Free Speech is Futile: Gates Goes Full Borg on AI Censorship

Below is my column in the New York Post on the call of Bill Gates to use Artificial Intelligence to combat “political polarization” on the Internet. It turns out the problem on the Internet is those pesky humans “who want to believe … things” that they should not. Enter the new AI Overlords to bring collective peace and tranquility through content assimilation.

Here is the column:

“We are the AI.” That Borg-like greeting could be coming soon to the internet in the form of new AI overlords. In a recent chilling interview, Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates called for the use of artificial intelligence to combat not just “digital misinformation” but “political polarization.”

He is only the latest to call for the use of either AI or algorithms to shape what people say or read on the internet. The danger of such a system is evident where free speech, like resistance, could become futile.

In an interview on a German program, “Handelsblatt Disrupt,” Gates calls for unleashing AI to stop certain views from being “magnified by digital channels.” The problem is that we allow “various conspiracy theories like QAnon or whatever to be blasted out by people who wanted to believe those things.”

Gates added that AI can combat “political polarization” by checking “confirmation bias.”

Confirmation bias is a term long used to describe the tendency of people to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms their own beliefs. It is now being used to dismiss those with opposing views as ignorant slobs dragging their knuckles across the internet — people endangering us all by failing to accept the logic behind policies on COVID, climate change or a host of other political issues.

This is not the first call for AI overlords to protect us from ourselves. Last September, Gates gave the keynote address at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy. He told his fellow billionaires that “polarization and lack of trust is a problem.”

The problem is again … well … people: “People seek simple solutions [and] the truth is kind of boring sometimes.”

Not AI, of course. That would supply the solutions. Otherwise, Gates suggested, we could all die: “Political polarization may bring it all to an end, we’re going to have a hung election and a civil war.”

Others have suggested a Brave New World where citizens will be carefully guided in what they read and see. Democratic leaders have called for a type of “enlightened algorithms” to frame what citizens access on the internet. In 2021, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) objected that people were not listening to the informed views of herself and leading experts. Instead, they were reading views of skeptics by searching Amazon and finding books by “prominent spreaders of misinformation.”

Warren blamed Amazon for failing to limit searches or choices: “This pattern and practice of misbehavior suggests that Amazon is either unwilling or unable to modify its business practices to prevent the spread of falsehoods or the sale of inappropriate products.” In her letter, Warren gave the company 14 days to change its algorithms to throttle and obstruct efforts to read opposing views.

Social media responded to such calls and engaged in widespread censorship of those who held opposing views of mask mandates, vaccine safety, school mandates, and the origin of COVID-19. Many of those criticisms and views are now acknowledged as plausible and legitimate, but scientists were banned and censored. There was no “polarization” allowed. The public never was allowed to have that full debate on social media because such views were declared disinformation.

President Biden joined in these calls for censorship, often sounding like a censor-in-chief, denouncing social media companies for “killing people” by not blocking enough. Recently, he expressed doubt that the public can “know the truth” without such censorship by “editors” in Big Tech.

They found an eager body of censors at companies like Twitter. After taking over as CEO, Parag Agrawal pledged to regulate content as “reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation.” Agrawal said the company would “focus less on thinking about free speech” because “speech is easy on the internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard.”

That view was echoed last week in the first hearing on Twitter’s censorship program. Former Twitter executive Anika Collier Navaroli testified on what she repeatedly called the “nuanced” standard used by her and her staff on censorship. She explained that they did not just balance free speech against public safety in deciding whether to allow someone to speak. Rather censorship depended on the persons involved: “Whose free expression are we protecting at the expense of whose safety and whose safety are we willing to allow to go the winds so that people can speak freely?”

All of that could be much easier with an AI Overlord that can protect us against our own doubts and divisions. Currently, Microsoft, the company Gates founded, uses NewsGuard, a self-described arbiter of misinformation, which rates sites and has been widely criticized for targeting conservative media.

Now, this work could be turned over to an AI Overlord. Of course, the intelligence remains artificial. A human has to program what is truth and what is intolerable “polarization.” It would be a ramped-up version of ChatGPT, the popular AI service that Microsoft just incorporated into its Bing search engine. It censors “offensive” content and bars certain viewpoints because it was told to do so.

