Before his links to the world was cut by his Ecuadorian hosts, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave an interview on how technological advances are changing humankind. He said global surveillance will soon be totally unavoidable.
The interview was provided to RT by organizers of the World Ethical Data Forum in Barcelona. Assange, who is currently stranded in the Ecuadorean embassy in London with no outside communication except with his legal team, has a pretty grim outlook on where humanity is going. He says it will soon be impossible for any human being to not be included into global databases collected by governments and state-like entities.
This generation being born now… is the last free generation. You are born and either immediately or within say a year you are known globally. Your identity in one form or another –coming as a result of your idiotic parents plastering your name and photos all over Facebook or as a result of insurance applications or passport applications– is known to all major world powers.
“A small child now in some sense has to negotiate its relationship with all the major world powers… It puts us in a very different position. Very few technically capable people are able to live apart, to choose to live apart, to choose to go their own way,” he added. “It smells a bit like totalitarianism – in some way.”
The capacity to collect and process information about people has been growing exponentially and will continue to grow fast, he stated. With advancements in applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to big data, the next logical step is coming.
Look at what Google and Baidu and Tencent and Amazon and Facebook are doing. They are basically open-cut harvesting the knowledge of humankind as we express it, when we communicate with each other… This classical model, which people in academia call ‘surveillance capitalism’… has changed now.
It’s a really very important and severe economic change. Which is to take the surveillance capitalism model and transform it instead into a model that does not yet have a name, an ‘AI model’. Which is to use this vast reservoir to train Artificial Intelligences of different kinds. This would replace not only intermediary sectors –most things you do on the internet is in a sense more efficient intermediation– but to take over the transport sector, or create whole new sectors.
Assange also predicted that the scale of hostile activities through cyberspace will see a breakout point as soon as AI is trained to sufficiently automate hacking attacks.
“There is no border [online]. It’s 220 milliseconds from New York to Nairobi. Why would there ever be peace in such a scenario?” he said. “[Entities online] are creating their own borders using cryptography. But the size of the attack surface for any decent-sized organization, the number of people, different types of software and hardware it has to pull inside itself means that it is very hard to establish.
I don’t think it’s really possible to come up with borders that are predictable enough and stable enough to eliminate conflict. Therefore, there will be more conflict.
WATCH FULL INTERVIEW BELOW:
Last month the US Senate Intelligence Committee requested that persecuted WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange testify before committee staff. The committee is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
In a letter delivered to Assange at his residence in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, committee chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) requested that Assange make himself available for a closed interview “at a mutually agreeable time and location.”
BREAKING: US Senate Intelligence Committee calls editor @JulianAssange to testify. Letter delivered via US embassy in London. WikiLeaks' legal team say they are "considering the offer but testimony must conform to a high ethical standard". Also: https://t.co/pPf0GTjTlp pic.twitter.com/TrDKkCKVBx
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 8, 2018
WikiLeaks’ legal team said that they “are considering the offer but testimony must conform to a high ethical standard.”
Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, seeking asylum from possible extradition to the US, where he faced indictment under the Espionage Act for publishing leaked government documents. Since his de-facto house arrest in the embassy, WikiLeaks has continued to draw controversy, publishing then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails and leaked emails from the Democratic Party’s internal servers in 2016.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 28, 2018
Pence visited Ecuador shortly after, and met with the country’s president, Lenin Moreno. After meeting with Pence, Moreno reportedly mulled evicting Assange from the embassy. Assange had been granted asylum by Moreno’s predecessor, and the new president described the Australian journalist as an “inherited problem.”
Human Rights Watch has called on the UK government to allow Assange to leave his embassy home without the threat of extradition to the US, where he could face life in prison. In 2016, a UN working group found that Assange’s stay in the embassy amounted to an “arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”
“Ecuador has been very clear” on Assange’s asylum status, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told Spain’s ABC newspaper. “It is an issue that should be dealt with in the framework of international law by three parties: the British government, the Ecuadorian government and Assange’s lawyers,” the Foreign Minister said.
According to the top diplomat, the asylum agreement which was granted in its own time requires some sort of resolution, “because it cannot be an eternal asylum. But it’s difficult to predict how long it will take to find a solution,” he said.
Valencia doesn’t believe that Quito’s request that Assange doesn’t make political statements while residing at the embassy, including comments on the Catalan independence movement, to be evidence of any sort of censorship.
“Ecuador granted Assange asylum on the basis of agreements providing him with protection by our country in the diplomatic headquarters. These conventions determine that the person seeking asylum cannot make political pronouncements or put the host country’s relationship with third parties (in this case Spain) at risk.”
As well, the outstanding UK arrest warrant against him, issued for breach of bail conditions related to those charges, remains in force, and Assange would be subject to arrest if he stepped foot outside the Embassy, according to London Metropolitan Police.
Assange’s internet connection was cut off in March, with a WikiLeaks adviser and Assange ally saying the move may have been connected with the activist’s tweets about the Skripal poisoning case.
To add onto Assange’s growing list of woes, has a lung condition that could get worse, the South American country’s envoy to Britain said on Wednesday.
“He has a chronic lung condition that could worsen at any time,” Ambassador Ana Alban told reporters ahead of an annual gathering of Ecuador’s diplomatic corps with President Rafael Correa in Quito.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
September 20th, 2018