‘Autonomous Machines’: World Reawakens to U.S. Internet Dominance (Mediapart, France)
Does the surveillance capability of the NSA lead inexorably toward a world in which intelligent machines run everything, and autonomously decide who is a threat – and what to do about those so judged? That is the unsettling conclusion of Midiapart tech columnists Jean-Paul Baquiast and Christophe Jacquemin, who warn that without leaders like Charles de Gaulle – who might have the cahones to spend half a trillion dollars immediately, it will be impossible for France, Europe, Russia or China to ever technologically catch up to the United States.
This system rests on two pillars. The first is storage, which has become global, notably at the NSA’s Utah data center, of all personal and financial information transmitted on digital networks by billions of Internet users and so-called intelligent portable devices. The information is either pirated or provided voluntarily by all users of Facebook, Skype, Google, etc.
The second pillar of American power, the extent of which is only now fully revealed, rests on the fact that databases stored in this way are then read and analyzed, not by human operators who would be incapable of doing so, but by software programs developed as a result of billion-dollar contracts to high-tech companies specializing in research and control.
These programs are becoming autonomous and activate one another. Initially, they may suggest that human operators research, and eventually destroy, a particular individual or company whose existence may be judged hostile to American interests. Very soon, they will themselves, without a clear mandate, take the decision to destroy or incapacitate. This scenario exists, not only in the so-called battle against terrorism, but in all competitive fields where America takes on the world.
The old fear of science fiction writers, that robots would become rulers of the world, is becoming a reality.
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