Ajit Pai

How Corporations Get to Own the Internet

Once upon a time, governments were major stakeholders in most large-scale technological and scientific ventures. Such projects were either built directly by the government, or by companies in which the people had a lot of say. But all that is far behind us. Now-a-days, government isn’t exactly “the people” anymore. And now, it’s corporations who build the telecommunication infrastructure for tomorrow.

I find it rather sad that as I’m typing this, I am pondering which is worse: having my digital life in the hands of corporations that will exploit it however they see fit, or (/and?) allowing governments to keep encroaching on our privacy and freedom? It’s becoming harder to distinguish between the two, especially as corporations have proven time and again that they can easily buy government.

Smartphone Privacy

Why It’s Not Surprising That Smartphone Privacy Is Going from Bad to Worse

Throughout the past years there have been several high-profile occasions when apps were in the news for questionable tracking strategies. Even applications that do not use novel means of compromising our privacy are gobbling up increasing amounts of data while their creators cash in on the profits obtained from selling the user’s digital life to the highest bidder. At the receiving end of this deluge of spyware are we, the people.

Even for those of us that do read the list of permissions an app requests upon installation, it is hard to avoid installing certain apps because they come with other features that we need. It’s an old trick that is akin to the Trojan horse. This is how these dubious app creators get in our back yard: by offering something that is 90% useful and 10% spyware, but which must be accepted as a whole.

Have Empathy for Money

Corporations, Corrupt Governments, Militaries and Lots of Empathy

Given all that’s happening in the world (wars, social injustice, brainwashing via mass-media and entertainment) it’s tempting to say we need a revolution. The heritage of this word is a bloody one. It is clear we need change. But let us embrace the concept of evolution.

The very idea of revolution implies a return to a previous state. It is circular and repetitive in nature, just like our violent history. Evolution means breaking this vicious circle. Due to the upcoming technological advances, which will make nuclear weapons look like wet firecrackers, we are forced to evolve rather than revolve. I believe one of the keys of the next evolutionary step (if not the key) is generalized empathy.

Artificial Non-Intelligence

The Danger with Artificial “Intelligence” Is That It’s Not (yet) Intelligent

Albert Einstein once said that “our entire much-praised technological progress, and civilization generally, could be compared to an axe in the hand of a pathological criminal”. He said this in December 1917, almost a hundred years ago, after seeing Europe ravaged by the First World War. Regardless, Einstein continued contributing to that same technological progress. Human curiosity and our desire to achieve are incompatible with stagnation. We will have to deal with this by being careful with the technology we will inevitably develop.

Like many have said before me, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can either be our salvation or our doom. It is a far bigger game-changer than nuclear bombs. But the problem is that there is NO Artificial Intelligence yet, and there won’t be for quite some time to come. Everything that the world’s corporations are selling now-a-days as “smart” or “intelligent” is actually a mindless human construct. Sure, it’s advanced, but if a rocket is more advanced than a spoon, that doesn’t make it in the slightest more intelligent than the spoon. They both lack one of the prime ingredients of intelligence, which is self-awareness. And therein lays the true threat.

Right now, our so-called artificial “intelligence” is nothing but a tool that corporations can and will use ruthlessly against one another (and against the people of one another). This is already taking place on the stock market, something I wrote about last year. Back then, I highlighted the fact that exactly because these algorithms are not intelligent, they will be used to enrich and empower whoever spent money in building them, regardless of their morals or social affiliation. And let’s not forget that software is far easier to steal and smuggle than radioactive material. Put the wrong AI in the hands of the wrong people and…

All Your Computers Are Belong To Us

All Your Computers Are Belong to Us

In recent years, Intel has moved towards integrating some pretty nifty remote administration features into its CPUs. While this may be a good idea for certain enterprises, it may quickly turn into a nightmare as soon as exploits and vulnerabilities are found.

Software has bugs. Hey, it happens, everybody makes mistakes. But in this case, the mistakes can’t be corrected in time (before an attacker exploits them). That’s because, in typical monopolist corporation fashion, Intel is obscuring the process by not allowing the security community to analyze whatever code the company decides to shove into our machines. The same argument stands true regarding any proprietary code, especially Microsoft’s Windows, which after 20 years of fixes is still the most vulnerable mainstream operating system.

The Internet Diagram

The Uncertain Future of the Internet

As one of the most, if not the most powerful force for change, the Internet’s future is a cause for concern. In the past decade, governments and corporations have increasingly encroached upon our freedom and privacy. These entities will use every possible excuse to rein-in the transformative power of the Internet.

As more people get connected, the Internet is becoming a mirror of our society. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the horrible, we can all find it online. Our society isn’t perfect. Regulatory bodies are using this aspect to motivate various restrictions as being “for our own good”, this being one of the age-old excuses that our masters have used when trying to deprive us of something.