"The Thing" Lives

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Thomas Veil, Mar 13, 2004.

  1. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

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    #1
    The above quote is from Jim Hightower's web site. I haven't been able to find out any more about this, though. The source article no longer appears to be on the Austin American-Statesman's web site, and who knows what their source was?

    This concerns me because I had a feeling this project wouldn't really die, it would just go underground. I'd like to believe the article is wrong. Has anybody else heard anything about this?
     
  2. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #2
    I like Jim, but like Molly Ivins he can sometimes get a bit carried away.

    Remember that DARPA has been around for a while. There was DARPANet before there was Internet; a metamorphosis...

    I have no doubt as to the existence or capability of "The Thing". How much it is being used is another question. It does take a finite amount of time to go snooping on tens of millions of people, regardless of machine capability.

    I'd keep the salt shaker handy.

    'Rat
     
  3. IIvan macrumors regular

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    #3
    Why don't people ever do anything about things like this??? No one is willing to stand up for their rights
     
  4. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #4
    At least on a technical basis, I believe you are wrong. Most of the actual "snooping" has already been done -- by your phone company, by your bank, by virtually everyone with whom you've ever done business. The point of this project is to combine all of this existing data about you, me and everyone else into one big heap and mine it for patterns. Once you get past the political and privacy issues, the technical part is virtually trivial.

    I'm with IIvan. I wonder why so many people don't seem to care.
     
  5. zimv20 macrumors 601

    zimv20

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    #5
    privacy violation overload?
     
  6. IIvan macrumors regular

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    #6
    As best I can figure its because

    A- they don't care as long as their basic needs continue to be met

    B- they realize how impossible it is to fight with their government- any past problems will be revealed, the money, the time, and knowing that even if they did win, that leaves the government to punish itself, and the system would just keep operating under some other shady branch of the beauracracy

    C- They actually think its a good idea :confused:

    D- They just don't know the truth
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    The one that always gets me is, "if you haven't done anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about."
     
  8. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #8
    In essence, "if you're not a criminal you don't go to jail, so who cares what they want to know about me, I've done nothing criminal."

    That is, until they redefine "criminal" and it includes you and enough data to guarantee conviction allofasudden.
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #9
    Who needs "conviction" when you can hold someone indefinitely without even charging them?
     
  10. IIvan macrumors regular

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    #10
    Yeah- I love that one...


    Exactly! Buy that man a drink!
     
  11. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #11
    IJ, educate me: You said, " Most of the actual "snooping" has already been done -- by your phone company, by your bank, by virtually everyone with whom you've ever done business." Okay, I know that.

    Can this information then be sent via email? To a central mega-puter? Which can readily read, analyze and create a file for each and every name and/or social security number? Adding in credit card data to the correct files, or grocery store "favorite shopper" info?

    A problem I have with the way some agencies work is that they'll claim they're not doing something, but there's no way to really verify except as some whistle-blower lets the word get out. Give a kid a toy and he's gonna use it. I note that even in cases where Congress has specifically disallowed some action, the law is ignored.

    'Rat
     
  12. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #12
    If the data is stored on a computer, it can be shared and combined. Then, all that's needed is software routines for pattern matching -- find everyone who's made phone calls to Pakistan and bought airline tickets to Indonesia, for example. Pretty trivial stuff. The quantity of data kept on us by various sources is immense and the only thing that protects our privacy even as little as it is today is the freestanding nature of most of these databases. Combine them, and the government now essentially has a fairly complete dossier on every American. They know what you buy, what you eat, where you go, and who you speak to.
     
  13. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Okay, IJ, I follow that. However, I was reading this AM that it's anticipated it will take some four years to amalgamate the data systems of the FBI and the INS in order to track terrorists. Would there not be some similar problems with the TIA-style idea?

    The innate curiosity of us monkeys is accentuated by the "knowlege is power" syndrome so common to governments everywhere. I'm not at all surprised by the efforts to create this single gigantic database; it's been part of science fiction for decades. The only real defense is through legislative action, and I think too many in Congress have the attitude commented upon by IJ and others that "You can't be hurt if you've done nothing wrong." Their belief in the right of privacy for Joe Sixpack, et al, is lip-service only.

    "Keep those cards and letters coming in, friends and neighbors," said the folks on their radio programs. Yeah, and keep the pressure on Congress...

