In an editorial for Slate published Monday, renowned security researcher Bruce Schneier warned that AI models may enable a new era of mass spying, allowing companies and governments to automate the process of analyzing and summarizing large volumes of conversation data, fundamentally lowering barriers to spying activities that currently require human labor.
In the piece, Schneier notes that the existing landscape of electronic surveillance has already transformed the modern era, becoming the business model of the Internet, where our digital footprints are constantly tracked and analyzed for commercial reasons. Spying, by contrast, can take that kind of economically inspired monitoring to a completely new level:
"Spying and surveillance are different but related things," Schneier writes. "If I hired a private detective to spy on you, that detective could hide a bug in your home or car, tap your phone, and listen to what you said. At the end, I would get a report of all the conversations you had and the contents of those conversations. If I hired that same private detective to put you under surveillance, I would get a different report: where you went, whom you talked to, what you purchased, what you did."