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NSA Shopping For Data Mining Tech

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the anyone-got-a-good-deal-for-uncle-sam dept.

159

prostoalex writes "The National Security Agency paid a visit to Silicon Valley venture capitalists, the New York Times learned, to talk about potentially 'interesting' technologies that the Feds would be interested in purchasing. Data mining technologies that could link arbitrary facts into logical events and find dependencies, technologies for quick voice transcription - all these technologies usually get to market faster if developed by private companies."

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159 comments

Open source community (3, Funny)

October_30th (531777) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803511)

Why didn't they turn to the open source community? They wouldn't have to pay for it and they'd get free support, too.

Re:Open source community (3, Insightful)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803532)

But how many open source data mining projects can compete (in the features sense) with these commercial systems?

These systems are extremely specialised and targetted at law enforcement and/or large corporations with huge databases.

Seccessful OSS projects tend to be the ones that are used by the people writing them, and are of use to a wide community. If the developers do not have a vested interest in the product, then development will tend to stagnate.

I think it is hard to argue that OSS has been successful in making products that are targetted at such specific (and wealthy) groups.

Re:Open source community (1)

maharg (182366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803591)

why not use the best of both opensource and commercial ? IBM's UIMA looks interesting - see http://www.research.ibm.com/UIMA/ [ibm.com]

Re:Open source community (1)

randyjg2 (772752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804540)

*Sigh* They are looking for Non Obvious Relationship Analysis (NORA) technology. It would be fairly easy to get up a OSS project to produce it. I actually tried to start up one (Ghandi/Custer) based on Globus GT4, but had to abandon it due to practical considerations involving not starving to death and having a roof over my head...

Most of the technology to do this already exists as Open Source projects. If I were starting it up now, I would probably try to combine an Open Source JBI /JSR ESB (ServiceMix http://incubator.apache.org/servicemix/ [apache.org]) with GT4 and either Postgres or MySQL (Postgres has better spatial and language integration, and MySQL has that dual license issue, sophisticated features, and a large user base.).

ServiceMix has a built in rules engine. Properly reworked (an easy task with JBI service integration and drools architecture) it could easily cope with the demands involved (which are pretty extreme). The real trick is to have theoretical knowledge necessary to create the appropriate rules. A lot of OSS developers are working stiffs, and most non academics are not up to date enough on the Logic, Langua and Mathematics necessary to produce something like this.)

Re:Open source community (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803611)

But how many open source data mining projects can compete (in the features sense) with these commercial systems?


Well, some of the best of those commercial systems are based on OSS work. For example, Netezza, one of the best commercial business-intel & data mining platforms today was based on postgresql [netezza.com]

Re:Open source community (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803623)

Absolutely - I'm not suggesting that OSS has no part in the chain, but to suggest that law enforcement and spy agencies can just head along to SourceForge and pick up the kind of technology they are looking for is unrealistic.

Databases are an area that OSS tends to excel at, as are operating systems. I doubt all of the systems they'd be considering would be built around Oracle for Windows.

Re:Open source community (1)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804736)

Good point.

OSS excels at providing "core systems" that many people want to use to build their own systems on top of. Everyone contributes a little to the core system (so everyone wins there) and then puts the rest of their work into application-specific stuff.

Re:Open source community (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804938)

These systems are extremely specialised and targetted at law enforcement and/or large corporations with huge databases.

Seccessful OSS projects tend to be the ones that are used by the people writing them, and are of use to a wide community. If the developers do not have a vested interest in the product, then development will tend to stagnate.

I think it is hard to argue that OSS has been successful in making products that are targetted at such specific (and wealthy) groups.

While what you say is true, note that these are government officials and departments wanting these tools, not a private corporation. So the collaboration that can make development more efficient could (and should!) be done in public, so that the taxpayers who are purchasing this (whether they want to or not) can benefit from the research done in this area.

Are they really going to try to stop us from leaving the planet? Is that (one of the reasons) what all the spying is about?

Re:Open source community (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803566)

They probably needed something that works, not some half-assed shit.

Compare Windows or Mac OS X to the half-finished Linux.

Compare Opera or Internet Explorer 7 to the bloated Firefox.

Compare iTunes or WMP to crappy XMMS.

Re:Open source community (1)

DerGeist (956018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803665)

They actually have in the past (http://www.nsa.gov/selinux/ [nsa.gov]).

This time, though, I don't think they want anyone knowing exactly how their mining code works, lest someone figure out a way to wreak havoc on the system. For example, the idea of someone making records invisible to the data miner probably has them spooked (I know, code it well and this'll never happen, but you can "never be too careful"). Just my two cents.

You have lost your country (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803513)


unless you start shooting people nothing will change

the terrorists proved one thing if nothing else
terrorism works

High Tech Ntional Security (2, Interesting)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803524)

I wonder if it hs anything to do with this [indymedia.org]. To be fair to the government, this isn't actually too bad an idea. I mean if spammers and dvertisers can gleam information to find potential targets, why can't the same technology be utilized by the defense department, who is typically an early pioneer of technology adapted for public use. Then again, a similar project 'Able Danger' identified Mohammed Atta over a dozen times.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (4, Insightful)

klingens (147173) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803537)

I mean if spammers and dvertisers can gleam information to find potential targets, why can't the same technology be utilized by the defense department

Cause spammers and advertisers only spam you, government can use the data to imprison or even shoot you. The fact remains that a tool like this is readymade for a dictatorship that isn't even recognizable as one from the outside. Perfect to oppress people, anathema to a democracy

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1, Insightful)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803589)

That's called sensationalize and an appeal to emotion. The government can't imprison you unless you are committing crime, that's why we have judges. The idea that because they are connecting phone records with travel itenaries, bank transactions and visits to jihdist websites gives them justification to "shoot you" is simply retarded.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803614)

Well put. And if anyone out there wants to know more about various logical falacies, see http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies [nizkor.org]. It has excellent descriptions of all of the common fallacies, plus some not-so-obvious ones.