    'Rat
     
  14. tpjunkie macrumors 65816

    tpjunkie

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    #14
    just had a chilling thought...

    hey, remember that HUGE ram disk the government just bought? :eek:
     
  15. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #15
    Hey 'Rat, I've got some insight here. One of my professors that I spent a year with recently is doing research that pertains to this subject. His company does a large amount of consulting for the military, developing decision-support systems that can take large quantities of information and sift through it very quickly. He stressed to me many times that we are moving from a 'data-centric' computer world to an 'information-centric' model. The difference being the ability to store relations between data such that it can be mined much more efficiently. Here are a few link to the kinds of work they do. His papers explain it far better than I can if you have the time to read through some of them.

    Link
    Link 2
    It's interesting stuff, and these guys have spent decades developing these techniques. Suddenly (over the last 5 years) the government has become VERY interested in their work.
     
  16. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #16
    Thanks, mac. Just from that little dab I can see why certain agencies would have a strong interest.

    I wouldn't get upset at stuff like this, were it not for the lack of penalty for abuse of the power created by such a database. How one persuades the Congress as a whole that there are indeed Bad Apples in the bureaucratic barrels, I dunno, but that's about the only "solution" I see. I sure don't believe this sort of giant info-net won't be cast over us.

    'Rat
     
  17. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #17
    Yeah, it's not in and of itself, worth getting upset over. These intelligent agents will arrive and we will most likely all use them. Imagine having a search engine that could actually understand WHAT you are looking for as opposed to the text-based searches we do now. It's like downloaded music, it's gonna happen and there's nothing we can do to stop it. We need to make sure the technology is used responsibly by the government AND by private citizens.

    They've applied their knowledge to my field, building design, since that's what they both (my ex-profs) had their initial degrees in and were practicing at the time they got interested in computers. What they come up with was a CAD system that could interact with it's operator. Each 'agent' was responsible for a specific sector, there would be one for structural analysis, one for HVAC design, one for noise insulation, one for heat insulation, one for circulation etc. There could be literally hundreds of these agents watching your work. They would 'talk' to each other, and when some of them would come into conflict - say when you try to put an HVAC pipe through a structural member - they would flash a warning at you and ask if you really wanted to take that particular action. Or when you would want to put a giant window in the wall facing the freeway the sound agent would pop up on it's own and say "I woudn't do that if I were you Dave." Well, not that exactly, but it would express concern about the noise factor you were about to introduce. And this was 15 years ago.

    Now they have done stuff like write software that can load-plan a large cargo ship with military equipment in minutes rather than the weeks it took before. And keep a pretty good inventory of what's what and where exactly it is on the ship. They did the software that helps Los Angeles county coordinate all their police, fire, CDF, EMTs, sherrifs, etc. in a crisis. They are working with the Marines to implement a decision-support system for combat situations. The computer will keep track of everything for you. It will know positions of your troops, it willl be able to analyze battlefield recon photos from things like the Predator and keep track of enemy troop movements. It could easily handle live recon data from sattelites, drones, and individual troop cameras on their helmets. All while allowing the human operator to make the final decisions. It simply provides all the information you need to make those decisions and it provides it in a timely manner. Now a general won't have 20 guys yelling information at him in a CIC. Field commanders who are under fire can still have time to get good information in split seconds.

    And once the military adopts this technology it will filter out into civilian life. Smart search engines are just one area. Any profession that has to sift through lots and lots of information will benefit from this.

    Very interesting stuff.
     
  18. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #18
    I've written quite often about my fears of abuse of power. Aside from just reading about such, from time to time, my fear was reinforced from an experience as a juror in a federal trial. Suffice that my interpretation of the evidence--and the other 11--was at great odds with the prosecutor. It really scared me that somebody whom I came to regard as nutzoidal had so much power.

    You're sure right, mac, about responsible use.

    Some 40+ years ago, I spent a goodly number of hours with the ASHRAE handbook. A lot of that carried over for when I built our house in 1993. My wife laid out the floorplan--she could give lessons to architects about the efficient use of space*--and I did the elevations and roof-truss design. All stick-framed, as the transport of materials was much easier for that.

    'Rat

    * She can also fill up that space to the point of non-usability. :)
     

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