In this current age, we have phones that tell us about the weather, social media platforms that tell us about our mother’s birthday and other electronic devices that suggest who we should be friends with.
All of this has been made possible thanks to artificial intelligence that collects personal data to make suggestions. The perks associated with AI may initially seem attractive. However, how far are we willing to sacrifice our sense of privacy in exchange for a seemingly fake yet comfortable environment?
In this article, we will discuss artificial intelligence and the privacy challenges that not only trouble the consumers but also pose a threat to national security.
How Artificial Intelligence Works?
You may have heard the term AI thrown around quite frequently. However, only a handful of people truly understand what this term means.
Artificial intelligence is a set of algorithms and data codes that use its machine learning abilities to mimic human interactions. In simple terms, AI possesses cognitive learning abilities that enable it to capture and evaluate data and predict future based on it.
The purpose of AI is to work perfectly without human intervention. This is great to an extent; however, AI’s cognitive skills raise alarm for data privacy enthusiast.
AI relies on huge amounts of data which is then processed by advanced algorithms. This process helps AI in spotting and decoding patterns which aids in decision making and mimicking responses.
Is Society’s Privacy at Stake?
The artificial intelligence’s cognitive abilities do not come free. It needs to have access to terabytes of consumer data to make correct decisions. Additionally, various companies do not use artificial intelligence for its intended purpose as they utilize it as a tool to gather information.
Artificial intelligence consumes big data, computes it faster than human analyst and can perform all of this without any need for human supervision. With that being said, AI cannot achieve this feat without affecting the privacy in the following ways:
- Exploiting Consumer Data for Industries
The new models of smartphones and various other apps are designed to mine consumer data to be used by the AI. The said devices or apps cannot take data without confirmation and the consumers cannot use certain features without giving permission.
It is a dilemma and many people sacrifice their privacy for functionality. However, to what extent the data is mined, or to what extent the data is used, nobody knows for sure.
- Predictive Mode
AI takes predictive mode to the next level by using authorized consumer data to predict various aspects of the consumers’ behavior. It has the ability to take into consideration someone’s typing pattern, internet search history, activity log, and other similar metrics. This kind of data helps AI in predicting emotional state, the political views and other private information of specific individuals.
- Recognition Software
Facial and voice recognition at a larger scale may seem something out of the sci-fi movies. In reality, AI is much closer than ever to using recognition tools to identify individuals. This method not only compromises privacy in a public setting, but this software can also be seen as a move towards alack of anonymity.
- Tracking Systems
The laptops that we use at work along with the cell phones that we use at home; all are supported by the same software program and use the same connection services. This provides AI with a window to identify and track individuals even when they do want to be tracked.
Many AI enthusiasts would argue that personal data is always anonymized when used. However, once anonymized data becomes a part of general data; AI uses algorithms and other tools to de-anonymize data. This allows AI to track and identify users, even when they do not have the permission to do so.
- Profiling Based on Habits/Activities
AI’s ability to score and classify information seems terrifyingly similar to Black Mirror’s Nose Dive episode where individuals were judged or treated accordingly to their achievements (which was visible to everyone at all the time).
With this in practice, AI will be able to categorize people and the individuals with a more pleasing profile will be favored more than their counterparts. China has already achieved this feat by classifying people through their credit scores. The ones with a perfect credit score have a better chance of finding a spouse than those without a great score.
AI and the New General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
Once you provide authentication to AI, there is no stopping it. Even if you hire PHP programmers to have a secure network, AI would still have access to consumer data by using backdoors. AI’s ability to gather data not only threatens the public spheres but it also poses risk to national security since we still do not fully understand the extent with which the data mined.
To curb its reach, Europe has come up with the GDPR which will enforce data protection law across various mediums. The law was implemented in May 2018 which meant that users will have the right to be forgotten by the machines. Further, with it, the general population will be more in control of their personal data.
With that being said, GDPR’s implementation is only limited to the European Union. This means that the rest of the world is still susceptible to the control of AI.
What You Can Do About It?
We live a world where we intentionally sacrifice our security and anonymity for a few comforts and established companies like Google and Facebook seem to be taking advantage of it. Such platforms are only free since they earn money through third party advertisements. This is only made possible by selling consumers’ information to other vendors for targeted advertisement.
So, the moment we agree to register ourselves on such platforms is the exact moment where we are no longer in control of our information. Although, you can protect your privacy by using VPNs or open-source web browsers; however, once AI has the permission to mine data, nothing can be done to undo it!
Anne Taylor is a serial blogger with technical and business background. She loves writing about digital marketing, IT industry and workplace productivity. She is currently the content writer at Hire PHP Developers.