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NSA Shopping For Data Mining Tech 159

Posted by Zonk
from the anyone-got-a-good-deal-for-uncle-sam dept.
prostoalex writes "The National Security Agency paid a visit to Silicon Valley venture capitalists, the New York Times learned, to talk about potentially 'interesting' technologies that the Feds would be interested in purchasing. Data mining technologies that could link arbitrary facts into logical events and find dependencies, technologies for quick voice transcription - all these technologies usually get to market faster if developed by private companies."
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NSA Shopping For Data Mining Tech

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  • by October_30th (531777) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @07:56AM (#14803511) Homepage Journal
    Why didn't they turn to the open source community? They wouldn't have to pay for it and they'd get free support, too.
    • by afaik_ianal (918433) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @08:08AM (#14803532)
      But how many open source data mining projects can compete (in the features sense) with these commercial systems?

      These systems are extremely specialised and targetted at law enforcement and/or large corporations with huge databases.

      Seccessful OSS projects tend to be the ones that are used by the people writing them, and are of use to a wide community. If the developers do not have a vested interest in the product, then development will tend to stagnate.

      I think it is hard to argue that OSS has been successful in making products that are targetted at such specific (and wealthy) groups.
      • why not use the best of both opensource and commercial ? IBM's UIMA looks interesting - see http://www.research.ibm.com/UIMA/ [ibm.com]
        • *Sigh* They are looking for Non Obvious Relationship Analysis (NORA) technology. It would be fairly easy to get up a OSS project to produce it. I actually tried to start up one (Ghandi/Custer) based on Globus GT4, but had to abandon it due to practical considerations involving not starving to death and having a roof over my head...

          Most of the technology to do this already exists as Open Source projects. If I were starting it up now, I would probably try to combine an Open Source JBI /JSR ESB (ServiceMix htt [apache.org]
      • by Anonymous Coward
        But how many open source data mining projects can compete (in the features sense) with these commercial systems?


        Well, some of the best of those commercial systems are based on OSS work. For example, Netezza, one of the best commercial business-intel & data mining platforms today was based on postgresql [netezza.com]

        • Absolutely - I'm not suggesting that OSS has no part in the chain, but to suggest that law enforcement and spy agencies can just head along to SourceForge and pick up the kind of technology they are looking for is unrealistic.

          Databases are an area that OSS tends to excel at, as are operating systems. I doubt all of the systems they'd be considering would be built around Oracle for Windows.
          • Good point.

            OSS excels at providing "core systems" that many people want to use to build their own systems on top of. Everyone contributes a little to the core system (so everyone wins there) and then puts the rest of their work into application-specific stuff.
      • These systems are extremely specialised and targetted at law enforcement and/or large corporations with huge databases.

        Seccessful OSS projects tend to be the ones that are used by the people writing them, and are of use to a wide community. If the developers do not have a vested interest in the product, then development will tend to stagnate.

        I think it is hard to argue that OSS has been successful in making products that are targetted at such specific (and wealthy) groups.

        While what you say is tru

        • Open source is not the appropriate solution for any intelligence technique. After all maintaining the intelligence edge on all your potential opposition (everybody but you) is what it is all about. There is the incorporation of allies in intelligence gathering but that only happens if their assistance is required and the sharing is always filtered.

          Any computerised technique that does not rely on personal expertise for qualitative management will just flood with useless information and become a burden rath

    • They actually have in the past (http://www.nsa.gov/selinux/ [nsa.gov]).

      This time, though, I don't think they want anyone knowing exactly how their mining code works, lest someone figure out a way to wreak havoc on the system. For example, the idea of someone making records invisible to the data miner probably has them spooked (I know, code it well and this'll never happen, but you can "never be too careful"). Just my two cents.

