Rising Tide of Citizen Protest Groups and the Role of AI in Stereotyping

What makes me to be concerned in my old age, or what makes these assumptions dangerous is the way they create information which is similar to the way AI creates information. They are patterns which fall easily categorised and racial stereotyping become easily deployed.

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In this photo provided by Greenpeace, activists pose with a protest poster in front of Sunak's home in Yorkshire on Thursday. (Luca Marino/Greenpeace/The Associated Press)

Over the weeks, if not months or years, people’s frustrations at inaction or the incompetence of Governments to address the real issues closer to life’s problems, have meant a proliferation of Citizen Protest Groups. They have sprung up like mushrooms, with law enforcement virtually, unable to pick them.

From protests like Extinction Rebellion, and Just Stop Oil, even recently eco zealots like Greenpeace, have found the patience of the ordinary working people running thin.

From ambushing former Chancellor. George Osborne’s wedding day, to storming major sporting events, including Grand National horse racing disruptions, Test Cricket matches, Wimbledon and other public entertainment events, have fuelled questions about whether public figures and gatherings are “fair game” for environmental and/or other fanatical spin-offs.

Just Stop Oil recently claimed to have “shaped” Opposition Labour policy of “legitimising

these stunts,” including a proposed ban on drilling for more oil and gas supplies in the North Sea. To add to these Labour has been accused of taking donations from Just Stop Oil bankroller, Dale Vince. 

When we heard of Greenpeace Women Director, Areeba Hamid, claim the scaling of Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s constituency residence in North Yorkshire in his absence on holiday in South California, as justified, it literally was a message to reckon with.

Why is it that migrants and blacks, if any, are the chosen few to rely on unacceptable messages?

The easy “scapegoat culture” in Britain?

Although tougher new laws already exist, in fact, stringent law enforcement was recently rushed through Parliament before the Summer Recess for the Police to stop Just Stop Oil protests, such as slow walks by protestors down major roads or disrupting big events. 

Was there already an expectation or “intelligence”, that law enforcement would have to turn a blind eye against the real Greenpeace activists protesting against Prime Minister’s Richmond rural Yorkshire constituency residence? Conservative MPs allege that “heads will roll”?  Are we to expect more legislation on the way? Who knows?  

There is a scapegoat culture prevailing which is entrenched called “Institutional Racism”. The meaning of Intuitional Racism in today’s environment is a tolerance of attitudes and working practices which disadvantage minorities of all sorts.

It does not mean every Police Officer is prejudiced or that no minority person receives a good service record. Instead, it is what causes “systemic injustice,” that something is ignored or tolerated and is often linked to a “stereotype” that feeds into a group of people, or a group practice.  It easily fits into a disadvantaged minority ethnic people?.

How does AI fit into this scenario?

I can recall what I studied in my Diploma of Person-Centred Counselling course some years ago at Poplar College under my Tutor, Ms. Shanti Burgess, an Australian. It comprises “suspicions and stereotyping” which AI can easily perform. This assumption then becomes reinforced, and taken as gospel.

They are patterns of behaviour, which now can easily be classed or rather categorised by Artificial Intelligence. 

What makes me to be concerned in my old age, or what makes these assumptions dangerous is the way they create information which is similar to the way AI creates information. They are patterns which fall easily categorised and racial stereotyping become easily deployed. 

Coming back to the stunt by Greenpeace activists who scaled Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak’s country house, has further ignited a debate in UK that has already become overheated. 

I sometimes wonder, would this have happened, if Boris Johnson, was Prime Minister?

Who knows?

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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