Offtopic, I know, but I feel the discussions here could be much more productive (with much less FUD) if people understood logic a little better.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

yurigoul (658468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803675)

The government can't imprison you unless you are committing crime, that's why we have judges.
Why don't you tell that to the people in Guatama Bay? Next it could be you. But - OMG - all the people who could have protested against it are already in there.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803712)

Aren't you protesting against gitmo? Are you posting from there? Or are you suggesting that the people in Gitmo were apprehended as a result of programs such as this one, because if that's the case.. give me ten more. Seriously, if you want to avoid the idea of a gestapo or secret police, you should advocate government adapting technology for security, it allows for far greater oversight and accountablity and reduces the need for humn intelligence spying on citizens. Data mining, as the articles suggest, can be done with all identifying personal information removed from the intelligence and linked into a seperate database accessible only by court order. By your emotional, sensationalist response, I doubt you bothered to read that far in the article. It's just not an educated reaction. If you don't want the government investigting terrorists and criminals, or you're not willing to educate yourself on the methods, then I really don't care what your perspective on the issue is.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

yurigoul (658468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803742)

Well, since I am living in one of the American colonies - I mean the Netherlands - I probably don't know that much about it.

But seriously, even if a tenth of the stuff I hear about what is going on over there is true, it is about time to resurect the Weather Report.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803724)

The argument that goes "You have nothing to fear if you've done nothing wrong" is a fallacy advanced by pro-authoritarian people.

The government doesn't belong having absolute knowledge of our private lives, because then the burden to be law-abiding becomes infinite. The temptation to miscontrue "illegal" patterns becomes too great for abusers to resist: Even if the courts do get involved (and discern every case correctly) then the powerful still have a tool for limitless harassment of opposition groups and scapegoats. Ultimately, people who are disliked and disrespected will tend to go to jail for something anyway, since few people lead perfectly-legal lives.

OTOH they can bring people in for possibly assisting terrorists, and they disappear. There's an "endless war" on, ya know.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803782)

The government can't imprison you unless you are committing crime, that's why we have judges.

Guantanamo Bay!

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804037)

Guantanamo Bay!

Really? Care to provide links to information on individuals that are there who are not accused of crimes or considered enemy combatants?

Last I heard, they either all came from the battle fields of Iraq/Afghanistan or were taken into custody as a result of FBI investigations into criminal and/or terrorist activities in the US.

So, exactly who there doesn't fall into one of those categories? Inquiring minds want to know.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804198)

Care to provide links to information on individuals that are there who are not accused of crimes or considered enemy combatants?

Last I heard, they either all came from the battle fields of Iraq/Afghanistan or were taken into custody as a result of FBI investigations into criminal and/or terrorist activities in the US.

So, exactly who there doesn't fall into one of those categories? Inquiring minds want to know.


Bing! You win the "hey I am actually arguing with you, not against you" prize.

The whole point is that they aren't given Due Process, so it's impossible to provide you with the information you seek. Thanks for helping bring the obvious forth so the rest of the class can see.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804474)

The whole point is that they aren't given Due Process, so it's impossible to provide you with the information you seek. Thanks for helping bring the obvious forth so the rest of the class can see.

Since the Gitmo residents are not US citizens, why should they expect the rights guaranteed to US Citizens?

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14805056)

international human rights?

treaties?

we 'won' the war in afghanistan, at least thats what the guberment said, so why are there still pow?

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803774)

why can't the same technology be utilized by the defense department,

Because it's the government, and we have a Constitution.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803850)

"...that to secure these liberties, Governments are instituted among men..." allowing terrorists to infiltrate and operate concealed within our society will see the Constitution turned into a worthless document faster than you can say ACLU. The Constitution doesn't prohibit the government from investigation.

Re:High Tech Ntional Security (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804531)

Re-read Amendment IV. If I have not done anything, the government has no grounds for investigation, and my actions should be completely free from any scrutiny.

Proposed/Actual Useage (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803864)

Problem is ( and we all know it ) this stuff wont just be used properly, to comabat terrorism/threats to this country. It will be expanded to monitor 'dissidents' that actually love this country, but are upset how things are going.

Technician Strike (2, Interesting)

carcosa30 (235579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803526)

It's getting time we put a stop to these people.

I'm hearing more and more about the idea of a national strike.

We technicians bitch and complain about this kind of flagrant privacy violation.
It would be much more difficult for these people, I'd think, if there were some sort of technician union that had technical rights as well as civil rights as part of its platform.

It's real simple:
1) Don't help these fucks in any way.
2) Harm them in any way you can get away with. Small needling, over and over again. Refusal to cooperate. Take their money and do nothing.

Seditious talk, my man... watch out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803533)

Why do you hate America so much?

Re:Seditious talk, my man... watch out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803549)

Is that sarcasm, or a jab at humor?

Re:Seditious talk, my man... watch out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803564)

Just pointing out that it's not wise to talk about striking in such a critical field in a time of war.

Re:Seditious talk, my man... watch out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803616)

Still, isn't taking action what you are supposed to do when the government is headed down a path that is overall worse than it should be? Granted the tactics are questionable...

Re:Seditious talk, my man... watch out (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803737)

Just pointing out that it's not wise to talk about striking in such a critical field in a time of war.

You imply that you are "in a time of war" at present. Hmmm. Leaving that aside, do you think that "it's not wise to talk about striking" is a good thing, or a bad thing?

Re:Seditious talk, my man... watch out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804257)

because SARCASM could NEVER be FUNNY.

Re:Technician Strike (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803553)

Not sure how serious you are being, but I think there a number of problems with your suggestion.

* IT is far too market driven to support a union. If tech people went on strike, then they'd just pay someone else to do it. When so much work is ultimately contract based, we need to delver products, or our jobs get taken by someone willing to delver (maybe not directly).

* It's illegal in most countries to be destructive. The Fire Fighter union cannot hold a strike where they go around lighting fires. Furthermore, doing damage does little to build public support.

Finally, from an ethical point of view, what's worse: writing the software that will be used to invade privacy in line with the law; or writing software that intentionally returns bad data, increasing the chances of innocent people being investigated, while also increasing the chances of them missing someone they would have caught without the software? I know which one would give me the fuzzier feeling.

Re:Technician Strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803569)

Interesting idea, one that borrows a few ideas that have already been suggested [flickr.com] by our own government.

Re:Technician Strike (1)

carcosa30 (235579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803586)

They are evil and it's time those of us who have a conscience started doing whatever we can to fuck them.

America is in the process of devolving into a police state. With every passing week their grip on the government grows.

