Facebook launched an independent oversight board and recommitted to privacy reforms this week, but after years of promises made and broken, nobody seems convinced that real change is afoot. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is expected to decide whether to sue Facebook soon, sources told the New York Times, following a $5 billion fine last year.
In other investigations, the Department of Justice filed suit against Google this week, accusing the Alphabet company of maintaining multiple monopolies through exclusive agreements, collection of personal data, and artificial intelligence. News also broke this week that Google’s AI will play a role in creating a virtual border wall.
What you see in each instance is a powerful company insistent that it can regulate itself as government regulators appear to reach the opposite conclusion.
If Big Tech’s machinations weren’t enough, this week there was also news of a Telegram bot that undresses women and girls; AI being used to add or change the emotion of people’s faces in photos; and Clearview AI, a company being investigated in multiple countries, allegedly planning to introduce features for police to more responsibly use its facial recognition services. Oh, right, and there’s a presidential election campaign happening.
It’s all enough to make people reach the conclusion that they’re helpless. But that’s an illusion, one that Prince Harry, Duchess Meghan Markle, Algorithms of Oppression author Dr. Safiya Noble, and Center for Humane Technology director Tristan Harris attempted to dissect earlier this week in a talk hosted by Time. Dr. Noble began by acknowledging that AI systems in social media can pick up, amplify, and deepen existing systems of inequality like racism or sexism.
“Those things don’t necessarily start in Silicon Valley, but I think there’s really little regard for that when companies