Fashion trends change to reflect new societal norms and self-expression. Today’s societal norm is constant government spying and mass data collection under the premise that we are all criminals who may defy our failing governments. One may first think of China and its vast array of CCTV cameras that are analyzed by Artificial Intelligence software to compile individual behavioral data that can be used to control the population. “Whoever owns enough data and computing ability can predict problems, predict the future, and judge the future,” Alibaba’s Jack Ma was quoted as saying. As the desire for privacy becomes a cultural norm across the West, fashion designers are finding a way to produce clothing that fulfills this need.
They say fashion in Milan always makes its way to the Americas. An Italian startup company called Cap_able has developed a clothing line to prevent AI technology from accurately identifying individuals. The company would like to “educate the population on the importance of privacy and human rights by addressing the problem of misuse of facial recognition technology.” There are similar clothing brands that celebrities notoriously use to prevent the paparazzi from taking their photograph. However, this new genre of clothing is designed to confuse sophisticated AI software. This is not an attempt to shield criminals, as AI spying software is intended to target the entire population. The ethical question arises of whether the state has the right to track its citizens. “The protection of one’s privacy or the community: what comes first? However, isn’t the protection of the community born from the necessity to protect the rights of the individual?” the company questioned.
Researchers at Harvard and MIT published an article in Brookings entitled “Exporting the surveillance state via trade in AI.” Once the government or companies collect this data, they can freely export it. The study found that China is currently the world leader in facial recognition technology and has exported over 201 deals to use its programs. The US is second behind China with 128 deals to export facial recognition technology. The published study noted that AI recognition software could “undermine democracies, enhance autocrats’ aims of social control, and empower “surveillance capitalists.”’
The government can recognize your daily whereabouts and behavioral patterns to predict what you may do or where you may go. Social scores, as seen in China, seem far-fetched in the West, but look what happened during the power grab that was COVID when countless countries imposed QR codes to restrict the freedom of movement. Credit scores were not developed in the US until 1958 and were intended to predict whether a borrower could repay their loan. The idea of a credit score would seem far-fetched to people living just a few years prior, and now that same score can vary due to simply purchasing a car or looking up your score.
So AI defiant clothing may serve a purpose in the not-so-distant future if it actually works. It would come to the surprise of none if governments outlawed this clothing or simply updated their software to bypass the designs. There’s a chance that this could simply be a gimmick, as advanced AI can learn to detect and counteract patterns. You cannot hide from Big Brother.
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