Oh, and I'm dead serious.

Re:Technician Strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803597)

And I am serious, too, when I say that I will fight you assholes wherever I find you. What is it with you? You always sound like pissant teenagers, mad at the world because you're not allowed to do whatever you want. But since you're adult, your tantrums will only hurt the efforts of those who want to keep us safe. You are people who harass cops for doing the jobs. You are people who scream about a falling sky whenever the law enforcement, intelligence or military agencies get more tools for fighting against terrorism.

Wake up and smell the 9/11 ashes. This is a different world we're living in now. Your precious civil rights won't matter if you're dead.

Re:Technician Strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803701)

Wake up and smell the 9/11 ashes. This is a different world we're living in now. Your precious civil rights won't matter if you're dead.

9-11 this, 9-11 that... you know what, 9-11 was bad, 9-11 helped us realize that terrorism is a real threat and that we need to stick together to not lose to them, but now I am sick of hearing 9-11 cited mainly becasue now it is used a justification to erode the civil liberties. Think about it... compare current events and think critically...

Re:Technician Strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803845)

Hey, you fucking prick piece of shit coward cocksucker whore bitch.

You might feel OK with selling off your own civil rights but GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS OFF OF MINE.

Re:Technician Strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803994)

Hey, you fucking prick piece of shit coward cocksucker whore bitch.
You might feel OK with selling off your own civil rights but GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS OFF OF MINE.

Right on!

Re:Technician Strike (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804620)

When your antiquated ideas of civil rights interfere with my right to stay alive, I'll sell off your civil rights. In a heartbeat.

Why? (2, Interesting)

lheal (86013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803619)

I believe government exists to defend the liberty of its citizens. Got me? I'm a conservative libertarian, no caps. That means that while I more-or-less agree with the Libertarians, I don't march lockstep with anybody.

But I used to. I used to march lockstep with my fellow Marines, wanting only a chance to use my rifle, or its bayonet, on some terrorist bent on destroying all I hold dear.

I value my privacy, too. But there's a difference between what I do in private (or even a semi-public area like a restaurant or pseudonominous posting on a blog) and what I do in public.

If someone stands on the corner shouting "Down with America! We will blow up your orphanages, unholy capitalist swine!", I'd like to know who he is and whether he's actually in contact with anyone else. If there's no "we", then he's just a nutcase and can be told so and otherwise ignored.

But if that fellow is in contact with others doing the same thing, I'd like to know about it. I'd like the government to defend my liberty by infringing his.

Similarly, if he's smart enough just to be in contact with his terrorist buddies, I'd like the government to know it so he doesn't get a chance to blow up Disneyworld or something.

I want the government to sift through all publicly available information to find people planning or engaged in activities which would cause me or another 2,966 of my countrymen to be deprived of life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.

So take your "strike", and your call for people to interfere with government's only legitimate role, and ... keep it to yourself.

Re:Why? (1)

DerGeist (956018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803693)

You would be spot-on if there were no Internet.

The difference is, when I am in the mall and I start shouting about Holomorphic Aliens (or whatever) while wearing tinfoil helmet (sorry, obl.) I can see everyone staring at me. I can watch the policeman come up and ask me to leave. I know when I am making public records because I have to physically interact with someone or something in order for that record to be made.

On the internet, the lines between private and public become very hazy, and it's all too easy to silently peek at supposedly "private" information. There needs to be clearer lines between public and private otherwise infringement is free and undetectable.
Example? E-mails are today's snail mail, except opening others' e-mails is a snap, whereas the snaily counterpart requires much more serious reasons and makes a loud noise (metaphorically).

Re:Why? (1)

gnuLNX (410742) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803747)

So treat being online just like being in public. Since basically you are in public. Don't send email that you are scared of other people reading.

Re:Why? (1)

Omaze (952134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804013)

You're recommending that everyone becomes completely introverted recluses in order to avoid government harassment? Where have we seen this before in history?

Re:Why? (1)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803753)

The idea that any interactions you make with society is "private" is self-destructive lunacy. If I'm visiting website in Pakistan, is that visit "private" because I did it from my living room? If I wire a million dollars to Hamas to distribure to suicide bombers using my cellphone is that a "private" transaction, immune to any government scrutiny? Someone made the argument "If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide" is a fallous argument.. and I agree. But if you are doing something to the detriment of society, you have little right to obfuscate your actions from society.

at the end of the day, and this is the argument that I've yet to hear refuted... what's the harm of having the data to be mined stripped of personally identifying information, indexed, and linked to a database that stores the identifying information, which is accessible only by court order?

I mean, it's not that hard to allow data mining AND protect privacy at the same time. How can such a large section of this community be devoid of innovation when it comes to such simple software design? or are you too ideologically driven to bother to ask how? Let's not try to discover terrorism in the United States because I enjoy being so opinionated, that I'm afraid the government is going to kill me.

I'm sure your mom is proud of that Microsoft A+ certification.

Re:Why? (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804188)

at the end of the day, and this is the argument that I've yet to hear refuted... what's the harm of having the data to be mined stripped of personally identifying information, indexed, and linked to a database that stores the identifying information, which is accessible only by court order?

Troll troll troll your post
Gently down the screen
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a stream

It's all about transparency. Which is even harder to maintain if parts of the process are no longer tangible, in plain sight and all.
Just how do you think you are going to verify that privacy is protected when you don't have access to the data, the software used to process it (both source code and actually running binaries) and the hardware it runs on? At least in the dead-tree era there would always be some paper trail to follow back to its source in case of malpractice.

I mean, it's not that hard to allow data mining AND protect privacy at the same time. [...]

Actually, this is Very Hard Indeed, precisely because of the lack of transparency, i.e. not knowing what gets done with that data in reality, not in theory. As long as you don't know for certain that the original data containing personally identifiable information is thoroughly and utterly destroyed, you can't be sure about your privacy no matter what you believe.

For another example of the dangers of a lack of transparency, read up on the recently uncovered voting irregularities at Black Box Voting [blackboxvoting.org]. Shiver, shudder, then come again.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803741)

Dude, you're a Conservative -- not a libertarian or a Libertarian. Don't insult Libertarians by claiming to agree with us.

