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)
Tracking entire populations now with electronic surveillance, facial recognition, and biosecurity sensors to combat the coronavirus pandemic will inevitably mean even more invasive forms of government spying later, privacy advocates warn.
“Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy.”
“Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich.” That’s the title of the New York Times piece, and that’s the horrifying reality of how artificial intelligence and facial recognition are already being used in ways that violate your expectations of privacy in the world.
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In case you’re one of those computer shoppers who instinctively turns up their nose at the very mention of the word refurbished, here are a couple myths worth dispelling. Refurbished equals junk somebody didn’t want. While desktops, laptops, notebooks, Chromebooks and tablets marked as refurbished may have been unboxed at some point, meaning they can […]
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