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View Diary: BREAKING: Office of the Director of National Intelligence Statement (217 comments)

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  •  you want to tell us just how they do that? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    markthshark, happymisanthropy

    Because I saw a list one time of the keywords that would be monitored and it was long and it included words I and lots of other people use all the time in INNOCENT conversations.  The problem is that human language is subtle, doesn't follow rules and patterns, and in the billions of conversations that take place daily, I'd be willing to be that almost 100%, as close as one can get statistically, are innocent but thousands perhaps millions of those conversations contain words like "terrorist", "bomb", one of the many countries considered hostile.

    In order for the filter to be effective, eventually those scores of conversations would have to be actually listened to by a human analyst to determine if Aunt Betty is talking about dressing up her young grandson in an Osama Bin Laden costume for Halloween or if she's actually sending out code words for the next dirty bomb attack.  

    I chose my words for that INNOCENT paragraph above because it would be exactly the type of tripe that would fit any filter any of us could imagine that would be used to pinpoint problematic conversations that required further review.  If the NSA is monitoring my response they just wasted their time.

    If you want to stymie this scary system out there and overload these "evil" analysts with so much crap the monitoring would be completely ineffective simply include a number of keywords every time you have a conversation.  

    Point is that, if the government and private contractors have easy access to every one of our chats, texts, phone calls, emails, etc., the only way they could use that ability would be to actually analyze very small chunks of it.  You have some clue what the possible threats are, you gather in a significant swath of data, say a particular geographic area or to a particular suspected hot spot, run filtering software on it, and keep cutting down that chunk a bit at a time until you get to the point where you have sufficient HUMAN resources to evaluate what's left.  Computers cannot distinguish the subtlety of the human mind or they'd be capable of having human minds.  

    I am not excusing the program.  I'm actually all for further restrictions on what it takes to monitor private conversations, would like to see the entire Patriot Act revisited, but this notion that the government can sic some massive computer on this giant mess of person to person communications without some real live person actually reading or listening to that exchange and coming up with truly valuable insight is just Hollywood fantasy.  Artificial intelligence is far from that.  It gives way more wrong answers than right ones.

    I'm a computer programmer and a damned good one and yet I could not write code that could comb through this comment and decide whether I was friend or foe of the country.  No matter how sophisticated or fast the computers were I was using, no matter how many MIT scientists I put on the task, the problem is that my response went all over the place.  I talked about multiple topics, spit out obvious keywords.  No code could determine my political leanings, my personal information without hacking into Kos' server or getting him to provide it to them.  They'd not know if I owned weapons, who I voted for, what my sexual preference was.  However, a human could find that out by READING THOUSANDS OF PAGES of comments that I've written since I began at DKos and on other social networks (if they figured out the link) but imagine the hours that would involve and for what?  I'm a passionate writer but a threat to nobody.  It would be a complete waste of time.  

    Same goes for my phone conversations.  Hell they'd be even worse.  I stick to politics pretty much here.  On the phone, on Skype, in Yahoo messenger I talk about EVERYTHING, ramble from topic to topic, sometimes just talk to hear myself yak and waste time.  We all do and the sludge of stupid, pointless crap out there has to thwart any serious attempt at true and valuable computer analysis.  

    •  Yeah, but you know that the algorithm doesn't (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Quicklund, Deep Texan

      pick out isolated things in individual pieces of data.  One paragraph is cross referenced with other sites visited, times visited, numbers called and duration of calls, like a 3D web of stuff pertaining to one user.  And if it matches a certain pattern, then the red flags go up.

      Because they are hoovering over a billion pieces of data a day.  It's humanly impossible to monitor all that.

      "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 09:46:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the case of (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      markthshark, happymisanthropy

      The Verizon GPS, phone number data they could use it to find all of a person's associates, if that person were so targeted (since they have the data).

      If they have live access to where phones are, they could implement a robust notification system.  For example, "If Keystone pipeline protester A travels to protester B's house, notify me".

      There's a lot you could do.

      Combing of all this Verizon data, they could build graphs of everybody's relationships with others and use it for fast searches in the future.

      Basically, if they have the data, and it's computational feasible, why wouldn't they develop it?

      Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

      by yet another liberal on Sun Jun 16, 2013 at 10:09:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I just think that I feel a sense (0+ / 0-)

        of ease knowing just how much crap exists and how much the total volume is.  You gave an example of them already knowing the targets ahead of time (the pipeline protesters) and using their algorithms for further info about them.  But if you think about it, the computer didn't identify those targets.  Some human with an agenda did.  If those individuals have been deemed a threat to someone in the government and those governmental officials want to monitor them or harass them, and their ethics say to throw out those citizen's Constitutional rights, what difference does it make what tools are available?  Won't they find a way to do it?  Haven't there always been ways that corrupt people in authority could abuse their authority and discover very private and damning things about folks?  

        In some ways there are probably more things in the way, more complexity, more of a data trail left today using computer mining than if the authority figure had just sent some guy tailing you with a Nikon and telephoto lens or left a bug in your telephone.  

        I think we're losing sight here of the fact that the tool is not the issue, responsible and ethical humans with authority is always the primary consideration.  

        I see a common thread in our country today that's successfully splitting us against one another.  At every juncture we have this loud message being drummed into us - government is evil and must be limited.  

        While I have my own concerns about the potential for abuse, I'm just not seeing that abuse happening with our current President.  In fact I think he's even keeping some controversies going, knowing full well they carry political damage with them, just so we get off our lazy collective asses and start becoming citizen activists.  But there's a way to do that activism without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  While Obama has continued to utilize the powers of the Patriot Act and that doesn't set well with many, the fact that week after week we're getting bombarded with "scandal" after "scandal" and this just happened to bombard us when all those other things fizzled out makes me believe we're seriously being played and that playing is far worse than any threat we may have from being data mined.

        •  No, they can identify targets with software (0+ / 0-)

          For example, if you have live GPS data, you can write a program that outputs a list of everybody at a particular location (e.g. a Keystone pipeline protest).

          Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

          by yet another liberal on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:45:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But my point still stands (0+ / 0-)

            Sure they have the capability but in order for that to be a threat to the protestors, someone in authority would have to say "let's find out all we can about them".  Ultimately the threat to us and overstepping of our citizen rights is all about the person doing the targeting not the tool.  

            So, I fully agree with you that there are capabilities within this vast ocean of data that could be very intrusive to innocent lives but my point is that our emphasis needs not be so much on demanding instant changes to the laws and oversight (which has this side effect of pointing fingers of blame at our current Democratic leadership and splitting us down the middle) but instead working our asses off to keep the right (who we know to be the exact authoritarians we fear) as far away from the reins of power as we possibly can.  No changes will occur if they take back over and if we can't keep the Presidency, and Senate and take back the House.  

            The changes we want to law will be a hard and LONG battle and during that interim we need men with a conscience to stay in power.  We have to stop tearing them down.

        •  Also, they don't even need live data (0+ / 0-)

          The stale Verizon data would work really well too.

          For example, a query of the sort ... "Anybody who received or placed a call while < 1 mile from the event, and during that day, put them on the list".

          That would net the great majority of them.

          If you had similar data for SMS, you could even net more of them.

          Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

          by yet another liberal on Mon Jun 17, 2013 at 08:51:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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