NSA and GCHQ's crappy Big Data techniques may be killing thousands of innocents

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/02/16/nsa-and-gchqs-crappy-big-dat.html

Let’s hope all terrorists form a homogeneous group that’s easily identified, and none of them are smart enough to zig when Skynet expects them to zag


In other news, the Metropolitan Police have discovered that burglars wear shirts with black and white stripes and carry large sacks labelled “Swag”. It appears that they have done this by applying Big Data techniques to an extensive collection of cartoons.


Nah, without the domino mask, they’re innocent.


Their best dome-helmeted men are on it, in a tightly packed group striding confidently forward in several directions, batons out and moustaches bristling.

Perhaps their noses are peaking out from under their helmets a bit, too.


Surely polluting the dataset and fomenting anti-american sentiment by dying photogenically constitutes rendering material aid to the terrorists; and thus prevents the bycatch from being innocent?


In the spirit of Herr Eichmann, people are just trying to do their jobs. One shouldn’t quibble too much about minor methodological errors. All that matters is that we are good people trying to do good things. And following orders.

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Conspicuous 5 o’clock shadow is also obligatory.

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SKYNET? really? They called their death-from-above artificial intelligence program, skynet?

At this point, I don’t have to read anymore to be confident that these clowns are doing it wrong. It’s rigot up there with the German secret police head retconing his office to be room 101. They don’t really care if they’ve become the villians of the story.

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Try that. It’s very liberating feeling.


Picking up on that slight typo, the truth is that the people responsible are indeed villeins rather than villains - they are just hoeing their rows of data and not thinking for a moment about the human consequences. That is someone else’s problem.


I’m still convinced that the Doctors Without Borders hospital got hit due to shoddy metadata analysis. Lots of identified combatants congregating at the location, leaving weapons at the door but keeping their cellphones in their pockets…

I think Adam Curtis nailed it: “Maybe the real state secret is that spies aren’t very good at their jobs and don’t know much about the world.”


Liberating for me? Or for the people I hurt?

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