David Cameron wants social media companies to invent a terrorism-detection algorithm and send all the "bad guys" it detects to the police -- but this will fall prey to the well-known (to statisticians) "paradox of the false positive," producing tens of thousands of false leads that will drown the cops.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg -- the problems implicit in using Kafkaesque algorithms to determine guilt are myriad (and well-explained in this Guardian piece by James Ball).
Data strategist Duncan Ross set out what would happen if someone could create an algorithm that correctly identified a terrorist from their communications 99.9% of the time – far, far more accurate than any real algorithm – with the assumption that there were 100 terrorists in the UK.
The algorithm would correctly identify the 100 terrorists. But it would also misidentify 0.1% of the UK’s non-terrorists as terrorists: that’s a further 60,000 people, leaving the authorities with a still-huge problem on their hands. Given that Facebook is not merely dealing with the UK’s 60 million population, but rather a billion users sending 1.4bn messages, that’s an Everest-sized haystack for security services to trawl.
'You're the bomb!' Are you at risk from the anti-terrorism algorithms? [James Ball/The Guardian]
(Image: Haystacks, John Pavelka, CC-BY)
After Deadspin's Laura Wagner published an incredible, brave, detailed look at how her new private equity masters -- Jim Spanfeller/Great Hill Partners -- were running Gawker now that they'd acquired it from Univision, the company (now called "G/O Media") struck back.
The Wall Street Journal investigates major corporations' ad buyers' practice of blacklisting of ads on news stories that deal with the world's most urgent issues, including any news story that contains the word "Trump" or "racism" or "gun" or "Brexit" or "suicide" (so much for reporting on the opioid epidemic).
For more than a decade, consumer rights groups (including EFF) worked with technologists and companies to try to standardize Do Not Track, a flag that browsers could send to online companies signaling that their users did not want their browsing activity tracked. Despite long hours and backing from the FTC, foot-dragging from the browser vendors […]
If there’s one thing that stayed consistent through the last decade or so of tech industry turmoil, it’s the love affair between techies and Linux. There’s just a ton you can do with the OS, and its open-source format means you can customize your rig from the ground up. Apparently not content with that level […]
Accidents happen. And when they do, you’re going to want a dash cam for a second pair of eyes. At the minimum, a decent dash cam can save you vast sums of time and money in case of an accident. But a really good dash cam can do a whole lot more. Here are six […]
The field of data analytics is growing as fast as the internet itself. Self-driving cars, airline pricing, and huge marketing campaigns are all driven by the insights that data scientists can distill out of vast sums of information. Even with the help of powerful software like Python, it’s a highly skilled position. But those skills […]