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.