Privacy SOS

#NoDigitalMuslimBan: Technologists tell DHS not to use artificial intelligence in immigration determinations

As a part of its Muslim ban, the Trump administration has promised to subject all foreign visitors from certain, majority Muslim nations to what the president calls “extreme vetting.” Part of that process, according to the Department of Homeland Security, will involve surveillance of non-citizens’ internet use, including social media. Here’s how the Brennan Center describes the plan:

The Extreme Vetting Initiative is Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) plan to monitor much of the internet, including social media, to automatically flag people for deportation or visa denial based on broad, ambiguous criteria. As described in ICE documents, the program will make “determinations via automation” about whether an individual will become a “positively contributing member of society” or “contribute to the national interest” – even though those terms are undefined in American immigration law.

This week, the Brennan Center and a coalition of over 50 civil rights groups and over 50 technologists published letters asking the government to scrap the proposal. The technologists warn DHS that using artificial intelligence (or machine learning) to determine who should and shouldn’t enter the country would be a mistake.

The groups also put out a petition, asking IBM not to bid on the government contract to build such a system. (IBM’s history isn’t encouraging of optimism on this point.)

In other terrifying artificial intelligence news, the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots made the video below to warn us all about what could happen if we don’t act to ban killer autonomous robots. Warning: It contains graphic violence and other disturbing content. The creepiest thing about this video is that all the technology required to build and operate these little killer robots already exists.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.