It Just Keeps Getting Better

Everyone knows that the government is harvesting and storing every phone, text, and email message Americans send. Which makes sense because you never know when your 96 year-old grandmother is going to get bored with doing crossword puzzles and become a terrorist.

Investigating “bad guys” still involves human decision making. To read the content of a message, a guy from the NSA goes before a FISA court judge and endures a tough, law-based grilling. The exchange probably goes something like this:

NSA guy: “We think this guy is a terrorist, Your Honor.”
Judge: “Is he dark-skinned?”
NSA guy: “Probably.”
Judge: “Okay, proceed.”

Recently I read about an enhanced approach to this surveillance. A mega-corporation is developing a software-based method to automatically act on “threats.” Basically, computers would scan messages and, when suspicious keywords and suspicious contacts creates a suspicious pattern, the computer would act of behalf of the humans doing the surveillance. It’d place a hold on your bank account, put you on a no-fly list, dispatch agents to question you, etc.

You can see where this is heading. Some frat guy is gonna go on Facebook and post: “Dude, I’m gonna bomb this test today.” A computer algorithm will kick in and start searching all his Facebook friends. It’ll find a post by another frat brother reading:”Yo, the Taco Party rocked, I just dropped the biggest bomb!!”

At which point a computer will determine that the frat house is a terrorist safe-house. All members’ bank accounts will be frozen. And a group of campus police officers will be dispatched. Formerly real cops who got fired for anger-management issues, they’ll storm the house, picturing themselves as Keifer Sutherland in the show 24 Hours. And they’ll shoot some drunk, emaciated pledge who’s cleaning the floor with a toothbrush.

Yeah, handing security over to mega-corporations and computers is a great idea. Just ignore the fact that Microsoft is still patching up problems with Windows however many years later.


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One thought on “It Just Keeps Getting Better”

  1. What about the already beleaguered farming industry? Every time someone in North Dakota mentions “fertilizer”, two days later, they’ll look out their breakfast window and see two guys in one of those horse costumes picking through their trash.

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