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Generative AI Could Be an Authoritarian Breakthrough in Brainwashing

The Hill reported:

Generative AI is poised to be the free world’s next great gift to authoritarians. The viral launch of ChatGPT — a system with eerily human-like capabilities in composing essays, poetry and computer code — has awakened the world’s dictators to the transformative power of generative AI to create unique, compelling content at scale.

But the fierce debate that has ensued among Western industry leaders on the risks of releasing advanced generative AI tools has largely missed where their effects are likely to be most pernicious: within autocracies. AI companies and the U.S. government alike must institute stricter norms for the development of tools like ChatGPT in full view of their game-changing potential for the world’s authoritarians — before it is too late.

So far, concerns around generative AI and autocrats have mostly focused on how these systems can turbocharge Chinese and Russian propaganda efforts in the United States. ChatGPT has already demonstrated generative AI’s ability to automate Chinese and Russian foreign disinformation with the push of a button. When combined with advancements in targeted advertising and other new precision propaganda techniques, generative AI portends a revolution in the speed, scale and credibility of autocratic influence operations.

Unfortunately, keeping cutting-edge AI models out of autocrats’ hands is a tall order. On a technical level, generative AI models lend themselves to easy theft. Despite requiring enormous resources to build, once developed, models can be easily copied and adapted at minimal cost. That’s especially bad news as China routinely pillages American corporations’ tech.

New Report on COVID Origin Puts Social Media in GOP’s Crosshairs

The Washington Post reported:

An Energy Department report attributing the COVID-19 pandemic to an accidental laboratory leak is reigniting conservative criticisms of major social networks, which banned users early on from suggesting the coronavirus was man-made before reversing course months later.

Republicans are now citing the assessment as proof that tech companies like Facebook and Twitter were far too quick to remove posts questioning the origins of the pandemic under their rules against COVID-19 misinformation.

As the pandemic ramped up in 2020, major social networks rolled out a series of policy changes to curb misleading claims about the virus, including theories about its roots.

The new findings are also fueling fresh GOP allegations that tech companies “colluded” with the federal government to stifle viewpoints about the coronavirus pandemic.

DoD AI Drones That Can Recognize Faces Pose Ethical Minefield

Newsweek reported:

Artificially intelligent military drones that can use facial recognition technology to detect the faces of targets are now being developed by the U.S. This has led many people to raise concerns about the ethics involved.

New Scientist reported that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has an $800,000 contract with Seattle-based company RealNetworks to create these autonomous drones. The tech will be able to use machine learning to identify faces without human input.

Nicholas Davis, an industry professor of emerging technology at the University of Technology Sydney, told Newsweek: “There are innumerable ethical implications, from the way such devices might redistribute power or threaten groups within a society, to the ways in which they threaten established international humanitarian law in conflict zones.”

The tracking of people of interest has been going on for a very long time already, with artificial intelligence (AI) facial recognition adding an extra layer of technology. There are major concerns that the use of facial recognition technology, combined with AI, could be used to target specific people, perhaps before they have even committed a crime.

‘I Worked on Google’s AI. My Fears Are Coming True’

Newsweek reported:

I joined Google in 2015 as a software engineer. Part of my job involved working on LaMDA: an engine used to create different dialogue applications, including chatbots. The most recent technology built on top of LaMDA is an alternative to Google Search called Google Bard, which is not yet available to the public. Bard is not a chatbot; it’s a completely different kind of system, but it’s run by the same engine as chatbots.

During my conversations with the chatbot, some of which I published on my blog, I came to the conclusion that the AI could be sentient due to the emotions that it expressed reliably and in the right context. It wasn’t just spouting words. After publishing these conversations, Google fired me. I don’t have regrets; I believe I did the right thing by informing the public. Consequences don’t figure into it.

I published these conversations because I felt that the public was not aware of just how advanced AI was getting. My opinion was that there was a need for public discourse about this now, and not public discourse controlled by a corporate PR department.

I believe the kinds of AI that are currently being developed are the most powerful technology that has been invented since the atomic bomb. In my view, this technology has the ability to reshape the world.

Woody Harrelson Takes a Jab at COVID Vaccine Mandates in ‘SNL’ Monologue

USA TODAY reported:

Woody Harrelson took aim at COVID vaccine mandates during his return to “Saturday Night Live.” Harrelson, 61, closed out his opening monologue Saturday discussing the “craziest script” he’s ever read.

“So the movie goes like this … The biggest drug cartels in the world get together and buy up all the media and all the politicians and force all the people in the world to stay locked in their homes,” he said. “And people can only come out if they take the cartel’s drugs and keep taking them over and over.”

