Friday, May 12, 2006

NSA and social networks

The collection of phone records by the NSA is intriguing.

The old-style surveillance societies (like East Germany decades ago) faced an impossible task, in that true monitoring of people and interactions in real time takes about 3 people, minimum, per person surveilled. So at some critical, and fairly small percentage of surveillance targets, the system breaks down, there just aren't enough people to do it.

Now, AI proponents have long realised that algorithmic data mining and pattern analysis would destroy this limit - cf Vinge's "Deepness in the Sky" or any number of riffs by Charlie Stross.
One fear of "strong AI" is that for practical purposes a strong enough AI would be omniscient about human activities and patterns, and coupled with executive power, could manipulate or destroy "incorrect" human interaction activities.
Feeling reassured?

'Course if you have a half-assed algorithm and weak AI, then you get a lot of false leads and FBI agents running around after the piano teacher of bin Laden's chauffeur's second cousin's high school friend's daughter. (Of course the real targets are either ideologues exposed to radical islam who went native, like young emotionally underdeveloped employess of the CPA; or people who will do anything for money, like some of the contractors who did fraudulent work in Iraq - those are the kind of people who would let al Qaeda into the US)

BUT, some social patterns are small and well defined. Easily tackled by not-so strong AI.
Al Qaeda is not the main threat to US National Security! Corruption among military contractors is!
What could be worse than the limited tax payer dollars being wasted on ineffective or non-existent weapons systems!
What could be more harmful than US soldiers being supplied with inadequate food or defective tools?

It all makes sense now.
Bus, clearly, became righteously infuriated with GOP Congressional petty corruption, and used the permission he has to transfer info between intelligence agencies to explore the pattern of corruption between Congresscritters, Lobbyists and fake military contractors.
Hence the rash of indictments and roll-up of fraud networks by DoJ and FBI. Brilliant.
No wasting the nations intel resources on tracking journalist phone calls, or finding our which political opponent is cheating on her husband in DC.
The President is cleaning the House in the name of National Security. No wonder he didn't brief Congress...

Very Decisive. And the only explanation that makes sense. Isn't it?

Note to self: need to keep a sharper eye out for freudian contextual typos...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not particularly related, but you might like to see a fictional conversation the Biocurious guys have up:

2:10 AM  

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