    • Everyone knows that the more you pay for a product the better it is.
  • I wonder if it hs anything to do with this [indymedia.org]. To be fair to the government, this isn't actually too bad an idea. I mean if spammers and dvertisers can gleam information to find potential targets, why can't the same technology be utilized by the defense department, who is typically an early pioneer of technology adapted for public use. Then again, a similar project 'Able Danger' identified Mohammed Atta over a dozen times.
    • by klingens (147173) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @08:11AM (#14803537)
      I mean if spammers and dvertisers can gleam information to find potential targets, why can't the same technology be utilized by the defense department

      Cause spammers and advertisers only spam you, government can use the data to imprison or even shoot you. The fact remains that a tool like this is readymade for a dictatorship that isn't even recognizable as one from the outside. Perfect to oppress people, anathema to a democracy
      • That's called sensationalize and an appeal to emotion. The government can't imprison you unless you are committing crime, that's why we have judges. The idea that because they are connecting phone records with travel itenaries, bank transactions and visits to jihdist websites gives them justification to "shoot you" is simply retarded.
        • Well put. And if anyone out there wants to know more about various logical falacies, see http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies [nizkor.org]. It has excellent descriptions of all of the common fallacies, plus some not-so-obvious ones.

          Offtopic, I know, but I feel the discussions here could be much more productive (with much less FUD) if people understood logic a little better.
        • The government can't imprison you unless you are committing crime, that's why we have judges.
          Why don't you tell that to the people in Guatama Bay? Next it could be you. But - OMG - all the people who could have protested against it are already in there.
          • Aren't you protesting against gitmo? Are you posting from there? Or are you suggesting that the people in Gitmo were apprehended as a result of programs such as this one, because if that's the case.. give me ten more. Seriously, if you want to avoid the idea of a gestapo or secret police, you should advocate government adapting technology for security, it allows for far greater oversight and accountablity and reduces the need for humn intelligence spying on citizens. Data mining, as the articles suggest,
            • Well, since I am living in one of the American colonies - I mean the Netherlands - I probably don't know that much about it.

              But seriously, even if a tenth of the stuff I hear about what is going on over there is true, it is about time to resurect the Weather Report.

        • The argument that goes "You have nothing to fear if you've done nothing wrong" is a fallacy advanced by pro-authoritarian people.

          The government doesn't belong having absolute knowledge of our private lives, because then the burden to be law-abiding becomes infinite. The temptation to miscontrue "illegal" patterns becomes too great for abusers to resist: Even if the courts do get involved (and discern every case correctly) then the powerful still have a tool for limitless harassment of opposition groups and
        • The government can't imprison you unless you are committing crime, that's why we have judges.

          Guantanamo Bay!

      • Perfect to oppress people, anathema to a democracy

        You can apply that same principle to tanks or fighter planes. And it would be just as invalid. Possesion of these tools, whether they be bombs or data mining software, does not make the government a tyranny. How and WHY they're used will determine that. You can't deny the nation the use of them, nor automatically label the government despotic by the mere posession of them. National Security is a legitimate function of any government. What is both ironic, and

    • why can't the same technology be utilized by the defense department,

      Because it's the government, and we have a Constitution.
      • "...that to secure these liberties, Governments are instituted among men..." allowing terrorists to infiltrate and operate concealed within our society will see the Constitution turned into a worthless document faster than you can say ACLU. The Constitution doesn't prohibit the government from investigation.
        • Re-read Amendment IV. If I have not done anything, the government has no grounds for investigation, and my actions should be completely free from any scrutiny.
          • The parent of this post has the whole point. Lock, Stock and barrel head. The NSA is tracking across the US Constitution and the people doing so at the NSA should be sent to trial under the rules we Americans tried Japanese and German War criminals at the end of WW2. The penalty should be the same as well. They should be hanged!

            Don't worry guys(At NSA et. al.) you have nothing to fear unless the citizens start coming for you.

    • Problem is ( and we all know it ) this stuff wont just be used properly, to comabat terrorism/threats to this country. It will be expanded to monitor 'dissidents' that actually love this country, but are upset how things are going.
  • Technician Strike (Score:3, Interesting)

    by carcosa30 (235579) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @08:05AM (#14803526)
    It's getting time we put a stop to these people.

    I'm hearing more and more about the idea of a national strike.

    We technicians bitch and complain about this kind of flagrant privacy violation.
    It would be much more difficult for these people, I'd think, if there were some sort of technician union that had technical rights as well as civil rights as part of its platform.

    It's real simple:
    1) Don't help these fucks in any way.
    2) Harm them in any way you can get away with. Small needling, over and over again. Refusal to cooperate. Take their money and do nothing.
    • Not sure how serious you are being, but I think there a number of problems with your suggestion.

