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‘You have to ask yourself fundamental questions about what rules you want to organize a society with, or what the legitimate functions of the state are. What kind of data should not be collected? What crimes should not be illegal? You get into this whole set of paradoxical questions, but they are important ones, too. On the surface, the basic idea of our legal system is simple: you jaywalk, you get a ticket, right? You do something wrong, you get a ticket. Now, let’s say we could have a world of 100% police efficiency: You could have a ‘smart city’ where every single person who jaywalks gets a ticket, every person who has sex in a public park gets locked up, etc… I don’t think that’s a good thing. I’m not sure anyone wants to live in that society. So you have to think about what extent you want to artificially create inefficiencies, because the places where power is inefficient are the places where we jaywalk, but also where we experiment with self-expression. And these are the kind of spaces that newer optimization technologies like AI can really banish from existence very easily. Human bodies have always placed limits on the exercise of power. But when that limitation goes away, we have to think about deliberately imposing constraints on technologies to optimize aspects of everyday life.’

Trevor Paglen in our new issue mono.kultur #44, on Artificial Intelligence systems controlling the public sphere