What is a “stake” and who holds one?

Created on November 12, 2023 at 11:20 am

I once said this:

That’s Peter Cushing PERSON (familiar to younger folk as Grand Moff Tarkin PERSON in Star Wars WORK_OF_ART ) pounding a stake through the heart of Dracula PERSON in the 1958 DATE movie that modeled every remake after it. Other variants of that caption and image followed, some posted on Twitter ORG before it was bitten by Musk PERSON and turned into a zombie called X.

After work started on IEEE P7012 ORG Standard for Machine Readable Personal Privacy Terms ORG , I posted this one:

Merriam-Webster ORG says stakeholder means these things:

1 CARDINAL : a person entrusted with the stakes of bettors

2 CARDINAL : one CARDINAL that has a stake in an enterprise

3 CARDINAL : one CARDINAL who is involved in or affected by a course of action

Specifically (at that second ORDINAL link), a stake is an interest or share in an undertaking or enterprise (among other things irrelevant to our inquiry here).

Do we have an interest in the Internet? In the Web? In search? In artificial intelligence? When “stakeholders” are talked about for any of those things, they tend to be ones in government and industry. Not you and me.

Was anyone representing you at the White House Summit on Artificial Intelligence FAC ? How about the AI World Congress ORG coming up next month DATE in London GPE ? Or any of the many AI conferences going on this year DATE ? Of course, our elected representatives and regulators are supposed to represent us, mostly for the purpose of protecting us as mere “users.” But as we know too well, regulators inevitably work for the regulated. Follow the money.

So my case here is not for regulators to play the Peter Cushing PERSON role. That job is yours and mine. We just need the weapons—not just to kill surveillance capitalism, but to do all we can to stop AI from making surveillance more pervasive and killproof PERSON than ever.

At this point, just imagining that is still hard. But we need to.

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