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Bruce Schneier predicts a future of AI-powered mass spying: Lock and Code S05E03

This week on the Lock and Code podcast…

If the internet helped create the era of mass surveillance, then artificial intelligence will bring about an era of mass spying.

That’s the latest prediction from noted cryptographer and computer security professional Bruce Schneier, who, in December, shared a vision of the near future where artificial intelligence—AI—will be able to comb through reams of surveillance data to answer the types of questions that, previously, only humans could.  

“Spying is limited by the need for human labor,” Schneier wrote. “AI is about to change that.”

As theorized by Schneier, if fed enough conversations, AI tools could spot who first started a rumor online, identify who is planning to attend a political protest (or unionize a workforce), and even who is plotting a crime.

But “there’s so much more,” Schneier said.

“To uncover an organizational structure, look for someone who gives similar instructions to a group of people, then all the people they have relayed those instructions to. To find people’s confidants, look at whom they tell secrets to. You can track friendships and alliances as they form and break, in minute detail. In short, you can know everything about what everybody is talking about.”

Today, on the Lock and Code podcast with host David Ruiz, we speak with Bruce Schneier about artificial intelligence, Soviet era government surveillance, personal spyware, and why companies will likely leap at the opportunity to use AI on their customers.

“Surveillance-based manipulation is the business model [of the internet] and anything that gives a company an advantage, they’re going to do.”

Tune in today to listen to the full conversation.

Show notes and credits:

Intro Music: “Spellbound” by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
Outro Music: “Good God” by Wowa (

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