First of all, let’s recognize that the privacy of transaction records is not a brand new issue at all. We have many decades of experience, and I think it helps to understand that we have two types of consumer transaction records that we’re talking about.
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You might be more comfortable thinking about deploying math and code as your tactic, but I want to talk to you about the full suite of tactics that we use to effect change in the world. And this is a framework that we owe to this guy Lawrence Lessig.
As we’ve moved into increasingly digital spaces, so online worlds, we’re moving away from your traditional physical spaces where you have public streets; where you have public squares; where people can go to protest, and into areas, if you would call them that, that are entirely controlled by corporations.
The big concerns that I have about artificial intelligence are really not about the Singularity, which frankly computer scientists say is…if it’s possible at all it’s hundreds of years away. I’m actually much more interested in the effects that we are seeing of AI now.
You may have heard people come up to you and say like, “Hey, you’re young. That makes you a digital native.” Something about being born after the millennium or born after 1995 or whatever, that makes you sort of mystically tuned in to what the Internet is for, and anything that you do on the Internet must be what the Internet is actually for. And I’m here to tell you that you’re not a digital native. That you’re just someone who uses computers, and you’re no better and no worse than the rest of us at using computers.
This is a moment to ask as we make the planet digital, as we totally envelop ourselves in the computing environment that we’ve been building for the last hundred years, what kind of digital planet do we want? Because we are at a point where there is no turning back, and getting to ethical decisions, values decisions, decisions about democracy, is not something we have talked about enough nor in a way that has had impact.
I’m Elizabeth Feinler, usually known as “Jake.” That’s my nickname. And I ran the contract for the Network Information Center on both the ARPANET and the Defense Data Network back in the 70s and 80s.