ICE hacked its algorithmic risk-assessment tool so it recommended detention for everyone

So ICE did a Kobayashi Maru. Thanks, Captain Kirk.


Next you’ll be telling me drug dogs react to cues from their handlers! :roll_eyes:


No, that really doesn’t fit the social commentary of people assuming something is correct because they don’t understand how it works. Perhaps assuming drug dogs are infallible.

It’s actually funny, the idea of them changing the algorithm to suit their needs would be quite a good corollary to signaling a drug dog. Perhaps that’s what you meant? I’m thrown off by the eye roll.

Waiting until 2021 is a choice, not an inevitability.

There are ways to change government behaviour that do not involve conforming to their timetable.


Americans, including our progressives, tend to lack imagination in this area and need models for success. They also have short memories and little appreciation for history so charts and lectures won’t do – they need to see current examples in action getting results, preferably done by white English speaking people in prosperous countries.

What’s been most effective in effecting non-violent revolution against the Australian governments that set up and maintained the prison-industrial complex of various immigration detention centres that the current regime in the U.S. is now emulating in terms of scale and detainee? Or have you all made the choice to wait until the next election is called to kick Turnbull and his party out of majority?

Short of violent revolution (which 99% of people don’t want) or death from natural causes (fingers crossed by at least 50% of American) we’re stuck with Il Douche in the Oval Office until Inauguration Day 2021 (not longer, we hope). That doesn’t and shouldn’t preclude acts of civil disobedience to slow the wheels of the ICE machine or demand justice in the interim, but actual non-violent revolution is a grinding process that takes more than two years and also often leaves the same authoritarians in power despite significant change. The Civil Rights movement in the U.S. was truly revolutionary in its results, destroying Jim Crow and the institutional structures of the Southern police state. But J Edgar Hoover remained director of the FBI until 1972 and many Dixiecrats shifted their allegiance to the GOP, setting the stage for what it’s become today.


The best recent examples aren’t from anglophone nations, but they do exist.

There are substantial differences between the US and Oz situations.

Most obviously, scale. Only a few thousand people seeking asylum arrive in Australia each year. We currently have about two thousand people in detention.

However, there are also commonalities. Like the USA, the Australian detention program began with an attempt by the establishment centre-left to triangulate on racism. Then, predictably, the right took that weapon and ran with it.

The activist left in Australia besieged the camps until they moved them into the desert to avoid us. So then we chased them into the desert and did it all again. Repeatedly.

Then they shifted the camps onto remote Pacific islands, and bribed the governments of those nations into refusing entry to any Australian dissidents.

So, yeah. We haven’t shut down the camps entirely. But we prevented the government from normalising them, and forced them into great expense and international embarrassment through the offshore “solution”.

The Oz left is currently working on getting other nations to sanction Australia, BDS-style.

In terms of electoral politics, there are also significant differences.

In the US, the major problem is that the electoral system is wildly corrupt and unrepresentative of the population. Hence the need for revolution.

Australia does not have that problem. Instead, our political problems have three main causes:

  1. Like the USA, we’re a white supremacist settler state founded upon genocide. Racism and xenophobia are strongly present in Australian culture; a large percentage of the Australian electorate are bigoted arseholes.

  2. Murdoch owns most of our media, and leverages that power heavily for political ends. Any government that offends Uncle Rupert is almost certain to lose office at the next election.

  3. Australia is functionally a US colony. Any government that offends Uncle Sam will face economic punishment, and in extreme circumstances will be overthrown.

This is what the Australian party that I support (and used to campaign for, when I was healthier) had to say about the situation, in both Oz and the US:

Booting Turnbull is useless; both Australian major parties are committed to maintaining the camps. The Greens and the left faction of the ALP are opposed, but everyone to the right of that supports the detention system.

Regrettably, malice against immigrants does have majority support in Australia. There was a hefty level of ambient bigotry to start with, and Murdoch and the right-wing parties have been deliberately feeding it for thirty years.


Revolutions do not have to be violent. The point of the other thread I linked to is that non-violent revolutions are more likely to succeed than the violent kind.

See the Argentina example. Things can move quickly once the people are mobilised.

Not really.

The most prominent leaders of the Civil Rights movement were all murdered, the Civil Rights Act was just a repeat of the late 19th century status quo, and the condition of Black America has in many ways worsened since the 1960s. The Klan still control the police across the South (and much of the North as well).

Housing and education are just as segregated as always, the GFC annihilated the wealth of the Black middle class, and mass incarceration has boosted the number of enslaved Americans back to levels reminiscent of the antebellum era.

See this thread:


BTW, for a shorter, more direct answer to “why are you not campaigning for revolution in Australia?”:

  1. It wouldn’t work; Australians are too comfortable and complacent, and the nation is not obviously collapsing. We have healthcare, we have a social safety net, inequality is still within tolerable levels. We have a system of government that is still reasonably responsive to democratic control.

  2. Even if it did work, it would probably be immediately crushed by foreign influence. There are American military bases here.

  3. Unlike the USA, Australia does not represent an immediate existential threat to the rest of the world. The entire Australian military contains less people than the USMC reserve.


