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posted by takyon on Wednesday February 17 2016, @02:40AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the make-bad-scifi-real dept.

[Important Note: Some links (especially Ars Technica) are NSFW for US government employees as they contain slides that are marked "Top Secret". Exercise discretion/caution in this story's comments, too. -Ed.]

Yes, it is cloud-based, yes, it does decide about the fate of hundreds of humans, and yes, ultimately it does direct robots to kill innocent humans.

SKYNET is a system created by the NSA that applies machine learning algorithms to supposedly determine the likelihood of someone turning into a terrorist based on mobile phone metadata. According to slides published at Ars Technica, evil acts like switching off your mobile phone (= evading surveillance), switching SIM cards (= trying unsuccessfully to evade surveillance, thanks to IMEI, etc.), swapping phones with others (= trying unsuccessfully to evade surveillance, thanks to other surveillance data) will be taken together as indicators of your evil intentions.

Patrick Ball—a data scientist and the executive director at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group—who has previously given expert testimony before war crimes tribunals, described the NSA's methods as "ridiculously optimistic" and "completely bullshit." A flaw in how the NSA trains SKYNET's machine learning algorithm to analyse cellular metadata, Ball told Ars, makes the results scientifically unsound.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:02AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:02AM (#305575)

    Intercept.org doesn't show any text, even with javascript allowed.

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by DeathElk on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:07AM

      by DeathElk (4834) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:07AM (#305577)

      Of course not, the hosting premises are now a smouldering pile of rubble...

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by takyon on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:08AM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:08AM (#305578) Journal

      Page 01 [documentcloud.org]
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      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @09:48AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @09:48AM (#305684)

        All but two of the slides are NSFW for US government employees, since they're marked "top secret". A top secret slide is on the Ars Technica page too. Could it be mentioned in the summary, please?

        • (Score: 2) by martyb on Wednesday February 17 2016, @11:14AM

          by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 17 2016, @11:14AM (#305703) Journal

          All but two of the slides are NSFW for US government employees, since they're marked "top secret". A top secret slide is on the Ars Technica page too. Could it be mentioned in the summary, please?

          Noted, and updated; thanks for kindly bringing it to our attention!

          --
          Wit is intellect, dancing.
    • (Score: 2) by q.kontinuum on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:54AM

      by q.kontinuum (532) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:54AM (#305640) Journal

      I just clicked the link on the source where I found it, it also doesn't work anymore. Either I mixed it up yesterday, having too many tabs open, or the website changed, Or Skynet is fighting an information war now, blocking the information so protect itself.

      --
      Registered IRC nick on chat.soylentnews.org: qkontinuum
  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by kurenai.tsubasa on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:19AM

    by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:19AM (#305580) Journal

    It's got nothing on Genisys. Things evolve. The Borg evolve. The feminists evolve.

    \begin{trailer}

    \scene{I/O Tower}
    \character{Dumont} \dialog{It's dangerous to go alone. Take this.}
    \character{Quorra} \dialog{What is it?}
    \character{Dumont} \dialog{This is the Codex of Xe'mpp. Protect it well, and it will protect you, for you must go far beyond the known net to seek the five citadels.}

    \narrator{Next Spring}

    \scene{The Web}
    \character{Matrix} \dialog{Armies of Mainframe!}
    \character{armies of mainframe} \dialog{Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!}
    \character{Matrix} \dialog{Prepare for full frontal assault! Fire wall!}

    \narrator{Two women}

    \scene{Gamecube}
    \action* {A trident is cast from above, barely missing Quorra.}
    \character*[voiceonly] \dialog{Who dares trespass into my realm?!}
    \character{Quorra} \dialog{AndrAIa, I seek your assistance! I cannot complete my quest without the help of another isomorphic algorithm!}
    \character{AndrAIa} \action{Swiftly retrieves the trident and thrusts it against Quorra's throat, stopping a the last second} \dialog{What is it that you want, irregular?}

    \narrator{The fate of the net hangs in the balance}

    \character{AndrAIa} \dialog{Things between Matrix and I… they're different, ever since Hex passed away.}

    \scene{Mainframe CMOS}

    \character{Matrix} \dialog{Bob, what are we gonna do?}
    \character{Bob} \dialog{We'll do the same as we always have, Matrix. We'll protect the 'net.}

    \scene {I/O Tower}

    \character{Dumont} \dialog{Fare thee well, child. I fear there is nothing more an old protocol such as myself is to do.}

    \movietitle{Secret of Xe'mpp}[Spring 2017][PG]

    \transition{cut}[blackscreen]

    \character*[voiceonly] \dialog{End of line.}

    \end{trailer}

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:26AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @03:26AM (#305584)

      What a fucking annoying way to write a post.
      Could you be any more narcissistic?

      • (Score: 4, Funny) by kurenai.tsubasa on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:21AM

        by kurenai.tsubasa (5227) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:21AM (#305593) Journal

        I could be!

        • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:12AM

          by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:12AM (#305625)

          I kinda liked it once I got used to it.

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @02:11PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @02:11PM (#305770)

            You don't even see the code any more, a blond, a brunet ...

