Britain’s brand new Prime Minister gave a grave warning at the United Nations about the rapid development of new technology by Silicon Valley titans of industry, warning of a dystopian future in which Big Tech controls every aspect of human life.
“Your mattress will monitor your nightmares, your fridge will beep for more cheese, your front door will sweep wide the moment you approach, like some silent butler,” Boris Johnson said Monday.
He warned about the power of Google and Amazon made home products like Alexa and the Google Nest Hub (now equipped with facial recognition software, as well as what he called “pink-eyed terminators sent back from the future to cull the human race.”
Johnson noted that the new technology could usher in an era of authoritarianism, telling the audience that “it takes real effort to conceal your thoughts from Google,” and warning that new technology stores everyone’s personal information “in some great cloud of data that lowers ever more oppressively over the human race.”
His speech was timely.
Tuesday, we reported on Facebook’s latest acquisition, which is perhaps its most worrying yet. The company spent half a billion dollars to acquire a New York City based “neural monitoring” company which is essentially developing technology to read your thoughts, and allow you to control your devices with them.
“We spend a lot of time trying to get our technology to do what we want rather than enjoying the people around us,” Facebook vice president Andrew Bosworth said. “We know there are more natural, intuitive ways to interact with devices and technology. And we want to build them. It’s why we’ve agreed to acquire CTRL-labs. They will be joining our Facebook Reality Labs team where we hope to build this kind of technology, at scale, and get it into consumer products faster.”
I reported on the functionality of CTRL-Labs’ product:
Practically speaking, the device allows for the user to think about making a movement, and simply that thought will cause the intended response from the device. Current technology exists that allows one to make a physical move to control a device. For example, shaking an iPhone while using the text messaging application causes the phone to prompt the user about whether he or she wants to delete the text. CTRL-Labs’ product promises to remove the necessity for physical movement altogether.
Johnson vowed the United Kingdom would protect its citizenry from the potentially overbearing power of Big Tech.
“The mission of the United Kingdom, and all who share our values, must be to ensure that emerging technologies are designed from the outset for freedom, openness, and pluralism, with the right safeguards in place to protect our peoples,” he reportedly said.
The combination of technology that has the ability to gather one’s thoughts, along with social media designed to harness as much data as possible from each user, could soon mean that plutocratic elites developing such technology know nearly everything about every person. That much power concentrated in the power of such few, unelected people, has far-reaching and obvious implications about authoritarian rule in Western countries that currently enjoy freedom.