Orwell’s 1984 Could Become A Reality in 2024, Warns Microsoft President

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The idea of using Artificial Intelligence for mass surveillance and even military purposes is slowly getting more and more traction. With China announcing its goal of wanting to become the world leader in AI by 2030. This has led many countries that are in conflict with China to ramp up their efforts in AI as well. The latest advances in AI have many people thinking about those old novels and movies that depict AI taking over the world.

Microsoft President, Brad Smith, even went as far as to say that the events depicted in George Orwell’s 1984 could come to life as early as 2024 if the advances in AI continue. Now for those of you who don’t know, 1984 is a classic that depicts a totalitarian society that suppresses an individual’s individuality. Orwell’s main point was to warn people of the serious danger totalitarianism poses to society.

Living in a world monitored constantly by Artificial Intelligence endangers the freedom that countries like the USA are known for. Brad Smith spoke to BBC’s Panorama, saying that it will be difficult to catch up with the rapidly advancing technology. He said that “If we don’t enact the laws that will protect the public in the future, we are going to find the technology racing ahead, and it’s going to be very difficult to catch up”.

Smith continued further saying that “I’m constantly reminded of George Orwell’s lessons in his book 1984. You know the fundamental story…was about a government that could see everything that everyone did and hears everything that everyone said all the time. Well, that didn’t come to pass in 1984, but if we’re not careful that could come to pass in 2024”.

Talks about AI are happening all over the world as China continues to advance in the field. According to a study by Comparitech, 54% of the world’s 770 million CCTV cameras are in China. Eric Schmidt, current chair of the US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, emphasized that “We’re in a geo-political strategic conflict with China,” he said. “The way to win is to marshal our resources together to have national and global strategies for the democracies to win in AI. If we don’t, we’ll be looking at a future where other values will be imposed on us”.

Not only for surveillance, but AI has been also making its way into conflicts and the military, Google’s Maven Project is a good example. The project received great criticism from Google’s employees after they realized that the project was to be used in drones that mostly operate during Arab conflicts.

Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.

George Orwell, 1984
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