      * IT is far too market driven to support a union. If tech people went on strike, then they'd just pay someone else to do it. When so much work is ultimately contract based, we need to delver products, or our jobs get taken by someone willing to delver (maybe not directly).

      * It's illegal in most countries to be destructive. The Fire Fighter union cannot hold a strike where they go around lighting fires. Furthe
    • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lheal (86013)
      I believe government exists to defend the liberty of its citizens. Got me? I'm a conservative libertarian, no caps. That means that while I more-or-less agree with the Libertarians, I don't march lockstep with anybody.

      But I used to. I used to march lockstep with my fellow Marines, wanting only a chance to use my rifle, or its bayonet, on some terrorist bent on destroying all I hold dear.

      I value my privacy, too. But there's a difference between what I do in private (or even a semi-public area like a res
      • You would be spot-on if there were no Internet.

        The difference is, when I am in the mall and I start shouting about Holomorphic Aliens (or whatever) while wearing tinfoil helmet (sorry, obl.) I can see everyone staring at me. I can watch the policeman come up and ask me to leave. I know when I am making public records because I have to physically interact with someone or something in order for that record to be made.

        On the internet, the lines between private and public become very hazy, and it's all too easy

        • So treat being online just like being in public. Since basically you are in public. Don't send email that you are scared of other people reading.
          • by Omaze (952134)
            You're recommending that everyone becomes completely introverted recluses in order to avoid government harassment? Where have we seen this before in history?
            • Why do you assume that treating the internet like public (which it really is) automaticaly leads to government harrassment? Do the police harrass you every time you leave your house?
        • The idea that any interactions you make with society is "private" is self-destructive lunacy. If I'm visiting website in Pakistan, is that visit "private" because I did it from my living room? If I wire a million dollars to Hamas to distribure to suicide bombers using my cellphone is that a "private" transaction, immune to any government scrutiny? Someone made the argument "If you're doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide" is a fallous argument.. and I agree. But if you are doing something to the de
          • by mikiN (75494)
            at the end of the day, and this is the argument that I've yet to hear refuted... what's the harm of having the data to be mined stripped of personally identifying information, indexed, and linked to a database that stores the identifying information, which is accessible only by court order?

            Troll troll troll your post
            Gently down the screen
            Merrily merrily merrily merrily
            Life is but a stream

            It's all about transparency. Which is even harder to maintain if parts of the process are no longer tangible, in plain si
      • I believe government exists to defend the liberty of its citizens [...] keep it to yourself.

        Well, I was with you up to those last 4 words. I guess you're note "lockstop" on minor issues like Speech, eh?

        Why are you really so afraid of the idea of organized resistence to the (Totalitarian) Regime that currently controls the US? AFter all, you can just shoot the protestestors, right? It's not as though they have any right to participate in the determination of how their government acts, right? Hell,

        • by Omaze (952134)
          The US isn't totalitarian. It's democratically elected. How could that possibly go wrong?
          • Chavez was democratically elected. Mugabe was democratically elected. Hell, even Castro and Mubarak and Assad were "elected."
        • by jotok (728554)
          I decry your attempt to bully others into silence in a public forum.

          If you think he is incorrect you should be able to challenge his beliefs without resorting to ad hominem attacks. He's only voicing his opinion. If that's bullying then I have a pot and a kettle I want to show you.
          • If you think he is incorrect you should be able to challenge his beliefs without resorting to ad hominem attacks. He's only voicing his opinion. If that's bullying then I have a pot and a kettle I want to show you.

            Dumbass - there's a differnce between simply "that's dumb" and telling someone they should "be quiet" - I have no problem arguing with him "ad hominem" or otherwise - he's the one who took the position of demand that others not respond. You should go back and read the thread.

            Furthermore, I

            • by jotok (728554)
              Dumbass - there's a differnce between simply "that's dumb" and telling someone they should "be quiet" - I have no problem arguing with him "ad hominem" or otherwise - he's the one who took the position of demand that others not respond. You should go back and read the thread.

              Furthermore, I believe I stated that I agreed with what he was saying right up to the point where he demanded that others not challenge his opinion. I can only hope he learned more from the exchange than you obviously did. Unless I mi
              • *sigh* *idly twirls ENORMOUS e-penis*

                Exactly where do you think the line is between "I disagree with your ideas" and "Shut the fuck up, you're an idiot?"