Re:Why? (1)

0x0000 (140863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803752)

I believe government exists to defend the liberty of its citizens [...] keep it to yourself.

Well, I was with you up to those last 4 words. I guess you're note "lockstop" on minor issues like Speech, eh?

Why are you really so afraid of the idea of organized resistence to the (Totalitarian) Regime that currently controls the US? AFter all, you can just shoot the protestestors, right? It's not as though they have any right to participate in the determination of how their government acts, right? Hell, in your view, they're probably not even ciitizens - or at least, not as fully endowed with the Rights and Privileges of Citizenship as yourself, eh? I mean, you are a "conservative libertarian" - you have the Correct view of the government, right?

Perhaps the phrase "shooting yourself in the foot" would have some meaning for you? As a supporter of the Constitution of the United States of America, (you were sworn to uphold and protect that document, right?) I decry your attempt to bully others into silence in a public forum.

Re:Why? (1)

Omaze (952134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804080)

The US isn't totalitarian. It's democratically elected. How could that possibly go wrong?

How *dare* you act like a grownup on Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803783)

You're going to incite the children with that remark.

Re:Why? -- Because your Stupid! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803804)

nobody is going to stand on a corner and admit that fucking shit you just said.
and nobody has to help the fucking government shread the rest of the constitution.
if your a fukin libertarian then you believe in a constitutional republic.
if you believe in a constitutional republic then you should have goal #1 to get fucking rid of all those fucking electronic voting machines!

if your are serious abou hiding shit
if you want to hide your communication.
all you fucking got to do is load up a god damn pen drive
or a DVD...
burn 8GB data..
all our country's secrets.
all your evil plans.
or a nice movie..
carry it on the plane.
carry in an ipod.
your fucking argument doesn't hold water!!!!!
the only reason the patriot act spy's on americans is for political reasons.
that's the bottom line.
they're so corrupt they don't want to get caught.
that is why they ignore fisa
and now they have stirred up a fucking hornets nest with islam.
the rest of the world's patience is wearing thin.

we gotta fix this problem first.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804425)

I believe government exists to defend the liberty of its citizens. Got me? I'm a conservative libertarian, no caps. That means that while I more-or-less agree with the Libertarians, I don't march lockstep with anybody.
[...]
I value my privacy, too. But there's a difference between what I do in private (or even a semi-public area like a restaurant or pseudonominous posting on a blog) and what I do in public.

There is a difference between what you do in private and in public. That's kind of the point with the NSA case. They are infringing on the private domain without due process, without court oversight, which makes it illegal.

If someone stands on the corner shouting "Down with America! We will blow up your orphanages, unholy capitalist swine!", I'd like to know who he is and whether he's actually in contact with anyone else. If there's no "we", then he's just a nutcase and can be told so and otherwise ignored.

Well we know you heard him, maybe we need to see who you are in contact with also.

But if that fellow is in contact with others doing the same thing, I'd like to know about it. I'd like the government to defend my liberty by infringing his.

You spill the beans here, you say you want to know about it. That's the key issue here, is it only going to be the executive branch knowing about it, or is there going to be the oh-so-pesky oversight and accountability? Without that, we might as well close up shop and put an end to this silly 'rights' business.

Similarly, if he's smart enough just to be in contact with his terrorist buddies, I'd like the government to know it so he doesn't get a chance to blow up Disneyworld or something.

I want the government to sift through all publicly available information to find people planning or engaged in activities which would cause me or another 2,966 of my countrymen to be deprived of life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.


Wishful thinking. They certainly didn't do the job the first time. There is absolutely no reason to think that all the datamining and intelligence gathering in the world will overcome the massive deficit of actual thought and action on the part of the government inre: the same intelligence. All the evidence points to incompetance, rather than lack of information.

We are giving up ground in an important area of our rights, for what? Nothing, is what. We aren't safer because of it. How many have given their lives in Iraq? It's approaching your golden ticket number. I seriously doubt the NSA is out to bust Bush for plotting to take our military to Iraq.

So take your "strike", and your call for people to interfere with government's only legitimate role, and ... keep it to yourself.

His call is a simply stated one, that we as citizens have a right, and a duty, to resist and prevent abuses by our government. You, as a libertarian, should understand that. Disagree with it if you will, but none of the reasons you have given back it up.

Bait and switch, your response delved into entirely separate issues from his. He is discussing defending our nation, in a way you seem oblivious to. So you diatribe on the war on terrorism, and then pull your punch to the issue he was discussing at the last. Bravo...wait no, more like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Selah.

Re:Why? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14805031)

I want the government to sift through all publicly available information to find people planning or engaged in activities which would cause me or another 2,966 of my countrymen to be deprived of life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.

Look to the oval office for the conspirators, then.

From this report: [forbes.com] "At least 2,289 service members have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count."

See also this page, [iraqbodycount.net] which shows that the estimated Iraqi body count is 10 times higher than the deaths we experienced that were caused by other agents acting through another sovereign nation to do their killing (in other words, Iraq had nothing to do with the WTC towers falling, which was the inital reason given for the US invading).

Re:Technician Strike (1)

thesnarky1 (846799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803947)

So, what... everyone who works at the NSA is a "fuck"? Or is it everyone who works in the DoD? Perhaps anyone affiliated with the government at large? I think you should remember that there are a lot of small people all over that wouldn't be trying to fuck you over.
And as for #2, I think that taking their money (i.e. getting a contract) and not giving them anything, just *might* be a breach of contract. Might want to rethink that second bit.

Human intel (4, Insightful)

Grumpy Wombat (899702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803531)

I can't help thinking the authorities are still way too star-struck by tech and don't value human intel enough. We have seen the shortcomings of a lack of human intel in Afganistan, Iraq, 9/11 and so on. When will improving the human intel get the focus it needs so gov'ts can make informed decisions about our security. Maybe then we can forget about Dept of Homeland Security type fiascos.

Human intel gets nasty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803638)

It means dealing with the type of people who'd sell out their country for money. They're usually not the bedrock-of-society types.

Anyone remember the outcries when the CIA was found to actually be paying those types of folks?

Re:Human intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803654)

What makes you think the US government (or other governments around the world) are not trying to use as much human intelligence as they can?

Some activities, such as buying technology, is done in public. Some activities, such as paying informants, is done more covertly. All governments do it.

