AI recon drones and IoT surveillance just “scaremongering”?

Well, look at the (prototype) insect drones that already exist today. It’s just a matter of time, in the near future, when they have become developed enough to be mass produced, in large numbers exceeding tens of millions.

Paul Scharre refers to Stuart Russell (one of the leading experts on AI) in a book called “Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War”. Here we can read that:

“Russell has a very different kind of autonomous weapon in mind, a swarm of millions of small, fast-moving antipersonnel drones that could wipe out an entire urban population.”

Many are already aware of the slaughter bots discussed by Russell, but they don’t worry about it, because they believe that these bots will only be deployed in war. And that is correct (depending on how you define war now). The real danger in our everyday lives is not killer robots but millions of very tiny recon drones that can monitor every square meter in a city. Combined with IoT surveillance sensors in literally all things, from utensils to beer bottles, in a cashless society, it will turn even forests and mountains into places where you can’t hide.

One may say that laws can ban recon drones, but they will be so tiny that you either can’t practically see them or you will think it’s just a natural bug on your wall. Since warfare has now been privatized to a large degree, cf “The New Rules of War” by Sean McFate, it will be possible for corporations, such as Amazon perhaps, to monitor people without anybody being able to really know whether they are under surveillance or not. This will have a very chilling effect on people, in one way it will be worse than living in Nazi or Stasi Germany since you can’t be sure whether there is a camera and microphone in your own bedroom or bathroom. The New York Times is already warning people about this surveillance trend:

A Paranoid Guide to Fighting the ‘Bugging Epidemic’

“With surveillance gear cheaper and easier to use, security experts say checking your environment for cameras and microphones is not a crazy idea.”

Critics will reply that geofencing tech can sound an alarm each time a drone enters your house, but the consequence is that governments, corporations and criminal hackers can know when you are entering and leaving your home. When geofencing is protecting all buildings and all public spaces, to stop hostile bug drones, it can also track all your movements. Some may argue that commercial bug drones can be banned. That will not stop criminals, and not prevent your neighbor from 3D-printing bug drones, steered by narrow AI which can’t be tracked back to him/her.

We have to fight Big Tech if we want to save humanity as we know it. The only question is which tactics and strategies are both effective and morally defensible?

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