    • (Score: 2) by ragequit on Wednesday February 17 2016, @12:29PM

      by ragequit (44) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @12:29PM (#305721) Journal

      Looks like Latex.

      I'm NOT the only one!

      --
      The above views are fabricated for your reading pleasure.
  • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:04AM

    by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:04AM (#305588)

    Now all they need are three modified Helicarriers and we are all screwed.

    http://marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/Project_Insight [wikia.com]

    And this time there isn't a Captain America around to save our asses.

    --
    "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
  • (Score: 2) by opinionated_science on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:05AM

    by opinionated_science (4031) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:05AM (#305589)

    I love sci-fi. But this new world we are entering is a truly scary implementation of some movies.

    :-(

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:15AM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:15AM (#305591) Journal

      Honestly, I've toyed with just going back to landline, or at least leaving my cell phone at home all the time. This makes me more likely to take that step.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by arslan on Wednesday February 17 2016, @05:11AM

        by arslan (3462) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @05:11AM (#305603)

        Well... I won't be surprised if that in itself gets you tagged. Rather than trying "get" out of being tracked, folks should be trying to make that activity illegal via whatever official means as well as spreading the word and try to actively break the apathy.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:25AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:25AM (#305629)

          Which will put said folks on the list. Don't you think an anticipation of an incoming rocket requires somewhat different reaction?

          • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @07:07AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @07:07AM (#305644)

            Activists are always put on a list. Ghandi was, MLK was, they are all noticed by the powers that be. Its having the guts to stand up and say "fuck off I'll do what I want because there is nothing wrong with that".

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @07:49AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @07:49AM (#305654)

              Hellfire target list? No, they were not. Ghandi and MLK could be easily exterminated for simply being terrorists square and simple, but they were not. One got to become an activist at the right time and with the right politically correct agenda. Folks under hellfire behave differently I think.

              • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Wednesday February 17 2016, @10:49AM

                by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @10:49AM (#305696) Journal

                Those people weren't eliminated because .gov knew they'd be making martyrs. Modern methods involve thoroughly discreditting the target first, so that they can be safely removed without creating a martyr. IIRC they attempted to kill MLK by trying to induce suicide.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @02:16PM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @02:16PM (#305775)

                  They sure did, it's absolutely disgusting. And you should know about it. http://www.vox.com/xpress/2014/11/12/7204453/martin-luther-king-fbi-letter [vox.com]

                  If you trust the gov then you should certainly read about it. And larger COINTELPRO. Abuses happen, also systematically and at the highest level...

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:55PM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:55PM (#305882)

                    Lately one underage nude picture on the subject's phone will do the trick and everybody knows it.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 18 2016, @02:27AM

                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 18 2016, @02:27AM (#306094)

                And yet both Ghandi and MLK were murdered.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @09:38AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @09:38AM (#305682)

              Yeah, and part of telling them to fuck off is trying to foil their unethical and unconstitutional surveillance.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:51PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:51PM (#305880)

          I don't think it's apathy. Based on my observations people are simply paralysed by fear. It's psychological as they would not admit themselves, but it can be clearly seen how any persistent mention of the topic increases irrational response - tone of speak, skin temperature, motor changes. Same with government debt, employment, number of prisoners and other conspiracy topics.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday February 17 2016, @01:08PM

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday February 17 2016, @01:08PM (#305735) Journal

        *comment arslan already made about THAT being a selector

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        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:14AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:14AM (#305590)

    Patrick Ball—a data scientist and the executive director at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group—who has previously given expert testimony before war crimes tribunals, described the NSA's methods as "ridiculously optimistic" and "completely bullshit."

    So then it's like every "information security" security theater [wikipedia.org] fishing expedition ever launched? The NSA is the equivalent to the Globe Theatre in the "security theater" sphere, so of course they have to ensure the most grandiose of dot-connecting escapades, all unknowingly funded by American taxpayers.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:35AM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday February 17 2016, @04:35AM (#305595) Journal

      Once they break all encryption we'll be real safe.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @05:04AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @05:04AM (#305600)

        One day I was looking at SHA-512.

        I looked at its constants. Now, most hashing functions start off with some initialization vector data and have some chaotic looking hex numerals. Cryptographers don't trust it if you carefully select those numbers from thin air -- they could be designed to reveal something, adding a back door, etc. So, we insist that the constants used in crypto primitives, like SHA-512, have to be some series of digits out there for all to see. Perhaps the Fibonacci sequence in binary beginning at iteration number 1984, or the mantissa of the digits of Pi beginning at bit #29Ah (666th bit), etc. You know, nothing that we could have just made up on the spot.

        Then I realized something. These hashing constants are basically arbitrarily selected from a high entropy source. They don't have to be the one given, I could use the names of my family members in packed 7bit ASCII codes.

        Just change one single bit and suddenly I've got a completely new hashing function -- no rainbow tables on the planet exist for it, and just paying some lackey at NSA to code up an implementation of this hashing function for their super cluster computing system is enough incentive to do so for my products.

        Turns out there are lots of constants like that. Problem is, you actually can pick bad constants sometimes -- low entropy, or ones that don't develop enough bit interdependency with the others (not having a large enough hamming value, etc). But as long as you know just a tiny bit about crypto and know how to use a hex editor you can make it vastly exponentially more difficult to fuck with the ciphers you use.