                Well, it's mostly a matter of language, which I think is fairly well defined elsewhere so I won't go into it here...

                One fosters discussion and the advancement of ideas and knowledge; the other just makes you look like a clown.

                So you want to go to your interpretation of what he said and what you think it means about him? Funny, that's pretty

      • I want the government to sift through all publicly available information to find people planning or engaged in activities which would cause me or another 2,966 of my countrymen to be deprived of life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.

        Look to the oval office for the conspirators, then.

        From this report: [forbes.com] "At least 2,289 service members have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count."

        See also this page, [iraqbodycount.net] which shows that the estimated Iraqi body count is 10 time

      • "I'd like the government to defend my liberty by infringing his."

        Ignoring the other issues present, let me make a clarification:

        The government isn't defending your "liberty" when they catch such a person. They're defending your safety. Important difference. Not that your safety isn't important. It is.

        But these sorts of programs infringe upon the liberty of the guilty by infringing upon the liberty of everyone . That's how they work. It's like a tuna net. If you want tuna caught that's fine,
      • If you are a 'true patriot', like you seem to be implying by mentioning the fact that you're a US marine, you would know that grand-parents right to express his opinion, any opinion, is bigger than any other right you have. His right to call for even the overthrow of governement, however much you may object, is bigger than your (perceived) right to safety. And what's more, you've sworn an oath to defend to death his right to do so.

        Funnily, you yourself said exactly this in the first line of your post so, th

        • by lheal (86013)
          grand-parents right to express his opinion, any opinion, is bigger than any other right you have.

          I wasn't talking about his right to his opinion in general. I was just talking about that particular expression of it, which I found ludicrous. He has a right to talk, and I have a right to tell him to shut up. He doesn't have to listen.

          • "I was just talking about that particular expression of it, which I found ludicrous. He has a right to talk, and I have a right to tell him to shut up."
            In other words: you are willing to let people have different opinions, but they may not decide for themselves how to express them?

            I think you better start learning on what 'freedom of speech/expression' truly means because you certainly aren't 'getting it', yet. Good luck with that, too.
            • Don't bother, this guy's an authoritarian, one of the kind who loves his country like a 4 year old girl loves Mommy.

              Nothing the State does could possibly be wrong in his eyes. He has no idea what liberty really is; he's never read any of the writing of the thinkers who framed our constitution and who informed the views of the Founding Fathers, and if it were up to him, he'd throw all those people in Gitmo.

              • "Don't bother, this guy's an authoritarian, one of the kind who loves his country like a 4 year old girl loves Mommy."

                Ad hominem attacks are, however, not the way to point out the fallacies in other peoples arguments. At least not if you truly want to convince them that they just might be wrong. If he really believes in what he says that puts him at least one step ahead of you in a debate.

                Perhaps you're right and nothing will change how he feels about it. I still had to try because if I hadn't, I would be

    • So, what... everyone who works at the NSA is a "fuck"? Or is it everyone who works in the DoD? Perhaps anyone affiliated with the government at large? I think you should remember that there are a lot of small people all over that wouldn't be trying to fuck you over.
      And as for #2, I think that taking their money (i.e. getting a contract) and not giving them anything, just *might* be a breach of contract. Might want to rethink that second bit.
    • Way to go! It's about time we tell those bastards that we won't tolerate this bullshit.
    • Better idea:

      Let them know where you live, and let them enter that into the program.

      If they find anything out about any terrorist activity in your area, they can rig the software to ignore it, as per your wishes.
    • Your comment seems premised on a key assumption which I believe is not correct, namely that a large percentage of "technicians" (or really any other group of people) would have such a problem with said surveillance, to the point where they would take any steps that might potentially risk their jobs (a risk that would not be completely alleviated by unionization).

      Polls show that, if the question is put in a certain way, it's not hard to get a very large majority of people to support surveillance, even very "
  • Human intel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Grumpy Wombat (899702) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @08:07AM (#14803531)
    I can't help thinking the authorities are still way too star-struck by tech and don't value human intel enough. We have seen the shortcomings of a lack of human intel in Afganistan, Iraq, 9/11 and so on. When will improving the human intel get the focus it needs so gov'ts can make informed decisions about our security. Maybe then we can forget about Dept of Homeland Security type fiascos.
    • Exactly right - it seems to me that they're looking for technology to do their job for them. The results could be devastating- on several levels.
    • We have seen the shortcomings of a lack of human intel in Afganistan, Iraq, 9/11 and so on.

