Edward Snowden On AI & “When The Machines Take Over”

by Arjun Walia | Jun 14, 2023

For decades people believed mass surveillance and big data collection was a “conspiracy theory.”

Thanks to whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), we know that every conversation we have and every move we make in the real and/or digital world is tracked and stored.

Snowden’s revelations revealed a mass surveillance system that not even George Orwell could have imagined.

Despite all of this activity being pervasive and illegal, the national security state has justified it, claiming it was for our own safety and protection. The masses have bought this idea.

Those who have exposed the illegal actions of powerful people, like Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, are subjected to prosecution and torture. Yet still, when it comes to other global issues, like COVID or climate change, we believe the words from the same powerful people and institutions that have been exposed as unethical. Why? Why is sound and legit information and evidence always ridiculed and considered a conspiracy theory just like mass surveillance was?

In terms of dialogue around these major global issues, what we get is often not detailed and nuanced, but instead talking points from a mass information warfare system designed to shape the perception/consciousness of the masses.

Big media and politics play the biggest influencers of mass deception. Why?So solutions can be proposed by the same powerful interests prosecuting those who expose them.

For example, climate alarmists may argue that we may need to block out the sun to stop global warming one day. But the important questions to ask are, what is the real motive behind this ‘solution?’ Would this even help our environmental woes? At what cost are we to accept their solutions?

Today, it seems most of today’s solutions are designed to put more power and control into the hands of the surveillance state, which seems to salivate at the idea of total population control.

One of the latest tools for this agenda could be artificial intelligence.

The Masses Awakening To This Dynamic?

The good news is the masses are becoming more aware of this deception, and are not so quick to accept the same old solutions carte blanche.

We live in an age where nuanced and meaningful discussions around these issues are happing en mass, just not by government and Big Media.

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Edward Snowden and cognitive scientist Ben Goertzel discussed the surveillance implications of recent advancements in AI at Consensus 2023. Ben has long created awareness regarding the endless possibilities AI presents, both negative and positive, and how AI is already changing the world we live in. It creates both a logical and at times frightening picture of our future as humans.

In the discussion below, Snowden argues that artificial Intelligence models might soon surpass humans’ capabilities, but only if we stop teaching them to think like us and allow them to “be better than us.” While Snowden at times echoed some experts’ warnings that AI technologies might empower bad actors, he also considered positive use cases for the emerging technology.

Snowden argued AI models could obstruct government surveillance rather than fuel invasive intelligence programs. He also warned that the launch of ChatGPT and other increasingly sophisticated AI models, could fuel big tech and government-driven initiatives to encroach upon users’ privacy.

In order to prevent bad actors from co-opting AI technologies, Snowden argued that people must fight for open AI models to remain open.

“People are going to be raising the red flag of ‘software communism,’ where we need to declare the models must be open,” Snowden said. He aimed his criticism specifically at emerging AI models that are becoming less and less open, calling out OpenAI specifically.

How the technology is used, he argued, comes down to down to how researchers train AI engines. This brings me to a point I’ve stated time and time again over the last 15 years: It’s not our technology that’s the problem, but the consciousness and intentions behind them.

Should we use advanced technology to make weaponry? Or should we use it to provide free energy and abundance for all?

At the end of the day, I believe humankind is gifted with inventors and researchers and we are advancing exponentially technologically. Yet we remain so underdeveloped consciously and spiritually that our actions pose a threat to the entire cosmos.

I’m not saying all of this to suggest we have a black-pilled and fear-based view of our future, that won’t help us. But it is time to embrace more nuanced conversations about the real things that are emerging around us, and hold space for a brighter version of our future.

I hope you appreciate the discussion below!

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