World Economic Forum member and professor of history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Yuval Noah Harari, has posited that within a decade or two, algorithms could be used to determine if teenagers are unknowingly homosexual.
During a 2018 presentation at the annual World Economic Forum meet, titled, Will the Future Be Human? Harari said the coming merger of info-tech and bio-tech will provide the ability to “hack human beings.”
According to Harari, once the merger provides enough biometric information coupled with the necessary computing power, algorithms can be created that know the person better than they know themselves.
“We don’t really know ourselves,” Harari said.
“To give an example, when I was 21, I finally realized that I was gay after living several years in denial. And this is not exceptional. A lot of gay men live in denial for many years. They don’t know something very important about themselves.
“Now, imagine a situation, in 10 or 20 years, when an algorithm can tell any teenager exactly where he or she is on the gay-straight spectrum. And even, how malleable this position is.”
Harari explained that the algorithm would work by tracking your eye movements, your blood pressure, and your brain activity as you navigate social media, stream videos, and make online purchases.
The process of data collection will be so integrated within society that it will be unavoidable. You will not be able to hide from it, Harari warned.
“Now, maybe you personally wouldn’t like to make use of such an algorithm,” he said, “but maybe you find yourself at some boring birthday party, of somebody from your class at school, and one of your friends has this wonderful idea that I’ve just heard about this cool new algorithm that tells you your sexual orientation, and wouldn’t it be a lot of fun if everybody just takes turns testing themselves on this algorithm as everybody else is watching and commenting.
“What would you do? Would you just walk away? And even if you walk away, and even if you keep hiding from your classmates, or from yourself, you will not be able to hide from Amazon, and Alibaba and the secret police.”
Harari said the information collected could then be distributed to agencies and big businesses to cater to each person’s sexual desires for personalized advertising.
“As you surf the internet, as you watch videos, or check your social feed, the algorithms will be monitoring your eye movements, your blood pressure, your brain activity and they will know, they could tell Coca-Cola, that if you want to sell this person some fuzzy, sugary drink, don’t use the advertisement with the shirtless girl, use the advertisement with the shirtless guy.
“You wouldn’t even know that this was happening. But they will know. And this information will be worth billions.”