Lina M. Khan, chair of the Federal Trade Commission, writes:
It’s both exciting and unsettling to have a realistic conversation with a computer. Thanks to the rapid advance of generative artificial intelligence, many of us have now experienced this potentially revolutionary technology with vast implications for how people live, work and communicate around the world. The full extent of generative A.I.’s potential is still up for debate, but there’s little doubt it will be highly disruptive.
The last time we found ourselves facing such widespread social change wrought by technology was the onset of the Web 2.0 era in the mid-2000s. New, innovative companies like Facebook and Google revolutionized communications and delivered popular services to a fast-growing user base.
Those innovative services, however, came at a steep cost. What we initially conceived of as free services were monetized through extensive surveillance of the people and businesses that used them. The result has been an online economy where access to increasingly essential services is conditioned on the widespread hoarding and sale of our personal data.
These business models drove companies to develop endlessly invasive ways to track us, and the Federal Trade Commission would later find reason to believe that several of these companies had broken the law. Coupled with aggressive strategies to acquire or lock out companies that threatened their position, these tactics solidified the dominance of a handful of companies. What began as a revolutionary set of technologies ended up concentrating enormous private power over key services and locking in business models that come at extraordinary cost to our privacy and security. [Continue reading…]