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"Artificial Intelligence and Surveillance" - a report from the second discussion of the Artificial Intelligence series in the EARL


On 28 February 2020, East Asia Resource Library (EARL) held the second in its series of public discussions on the role of artificial intelligence in today's society. The talk, titled “Artificial intelligence and Surveillance” focused on essential questions surrounding the development of AI technologies in connection to control, security, surveillance and privacy. The guest of our discussion was dr. Nataša Pirc Musar, in conversation with Tilen Gorenšek, a PhD student of Organizational and Human Resource Management and Development at the Faculty of Social Sciences.


The speakers touched upon different aspects when it comes to the connection between the development of artificial intelligence and control, beginning with how developing AI within the security domain affects humans and their privacy, reflecting on the need and want for anonymity.


States all over the world are already using, even misusing, AI as a tool of control over their citizens, punishing them over mistakes that might have previously gone unnoticed. As dr. Nataša Pirc Musar pointed out, the percentage of people who harm our society is small – in order to control and punish the 5 % which put others at risk, we are willing to sacrifice the privacy of the rest. Population as a whole will be controlled, forgetting that people need to make minute mistakes through which they learn, they need to be able to think and act freely without constantly fearing the consequences of even their smallest actions, which is what constant visibility brings.


Related to the question of privacy, the discussion touched upon the ownership of information. With the centralisation of digital systems, data will be concentrated in the hands of a few companies who are responsible for the construction of the telecommunication infrastructure. Can we trust them with our data, or will they use our data for profit? Here, dr. Nataša Pirc Musar emphasised that tools and application are only as ethical as their creator – every ICT solution can be a subject of misuse.

Last but not least, the participants discussed thought bubbles and their implication for the society. Nowadays, social media content is highly personalised to fit each individual’s preferences, which decreases diversity of opinions. Since people are less likely to socialise outside of their own thought bubble, this could negatively impact the democratic society we live in and cherish.


The debate concluded with some food for thought from dr. Nataša Pirc Musar – when it comes to privacy and AI, we have to ask ourselves three important questions:

  • Which problems do we want to solve by developing new technologies?
  • Could these problems be solved without technology?
  • Which problems could these new technologies bring?


You are welcome to attend out third Friday discussion in March. By following us on Facebook or subscribing to our news, you can make sure not to miss any other events as well!


Back to list of notificationsPublished: 05. March 2020 | Category: EARL