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View Diary: A Very Modest Proposal for the Benign N.S.A. (13 comments)

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  •  Well, there is a huge difference between (1+ / 0-)
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    The Geogre

    collecting information and processing that information to arrive at any knowledge.
    I have known people with prodigeous memories whose store of information impressed all their associates because they were walking, talking encyclopedias. They are the model for Google. What they often lack, perhaps because so much of the brain is taken up with collecting and accumulating, is any kind of meaningful processing -- not even to the extent of making informed predictions of future events.
    One of these persons got around this conundrum by hypthesising and proving with data that random stock picks would produce comparable or better returns on investments than any calculated system. He was content that randomized data are sufficient. Might as well, since he couldn't do anything different.

    I heard a TED talk the other day by a neuroscientist who's anticipating the implantation of some device to outfit man with a sixth sense. Strikes me as a really minor ambition since I think we already, or some of us, have many more senses than the basic five (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch).  Clearly not every one has a sense of


    Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

    by hannah on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 09:32:50 AM PST

    •  Data/Information (1+ / 0-)
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      You're right, of course, and "information" depends upon a framing construct. My students will use the word "facts" and then "true facts." I ask them to define "fact," and they can't. I then offer them this: "A fact is a verifiable representation of reality at a given time."

      For facts/data to become information, there has to be a construct in advance even of the query. This is why I sought to analyze the different endeavors of commercial data miners and NSA. One is interested in actions -- what we do -- because they seek predictions. The other is interested in predictions on a grand scale, but its data collection is centered on determining a catalog of the criminal and the enemy. However, both endeavors are not thought through. Real identity changes in many ways, but criminal identity only gains criminality. Real narratives go static, but the shopping narrative cannot. Both also leave out entropy.

      There is a concept before the question, and then there is the question which guides the search.

      I could think about all the ways the data collectors are doomed in their queries, but here I just wanted to note that their strategy is based on mistrust of the competency of the citizen/consumer. Both government and iTunes, let's say, believe that you are incompetent as an informant when it comes to the questions they are asking.

      Everyone's innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 11:03:01 AM PST

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