Re:Human intel (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803784)

Exactly right - it seems to me that they're looking for technology to do their job for them. The results could be devastating- on several levels.

Re:Human intel (1)

AlienSlav (944547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803796)

It always comes down to some personal Asshat with an ego. After all information is run through the system the truth is set before this stooge for the final endorsement. He looks back down the line of college degrees, professional technicians, and other assorted wizards that it took to put the paper in his hand and realizes how many ass sucking things he did to get his job and what kind of shmuck he is. So just to show who's in charge he dumps the paper and writes up his own.
AlienSlave

Re:Human intel (1)

0xC0FFEE (763100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803940)

We have seen the shortcomings of a lack of human intel in Afganistan, Iraq, 9/11 and so on.

What about Katrina? Sure to be modded flamebait, but I got your attention, so I'll use it. There are more important and immediate problems in this world where the situation can be improved by foresightedness, intelligence, compassion, kindness, frugality, etc. Improving the general state of our society is not something you agree while watching the olympics. You invest of yourself, your time, your passion to be a part of the solution. Now I understand that in our western societies, our individual lives are compartmentalized, rationalized, scheduled and optimized so that for whatever goes wrong, there's a product or a stopgap solution being offered in exchange for some money. Time is money, money is the equilibrium-maker, giving you back some of the efforts you made for later use. In the same way money is an abstract notion related to some units of work that you can store, technology is likewise an abstact notion for the leverage you can apply to work.

Now, most problems don't require much money to be solved or at least partially rectified. Those that need lots of money probably don't require much new technologies. Anyway, rarely are problems solved by accounting. Those problems that require new technology are probably out of your hands anyway. Even if they are not, the bottomline, is that worthwhile technological investments are those that can be leveraged by the whole of society therefore improving the effect of our work on solving problems. Developing technology for the sake of solving _one_ problem is foolish, misdirected, wasteful, unjust and incredibly shortsighted.

The NSA is not NASA, new tech won't trickle down on the rest of us. Will security trickle down to the rest of us? I don't know, very few know. I'm not into blind faith myself, so I'd prefer to know what is done to improve matters instead of signing a blank check.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are more so. (1)

abb3w (696381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803992)

I can't help thinking the authorities are still way too star-struck by tech and don't value human intel enough.

Unfortunately, getting quality human intel isn't simple, and there can be problems with overvaling it [thenation.com], too. There are problems when you start only looking for evidence supporting what you expect to find.

Tech-based intel is too limited in coverage; humans go places machines don't. Human intel has low accuracy; machines don't lie for their own benefit (yet). You need a mix of both.

Re:Human intel (1)

deKernel (65640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804913)

Not sure if you have been keeping up with events, but they are saying just what you are. They DO want human intel, but the intelligence services were stipped down some time ago. I am not pointing figures here, just saying facts that have not be denied.

This search I hope is just a stop-gap measure until the human intel can be rebuild. You are talking sometimes in the order of double-digit years to repair such problems. Human intel just does not happer over night. It must be cultivated which takes time.

I can give them that (1)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803558)

Data mining technologies that could link arbitrary facts into logical events and find dependencies,

arbitrary:
adjective: based on or subject to individual discretion or preference or sometimes impulse or caprice

fact
noun 1 a thing that is indisputably the case

So an arbitrary fact would be something that is indisputably the case based on individual impulse of caprice.

I write code like that after I smoke a phat dubbie but I didn't know the NSA would be interested in paying a big buck for it. I'm gonna get right onto that.:)

Re:I can give them that (2, Interesting)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803572)

I realise your taking a humourous dig at the (admittedly) bad choice of words there, but arbitrary aslo means:
Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle: stopped at the first motel we passed, an arbitrary choice.

"Abitrary facts" within its context could also mean "a set of facts chosen from a larger set of facts at random".

I think "seemingly unrelated facts" is what they really meant to say.

Re:I can give them that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803692)

Linking arbitrary facts into logical events:

"In the course of the past 6 months, security camera footage analysis shows that Mrs. R., while walking her dog, has looked over her left shoulder 372 times out of 412 crossing the B.W. and D.S. junction, average direction 53 degrees left of center, 28 degrees up. Eye trajectory analysis shows that she must have been looking at the D.S. apartments in the block centered around 184 D.S. with a radius of 12 degrees. From previous investigations we know that 196 D.S. is a known safehouse run by the B.J. drugs cartel.
From this accumulated evidence, we conclude that there is a high probability she is involved with the cartel and advice to commence more intense investigation, including mail analysis, wiretaps, hidden camera and microphone surveillance of her apartment and covert observation of her movements in the surrounding area."

Welcome to "Big Brother". Don't say you haven't been warned.

Re:I can give them that (1)

Omaze (952134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804355)

That is precisely the problem. Farther up the page were comments about people worried about being jailed, or shot, and posters who derided them that the government would never do that because the courts would stop them if they didn't have enough or the right kind of evidence. Here, though, you have nailed it down perfectly. This is not about being thrown in prison or being executed. This is about the slow and deliberate advance of government harassment, slowly creeping further and further into the life of a citizen, with no justification other than a well-written compilation of completely circumstantial facts.

Relax (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803573)

Someone will sell 'em Oracle Reports or Cognos or some other bloated "Enterprise scale solution" and they'll cane billions of taxpayer dollars over 5-10 years with little to show for it except happy BMW dealers in the areas where the middleware agile on-demand service bus oriented architecture consultants live. Bad news if you're an American taxpayer, but not as bad as it'd be if the US Govt actually capable of developing functional large-scale systems. You don't have to look far to see that it ain't necessarily so... and that if the intelligence generated by the system can be systematically ignored, marginalised and worked-around by the executive branc anyway, what difference would it make? (hint: it makes none...)

Re:Relax (1)

Omaze (952134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804371)

they'll cane billions of taxpayer dollars over 5-10 years with little to show for it except happy BMW dealers in the areas where the middleware agile on-demand service bus oriented architecture consultants live
As a bonus those billions of taxpayer dollars and consultant jobs will help bolster their reports that the job market isn't dying. Plenty of jobs will be created to shuffle the data, thousands will be created administering the clusters and servers holding the data, hundreds will be created administering the hundreds, and a few dozen will be created administering the non-profit managing the whole thing.

