I prompted the AI Chatbot, Claude.AI, to write a book report on the novel The Weaponization of Everything by Mark Galeotti, with some loose guidelines about things it should consider in the report. I read this book around a year ago, and was fascinated by the author’s predictions about how as the internet and technology continues to evolve, it will be increasingly weaponized by parties to further their own interests. These parties can range greatly from foreign governments attacking smart infrastructure, politicians attempting to get more votes or even companies trying to increase their sales. Whatever the reason, Galeotti argues that as our world becomes increasingly connected to and reliant on technology, it will create avenues that people can leverage for their own purposes. Since having read this book, things like ChatGPT, Claude.AI or even AI made songs from dead artists have become commonplace, and seeing how much has already changed in the last year excites me for the future while also being somewhat frightening. I chose to have Claude.AI write a book report as I wanted it to look deeply into the source material that inspired me to choose this topic. But, I also wanted to see how far I could push the “creativity” of the AI and chose to have it write the report from a futuristic perspective, meaning that it had to first envision what the world would look like in 2050. Based off of the world that it created, the responses to the novel’s predictions would vary greatly, and I wanted to see if the AI would paint itself in a positive light, contrary to the novels predictions, or simply agree with the novel that AI is likely harmful.
Write a book report on the novel The Weaponization of Everything by Mark Galeotti in the future. Analyze how the advancement of Artificial intelligence may or may not remain true in the context of the book and if the authors predictions were correct.
Here is a book report analyzing Mark Galeotti’s ‘The Weaponization of Everything’ and his predictions surrounding artificial intelligence:
In his far-reaching 2021 work ‘The Weaponization of Everything’, Mark Galeotti outlined a disconcerting vision of the future where the increasing ubiquity of technology enabled its exploitation in previously unforeseen ways. Writing with the benefit of three decades of hindsight in 2050, it is clear now that some of Galeotti’s most dire predictions failed to fully materialize. However, his core thesis remains relevant, as many issues he spotlighted did come to fruition even if details diverged.
One area where Galeotti’s analysis proved prescient was social media. He correctly predicted the evolution of online platforms into information ecosystems contaminated by a deluge of synthetic media and precisely targeted disinformation. By the 2030s, generative AI made the creation of fake video, images, audio and text fast, cheap and hyper-realistic. This overwhelmed platforms’ ability to monitor and verify content. The result is today’s social media landscape where users are constantly vulnerable to manipulation through personalized propaganda designed specifically to deceive them. Just as Galeotti warned, the democratization of forgery represents a new information hazard requiring vigilance and reform.
However, Galeotti under-estimated societal counter-measures that mitigated some of the most destabilizing scenarios he outlined regarding physical systems. He envisioned a future where exploits in networked appliances and infrastructure led to waves of debilitating cyber-attacks against utilities, vehicles and public services. But this degree of infrastructure disruption has not occurred, blunted by a mix of stronger cybersecurity requirements, failure to connect some critical systems to the internet, and robust intrusion detection systems. Isolated incidents persist, but feared threats around ‘killer’ robotics and systemic public safety failures have not materialized. Here Galeotti correctly identified weakness but overestimated both capabilities and fragility.
Several complex societal reactions have emerged in response to the issues Galeotti spotlighted. Many citizens have grown resigned to pervasive disinformation, exhibiting a defeated cynicism and refusal to trust anything online. But this apathy is countered by growing civil society demands for accountability and reform, seeking to reclaim ethics and truth in digital spaces through pressure and protest. There is increased scrutiny as well around proposals to expand automation in critical infrastructure domains. While risks remain, the public exhibits wariness, erring cautiously on upgrades.
Overall, Galeotti shone a prescient light on emerging technological threats, even if he exaggerated timelines and impacts in cases. His vision broadly captured the trajectory of AI-enabled information warfare, cyber-vulnerabilities via connectivity and the dangers of dual-use technologies. Ongoing public debate continues around the best ways to tap AI’s benefits while reducing harm. ‘The Weaponization of Everything’ serves as a vital warning flare and spur to action as humanity navigates the opportunities and hazards along the road ahead. We now understand uncontrolled tech advancement brings not utopia, but potentially dystopia. The essential lesson is that ethical frameworks, norms and governance must progress in parallel with innovation to steer towards positive shores.
When looking at the book report generated by Claude.AI through the lens of the Circuit of Culture, it becomes apparent that the AI’s identity is largely influenced by the interest of those around it. The content of the report draws a variety of interesting conclusions, but what stood out to me was how the book report took a firm stance that the fears of humans today were exaggerated and in fact artificial intelligence was only minimally dangerous and a net positive. To begin, this artificial intelligence is made by a company named Anthropic, which is largely funded by Google. The profit seeking companies behind the AI have financial interest in its continued use, and thus want AI to be positioned in a positive light . If you look at some of the products these companies are making, for example Google Home, having an AI that predicts a world where these systems are leveraged for harm would negatively impact sales. Similarly, I noticed that the AI seems to be appealing to young people through its use of words like “spur”, “reclaim” and “countered” to instill a feeling of optimism and the ability for people to control their future. By using this type of language, it helps to alleviate the fear that humans will be “ruled” by AI and plays to their beliefs that they will always be able to come out on top even if AI gets out of hand. For AI to have continued expansion in our world, it must appeal to the people that make the regulations that control it, typically older generations, as well as its user base, typically the youth.
While the specific syntax I mentioned above is a small example of the AI’s representation, the identity of the AI plays a large role in how it represents itself in this book report. Since the factors that influence the AI want it to continue to expand, it is imperative that it represents itself in a positive way. Hence, when the novel takes a pretty harsh stance against Artificial Intelligence arguing that it will infiltrate critical infrastructure and the household these points are shown to be false in the artificial world generated. The AI repeatedly uses contrarian language such as “failure” and “not materialized” to draw skepticism over the novel’s more bold claims, while conceding that AI has had some negative impacts in less meaningful parts of life including social media. But, even here when it concedes that AI was harmful it makes sure to once again play to human resiliency by stating that reform and vigilance can once again solve these problems. If the AI were to carte-blanche ignore any possible negatives it would be obvious to human readers, but by showing slight drawbacks it makes itself appear more aware and human. By showing itself this way, the AI poses as almost an ally to humanity, showing how it too can see its shortcomings and is giving solutions to these problems. I think that in this case in particular, it is really hard to separate the identity and representation from one-another as with a novel that takes a hard stance against AI, the identity of the AI forces it down a particular path of representation. But nonetheless one can clearly see how the driving interests of the companies funding this artificial intelligence show through the AI’s representation.
Cover Image: Dall-E