

Nor does this article propose or document the many creative responses now being debated: including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR);  pushbacks by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU and other civic groups;  the calls for anti-trust enforcement laws to be applied to social media monopolies. These include Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter  and the need to change their business models to Those earlier, subscription-based like AOL, (rather than selling their users’ data and advertising); divesting of the some 450 smaller competitors they have bought up (e.g. Instagram, WhatsApp, and others), pass the bill in Congress to force them to conform to  disclosure standards required of all other media, or regulate these media giants as public utilities.


We hope that the publisher of this article, the Carnegie Endowment can join with Ethical Markets and the many policymakers now working to re-fund the US Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), which operated from 1975 until shut down in 1996 by the Republican majority in Congress, led by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich.  This agency, worked with US universities and experts, to assessed the social and environmental long-term consequences of introduction of new technologies like so-called “AI“ and social media, to alert and inform Congress members, as I reported in “The Future of Democracy Challenged in the Digital Age” CADMUS, Oct. 2018.


Hazel Henderson, Editor (for full disclosure, I served on the OTA Technology Assessment Advisory Council from 1975-1980)”

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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