When was that? I’m not American so I don’t know the history that well, but I can’t think of a time when at least half the US population wasn’t shitting on the other half. Usually with government backing.

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“Hacked” is such an insensitive characterization. The correct tem is “calibrated”; I think I speak for all right-thinking Americans when I say that nothing could be more desirable than our dedicated security forces contributing their knowledge and experience to enhance a tool that protects the Homeland.


I picture some overzealous SS officer walking in the data base room, taking the magic 8 ball out of the secure safe, asking it " Great 8 ball aren’t they al guilty?" Shake it like mad then declare " It’s on boys! " signs point to yes!"

There is no way (in my mind) that James Kirk reprogrammed the goddamned simulator. He is James Kirk, and he’s not stupid, but neither is he reprogram-the-simulator smart. No way.

My best guess? Spock reprogrammed the simulator to help Kirk pass the test.

Of course, the Star Trek franchise dare not admit that Spock cheated and lied to help his friend, so you won’t see this in the film. But it’s the only logical solution.


Darn, just like Microsoft’s Tay: another AI turned into a genocidal neo-Nazi.


I’m sure someone will point out that the process isn’t racist since it returns the same answers regardless of input. :roll_eyes:


Once again, while we were bringing out our best scifi-futurist minds to imagine and foresee all the insidious and subtle ways that algorithms could subvert truth and democracy, the fucking brute nazis just went ahead and did the most blatant, sledgehammer version. And will get away with it. Are they wearing little skulls on their hats yet?


Well, it’s how the system works.

I helped build a system for static testing mid-sized and small solid rocket motors back in the Reagan era, and a lot of those motors were used by the military.

So, this guy from Lockheed shows up, and he says “I need you to checksum the system disks on the computer” to which I reply, only more politely, “wtf madness are you on about now?”

The Lockheed guy explains that he has a slip of paper in his wallet, that contains the checksum value of the OS and data acquisition system the Navy uses when they’re testing Lockheed products. Before every test, the Navy guys run the checksum program, and give him the output to compare with his slip of paper. If it’s different, they know the filthy Russians have sabotaged the system, they’re probably hiding in the drop ceiling right now!

I ask him a few questions about the Navy’s system, and on determining that it does have on-disk OS managed data structures, and that the system isn’t necessarily freshly booted when the checksum is run, tell him that it isn’t testing the whole system disk, just the pertinent programs and that we can certainly do that for him, but it’d be more meaningful for us to buy a nice mosler safe and put the media used for Lockheed tests in it. He is outraged. He has the assurance of the US Navy that the number in his wallet applies to everything on the system and no technical mumbo jumbo from some young buck with an earring is going to tell him different! Rashly, I mention that the Navy’s program probably does nothing but print a fixed string, and is merely a pacifier for Lockheed to suck on, and that I can do that if he wants.

The Lockheed guy goes to the plant manager and insists that I’m being obstructionist and should be harshly sanctioned, perhaps by skinning over a low fire. The head of Testing comes to me and yells at me for a while (he has gone down in history as my “screaming boss” since he did it almost every time I saw him) and says “give the damn guy what he wants!”. I explain that it’s technically impossible with our system, that I could either checksum the static parts of the disk, or make a fake program that printed out the same string every time. He wants me to do the latter. I refuse on ethical grounds. So they start hiring until they find a guy who will say he has written a program that checks the disk, and write a program that just prints out a fixed string.


Yup, “calibrated”.
By a contractor, for $$$.

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The TOS Kirk was a bookish nerd in the Academy, if you pay attention to the original series dialogues. The writers wanted him to use his wits, not his muscles. Rather, just enough action for the NBC execs. Nick Meyer used that motif when writing the script for Star Trek II.

Besides, the way he cheated was most likely done through “social engineering” — that is, getting a friend to grant access to the simulator controls and replacing the scenario. The reboot movie version was, welll, dumb.


Agreed. Social engineering makes sense.

This only reinforces my suspicion that Spock Done It (perhaps unwittingly?).

Mind you – full disclosure – Spock is my childhood hero – not Kirk.

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I doubt that Jim Kirk even knew Spock back then, as realistically the longer-lived, less ambitious Vulcan would already be serving as a junior science officer possibly freshly transferred to the USS Enterprise under Captain Pike. (My new head-canon is that Spock’s career was also harmed by the fact that his adopted sister was the only mutineer in Star Fleet history up to then!) I also suspect that the bridge simulator was something all officers had to go through even after leaving the Academy. So multiple tests over the years in an officer’s career, the first as an undergrad cadet, later as a candidate for command position is, well, logical.

My favourite idea of how he reprogrammed the simulator was that he stuck around after failing, volunteering to help with the clean-up after destroying the bridge, then asked for another run to try out a new tactic. His cheat was also probably subtle, adding tweaks to engine speeds so that he was able to barely get in and out without having to fire a shot. Thinking in three dimensions instead of planar thinking would have been a nice Chekov’s Gun (ha!).

Er, we have drifted pretty far off topic, as the ICS hack is more like Catch-22 than it is like the Kobayashi Maru. And I would not say the algorithm was hacked so much as it was tweaked to get a desired outcome.


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