Several stories from this past week demonstrate how the government is working hand in hand with tech corps to warp fast-evolving AI and robotics to wage wars against “enemies” foreign and domestic.

There was news that as part of a massive $857.9 billion just-approved 2023 National Defense Appropriations, the Pentagon has awarded cloud computing contracts worth nearly 10 billion dollars to a handful of the largest U.S. tech corporations.

Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle are signed to work on the military’s “Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability” initiative.

The Pentagon will also devote more money to develop Artificial Intelligence “for various warfighting operations.”

Meanwhile, San Francisco City Council narrowly voted to rescind a prior late November vote that allowed the police department to deploy robots authorized to kill suspects in the course of committing violent crimes.

And in another story, a new AI “chatbot” released for free public preview by OpenAI garnered glowing reviews from various MSM outlets for its astounding abilities. Some even speculated that the bot could threaten traditional search engines and spell trouble for companies like Google.  

Most stories barely mentioned the catch: the chatbot has a decidedly “woke” mind of its own, and won’t assist with verboten subjects or tasks. 

The various recent stories show that while technocrats are racing to develop and profit from AI and robotics, they are also showing a willingness to abuse the technology to sow destruction and reduce important freedoms citizens should vigilantly demand be protected.

AI For War Or Peace?

Pentagon officials crowed over the 9 billion dollar deal with tech companies. Defense Department Chief Information Officer John Sherman commented, according to NextGov:

“As we look at our pacing challenge of [the People’s Republic of China], I’ve said often that our American industry and technology in the digital space is really what gives us a leg up. Being able to work with these four cloud service providers that are world class, to be able to help our warfighters—our men and women in uniform—as well as civilians and others who support them—and working with our allies too, by the way—to be able to make sense of their environment and to be able to make calculations and be able to live and excel and maneuver and fight and win in a digital environment, that’s what this cloud computing provides…”

Of course, the U.S. isn’t alone in seeking to weaponize fast-emerging AI-driven information and robotic technology. Major geopolitical competitors including China, the EU and Russia are also looking to exploit these technologies for military and strategic advantage.

But the question becomes, why aren’t the U.S. and EU attempting to negotiate and implement policies that will advance the peaceful potentials and applications for AI and robotics? 

There’s been no shortage of zeal by world bodies and western nations to progressively implement radical “zero carbon” climate agenda goals.  

Weaponized AI and robotics arguably represent at least as much of a threat to precipitate a hell on earth in the near future.

In 2015, more than a thousand AI and Robotics researchers and scientists signed a letter urging the UN to impose a ban on the development of weaponized AI with the capability to target and kill without meaningful human intervention.

The letter, presented by The Future of Life Institute, was presented at the 2015 International Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

But even that letter amounted to only asking that future “autonomous” AI (AI capable of independent decision making, or even human-like consciousness) be subject to a human chain of command.  

It did not call for outright banning of weaponizing the technologies involved.

And obviously, the U.S., China and others are not paying much heed to the concerns of peace-minded voices.

Thus, the huge surge in tech spending in the latest Pentagon budget, going to firms on the bleeding edge of AI development, like Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

Another troubling aspect of the huge financial relationship with these tech companies, is that they all also happen to control major media components, as part of their business.

Google has a near monopoly of web searches, and the dominant video posting and sharing service, Youtube. It also has cultivated a news aggregator service called Google News, for its platforms, including android and chrome devices. Via Google News, it exerts influence over the news, deciding which stories from which news outlets are promoted and prominently placed via its service.

Microsoft controls the second largest search engine, Bing. It has also exerted influence over news information via its support of the NewsGuard initiative for its Edge web browser. NewsGuard is a service which filters news for supposed “misinformation,” but actually serves as a politically biased gatekeeper, favoring liberally biased news.

Microsoft also owns a number of communication and media related companies, including Activision Blizzard, LinkedIn, Skype and others. One company no longer involved with Microsoft is the MSNBC news network. Microsoft ended its partnership there in 2012.

Amazon exerts huge influence over information and entertainment content via its Kindle bookselling platform and its Prime video streaming and media producing division.

