The OFF Manifesto presented, which advocates the need to regain control of technology |  Technology

The OFF Manifesto presented, which advocates the need to regain control of technology | Technology

The OFF Manifesto presented, which advocates the need to regain control of technology |  Technology

Since advances in artificial intelligence sparked concern about its potential and risks, no government, expert or businessman has failed to warn of the urgency of action. The months following the rise of ChatGPT saw a proliferation of apocalyptic manifestos, signed by some of the pioneers in the field of AI. Since then, some have called for a pause in its development, while the European Union has managed to implement the world’s first law for its regulation. However, voices are being raised to demand an even greater effort. Around a hundred notable personalities, both national and international, sign the OFF Manifesto. This document highlights the vulnerability of human beings and their institutions in the face of increasingly advanced and autonomous technology, and calls for more decisive and ambitious actions.

The manifesto, presented on Wednesday in Madrid, was signed by personalities from the world of culture, science, education, psychology, law and media, such as the executive director of PRISA Media, Carlos Nunez; the president of CaixaBank, José Ignacio Goirigolzarri; the director of technology, media and communications of Columbia University, Anya Schiffrin, or the CEO of Atresmedia, Javier Bardají, among others. “This is an independent initiative born from genuine concern about trends that reveal the enormous vulnerability of human beings and institutions to poorly targeted technological deployment,” explained entrepreneur and writer Diego Hidalgo, manifesto coordinator. “This is a first step towards mobilizing civil society. Our objective is to regain control of digital technology, with the help of public and private action.

In a similar vein, Hidalgo recalled the mental health risks of owning a cell phone at an early age. “Fortunately, some of the issues addressed in the manifesto are already starting to have some presence in the public debate. One of them concerns the profound deterioration of mental health, particularly among young people, about which it is still difficult for us to take action. The curves which describe the agitation of youth are on the rise, an absolutely dizzying rise,” he recalled. According to a study carried out by the Sapiens Lab platformthe fact that a 12 year old child has a smartphone The likelihood of experiencing depression as an adult increases by 20% compared to experiencing it at age 18, while 74% of those who have suffered from it since the age of six have suffered from depressive symptoms. In Spain, 88% of young people own a smartphone by the age of 13.

Ana Caballero, lawyer and vice-president of the European Association for the Digital Transition, expressed her perplexity about the commercialization of data during the presentation. “We are faced with technologies that are not neutral. But above all, these companies which market our data are not European and see us, as Europeans, as a large database with purchasing power. Unfortunately, very often we are not aware that paying with data is paying,” he explained.

In addition to focusing on the risks associated with major innovations like artificial intelligence, the manifesto sets out a series of measures described as urgent to ensure that technology remains in the service of humanity, not against it. In this sense, the signatories firstly advocate the creation of laws and regulations that limit the misuse of technology, particularly in terms of surveillance, confidentiality and monopolies.

Among the concerns is the possibility that states will carry out excessive and widespread control of citizens, through facial recognition or other technologies that do not guarantee anonymity in public spaces. In the United States, for example, Biometric technology is widely used in airports, by airlines and government agencies responsible for air safety. “CCTV with facial recognition technology opens a Pandora’s box that threatens our privacy and anonymity in public spaces. This represents a differential step towards the systematic tracking of our movements and the control of our lives,” the manifesto quotes, recalling that Amnesty International has called for banning the use of facial recognition systems because it considers them a form mass surveillance.

José María Lassalle, former Secretary of State for the Digital Agenda and director of the ESADE Center for Technological Humanism, insisted on the implications that AI can have in wars. “Artificial intelligence is something that tries to be someone, but without consciousness. And that changes the axes of human capacity to understand this technology, and that is seen very clearly in the area of ​​lethal weapons,” he said during the presentation. “Its application in wars, which are an unfortunate human experience that has been with us since our origins as a species, can be disruptive. »

Likewise, the manifesto proposes the implementation of “legally binding” regulatory measures, with the aim of defending citizens against abuses that can be committed by private companies – and in some cases, authoritarian state governments. This includes banning micro-targeted advertising, protecting neurorights at the constitutional level, international legislation against deadly autonomous weapons, and the “right to disconnect,” which guarantees access to public services in a non-digital way.

Elena Herrero-Beaumont, co-founder of consultancy Ethosfera, has focused particularly on data access and ethics in algorithm design, proposing regulations to ensure their integrity. “At present, it is impossible for journalistic companies that traditionally produce information to compete with large technology platforms,” warned Herrero-Beaumont, who recommended the prevention of micro-targeted advertising as a crucial measure to avoid this drift.

The firmaments also recommended the implementation of educational initiatives aimed at improving the digital culture of the population, promoting a deeper understanding of the impacts and limits of technology, as well as the development of essential skills to manage influence technology on society.

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