Optimists by definition, find their surprises unpleasant. We prefer our surprises pleasant, so we must be pessimists. Regardless, it’s our habit to look ahead in an attempt to avert unpleasant surprises, and from that, some recent news stories caught out attention.
The first of those reports that face recognition software is now sophisticated enough for general use. The story is a report of the concerns of one of the prime creators of such systems, regretting what he has created. He seems to wonder if what he has created is not a monster, since as he sees it, everyone has a “right to anonymity.” He sees his creation as robbing us of that right.
The second of our concerns deals with the next generation of drones, characterizing them as fast, lethal and for practical purposes, coming to hand already. If these provice a queasy feeling, consider the Navy program aimed at the use of “autonomous” drones, which is to say, pilotless aircraft that make their own decisions without human guidance.
Close your eyes for a moment and consider an autonomous drone without any human controller, programmed with small missiles like the current “Predator” so useful in Afghanistan, but unlike the present, equipped with face recognition software and not equipped with a remote ground controller. Got that queasy feeling yet? We do.
We suppose that governments will try to monopolize such vehicles and perhaps, control the availability of such software. As for instance, they try to control the availability of drugs. That program guarantees that drones with face recognition software and missiles, will be limited to the hands of government and of outlaws.
Businesses on the Internet have sprung up like toadstools as people see opportunity; how many located in remote places will go into business as the new: “Murder Incorporated?” An entrepreneur selling the anonymous death of targets selected by his customers can operate in the deep (anonymous) Internet, be paid electronically and anonymously, and supply his service entirely in the background, traceless and cheap.
Governments invest our money heavily in maintaining their monopolies but the drug cartels give the lie to any such claims. The cartels exist because people want drugs and will have them whatever the cost. Our species has always likewise wanted the deaths of selected folk. Sometimes, the killer has been caught and punished; often not. But when a safely anonymous kill service is available? Interesting times ahead, especially when the autonomous drones become cheap and small — which, we estimate, will not take long.
At that point, the Moslems who provide free bomb-making advice will be selling these services too, seems to us. We envision an entire new business that will open up a huge market. Are you annoyed with your spouse? Unhappy with a business associate? Displeased with a rebellious teen?Opportunity is knocking!