AI enforces the collective truth that needs to be amplified for a greater good as determined by figures like Gates.

We are clearly not facing a giant menacing cube circling our planet (No, the Chinese balloons don’t count). Yet, after years of censorship, you would be forgiven if it all sounds chillingly similar to “Lower your shields and surrender … Resistance is futile.”

Jonathan Turley is an attorney and a professor at George Washington University Law School.

128 thoughts on “Free Speech is Futile: Gates Goes Full Borg on AI Censorship”

    1. Gates is an elitist snob like so many others who also think they are smarter than others who don’t follow lockstep. He maybe smart about money but he is utterly void of wisdom and history. I am an independent thinker and an independent voter who left the Democratic Party over a decade ago due to the party’s abhorrence to free-speech. Gates, and the other elitist snobs (Warren etc) would have hogtied the hands of Silas Dogood and Mark Twain. And God for bid even George Washington’s biographer. Our history is replete with fake news. It’s as American as apple pie. The very idea that these elitist snobs believe that they have the right and power to control speech and thought and determine what is spoken and written is utterly disgusting and absurd. They should be ridiculed. So in that vein let me just say Billy boy and Liz and the rest….you folks are unmitigated fools, intolerant and un American. Go leap in the lake. Lmaorotfl!

  1. Gates is an American and the Constitution including the First Amendment should be in his blood and thoughts. I am sorry to see Gates has become such a megalomaniac that he believes that he is above all and the rest of us are serfs and should be under control of a World Body, the WEF. Further to Gates the WEF decides on how many serfs there are to by in the world. The USA needs to stop supporting Ukraine and close our southern border and look at what is not working properly in the US government. The USA government and groups need to look at what people at all income levels are doing to undermine the people of the USA and the workings of the USA, and Gates is one of them.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly. The US Constitution was the shining attempt to destroy the concept of aristocracy in the world. Gates and his ilk are working hard to bring it back.

      We have seen so many Americans that reached fame and fortune who started with nothing, no “divine right of kings” no caste (with race as one potential caste) system to set ones limits as soon as one is born. In a properly working government within the US Constitutional scope, no one’s opinion is better than another. And as citizens we must listen carefully to what anyone says and evaluate what has been said and do our own “fact checking”.

      Bill Gates is firmly convinced that his wealth gives him carte blanche to do anything he wants at any cost to the world around him. However, in a functional US Constitutional government, Bill Gates, Al Gore or John Kerry citizens with the same legal limitations and rights as any citizen.

  2. But resistance isn’t futile….my mom with memory loss maintains ” this isn’t the American people”. Even she knows what’s afoot. And so does dad as every time he uses siri he does by mocks the robot. In that it works for him not vs versa! Our country is not lost. Siri works for us. Screw that – everyone works for us. Never forget. That….humans! Lajes86 545499a.

    1. We need to know birsinsky started all this propaganda against our people……we used to forbid it but somehow after 911 they slid it in. Never forget whose screwing us. Now! All lies. Like he’d g would use two guns…it’s all to bury the calverts…bumpy bear Russians the fb i ignores….And the fb i knows it…but they allow a fellow american to be strung up for murder….when they know the Russians did it. We are dealing with cowards. Real ones. Rip Maggie and paul. Alex never will. He may have been a crook….but not a murderer. And our govt knows who the murderers are….but let’s them skate. Sic

    2. Sadly you’re wrong and our country is lost. Sheeple blindly fallow ” the moobed demon ” wholeheartedly. I saw Terminator when it first came out at the age of 10 and new instinctually, this was the world we were heading for. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that there would be 50 million other agendas at play too. The demons are running the cards and the ONLY thing we can put our faith and trust in is God the Father and our LORD Jesus Christ.

  3. People are tired of hearing from Bill Gates. He thinks because he’s a billionaire now that he has some kind of rule over us. He does not think of anything other than himself, and cannot see the damage it would do to the Internet and people who use the Internet to make a living. No one wants to government or a self-appointed billionaire meddling in our business. If Gates uses his AI Bots to help the government he becomes a state actor, and is bound by the same constitutional restrictions as the government.

