Forfeiting the Zeroth AI War, and control over our own data

A little while back I wrote about how we’re forfeiting the first major global conflict between humans and AI frameworks: by not recognizing that the conflict exists, encouraging machine-learning models to measure success in their ability to change human behavior, and broadcasting voluminous data and access to human responses that help those nets to succeed even when the results hurt or dismay the people involved.

Addressing the second point: recognizing that sharing granular data about preferences and responses makes it easy for others to exploit individual behavior, how can we institute better control over the use of personal data on major platforms – social networks, ad tracking, ISP tracking, and the like? How can we ensure that the platforms we support and make powerful provide such protection to all by default?

The current public furore over Cambridge Analytica and SCL is relevant, but conceals in part the universal leverage all platforms have over their users, until they implement encryption and isolation that makes such leverage impossible without user buy-in (opt-in).

Some attempts to answer these questions:

    • Mozilla has launched a public petition to FB to set the default privacy setting to “requires explicit user permission”:
    • There’s an older notion of “vendor relationship management” that anyone who uses one’s personal data has to make that use visible to the person, and get their permission:

If you live in the European Union, a mandate was just passed involving the “right to be forgotten”. Contact your politicians and tell them you would like to see your country embrace this trend even further.

if you live in the U.S. or anywhere else without personal data protection laws, contact your local representative and tell them you want to see legislation that will mandate companies give users control of their data.

It’s great that Firefox is trying to deal directly with Facebook, but the best way to make these changes last will be with legislation.

Belatedly, I signed the Mozilla petition.

I have a question for you: what is the effect, if any, of the recent Congressional hearings on FB’s behavior? Is Mr. Z and/or FB emboldened? Chastened?

Thanks @metasj! The ProjectVRM wiki has a very cool list of VRM Development Work. Cool :sunglasses:

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Not chastened, as far as I know. It seems to be viewed as a hurdle that was overcome without much damage. The challenge to FB in the UK is a more serious one, and they’ve fared less well in both the political and public-journalism arena there.

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