      What about Katrina? Sure to be modded flamebait, but I got your attention, so I'll use it. There are more important and immediate problems in this world where the situation can be improved by foresightedness, intelligence, compassion, kindness, frugality, etc. Improving the general state of our society is not something you agree while watching the olympics. You invest of yourself, your time, your passion to be a par

    • I can't help thinking the authorities are still way too star-struck by tech and don't value human intel enough.

      Unfortunately, getting quality human intel isn't simple, and there can be problems with overvaling it [thenation.com], too. There are problems when you start only looking for evidence supporting what you expect to find.

      Tech-based intel is too limited in coverage; humans go places machines don't. Human intel has low accuracy; machines don't lie for their own benefit (yet). You need a mix of both.

    • Not sure if you have been keeping up with events, but they are saying just what you are. They DO want human intel, but the intelligence services were stipped down some time ago. I am not pointing figures here, just saying facts that have not be denied.

      This search I hope is just a stop-gap measure until the human intel can be rebuild. You are talking sometimes in the order of double-digit years to repair such problems. Human intel just does not happer over night. It must be cultivated which takes time.
  • Data mining technologies that could link arbitrary facts into logical events and find dependencies,

    arbitrary:
    adjective: based on or subject to individual discretion or preference or sometimes impulse or caprice

    fact
    noun 1 a thing that is indisputably the case

    So an arbitrary fact would be something that is indisputably the case based on individual impulse of caprice.

    I write code like that after I smoke a phat dubbie but I didn't know the NSA would be interested in paying a big buck for it. I'

    • I realise your taking a humourous dig at the (admittedly) bad choice of words there, but arbitrary aslo means:
      Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle: stopped at the first motel we passed, an arbitrary choice.

      "Abitrary facts" within its context could also mean "a set of facts chosen from a larger set of facts at random".

      I think "seemingly unrelated facts" is what they really meant to say.
  • Someone will sell 'em Oracle Reports or Cognos or some other bloated "Enterprise scale solution" and they'll cane billions of taxpayer dollars over 5-10 years with little to show for it except happy BMW dealers in the areas where the middleware agile on-demand service bus oriented architecture consultants live. Bad news if you're an American taxpayer, but not as bad as it'd be if the US Govt actually capable of developing functional large-scale systems. You don't have to look far to see that it ain't necess
    • Right.. like the Defense Department didn't actually develop Arpanet [wikipedia.org]
    • they'll cane billions of taxpayer dollars over 5-10 years with little to show for it except happy BMW dealers in the areas where the middleware agile on-demand service bus oriented architecture consultants live

      As a bonus those billions of taxpayer dollars and consultant jobs will help bolster their reports that the job market isn't dying. Plenty of jobs will be created to shuffle the data, thousands will be created administering the clusters and servers holding the data, hundreds will be created adminis

  • NSA is very sharp (Score:3, Interesting)

    by putko (753330) on Sunday February 26, 2006 @08:55AM (#14803621) Homepage Journal
    This isn't like the Dept. of Motor Vehicles pouring a billion down the tubes and getting nothing in return.

    The NSA is made up of very smart and capable folks. Give them a budget and incentives, and they can probably do a pretty good job of sticking their noses into the public's affairs.

    Sadly for our privacy, the US has no real concept of data privacy. If you've bought something and told someone, they can tell the NSA.

    So if the data is available, the NSA can just go out and but it. That's perfectly fine, but it means the NSA can easily acquire mind-bogglingly large amounts of data. Also, the phone company (AT&T) has no qualms cooperating with the govt. It isn't like Google, willing to fight it out in court. Just about nobody is -- so the NSA has an easy time, if it wants to get the goods on you.
  • all these technologies usually get to market faster if developed by private companies

