We are data: the future of machine intelligence

Douglas Coupland in the Financial Times: “…But what if the rise of Artificial Intuition instead blossoms under the aegis of theology or political ideology? With politics we can see an interesting scenario developing in Europe, where Google is by far the dominant search engine. What is interesting there is that people are perfectly free to use Yahoo or Bing yet they choose to stick with Google and then they get worried about Google having too much power — which is an unusual relationship dynamic, like an old married couple. Maybe Google could be carved up into baby Googles? But no. How do you break apart a search engine? AT&T was broken into seven more or less regional entities in 1982 but you can’t really do that with a search engine. Germany gets gaming? France gets porn? Holland gets commerce? It’s not a pie that can be sliced.

The time to fix this data search inequity isn’t right now, either. The time to fix this problem was 20 years ago, and the only country that got it right was China, which now has its own search engine and social networking systems. But were the British or Spanish governments — or any other government — to say, “OK, we’re making our own proprietary national search engine”, that would somehow be far scarier than having a private company running things. (If you want paranoia, let your government control what you can and can’t access — which is what you basically have in China. Irony!)

The tendency in theocracies would almost invariably be one of intense censorship, extreme limitations of access, as well as machine intelligence endlessly scouring its system in search of apostasy and dissent. The Americans, on the other hand, are desperately trying to implement a two-tiered system to monetise information in the same way they’ve monetised medicine, agriculture, food and criminality. One almost gets misty-eyed looking at North Koreans who, if nothing else, have yet to have their neurons reconfigured, thus turning them into a nation of click junkies. But even if they did have an internet, it would have only one site to visit, and its name would be gloriousleader.nk.

. . .

To summarise. Everyone, basically, wants access to and control over what you will become, both as a physical and metadata entity. We are also on our way to a world of concrete walls surrounding any number of niche beliefs. On our journey, we get to watch machine intelligence become profoundly more intelligent while, as a society, we get to watch one labour category after another be systematically burped out of the labour pool. (Doug’s Law: An app is only successful if it puts a lot of people out of work.)…(More)”