In 2021, Amazon was reportedly the world’s largest bookseller. Publishers Weekly noted in an April 2022 article, “But as indies come back, Amazon continues to grow its online business. So much so that the Association of American Publishers reported that 50 percent of trade sales moved online in 2020 for the first time.”

Trade sales are by publishing houses, not independent self-publishing authors. Amazon now controls the lion’s share of both.

The point of the enormous media influence of these tech companies is that they also now do billions of dollars in business with the Federal government. The obvious question is, what can be expected regarding their coverage and treatment of military, governmental and political topics and issues?

The answer is, very little, apart from extreme government-toadying bias.

SanFrancisco Backtracking Only a Blip On the Way to Domestic Killer Robots

From battlefields to local neighborhoods, AI-powered robots are ready to begin patrolling.

San Francisco politicians recently received blowback over a November decision to allow its police department to deploy robots capable of killing violent suspects. 

On 6 December, the city council revoked its decision by a vote of 8-3.

The prior approval would have allowed police to deploy robots that could “contact, incapacitate, or disorient violent, armed, or dangerous suspects”

posing an immediate threat to the lives of officers or members of the public.

The SFPD reportedly has nearly 20 robots, with more than half currently fully operational. Personnel are trained to control and operate the robots remotely.

The San Francisco episode shows that the technology to deploy “robocops” is no longer science fiction. 

There’s also little reason to believe that, absent a concerted nationwide conversation regarding the use of AI and robotics by government and law enforcement, these technologies will soon be implemented in some locality or other. 

No doubt others will quickly follow.

And as robotics and AI are given more authority and weaponization, is there any doubt that the same government authorities will seek to erode the traditional, Constitution rights of citizens to arm and protect themselves?

In fact, as The Trends Journal has previously pointed out, “superior” AI may one day soon effectively legislate its own increases in authority and power (see “THE AI LEGISLATOR YOU DIDN’T VOTE FOR,” 23 Aug 2022.)

OpenAI Woke ChatGPT Won’t Show Or Tell Verboten Subjects 

CNET reported last week that a new advanced AI chatbot released for public preview by OpenAI was causing a sensation.

“It’s a big deal,” CNET said. “The tool seems pretty knowledgeable if not omniscient—it can be creative and its answers can sound downright authoritative. A few days after its launch, more than a million people are trying out ChatGPT.”

Tech industry observers noted that ChatGPT, built on the most advanced OpenAI, may prove to be a more engaging interface not only to research info, but to converse with and creatively brainstorm ideas and creative content.

In other words, it may be the kind of thing that near-future search engines are built around.

But this kind of SaaS (software as a service) imposes more limits on not only content searches, but content creation, than users of creativity software might like.

In fact, the limits being imposed very arguably violate free speech and creative and political expressions in ways that are pernicious and will undoubtedly be more apparent to users as they increasingly collaborate with this tech company controlled AI.

CNET mentions the limits of ChatGPT almost as a casual aside, as though it’s a non-issue:

“ChatGPT is designed to weed out ‘inappropriate’ requests, a behavior in line with OpenAI’s mission ‘to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity.’ If you ask ChatGPT itself what’s off limits, it’ll tell you: any questions ‘that are discriminatory, offensive, or inappropriate. This includes questions that are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, or otherwise discriminatory or hateful.’”

Welcome to thought police built into productivity software, controlled by tech companies who can shut users out of their service at any time, for violations. It’s a very big deal, as The Trends Journal has been covering in detail (see for example, “YOU WILL OWN NO SOFTWARE AND BE HAPPY—PART ONE” and “YOU WILL OWN NO SOFTWARE AND BE HAPPY—PART TWO.”)

Unless citizens begin pushing back against these kinds of limits, propagandistically peddled as “ensuring [it] benefits all humanity,” while actually enforcing politically biased viewpoints, tech companies and politicians will squeeze users into tighter and tighter “thought boxes.”

It’s clear that AI and robotics are advancing in capabilities at a pace that will alter the world in ways that in 20 years, may make many of today’s ways of doing things seem like quaint history.

Unfortunately, the innovations may not result in more widespread human freedom, peace and prosperity, but in more wealth, power and control for a relative few elites that already are benefiting and exploiting the technology for those purposes.

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