      1. Answer to AI problem is it should be a one way street. They don’t have the right to know whom or if it is being read. Put it out there if you want! But AI has no more rights!

  4. I wonder why there is lack of trust for that beady-eyed oligarch who made tens of billions of dollars off the scamdemic?

  5. (OT)

    Turley will be glad to learn that per CNN, the FBI has now done a consensual search of Biden’s documents at the U of DE.

  6. Jonathan: Bill Gates has been the subject of all sorts of conspiracy theories. One theory is that Gates wants to put microchips into vaccines to track people. So I put your column into that kind of conspiracy theory category and it doesn’t require any further comment–except to say that when a well known law scholar and academic engages himself in conspiracy theories we are headed to a dark place.

    So let’s move on to some really important news. The White supremacist Payton Gendron was just sentenced to life for brutally killing 10 Black shoppers in a Buffalo supermarket. By his own admission Gendron says he was influenced by racist conspiracy theories he saw online. He says he acted “out of hate” and, in an act of contrition at sentencing, he added that “I don’t want anyone to be inspired by me”. I don’t think anyone believed him because he now faces federal charges that could involve the death penalty and he doesn’t like that prospect. But I suppose for you the kind of virulent racist hate speech Gendron was infected with, and that caused him to murder all those Black people, is just the price we have to pay to keep our 1st Amendment rights. And. of course, you think keeping guns out of the hands of people like Gendron would violate our 2nd Amendment god -given right to carry a gun on our hip. It’s the old theory that we have to sacrifice the many so people like Gendron can go out an buy an assault rifle. Now that makes no sense whatever!

    And this comes as we are in the middle of Black History Month when we celebrate the contributions Black people have made to this country–in spite of lynchings and mass murders. And they are many. Last night I celebrated by watching an old video of Sarah Vaughn singing “Misty”–one of my favorite old jazz standards. Say what you will about Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah is my favorite jazz singer because of her voice range, her ability to put so much emotional into her singing, her phrasing, pausing at moments to let her band improvise–but always controlling the tempo. She often made jokes on herself–trying to get her audience involved–knowing her audience was predominantly White. It was her way to try to bridge the divide between the races. Sarah was also an accomplished pianist. Shows the range of her talents. And just a reminder here that “Jazz” and the “Blues” were not invented by White people–another reason we should celebrate BHM.

    I know my devoted followers on this blog would like my recommendations for reading this BHM. So here are some suggestions: (1) “The Africans Who Wrote the Bible” by Nara Blanche Darwah; (2) “The Five Negro Presidents” by JH Rogers; (3) “From Slavery to Freedom: A history of African Americans (9th edition)” by the esteemed Black historian John Hope Franklin. And finally, a new book by Michel Obama “The Light We Carry”. Good reads if you still have snow and can’t go out.

    Finally, thanks to my loyal followers for reading my comments and I really appreciate your thoughtful replies.

  7. If the AI were to control “political polarization” by only presenting viewpoints representing Classical Liberalism and revealing everyone’s dirty little totalitarianism plays, it might be a good thing.

    Funny how it never works that direction, though…

    1. There are somethings in the world that are KNOWN facts.
      AI can handle them without difficulty.

      But there is a vast domain of things that are either impossible to know as fact – the domain of religion and belief.

      Can an AI do any better at answering whether there is a god ? Or other non-factual questions such as is Blue better than Red ?

      Between those things that are KNOWN facts, and those things that are pure beleif and can never be anything else.
      There is a giant gulf of things that are not certain, nor pure beleif.

      They are probablistically true or false.

      AI is and can be no better at addressing those than humans are.

      And anyone who has played with ChatGPT for a bit will quickly understand that outside the domain of known facts, it is just another source of opinion.

      You can not creat a fact out of something that is not certain in the real world, by having an AI express it.

      I think AI is an important and powerful tool.
      But anyone who thinks it will get us very far with our political issues is delusional.

Leave a Reply