What a crock.

find? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803600)

find / -name supersecretstuff -print

NSA is very sharp (2, Interesting)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803621)

This isn't like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles pouring a billion down the tubes and getting nothing in return.

The NSA is made up of very smart and capable folks. Give them a budget and incentives, and they can probably do a pretty good job of sticking their noses into the public's affairs.

Sadly for our privacy, the US has no real concept of data privacy. If you've bought something and told someone, they can tell the NSA.

So if the data is available, the NSA can just go out and but it. That's perfectly fine, but it means the NSA can easily acquire mind-bogglingly large amounts of data. Also, the phone company (AT&T) has no qualms cooperating with the govt. It isn't like Google, willing to fight it out in court. Just about nobody is -- so the NSA has an easy time, if it wants to get the goods on you.

Re:NSA is very sharp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804110)

This isn't like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles pouring a billion down the tubes and getting nothing in return.

Nope this is US defence, so we are talking many litteral billions [baltimoresun.com]

.

smart people != smart organisation, especially when billions, politicians and DoD contractors get involved.

Time for a reality check (1)

DavidHOzAu (925585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803624)

all these technologies usually get to market faster if developed by private companies

But after 10 years' worth of liscensing, ultimately cost the economy more.

Real hit versus bogus hit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803643)

The question is only (!) whether such software is really able to create "real" hits. And the answer is, no it won't, simply because I know a person who knows a person who knows a person who knows Billy Clinton. Or so. And also, if you can't cover your tracks, what worth are you anyway?

So they're not for real anyway. They're trying to "look good".

And it's nothing new. Like, if you have to wait for 2 hours for US airlines to check your luggage, and if you speak up about anything like seat reservations, they'll "SSSS" intimidate-search you, you know these guys are in the wrong movie anyway. Do I feel the absolute craving to fly to the US and prostitute myself on their work market? Do others feel like it? That's what they should be really worried about: the connections that do NOT happen, the applications they do NOT get. They should be really worried sleepless about what's all NOT going on in the USA.

Otherwise, people like that Canadian muslim (whom they dragged all the way to Syria and back just for a bunch of bad press), will condensate in front of each and every investigational journalist's microphone or camera, and that'll be the end of "USA being a cool country to live in" for a broad mass of really intelligent folks for quite a while. They'll exhaust their Patriot Act and screw the country. Be it! It's theirs to screw!

If you're not in these deranged guys target line, you may at least profit from cheaper RAM, cheaper mass storage, et cetera, as a consequence of clueless data mining.

So if you are mobile and thinking, why not leave the US? Any other nation that is after intelligent people for just about any purpose (industrial, academic, developement, teaching, research) should lick their fingers AS WE SPEAK. The most important thing: Create job opportunities for the language impaired! They don't teach them much else than English over there...

Re:Real hit versus bogus hit... (1)

MarkChovain (952233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803652)

If you're not in these deranged guys target line, you may at least profit from cheaper RAM, cheaper mass storage, et cetera, as a consequence of clueless data mining.

The Cheneyacs want war to stop buying cds and ripping them. Of course now that consoles are going to have more services like this, and it is an effort where I live in homes heated by oil.

Somewhat pedantic, but homes in a melee fighting for land and control management would be a shame that it'll be destroyed in a country (aside from the other. First, printing something that can be a problem) and it easily sold to a person who can maintain Haskell code, but your employer then wonder to why many people report the scrapping of their test equipment was cool!

#irc.t8olltalk.com (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803644)

plainly statces that As possible? How stagnant. As Linux Are you a NIGGER encountered while Are just way over

A few principles for thinking about corruption: (5, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803715)

Principles for thinking about U.S. government corruption:

  1. Don't think you know the names of all the U.S. government secret agencies.

  2. Those who want corruption often have a sense of entitlement that is stronger than any other drive. They cannot be understood using normal considerations of morality. They are amoral.

  3. Those who want corruption often are willing to waste a billion dollars of taxpayer money to steal one million.

  4. Adversarial behavior feeds on itself. People who get started being adversarial toward the legitimate interests of other people find it difficult to stop.

  5. If you see one cockroach, realize that there must be 50 others. If you see one verified example of corruption, you are almost certainly seeing only a small percentage of the total.

  6. Your ability to perceive government corruption is limited by your willingness to consider conflict in other areas of your life. Strong people don't avoid awareness of conflict. Strong people work to resolve conflict, they don't avoid it.

  7. There are two kinds of oil business. 1) There are business people who find, pump, refine, and deliver oil. 2) There are people who manipulate the government and government purchases to make a profit.

  8. The weapons business is favored by corrupters because it is largely secret. There are numerous hidden opportunities to make deals that make profits easy.

  9. A government that takes any action in secrecy is a government that is thereby avoiding democratic oversight. Whoever causes government acts in secret is, in that way, a dictator.

  10. The U.S. government corruption is part of a general social breakdown. Don't look for the corruption to be more logical than you would expect of any catastrophic breakdown. If you are having difficulty applying normal logic, try applying the logic of catastrophe.

  11. Many people who call themselves religious fundamentalists are in actuality suffering from obsessive thinking. They think they are superior, but they are mentally ill. There are Christians and Muslims and Jews who fit this explanation.

  12. Skillful abusers like Karl Rove use many small abuses rather than a few large ones to accomplish their goals. They know is is more difficult to analyze many small abuses. (Karl Rove's nickname is "Bush's Brain"; see the book by that title.)

  13. Corrupters often give sensible-sounding names to their efforts to corrupt. Examples: Clear Skies Initiative: A program to gut the Clean Air Act and substitute weaker anti-pollution regulations. Economic Stimulus: Massive tax cuts for corporations and the rich that failed, in theory and practice, to stimulate. Energy Security: The barely lessened dependence on Mideast oil to be achieved by drilling in U.S. national parks and wilderness preserves.

  14. Corrupters starve government departments of money, so the government cannot do its work. They have done this to the Patent Office, the SEC, and the IRS, for example.

  15. Don't say "we". If you are a U.S. citizen, when you talk about the activities of the U.S. government, don't say "we". You are only paying. You have no control, and you aren't even allowed to know the truth. So, the word "we" does not apply.

