A new report from The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that liberal democracies are just as likely to use artificial intelligence (AI) to surveil their respective populace as authoritarian regimes, like that of the Communist Chinese.

“The ideological bent of the regime in question is no bar to the use of such surveillance,” ZeroHedge said in an analysis of the report.

“Liberal democracies are noted as major users, with 51 percent of ‘advanced democracies’ doing so,” the news site continued. “That number, interestingly enough, is less than ‘closed autocratic states’ (37 percent); ‘electoral autocratic/competitive autocratic states’ (41 percent) and ‘electoral democracies/illiberal democracies’ (41 percent).  The political taxonomist risks drowning in minutiae on this point, but the chilling reality stands out: all states are addicted to diets of AI surveillance technologies.”

Artificial intelligence is loosely defined as “an integrated system that incorporates information acquisition objectives, logical reasoning principles, and self-correction capacities.”

The report notes that machine learning, perhaps as pernicious as AI, may or may not be included in the report’s findings based on the study’s definition of AI.

But if state AI surveillance is not correlated to political ideology, to what is it correlated? It’s pretty simple. Money.

“The relationship between military expenditure and states’ use of AI surveillance systems is noted, with ‘forty of the world’s top fifty military spending countries (based on cumulative military expenditures) also [using] AI surveillance technology,'” according to ZeroHedge.

In other words, the richer your nation is, the more likely you are to be spied on constantly.

Perhaps this is a disturbing development, but it should not come as a surprise. Americans have been aware of the massive surveillance state since at least 2013, when National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden came forward with information about surveillance technology while working as a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The PATRIOT Act, employed after September 11, 2001, “vastly expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens, while simultaneously reducing checks and balances on those powers like judicial oversight, public accountability, and the ability to challenge government searches in court,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Former President Barack H. Obama campaigned on ending the unlawful surveillance of American citizens in 2008, only to vastly expand state surveillance power during his presidency. The law is still in place today, and consequently, spying technology is still being built and implemented, seemingly without regard for the authoritarian effect it may have on formerly “free” societies.

In the age of massive, universal data collection via social media, the prospect of universal spying via AI becomes even more terrifying. It’s possible that governments – especially those that have large contracts with social media titans like we do in the United States – know more about you than you know about yourself. Those who value privacy might note that it’s elusive: nearly impossible to keep in modern society.

ZeroHedge said it well:

“Call it surveillance, or call it monitoring the global citizenry; it all comes down to the same thing.  You are being watched for your own good, and such instances should be regarded as a norm.”