        P.S. If you're worried about interoperability, then you're already compromised.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:42AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:42AM (#305636)

          P.S. If you're worried about interoperability, then you're already compromised.

          Yeah if your money is in a bank then you're already compromised.
          And if you try to connect to someone else's server securely using stuff like TLS you're already compromised.

          BTW what's the internet service like from your private island?

          • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Wednesday February 17 2016, @09:55PM

            by HiThere (866) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @09:55PM (#305969) Journal

            Internet communication isn't the only possible use for encryption.

            --
            Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Wednesday February 17 2016, @05:11AM

      by rts008 (3001) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @05:11AM (#305602)

      ...dot-connecting escapades,...

      They currently have more 'dots' than they can connect. If they collect any more 'dots', they will effectively cover the whole page, with no dots to connect, it will be a completely covered page.

      The last I heard, they could barely keep up with collecting and storing the data, and no realistic hope of ever getting around to organizing, or examining the data they already have, much less the data pouring in.

      Since they have already been collecting this stuff, I hope they choke and die trying to swallow it all, while the hard-copy(dry, no lube) of the PATRIOT Act gets shoved up their asses(one full copy(verbatim) per person, not one copy divided among the many deserving politicians), at the same time.

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by legont on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:40AM

        by legont (4179) on Wednesday February 17 2016, @06:40AM (#305633)

        Russians during Stalin times tried this argument which would go like this: if all the people are on KGB list, KGB will not be able to put them all in prisons. Guess what, KGB just got a totally legal way to put anybody away and prove it in court cause everybody had a sheet. Yes, they did not arrest everybody, but just enough.
        Back to nowadays, NSA can pick up anybody and prove terrorist relationships. They have the same on everybody else? What a conspiracy theory Your Honer!

        --
        "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @07:58AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @07:58AM (#305658)
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @02:31PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @02:31PM (#305784)

          Also the Soviets didn't have Big Data, advanced supercomputers and network theory.

          I wonder whether it is anymore possible to hide something with volume. (The ultimate machine to find the needle in the haystack is of course the quantum computer which can look simultaneously under every straw regardless of the amount of straws. We're not there yet but it literally is the end of the world as we know it when we do.)

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @07:02PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @07:02PM (#305885)

            Soviets of those days (note that after Stalin it was very different) did not care that much whom to prison. Same the US now does not care which particular black unemployed is imprisoned as long as there are enough of them to claim unemployment figures and hit welfare targets.

            • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Thursday February 18 2016, @09:23AM

              by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Thursday February 18 2016, @09:23AM (#306240) Journal

              > the US now does not care which particular black unemployed is imprisoned as long as there are enough of them unable to vote a black guy into the Whitehouse

              FTFY (This cunning plan obviously failed somehow back in 2008)

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 21 2016, @08:09PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 21 2016, @08:09PM (#307845)

            I wonder whether it is anymore possible to hide something with volume.

            Sure it is. So long as they aren't looking for something very specific.

            If they are just looking for people who might be terrorists, for example, then the number of false positives will overwhelm them. Let's say they have data on 10 million people, and their algorithm is very good and only has a false positive rate of 0.1% (which would be very low), that means they would have 10,000 innocent people falsely flagged as terrorists which they would have to manually examine and exclude (or put under surveilance just in case), on the flip side you also have to consider false negatives, where they don't identify actual terrorists, the lower the false positives, the lower the false negatives, so if they had a false positive rate of 0.1%, they might have a false negative rate of 50%, which would be no good, you could be exceedingly generous and assume they could get it down to 10%, but that would still be missing quite a lot of terrorists and including far too many innocent people. If there were 100 terrorists in that data set, then they would flag 10,090 people as terrorists and then somehow have to determine out of those which are actually terrorist, and yet there are still 10 of them they have failed to spot. In all likelihood here, I am being far too generous with my numbers and they would have both more false positives and more false negatives. If they want to decrease the false negative rate, they will also increase the false positive rate.

            This is a nutshell is the problem with trying to find something rare in a large population.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @05:51AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17 2016, @05:51AM (#305617)

    When civilians were in charge of intelligence, there was not so much emphasis on what is euphemistically called "kinetics". But the military mindset, as pointed out by Plato oh these many years ago (in the Republic, if you must know), is that of a dog. Friend or foe? Who goes there? Identify yourself, and tell us why you changed your phone number! Ok, boys, light 'em up, because better safe than sorry in today's coward military forces where the last thing we want is enough casualties to our side to turn public support like it did in the "Vietnam Not-a-War-at-ALL" thingy. Not surprising that the take over of the intelligence services by the military has resulted in the loss of any intelligence, properly so called. We are blind. Petraeus, head of the Central Intelligence Agency? That idiot Admiral, head of NSA? What the *classified* were they thinking? Of course, as recently with Brennan, these dinosaurs cannot not handle OPSECS in the modern world. Petraeus fell for the oldest, oh, there is a joke here! Ha, ha! Espionage is the second oldest profession, and just as honorable as the first.