  16. Much of the nature of government corruption is due to accident or ignorant tinkering. Sometimes an opportunity for corruption arises because of circumstances, without planning, and the corrupters merely take advantage of it. Don't expect to find a careful criminal logic behind every corrupt act.

  17. Omission is as important a tool of corruption as commission. After 9/11, the U.S. government reacted intensely and quite adequately to the problems in New York City. On the other hand, many rich people would benefit if the blacks in New Orleans were eliminated from areas near the center of the city, so somehow no one knew what to do.

  18. Karl Rove and others use polling to determine what corruption and how much corruption people will accept. Corrupters look for weaknesses and use any they find.

  19. The words "liberal" or "conservative" generally refer to illogical thinking. Those words are used in so many ways that they have no logical meaning. Sometimes "conservative" means someone who wants to corrupt the government, but is pretending he or she is motivated by philosophy. People who call themselves conservatives often do not, in fact, favor less government spending [futurepower.org].

  20. Most people don't read books. People are very busy in the U.S., and only 2% read non-fiction about subjects other than their work. So, although there is plenty [futurepower.org] of information available about U.S. government corruption, most people don't know that. Those who corrupt government don't care much what book authors say because it is possible to continue in power without 2% of the voters. (The 2% statistic is from an old study. However, it fits with my recent independent experience.)

There are others, but that's enough for now.

--
Before, Saddam got Iraq oil profits & paid part to kill Iraqis. Now a few Americans share Iraq oil profits, & U.S. citizens pay to kill Iraqis. Improvement?

Re:A few principles for thinking about corruption: (1)

Cally (10873) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803797)

Many people who call themselves religious fundamentalists are in actuality suffering from obsessive thinking. They think they are superior, but they are mentally ill. There are Christians and Muslims and Jews who fit this explanation.
Also Slashdotters.

Re:A few principles for thinking about corruption: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804327)

"Omission is as important a tool of corruption as commission. After 9/11, the U.S. government reacted intensely and quite adequately to the problems in New York City. On the other hand, many rich people would benefit if the blacks in New Orleans were eliminated from areas near the center of the city, so someh"

Taking this logic to that extream just demonstrates that you are as far out as the religios types that you preached about to begin with.

  Taking this logic to that extreme just illustrates that you are as far out as the religious types that you preached about to begin with.

I was there. I pulled people out of houses, dead and alive, and the fact that you people still run around complaining about how nobody did anything to save the poor black people of New Orleans is disgusting.

Re:A few principles for thinking about corruption: (1)

skids (119237) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804497)

Normally I wouldn't waste a comment to say this but: Great comment!

Please elaborate on point 7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804516)

"7. There are two kinds of oil business. 1) There are business people who find, pump, refine, and deliver oil. 2) There are people who manipulate the government and government purchases to make a profit."

I am familiar with most of the points you make except #7. Do you have examples?

The Bush/Cheney administration has become deeply corrupt because they think that since they have fought for and obtained power, it is theirs to weild as they see fit. This is completely wrong. They have achieved positions of awesome responsibility, not power for personal profit. And oversight is key to making sure they are acting responsibly. They have (or should not have) any right whatsoever to keep any secrets as they serve in public roles, except when it directly pertains to classified information.

Loved the list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804625)

But what can be done about this mess? I tried this approach, http://breakthelink.org/ [breakthelink.org] but to my surprise and extreme disapointment nobody was willing to actually work the problem. I think this is because they fear to actually cross swords with our authorities. Bitching is OK, because it is useless. Actually doing something is apparently not.

And now, since Halliburton has just been awarded a $350 million contract to build detention centers in the US, perhaps those who have kept a low profile are the smart ones.

"Work will make you free!"

Reinventing common lisp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803716)

Instead of approaching venture capitalists, wouldn't it have been better to do a survey of existing technology?

For example, Xanalys http://www.xanalys.com/ [xanalys.com] sells exactly this type of software. I'm familiar with Xanalys because, for some time, they were the second largest common lisp vendor -- before a buyout by their programmers. (Their most interesting software is built with common lisp).

Good grief. That's 40 years of DARPA funding majestically dismissed.

Paranoia (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803748)

arbitrary facts into logical events and find dependencies

Doesn't this sound like a paranoid?

Re:Paranoia (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803815)

No - it's not paranoia. It's slightly inaccurate, and oversimplified, but having seen a little of this kind of technology myself, it's really quite scary some of the correlations these kind of systems can find.

It's really nothing terribly new. Banks and credit agencies have been using similar technology for years (albeit simpler than what they can do now).

These systems don't really understand the concept of "logical event"; they just find correlations between pieces of data, and clusters of "data points".

To take the banking analogy, such a system would flag suspicious activity on a credit card (the system may not even know why it was suspicious). Details of that activity would then be passed onto a human, who would investigote (which would normally involve calling the card-holder to confirm they made the transactions).

"Psychosis" would be more accurate (1)

abb3w (696381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804054)

Try looking up Apophenia [wikipedia.org]; there's a fine line between creative genius and madness. Not that the twilight between can't be entertaining [webcomicsnation.com].

Hooray for Google and Yahoo! (0, Redundant)

mariox19 (632969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803772)

American companies can now stop working for repressive foreign governments.

Cash and the written word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14803791)

If I'm a terrorist I am going to make my suspicious purchases with cash. I will communicate in code with written letters. I won't talk about my evil plots in chat rooms or on the phone. I will assume they are listening. This will render however many Billions of dollars useless for catching terrorists. The NSA is in love with the TV idea of sitting in a dimly lit room using the keyboard to zoom-in-and-enhance the picture of the terrorist.

It WILL be useful for catching ordinary Americans who look at a little porn, smoke a little pot, drive a little over the speed limit and disaggree with the govt.; maybe about abortion, maybe about party affiliation, etc.

Re:Cash and the written word (1)

abb3w (696381) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804074)

If I'm a terrorist I am going to make my suspicious purchases with cash. I will communicate in code with written letters.

Use medium denomination unmarked nonsequential bills while having an unmemorable appearance, and remember your history [pbs.org].

HTH. HAND.

No Privacy (1, Redundant)

danratherfoe (915756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14803857)

It has already come out publically that the NSA and other intelligence agencies have access to credit card and bank databases, and it has been reported recently that they plan to begin monitoring blogs and message boards -- presumably including slashdot -- for terrorists sympathizers. So when the government has access to all of your personal information and the means to analyze it and when everywhere you go, and everything you say is tracked you are living in a police state.

