January 26, 2024
By Jim Towey
Microsoft topped $3 trillion in market value this week, making it the largest corporation in the world and history of mankind.
Some might say that makes the company “richer than God.” But few can argue that its power and influence in the world, as it reigns from its perch atop Big Tech, must make it seem omnipotent.
You can hear Microsoft’s cry to the heavens: “Let there be A.I.”
This monstrous company and its companions are re-creating civilization through the rapid development and reckless deployment of generative AI. Microsoft’s stock went up 57% last year in large part because of its big bet on AI and its progeny, reaping huge profits for its masters. It was only a billion-dollar company in 1986. Since 2020, it has tripled in value. Spiking it upward these days is its partnership with OpenAI, the leading driver of generative AI and technology systems that have the ability to converse like humans, out-code human coders, and instantaneously produce data analysis that may lead to policies and practices by governments and businesses that crush little people.
You might say that the fears I raise are irrational. Don’t take my word for it.
AI denying health treatment, services
In November, one large health insurance company was sued because of its over-aggressive use of AI to deny Medicare Advantage claims. The lawsuit claimed that the “Defendants bank on the patients’ impaired conditions, lack of knowledge, and lack of resources to appeal the erroneous AI-powered decisions.” The industry knows well that the elderly, the little people, almost never appeal insurers’ decisions to deny care because the process is so complicated and confusing. Big Health and Big AI know a mismatch when they see one. And they exploit it. That is why only 1 out of 100 will stand up and fight a denial determination.
The lawsuit went on. “The fraudulent scheme affords Defendants a clear financial windfall in the form of policy premiums without having to pay for promised care, while the elderly are prematurely kicked out of care facilities nationwide or forced to deplete family savings to continue receiving necessary medical care, all because an AI model ‘disagrees’ with their real-life doctors’ determinations.” See how AI plays god? All of the big insurers are using AI to cut costs so expect more litigation.
Meanwhile the poor, elderly, and disabled are steamrolled with technological changes (in case you haven’t noticed, paper currency is on the endangered species list). In a democracy, the courts are the last refuge, as the case in Massachusetts shows. A better example came in the preceding month when 41 states and the District of Columbia sued Meta (formerly known as Facebook before it entered the Big Tech protection program and changed its name) for intentionally designing Facebook and Instagram to harm and addict young people. Only Meta could make Tik-Tok look healthier (but it isn’t; Tik-Tok addicts and destroys young people with the same algorithmic precision, Chinese style).
AI protects child predators
A Wall Street Journal investigation by reporters Jeff Horwitz and Katherine Blunt revealed something even more shocking: that Meta used encryption technology that shielded child predators. Meta claimed it was only protecting user privacy. But Meta, according to the whistleblower, knew that “the most frequent way adults found children to prey upon was Facebook’s ‘People You May Know’ algorithm…There were millions of pedophiles targeting tens of millions of children.” Kudos to David Erb, a former engineering director at Facebook. Guess what his division at Facebook was called? “The community integrity” team. Why not the “pedophilia enabling” team?
AI corrupts electoral process
Get ready for a wild presidential election. Already generative AI is trying to corrupt our electoral process. In an apparent attempt to suppress voters in New Hampshire, phone call messages impersonating President Biden’s voice were made. The untrained ear cannot detect that these “deep fakes” aren’t Joe Biden himself. And of course, the feeble and less educated are ripe targets for this kind of voter manipulation. In a tight election, it is not hard to see one side using AI dirty tricks and apologizing later, the victor’s spoils in hand, the damage done, simply following the OpenAI playbook.
AI creates harmful monopolies
As I have written before, the federal government is busy trying to lock the barn gates, now that the AI horse has escaped. Yesterday the Federal Trade Commission launched a probe into Big Tech’s AI Investments, exploring how Microsoft and its partner OpenAI, and Google’s and Amazon’s AI pool boy, Antrhropic, are creating a monopoly as they produce and commercialize artificial intelligence. The FTC isn’t worried about the damage AI is doing. It only wants to make sure the playing field is level for the profiteering.
AI has no conscience
Some allay fears about AI by analogizing it to history’s progress from fire to electricity. But that scientific breakthrough didn’t make humanity less human. Artificial intelligence, by design, does. And AI has no conscience because it is not human. Beware.
(The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Aging with Dignity and/or its Board of Directors.)