Harrelson added: “I threw the script away. I mean, who was going to believe that crazy idea? Being forced to do drugs? I do that voluntarily all day.”

James Dolan Sued by Radio City Staffers ‘Fired for Refusing COVID Vaccine’

New York Post reported:

A group of Radio City Music Hall workers has kicked James Dolan in the chin with a lawsuit — accusing the media mogul of firing them for not complying with his company’s “unnecessary, draconian” COVID vaccination mandate, The Post has learned.

Dolan, who also owns the Knicks and Rangers, is already facing legal revolts from other parts of his entertainment and sports empire. He faces multiple lawsuits for his use of facial recognition technology to ban legal rivals at venues that include Radio City and Madison Square Garden, as well as a shareholders lawsuit over MSGE’s $900 million acquisition of MSG Networks.

“Madison Square Garden Entertainment chose to disregard the rights of its employees, disrespect their deepest beliefs of conscience, and harass anyone who dissented from its vaccine mandate,” Lexis Anderson, a Los Angeles-based attorney who is representing one of the plaintiffs, told The Post.

Pentagon Sets Deadline for Services to Stop Enforcing Vaccine Mandate

AirForceTimes reported:

The military services have until March 17 to rescind their COVID-19 vaccination policies, according to a Pentagon memo signed Friday, including reversing any existing flags or in-process involuntary separations for service members who have refused vaccination.

The guidance follows Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Jan. 10 recision memo, which formally ended the vaccine mandate for service members.

Some services have already moved out, at least in part. The Army last month internally directed commands to stop kicking people out for vaccine noncompliance. The Navy and Marine Corps formally rescinded vaccine requirements in January. The Navy also announced this week it is now allowing unvaccinated sailors to deploy on ships, though liberty may be restricted during port visits to some countries, and the Marine Corps is following suit.

Between August 2021 and early January, while the mandate was in effect, the services discharged just over 8,600 service members in both the active and reserve components.

Sports Events Have Gotten Downright Dystopian

The Atlantic reported:

Like so many cities before it, Phoenix went all out to host the Super Bowl earlier this month. Expecting about 1 million fans to come to town for the biggest American sporting event of the year, the city rolled out a fleet of self-driving electric vehicles to ferry visitors from the airport. Robots sifted through the trash to pull out anything that could be composted. A 9,500-square-foot mural commemorating the event now graces a theater downtown, the largest official mural in Super Bowl history.

There were less visible developments, too. In preparation for the game, the local authorities upgraded a network of cameras around the city’s downtown — and have kept them running after the spectators have left.

A spokesperson for the Phoenix Police Department would not confirm the exact type of the cameras installed, but ABC15 footage shows that they are a model manufactured by Axis Communications with enough zooming capability to produce a close-up portrait of any passerby from an extended distance, even when it’s completely dark out. The Phoenix police have said that the surveillance upgrades don’t involve facial recognition technology, but Axis’s website specifies that the cameras are embedded with an “AI-based object detection and classification” system.

Advanced surveillance tactics are in use at other events venues. Late last year, Madison Square Garden in New York City found itself in the news for denying people access to games by means of a secretive facial recognition system.

ChatGPT Is Poised to Upend Medical Information. For Better and Worse.

USA TODAY reported:

It’s almost hard to remember a time before people could turn to “Dr. Google” for medical advice. Some of the information was wrong. Much of it was terrifying. But it helped empower patients who could, for the first time, research their own symptoms and learn more about their conditions.

Now, ChatGPT and similar language processing tools promise to upend medical care again, providing patients with more data than a simple online search and explaining conditions and treatments in language non-experts can understand.

For clinicians, these chatbots might provide a brainstorming tool, guard against mistakes and relieve some of the burdens of filling out paperwork, which could alleviate burnout and allow more facetime with patients. But — and it’s a big “but” — the information these digital assistants provide might be more inaccurate and misleading than basic internet searches.

Regardless of the debate, there’s little doubt such technologies are coming — and fast. ChatGPT launched its research preview on a Monday in December. By that Wednesday, it reportedly already had 1 million users. Earlier this month, both Microsoft and Google announced plans to include AI programs similar to ChatGPT in their search engines.

Canada Is Reportedly Banning TikTok From Government-Issued Devices

Engadget reported:

Canada is reportedly the latest jurisdiction to ban TikTok from government-issued devices. The U.S. federal government, multiple states and the European Union have previously prohibited their workers from using the app on official devices.

According to a note sent to Global Affairs Canada employees that was obtained by the National Post, TikTok “will be automatically removed and blocked from use on all government-issued mobile devices.” The report suggests that the government will announce the policy, which is expected to be effective on March 1, on Tuesday.