AI – For Good or Evil – It Is Coming (It Is Here).

AI – For Good or Evil – It Is Coming (It Is Here).

I am a board member of the South Carolina Emerging Tech Association and we are putting on the 2024 Liberty In Tech Conference (https://libertyintech.org) this April 24-26 in Charleston, SC. Its focus is Freedom and Technology and how they converge for good or bad, how government and corporations want to regulate and control it, how open source Large Language Models can be used to protect freedoms (or take away from that freedom), etc. Exploring the ethics, regulations, and morality of both sides of the discussion will be debated at this fine conference. And it’s in Charleston, SC in April – an amazing month to explore the city.

With the conference looming, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into the AI conversation. Granted I am a skeptic of mega-corporations already, and seeing the wholesale buy-in by these entities has me on edge, but I wanted to know if I was justified in my disdain.

I was listening to Whitney Webb’s interview on TFTC and (at about 58 minutes in) she said something that made me laugh, but also made me think more about the AI juggernaut coming for us at lightning speed – I’ll paraphrase but it was something like if the tech companies go to the government regulators and cry ‘regulate us harder, daddy’, then they are clearly working together and getting mutual benefits from this relationship, nefarious or otherwise.

Watching the football conference championship games last night, I saw several ads on AI-enabled products with one being the Google AI on Samsung Galaxy phones. I saw the ad thinking that most people will either think this is great and will make their life easier, or they just don’t care at all, while I was thinking that this is a horrible yet inevitable path forward for these corporate giants. Yet another way for them to gather more information on us if they don’t have it all already.

I do not look forward to even more focused algorithms taking AI-captured logs of my habits and manipulating it and presenting it back to me as what I want proactively without my asking or prompting for it. It’s bad enough that Alexa is now prompting me to buy stuff. Or that Twitter pushes shitty content to me even though I tell it I don’t like or want certain content (such as people acting badly). Corporations are not your friends. Their purpose is to make money, and most likely to make money off your data. They are incentivized to push their perception of you into algorithms designed to capture your eyeballs and your wallet to make more money.

And don’t forget censorship. if they feed you data, they can feed you data they want you to see, and block you from seeing the data you want. Do a search and you will find hundreds of articles on corporate and government censorship from AI queries. Censorship, and focused agendas make money.

This relates to AI large language models (LLM’s). LLM’s are the basis of each AI model out there. Google has one, Apple has one, Microsoft has one, Amazon has one. The uncomfortable (and twisted) thing is a lot of them have the wording ‘openAI’ in them, or in the marketing material for them. This term ‘open’ is vaguely made to make you think that it is free from an agenda, or open source, but you’d be mistaken. Each of the corporate models is built with their corporate agenda in mind. And it’s even worse as the governments of the world get their hands of them either directly or indirectly.

Ethically and morally, this is a grey area if not outright black. Advertising that you can use AI to change images to suit your needs sounds great – cut out the photo-bomber in the background, or the extended arm of a person sitting next to you that was not the focus of the picture. But I see this as manipulating the truth to make a new truth from your point of view. That is not truth – that is propaganda. And its a lie. Sadly our social construct has pushed these ‘truths’ and that falsifying what you look like or what you embody or what you did last week so you can be an influencer or be relevant in rankings.

While I am new to the AI conversation, I believe that we can do better. Use LLM’s from open-source projects where you can see what data is being used. You can keep your data away from the mega-corporations and governments. They don’t need your data, and they aren’t paying you for your data – they are making money off your data.

Just like the browser and operating system wars of the past decades, there will be an AI platform war. It will encompass monopoly lawsuits, probably from the EU first and then come across the pond, then elsewhere. I see the future where the O/S’s will be forced to allow alternative AI LLM’s as the base model – similar to forcing Microsoft allowing non-Edge/IE browsers.

Look at AI – similar to a gift horse – in the mouth – look inside and look for flaws and hidden agendas and what is the motivation to provide AI for you. Is the data fire-walled to just your enterprise or person – or is the data being shared with the ginormous trove of data to be mined for gold.

While AI is shiny and fun and has a wow-factor, I recommend being a cynic, and question everything. Don’t trust, verify.

p.s.- if you want to explore open source AI, get a Start9 personal server (https://start9labs.com) and check out FreeGPT. To explore all the LLM’s that FreeGPT offers, you can research the models at: https://huggingface.co/

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