Meredith Whittaker, the head of encrypted messaging app Signal, has voiced her concerns about the AI industry’s reliance on mass surveillance and its potential to exert control over our lives.

The Economic Times reports that at VivaTech in Paris, Europe’s premier startup conference, industry players have been enthusiastically promoting the benefits of their AI products. However, Meredith Whittaker, the leftist CEO of Signal, has taken a different stance, highlighting the concerning aspects of AI technology. In an interview with AFP on Thursday, Whittaker argued that the AI tools that crunch numbers, generate text and videos, and find patterns in data rely heavily on mass surveillance and exercise worrying control over our lives.

OpenAI logo seen on screen with ChatGPT website displayed on mobile seen in this illustration in Brussels, Belgium, on December 12, 2022. (Photo by Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images).

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Whittaker, who previously worked at Google before helping to organize a staff walkout in 2018 over working conditions, established the AI Now Institute at New York University in 2017. She now advocates for privacy and criticizes the business models that rely on the extraction of personal data. According to Whittaker, the AI technologies being discussed today are dependent on mass surveillance, requiring vast amounts of data that are derived from a surveillance-based business model that originated in the US during the 1990s and has since become the economic engine of the tech industry.

Whittaker expressed her lack of confidence in the current direction of the AI industry, pointing out the power imbalances created by an industry controlled by “a handful of surveillance giants” that are “largely unaccountable.” She emphasized that most people are not the users of AI but are instead subjected to its use by employers, law enforcement, governments, and other entities with their own goals that may not necessarily benefit individuals or society as a whole.

One striking example Whittaker provided was the way AI firms claim to be helping find solutions to the climate crisis. In reality, she argued, they are taking money from fossil fuel companies, and their technology is being used to find new resources to extract. Whittaker stated, “Because, of course, where is the revenue? It’s not in saving the climate. It is in massive contracts with BP, with Exxon, with other large oil and gas companies.”

Read more at the Economic Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.