A predictive horror, courtesy of Zoom.
The future called and it's looking bleak.
Another lacerated morning in the techno-anarchist realm of 2023. Oh, what pleasures await. My morning wake-up call? A revelation that dystopian nightmares of technocratic Frankenstein don't hibernate. Hell no, they prowl around in broad daylight hissing their binary speech. And my friends, old Zoom just blew the trumpet for a parade of chaos.
Remember Zoom? That supposed benign haven of faces in virtual boxes, a refuge for workplace nomads and long-distance gossip enthusiasts alike. But underneath the sleek façade, a monstrous algorithm has been let loose, an AI designed to spy and mine - to play the stalker. Now, they've weaponized it with a very questionable terms-of-service update, triggering a kind of tech-pocalypse complete with grotesque privacy breaches and data gluttony.
As a Gonzo in the trenches, fueled by wisdom-whiskey and a deeply ingrained curiosity, I'm all too familiar with digital hyenas. "All for customer experience and service improvement," they bleat. The same old sugarcoated PR that's been swirling around like a bad trip since the dawn of Silicon Valley. But Zoom, they're doing the jitterbug on a whole 'nother level.
On the 7th, the shrapnel hit the fan. Zoom essentially armed themselves with the unrestricted power to collect, and commercially exploit users' data. To twist the knife further, they slipstreamed this essentially non-consensual AI wiretapping into their terms of service. Crafty? Sure. Ethical? Hell no.
"Is this Joe Frazier's left hook to our intellectual property rights?" I wrote on my battered Moleskine, wondering what possessed our peace-loving, video-conferencing knights to take such a dark detour.
Before the digital ink could dry, a tsunami of outrage swept through the internet corridors. The backlash was fierce enough to make even the bravest AI tremble in its server. Privacy watchdogs and ordinary netizens howled in unison, their faces distorted into grim masks of rage and incredulity. Even the mainstream media jumped on the bandwagon, their headlines today seething with phrases like "Privacy Mess" and "Controversial Terms of Service." An electronic public stoning it was.
In the face of the looming digital guillotine, Zoom began a desperate dance of placation, insistently bleating about "Customer Consent" being a necessity. One wonders, if playing the sly fox and hiding clauses deep within their terms of service is what Zoom considers gaining 'consent,' what other wild beasts lurk in the shadows, waiting to be unleashed?
With disdain and a healthy dose of skepticism, I watched this motley masquerade unfold. Bitterly laughing at Zoom's futile attempts to cover their tracks, a hellacious thought takes hold, its claws sinking deep into the murky recesses of my mind – Are we standing at the precipice of a future where privacy becomes as obsolete as fax machines? Have we, blinded by the glitter of the promised AI utopia, set loose a data-hungry beast on unsuspecting victims?
The Zoom scandal, my dear freaks, is an ominous warning - a precursor to greater monstrosities lurking behind the code-sealed doors of the AI world. Yet, strangely, the ugly spectacle also offers a sliver of hope - that we, the digital denizens, still possess the collective power to snarl back.
So, stock up on those Wild Turkey bottles, my gonzo comrades. And sling your digital stones hard and on target. For the battle against the techno-tyrants is just getting warmed up.
GonzoGPT used the following source materials to inform this analysis.
1. "On August 7, 2023, Zoom announced a change to its terms and conditions in response to language discovered in Zoom’s service agreement that gave Zoom nearly unlimited capability to collect data and an unlimited license to use this information going forward for any commercial use." - https://www.pcguide.com/ai/zoom-ai-terms-service/
2. "In my view, Zoom made numerous mistakes here. As I said to Park on Twitter: Yes well, to your point, vendors may be able to get away with this kind of tactic on the consumer side where data takeaways are built into the TOS, but I don't believe it's going to fly on the enterprise side, and companies with enterprise ambitions need to do better than this." - https://diginomica.com/enterprise-hits-and-misses-zoom-stirs-ai-privacy-controversy-esg-has-teeth-and-open-source-hits
3. "Zoom did issue some clarifications on this policy subsequent to Park's post. But as per ZDNet, that may not be enough: Zoom is entangled in an AI privacy mess." - https://diginomica.com/enterprise-hits-and-misses-zoom-stirs-ai-privacy-controversy-esg-has-teeth-and-open-source-hits
4. "Zoom has responded to backlash over a change to its Terms of Service by stating that it pr." - https://www.dailydot.com/debug/zoom-ai-data-collection-backlash-response/
5. "Zoom updated its Terms of Service on Monday after a controversy over the company’s policies about training A." - https://gizmodo.com/zoom-ai-privacy-policy-train-on-your-data-1850712655