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Companies know more about our lives than we do

UGLY TRUTH: Misinformation and manipulation! Soon we'll become slaves to artificial intelligence

David Budai
29.Jan 2020
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4 minutes
Umělá inteligence nás dokáže ovládnout.

Fake news, misinformation, manipulation, false media or modern propaganda. If you go around feeling like it doesn't concern you, snickering at Donald Trump and his "alternative facts," you might want to stop and think about it. In recent years, artificial intelligence has been developing at an abnormally rapid pace, which turn relatively harmless tools into a large scale problem we hadn't been able to imagine before. Do you really think a smart computer will never be able to control you?

Využíváním počítačů a mobil za sebou zanecháváme stopy.
Umělá inteligence dokáže odhalit naše nejtajnější touhy.
Neovládnou nás roboti, ale chytré algoritmy.

For the longest time, I haven't considered the problem of misinformation and fake news as a major issue, and I was convinced that people would eventually learn to recognize lies or manipulation. But then I met two experts who opened my eyes. One of them was Michal Pěchouček, a scientist and the greatest Czech expert on artificial intelligence, the other was František Vrabel, whose analytical company Semantic Visons focuses on fighting disinformation. And both of them explained to me that artificial intelligence and its algorithms might soon be so smart and treacherous that we won't even realize it. Apparently, we're heading into difficult times.

Intelligent algorithms capable of adapting the content that gets to us in real time are already in place on the Internet. Each of us is shown different ads, e-shops target us with specific offers and the posts, photos and videos on our Facebook wall are also individualized. Even when searching on Google, each of us see slightly different results, depending on our interests, preferences, and history.

Byt na prodej Smetanovo nábřeží 235m
Byt na prodej Smetanovo nábřeží 235m, Praha 1

Internet companies simply have so much information about us that they can mess with us. It's actually such a heavy load of information that they're unable to adequately process it at this point. But all it would take for everyone to know our lives down to the smallest details is a slightly improved performance of their computers and developement in the field of artificial intelligence. And they won't know just our hobbies, favorite foods or vacations spost, but also our most secret dreams, perversions or even plans for the future.

Shops learn about a woman's pregnancy before her husband

Thanks to the amount of tracks we leave behind by using computers, mobile phones, electronic prescriptions from doctors, or loyalty cards in stores, everyone - internet companies, authorities as well as retailers - has a detailed overview of our lives. In the US, it's already common nowadays that big chain stores send personalized discount deals to people's homes depending on what they are about to buy. Today's shops know about a woman's pregnancy earlier than her own husband or family. All it takes is for the woman to order some items that pregnant women usually buy. They have statistical information from tens of millions of women around the world and can easily guess pregnancy!

The time when we will practically lose the option to decide about our own lives is near. We'll buying things, booking holidays or watching series that literally dictated by someone else. The combination of psychology, artificial intelligence and the data we leave behind left and right will become the perfect tool for our manipulation. And the trickiest thing is, we won't even realize that we're being influenced, and we'll believe that we're make our own decisions.

Prodej luxusního bytu Praha 1- 212m
Prodej luxusního bytu Praha 1- 212m, Praha 1

Artificial intelligence will "fool us"

Artificial intelligence will simply be smarter than us and it will treat us in much the same way as we treat our children. Just like the most common manipulations such as "if you eat your broccoli, you can watch a fairy tale" or "take your pick: either you'll go to bed now and I'll read you a fairy tale, or keep playing for another half an hour and there will be no fairy tale". We often try to inconspicously make our children do what we want.

Now, let's imagine that someone did something like this to us, only in a much more sophisticated manner. We'll be making decisions suggested by artificial intelligence, or better yet, by the person who programmed it and is using it.

And this is where the greatest risk lies, which has the potential to completely change the world we live in. If, for example, politicians, terrorists or secret services and governments of enemy states started using artificial intelligence, they could easily manipulate us and make us do things that we would otherwise never have thought of.

We are already the target of manipulation

The two aforementioned experts claim that artificial intelligence will be so smart and know us so well that we won't find it difficult to follow its orders. Actually, we may even learn to love it. Sure, you might think it's nonsense to go crazy about a computer program. But there are already known cases where misinformation campaigns via Facebook influenced people's decisions in elections - people acted exactly as ordered.

We're already buying things on the Internet that we haven't heard of before and that we've never wanted, but they randomly popped up somewhere and we liked them. We believe that it's "just" advertising and that we're ultimately making our own decisions. But that's not true. Research has shown that this smart advertising is so effective that people buy in bulk even things they don't really want. The advertising is custom-tailored to how we feel, what we experience and what we love. And by the way, this is just a pre-stage of what awaits us in a few years.

Byt s terasou na prodej Praha 10 - 145m
Byt s terasou na prodej Praha 10 - 145m, Praha 10

In a few years, everything will be much smarter. For each of us, artificial intelligence will create our own digital world, supporting the bubble we live in. There will be custom-tailored misinformation and fake news for everyone. Foreign powers, for instance Russia, will influence who we choose in the elections or how we vote in referendums on issues such as the withdrawal from NATO or the EU. And terrorists will be able to create algorithms that we'll fall in love with and become more attached to than human beings. We all know how irrationally we tend to behave when madly in love. So who cano prevent the terrorists from using that smart algorithm to say, "Darling, if you really love me, kill this person for me!"

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