Completely unrelated to this post, let me just say it's very hard to stay away from the Internet when you have insomnia. That said...
I've never thought highly of Mahatma Ghandi. For those who don't know Mr. Ghandi, commonly referred to as just "Ghandi", is famous for winning India's Independence from British rule through non-violent civil disobedience. Which is admirable.
But the problem is he didn't realize why civil disobedience works.
The most glaring aspect of his complete naivete comes in his failure to realize civil disobedience only works when you are struggling against a foe with some sense of decency. As an example take this advice which he gave to the British people in regards to Adolph Hitler's plans to invade Great Britain...
I want you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. Let them take possession of your beautiful island with your many beautiful buildings… If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child to be slaughtered
I'd have to imagine every Jewish person in Great Britain is glad the government didn't follow Ghandi's advice.
The reason I bring this up is because I couldn't help thinking about it when I read this...
Human rights campaign group Amnesty International has criticised a new human rights organisation backed by technology giants Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.
In a statement, Amnesty said it had been involved in earlier discussions over the group but had dropped out after receiving final drafts of its principles in August.
"Following careful consideration of these documents, Amnesty International has come to the conclusion that – while they represent a degree of progress in responding to human rights concerns – they are not yet strong enough to allow Amnesty International to endorse them," the statement said.
It went on to attack what it said were "weaknesses" and said that "several critical issues could not be resolved" despite more than two years of talks.
The problem here is that Amnesty International doesn't seem to realize that companies like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo really don't have anything to bargain with. The governments of oppressive nations have proven in the past that they don't have a problem with blocking sites outright. So the only thing these companies have to threaten, taking their sites away, is something the government would do themselves.
That means the only people who get hurt are the citizens that A.I. supposedly wants to protect
Beyond that any attempt to challenge these governments could have serious consequences on local employees. It's easy to deliver edicts from across an ocean but if a company like Google decides to start denying requests from governments they risk their employees being arrested for being the local arm of the company.
Like Ghandi before them Amnesty International is so dedicated to an abstract principle that they haven't bothered to question whether it will work. Had they done so they'd surely realize their hard line stance would cause more damage than good to the very people they seek to help.