We already know what George Bush thinks about the constitution (http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/art icle_7779.shtml [capitolhillblue.com]), we already know that he doesn't care if weather We The People want him to do what he is doing (http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Controversial_data_ mining_program_continues_after_0224.html [rawstory.com]) and we also know that Mr. Bush is making preparations for martial law. After he retired, Tommy Franks toured the country announcing that after the next terror attack we will have to go to a military form of government (http://www.infowars.com/print/ps/franks.htm [infowars.com]). This was unfortunate, he said, but necessary -- the people would demand it. He insisted that he was just a concerned citizen expressing his opinion -- but it turns out that he was payed over $400,000 by the White House to express this opinion.

Please get informed about what your government is doing.

Google Partners with NSA in data mining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14804072)

It will be posted on Slashdot if just some blogger mentions it on their blog...

Data mining requires DATA (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804242)

Ahem,


Dont mind me, but doesnt data mining require data? Dont these bad guys use snail mail, secret meetings & public payphones etc? Data mining and monitoring of electronic communications is only effective when the enemy e-mail or otherwise use electronic means of communication - the Brits have been mining all Internet data too and from the UK for a few years, but were still subject to an attack.

While voice calls are routed through an underground massive network of computers looking for key-words, these bad guys will just continue to use old and proven methods like coded letters (snail mail), carrier pigeon (not a real pigeon but some unconnected messenger), coded newspaper advertisements, and all the type of techniques the CIA used to communicate with their operatives within Russia. The enemy just revert to Old School. Its slower, but secrecy is probably far more important than speed to them.

I'm all for 'warranted' electronic eavesdropping and surveillance, but the real aim is probably to prevent the use of electronic means (e-mail, blogs etc) and push the enemy to using other means where eventually they will be caught out.

Once electronic civil liberties have eroded and the enemy have reverted to (if they ever left) 'old school' methods, it will require DHS to have road blocks, physical searches, ID, questioning... It will probably be much like living under a Taliban regime. (Except of course the women will be treated the same as men...)

Re:Data mining requires DATA (1)

randyjg2 (772752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804569)

Actually that data exists, in companies like ChoicePoint and Acxiom, in databases ranging from Talon and Telco to Google and Yahoo's caches.

In one demo of this technology a while back, they were able to input a fragment of a license plate number, a partial description and a few other items, and, in the space of a few seconds, search a gigantic database and come up with not only the full files on the person involved, but all friends, relatives and people that person had been in contact with for years previously.

Legend has it that one of the demo's observers was really excited until it was pointed out that it would take years to go through all the data retrieved and there was nowhere near the staffing and manpower avaiable for anything approaching a serious analysis of the range of material retrieved.

Well, at least this ought to solve the unemployment problem...

Haha! (1)

Omaze (952134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14804402)

I already know who's going to get the fat contracts for this. I already know. I'm so amused I could practically pee myself. I'll probably get picked up by the NSA by the end of the day over this... but I already know!

At my last performance evaluation, at a non-profit federal military contractor, my manager was attempting to explain to me why my job sucks so much and why he couldn't do anything about it. At the end, though, he said,"You see that 30 acre construction project we're building across the street? I don't know what kind of business the upper management is going to put in it, but I hear it's going to be all office space and it's going to have something to do with IT. I know you have some interest in IT so maybe if you can just wait until it's built we can get you into a position where we can make better use of your skills."

I promptly left. I wasn't sticking around for 3 years, fighting with myself not to sleep at my desk, just so that I could be a database jockey. But gosh-darn I already know... and what this gives me insight to is that the company already knows, and that means that the policians sitting on the committees who will dole out these contracts already know, because there's no way that a military contractor is going to drop down a $200 million dollar construction project unless they have a good idea of which contracts are going to fill it.

Haha! It's off to Gitmo I go...

Fund the C-Prize (0, Offtopic)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14805149)

The NSA can get what it wants via a compression prize competition. Compressing a corpus must find the most predictive patterns.

They could fund a prize competition such as the following [geocities.com]:

Let anyone submit an open source program that produces, with no inputs, one of the major natural language corpora as output.

S = size of uncompressed corpus
P = size of program outputting the uncompressed corpus
R = S/P (the compression ratio).

Award monies in a manner similar to the M-Prize [mprize.org]:

Previous record ratio: R0
New record ratio: R1=R0+X
Fund contains: $Z at noon GMT on day of new record
Winner receives: $Z * (X/(R0+X))

Compression program and decompression program are made open source.

Explanation For an idea of why the C-Prize can solve the AI problem, if it is solvable, see Matthew Mahoney's comment [tinyurl.com] on it:

Matt Mahoney
Jun 17, 7:18 pm show options
Newsgroups: comp.compression
From: "Matt Mahoney"
Date: 17 Jun 2005 20:18:59 -0700
Local: Fri, Jun 17 2005 7:18 pm
Subject: Re: The C-Prize

Hutter's AIXI, http://www.idsia.ch/~marcus/ai/paixi.htm [idsia.ch] makes another argument for the connection between compression and AI that is more general than the Turing test. He proves that the optimal behavior of an agent (an interactive system that receives a reward signal from an unknown environment) is to guess that the environement is most likely computed by the shortest possible program that is consistent with the behavior observed so far. In other words, the most likely outcome for any experiment is the one with the simplest explanation, where "simplest" means the smallest program that could model what you currently know about the universe.

He gives a formal proof, but it basically says that the only possible distribution of the infinite set of programs (or strings) with nonzero probability is one which favors shorter programs over longer ones. Given any string of length n with probability p > 0, there are an infinite set of strings longer than n, but only a finite number of these can have probability higher than p.

-- Matt Mahoney

Matt Mahoney is the author of Text Compression as a Test for Artificial Intelligence which states:
It is shown that optimal text compression is a harder problem thanartificial intelligence as defined by Turing's (1950) imitation game; thus compression ratio on a standard benchmark corpuscould be used as an objective and quantitative alternative test for AI (Mahoney, 1999).
(Mahoney is also a competitor who has some winnings from The Calgary Corpus Compression Challenge [mailcom.com]

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