Helmut Schmidt Future Prize Winner’s Speech

Meredith Whittaker, president of the Signal Foundation, received the Helmut Schmidt Future Prize in May. In her prize winner’s speech, she highlights the proliferation of artificial intelligence applications from ad targeting to military applications:

We are all familiar with being shown ads in our feeds for yoga pants (even though you don’t do yoga) or a scooter (even if you just bought one), or whatever else. We see these because the surveillance company running the ad market or social platform has determined that these are things “people like us” are assumed to want or be attracted to, based on a model of behavior built using surveillance data. Since other people with data patterns that look like yours bought a scooter, the logic goes, you will likely buy a scooter (or at least click on an ad for one). And so you’re shown an ad. We know how inaccurate and whimsical such targeting is. And when it’s an ad it’s not a crisis when it’s mistargeted. But when it’s more serious, it’s a different story.

It’s all fun and games as long as were talking about which ad is served next. Code responsibly.