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What Distinguishes Surveillance, AI, and Big Data?


Surveillance is gathering and recording information for processing and/or analysis.


Amplified by technology, the accumulation and processing escapes comprehensible proportions.

  • 3.3 million times a day, Amazon adds a set of purchasing choices to consumer profiles already containing names, addresses, physical characteristics (the dress you bought had a size), aspirations (only certain people buy How to Play Poker Against the Pros), sentimental attachments (the shipping addresses not corresponding with your home), and so on.


There is no such thing as Artificial Intelligence in the literal sense: machines organize information, they don't think creatively. Augmented intelligence is more accurate. Regardless, the term signifies the filtering and arranging of information at superhuman levels of efficiency.

  • AI machines help us think more powerfully than biology allows, just as mechanical machines like cranes help lift more powerfully.


Big Data unites surveillance and AI: Information of all types is gathered on scales, and organized at speeds overwhelming human abilities.


Individuals are incapable of comprehending big data, and therefore unable to out-maneuver it.

  • In the same way, individuals are incapable of out-muscling heavy machinery, and therefore unable to overpower it.
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