Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is it Legal to Build Skynet?

Imagine (if you will) we had the technical capacity to build Skynet.  Assuming they understood what it would lead to (that there was no doubt), would people build it?  I used to assume "no".

Now, a panopticon is not exactly the same as Skynet.  Where one leads to a post-apocalyptic world ruled by man-killing machines, the other might lead to a dystopia like that depicted in 1984.

We must avoid conspiracy theories, but (you would think) those in authority also have a responsibility to not make the conspiracy theories true.

Let's examine some coverage from Ars:
"These are some incredibly complicated systems that NSA was not able to fully and accurately articulate to the court, in large part because no one at NSA had a full understanding of how the program was operating at the time," said Robert Litt, general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
I would argue that is immoral to build a system which has the capability to violate people's rights on such a large scale (particularly if the system has the potential to take on a life of its own - Cube anyone?)

Much of the argument has been "it hasn't been abused" (so far) - but that is not my complaint.  A system like this should not be built (in much the same way Skynet should not be built - even if one has no intent to turn it on).
“The fact is, while the NSA is not perfect and screws up from time to time, there is absolutely no indication that there has ever been any abuse of this, or frankly, any other program—spying for improper purposes or intentionally exceeding the bounds of proper authority,” Robert Litt, general counsel for ODNI, told reporters.
Again, the system should not exist.  There cannot be abuse if the system doesn't exist.  There has been no evidence given such a system is necessary, productive, or even good or desirable.  There has been no debate, no discussion.

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