2 min readTim Cook: “Our information is being weaponized against us”

Tim Cook wants us to know of a newly emerging industry. He calls it the “data industrial complex”.

In the recently concluded International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), Tim Cook delivered a blistering keynote speech attacking the “data industrial complex”. Cook adds his voice to numerous advocates calling for prioritization of privacy laws in the United States.

Implications for AI

Data privacy is a luxury these days. Europe is fortunate to have institutions working to implement the GDPR, but every where else, data is collected without users knowing. Tim Cook’s call is timely, especially with more and more companies shifting towards AI. But it also goes against the biggest tech companies that utilize data mining – Facebook and Google.

Both Google and Facebook have recently been in the news, following the discovery of data breaches in their social networks. But the problem is not that there is less or ineffective security within their servers. The problem is that their very businesses are built on models which are privacy hostile.

As more and more notable people take up Cook’s call for stricter privacy laws, or take concrete action to counter Google and Facebook’s domination of the internet [read Taking the Internet Back From Tech Giants, which details Tim Berners-Lee’s plan to democratize the internet] these tech giants must find ways to change track without compromising their bottomline.

With AI and machine learning relying on data to complete their tasks efficiently, stricter privacy laws may slow down its development. And this could be a good thing. If we cannot stop AI from dominating our societies, then we can at least have extra time in figuring out how to build ethical machines.

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