European privacy laws make no sense for companies that use machine learning

The new European GDPR personal privacy data laws allow users to ask any company to delete all their personal data and to provide a copy on demand. Non-compliance leads to harsh penalties.

Those laws don’t make any sense (in that it is impossible to comply) for companies that are developing any kind of machine learning / neural networks / artificial intelligence that learn global models of any kind from attributes gathered from multiple users. This is why:

Lawyers expect that personal data is localized and understandable. But increasingly we are aggregating personal data into all kinds of computer models about users where that data becomes diffuse and incomprehensible.

Just think of it as someone asking you to forget they ever existed and to roll yourself back to whatever you would have been like if you had never had any contact with them, and also they want an exhaustive list of the personal neural mental data you are currently holding on them in a form that they can understand.

It’s important for users to know that, as technology is progressing, their data is being utilized in ways that cannot be undone, and that a request for the stored data is becoming impossible to fulfill. However lawyers and regulators should also understand that aggregating personal data in machine learning algorithms can be an effective form of anonymization.

Man vs AI: Ethics and the Future of Machines

mind_machine_by_neodecayRecent strides in artificial intelligence from big name players such as Google, Facebook, and Baidu, as well as increasingly successful heterogenous systems like IBM’s Watson have provoked fear and excitement amongst the intelligentsia in equal measures. Public figures, such as Steven Hawking, are concerned, and not surprisingly the popular press are excited to cover it. Recently, Elon Musk has become worried that AI might eventually spell doom for the human race. He donated $10 million to fund the Future of Life organization whose stated goal is to ensure AI remains beneficial and does not threaten our wellbeing. An open letter by this organization, titled “Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence,” was signed by hundreds of research leaders. Influential futurist, Ray Kurzweil, has popularized the idea of the technological singularity where intelligent systems surpass human capabilities and leave us marginalized at best.
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