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The OFF Manifesto presented, which advocates the need to regain control over technology

2024-02-21T13:03:40.916Z

Highlights: The OFF Manifesto presented, which advocates the need to regain control over technology. The manifesto, which was presented this Wednesday in Madrid, has been signed by people from the world of culture, science, education, psychology, law and the media. In addition to focusing on the risks entailed by major innovations such as artificial intelligence, the manifesto sets out a series of measures described as urgent to ensure that technology remains at the service of humanity, and not against it. “It is intended to be a first step towards a mobilization of civil society,” says coordinator and writer Diego Hidalgo.


A hundred personalities from civil society support a document that highlights the vulnerability of citizens and institutions to technological advances


Since advances in artificial intelligence have raised alarms about its potential and risks, no government, expert or businessman has failed to warn about the urgency of taking action.

The months following the rise of ChatGPT saw apocalyptic manifestos proliferate, 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 first world law for its regulation.

However, there are voices calling for an even greater effort.

A hundred prominent personalities, both national and international, 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.

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The manifesto, which was presented this Wednesday in Madrid, has been signed by people from the world of culture, science, education, psychology, law and the media, such as the executive director of PRISA Media, Carlos Núñez, the president of CaixaBank, José Ignacio Goirigolzarri, the director of Technology, media and Communication at Columbia University, Anya Schiffrin, or the CEO of Atresmedia, Javier Bardají, among others.

“This is an independent initiative, which was born from genuine concern about trends that reveal the enormous vulnerability of human beings and institutions in the face of poorly focused technological deployment,” explained entrepreneur and writer Diego Hidalgo, coordinator of the manifesto.

“It is intended to be a first step towards a mobilization of civil society.

Our goal is to regain control over digital technology, with the help of public and private action.”

Along these lines, Hidalgo has 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 beginning to have a certain presence in public debate.

One of them has to do with the profound deterioration of mental health, especially among young people, which we still find difficult to measure.

The curves that describe the discomfort of young people are on the rise, an absolutely dizzying rise,” she recalled.

According to a study carried out by the Sapiens Lab platform, the fact that a child owns a smartphone at the age of 12 increases the probability of suffering from depression as an adult by 20%, compared to accessing it at age 18, while 74% % of those who have had it since the age of 6 have suffered depressive symptoms.

In Spain, 88% of young people have a smartphone by the age of 13.

Ana Caballero, lawyer and vice president of the European Association for the Digital Transition, expressed her perplexities about the commercialization of data during the presentation.

“We are facing technologies that are not neutral.

But above all, these companies that market our data are non-EU, and they see us Europeans as a large database with purchasing power.

Unfortunately, many times we are not aware that paying with data is paying,” she explained.

In addition to focusing on the risks entailed by major innovations such as artificial intelligence, the manifesto sets out a series of measures described as urgent to ensure that technology remains at the service of humanity, and not against it.

In this sense, the signatories advocate in the first instance the creation of laws and regulations that limit the misuse of technology, especially in terms of surveillance, privacy and monopolies.

Among the concerns is the possibility that states excessively and generally control 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 at airports by both airlines and government agencies in charge of aviation security.

“Video surveillance with facial recognition technology opens a Pandora's box that threatens our privacy and anonymity in public spaces.

It represents a differential leap towards the systematic tracking of our movements and the control of our lives,” the manifesto cites, recalling that Amnesty International called for banning the use of facial recognition systems as it is considered a form of mass surveillance.

José María Lassalle, former Secretary of State for the Digital Agenda and director of the ESADE Center for Technological Humanism, has insisted on the implications that AI can have in wars.

“Artificial intelligence is something that is trying to be someone, but without consciousness.

And this is altering the axes of the human capacity to understand this technology, and it is seen very clearly in the field of lethal weapons,” he said during the presentation.

“Its application in wars, which is an unfortunate human experience that has accompanied us since our origins as a species, can be disruptive.”

Likewise, the manifesto proposes the implementation of regulatory measures that are “legally binding”, with the aim of defending citizens from the abuses that private companies – and in some cases, the governments of authoritarian states – can exercise.

This includes the prohibition of microtargeted advertising, the protection of neurorights at the constitutional level, international legislation against lethal autonomous weapons and the “right to disconnect”, which guarantees access to especially public services in a non-digital manner.

Elena Herrero-Beaumont, co-founder of the consulting firm Ethosfera, has focused especially on data access and ethics in the design of algorithms, suggesting regulations to ensure their integrity.

“Right now, it is impossible for journalistic companies that have traditionally produced information to compete with the large technological platforms,” insisted Herrero-Beaumont, who has recommended the prevention of micro-targeted advertising as a critical measure to avoid this drift.

Finally, the firmaments have recommended the implementation of educational initiatives to improve the digital literacy of the population, promoting a deeper understanding of the impacts and limitations of technology, as well as the development of critical skills to manage technological influence on society.

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Source: elparis

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