“No state shall … deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” U.S. Constitution, 14th Amendment.
As philosopher Marten Kaas writes in Motley, “The Great Flood of AI is here and it is no longer a matter of whether they will displace humans but when they will displace humans, and whether we will be ready for a future shaped, for better or for worse, by intelligent machines.” But is it machines, or those who program them, that are the greater concern, at least in the near term?
Private Property at Risk
In a new report from the Mises Institute, German economist Dr. Antony Mueller warns that our treasured individual liberty – and our real and personal property as well — are very much at risk. The playbook for abolishing property, along with liberty and even our own life decisions, is a 2016 tome published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) entitled, “8 Predictions for the World in 2030.”
The WEF scenario, says Mueller, is more than just a forecast: “It is a plan whose implementation has accelerated drastically since with the announcement of a pandemic and the consequent lockdowns…. People would have to rent and borrow their necessities from the state, which would be the sole proprietor of all goods.
In this utopian future, Mueller adds, “Values like individualism, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are at stake, to be repudiated in favor of collectivism and the imposition of a ‘common good’ that is defined by the self-proclaimed elite of technocrats.” Even worse, Mueller predicts that “there would be no place [in this brave new world] for the average person … [who] would be put away along with the ‘unemployable’, ‘feeble minded’, and ‘ill bred’.”
China Sets the Example
A solid blueprint for the WEF’s utopia already exists to a great extent in the People’s Republic of China, according to Rod Dreher, author of Live Not by Lies: A Manual for Christian Dissidents.
Dreher, who is also senior editor at The American Conservative, says, “(T)he coming ‘soft totalitarianism will rely on a social credit system, like the one the Chinese use, to control the masses and to compel conformity without having to use ‘hard’ methods.”
Dreher asserts that, “Beijing’s use of consumer data, biometric information, GPS tracking coordinates, facial recognition, DNA, and other forms of data harvesting [in short, their use of AI] has turned, and continues to turn, China into a beast never before seen worldwide, not even under Mao or Stalin.
In China,” Dreher concludes,”the tools of surveillance capitalism are employed by the surveillance state to administer the so-called social credit system, which determines who is allowed to buy, sell, and travel based on their social behavior.”
Similarly, German China expert Kai Strittmatter, in his 2019 book We Have Been Harmonised, writes that, “In China’s shiny new ‘Smart Cities’, citizens can scarcely cross the road or buy an orange without the government knowing about it, and tweeting satirically about the Glorious Leader’s dumpling-like features can land you in jail.”
Strittmatter describes how China’s autocratic leaders are using powerful new technologies to create the largest and most effective surveillance state the world has ever seen. China is already finding eager overseas buyers for its ever-upgrading ‘Operating System for Dictators’ — in Africa and Asia, Russia, and the Middle East.
Surveillance State Coming to the U.S.
And, one might add, in the United States.
Today, private property is often called “greed,” and individual liberty is smeared as “selfishness.” But Gerald O’Driscoll, Jr., and Lee Hoskins have written that prosperity and property rights are inextricably linked. In their view, “The process of weighing costs and benefits produces what economists call efficient outcomes. That translates into higher standards of living for all.” Yet, they argue, it is the failure of economists to emphasize the value of private property that gave rise to collectivist development policy. No wonder a majority of American youth view socialism much more favorably than capitalism.
According to The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation’s 2020 “Report on U.S. Attitudes Toward Socialism, Communism, and Collectivism,” 74 percent of Gen Z and 70 percent of Millennials do not see Marxism as a “totalitarian state that suppresses the freedom of its citizens.” According to the report, over a quarter (26 percent) of all Americans support “the gradual elimination of the capitalist system in favor of a more socialist system.”
Where have we gone wrong? And is it too late to salvage our freedoms?
Socialism’s Long-Time Coming
It is not as though we had not been warned.
One of the many books that waved the red flag is a 2009 book, Government Pirates: The Assault on Private Property Rights, by Don Corase.
As Russ Harding of The Mackinac Center explained in a book review, Corase places most of the blame for the loss of private property rights in America on courts that through rulings have disregarded constitutional protection of private property from takings. But Harding also tags abuses by elected officials and government bureaucrats.
It is widely recognized that socialism is nearly an official doctrine in America’s teacher colleges (and nearly all universities). But way back in 1992 John Taylor Gatto was warning in his seminal book, Dumbing Us Down that, “By preventing a free market in education, a handful of social engineers, backed by the industries that profit from compulsory schooling—teacher colleges, textbook publishers, material suppliers, and others—has ensured that most of our children will not have an education, even though they may be thoroughly schooled.”
Too our collective peril, Americans have largely ignored the warnings of Gatto and others like him who saw the federalization of American education as a danger to human freedom.
In short, we did this to ourselves.
Dreher shows how the American media used to report that the Chinese social credit system, made possible by the ubiquitous monitoring of human activity by the nation’s tech companies and social media, was making life very difficult for those blacklisted for nonconformity.
In 2020, for the first time that we had noticed, America’s tech companies and social media giants revealed their systematic monitoring of our every purchase, our every word, and showed their power to silence our voices. In so doing, they are laying the foundation for a Chinese-style nationwide social credit system that in turn lays the foundation for implementing the nightmare scenario envisioned by the WEF – maybe even sooner than 2030.
American Patriot Patrick Henry once famously said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Advocates of the looming machine-driven utopia claim that liberty is encased in obedience and conformity. But what if they are wrong? Dare we humans entrust our future to AI machines? Or to their manipulators?
Duggan Flanakin (email@example.com) is the Director of Policy Research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).
This article was originally published by CFACT.