    But after 10 years' worth of liscensing, ultimately cost the economy more.
  • Principles for thinking about U.S. government corruption:
    1. Don't think you know the names of all the U.S. government secret agencies.
    2. Those who want corruption often have a sense of entitlement that is stronger than any other drive. They cannot be understood using normal considerations of morality. They are amoral.
    3. Those who want corruption often are willing to waste a billion dollars of taxpayer money to steal one million.
    4. Adversarial behavior feeds on itself. People who get started being adversarial toward the legitimate interests of other people find it difficult to stop.
    5. If you see one cockroach, realize that there must be 50 others. If you see one verified example of corruption, you are almost certainly seeing only a small percentage of the total.
    6. Your ability to perceive government corruption is limited by your willingness to consider conflict in other areas of your life. Strong people don't avoid awareness of conflict. Strong people work to resolve conflict, they don't avoid it.
    7. There are two kinds of oil business. 1) There are business people who find, pump, refine, and deliver oil. 2) There are people who manipulate the government and government purchases to make a profit.
    8. The weapons business is favored by corrupters because it is largely secret. There are numerous hidden opportunities to make deals that make profits easy.
    9. A government that takes any action in secrecy is a government that is thereby avoiding democratic oversight. Whoever causes government acts in secret is, in that way, a dictator.
    10. The U.S. government corruption is part of a general social breakdown. Don't look for the corruption to be more logical than you would expect of any catastrophic breakdown. If you are having difficulty applying normal logic, try applying the logic of catastrophe.
    11. Many people who call themselves religious fundamentalists are in actuality suffering from obsessive thinking. They think they are superior, but they are mentally ill. There are Christians and Muslims and Jews who fit this explanation.
    12. Skillful abusers like Karl Rove use many small abuses rather than a few large ones to accomplish their goals. They know is is more difficult to analyze many small abuses. (Karl Rove's nickname is "Bush's Brain"; see the book by that title.)
    13. Corrupters often give sensible-sounding names to their efforts to corrupt. Examples: Clear Skies Initiative: A program to gut the Clean Air Act and substitute weaker anti-pollution regulations. Economic Stimulus: Massive tax cuts for corporations and the rich that failed, in theory and practice, to stimulate. Energy Security: The barely lessened dependence on Mideast oil to be achieved by drilling in U.S. national parks and wilderness preserves.
    14. Corrupters starve government departments of money, so the government cannot do its work. They have done this to the Patent Office, the SEC, and the IRS, for example.
    15. Don't say "we". If you are a U.S. citizen, when you talk about the activities of the U.S. government, don't say "we". You are only paying. You have no control, and you aren't even allowed to know the truth. So, the word "we" does not apply.
    16. Much of the nature of government corruption is due to accident or ignorant tinkering. Sometimes an opportunity for corruption arises because of circumstances, without planning, and the corrupters merely take advantage of it. Don't expect to find a careful criminal logic behind every corrupt act.
    17. Omission is as important a tool of corruption as commission. After 9/11, the U.S. government reacted intensely and quite adequately to the problems in New York City. On the other hand, many rich people would benefit if the blacks in New Orleans were eliminated from areas near the center of the city, so someh
  • arbitrary facts into logical events and find dependencies

    Doesn't this sound like a paranoid?
    • No - it's not paranoia. It's slightly inaccurate, and oversimplified, but having seen a little of this kind of technology myself, it's really quite scary some of the correlations these kind of systems can find.

      It's really nothing terribly new. Banks and credit agencies have been using similar technology for years (albeit simpler than what they can do now).

      These systems don't really understand the concept of "logical event"; they just find correlations between pieces of data, and clusters of "data points".
    • Try looking up Apophenia [wikipedia.org]; there's a fine line between creative genius and madness. Not that the twilight between can't be entertaining [webcomicsnation.com].
  • American companies can now stop working for repressive foreign governments.

  • No Privacy (Score:1, Redundant)

    by danratherfoe (915756)
    It has already come out publically that the NSA and other intelligence agencies have access to credit card and bank databases, and it has been reported recently that they plan to begin monitoring blogs and message boards -- presumably including slashdot -- for terrorists sympathizers. So when the government has access to all of your personal information and the means to analyze it and when everywhere you go, and everything you say is tracked you are living in a police state.

    We already know what George Bu

  • Ahem,


    Dont mind me, but doesnt data mining require data? Dont these bad guys use snail mail, secret meetings & public payphones etc? Data mining and monitoring of electronic communications is only effective when the enemy e-mail or otherwise use electronic means of communication - the Brits have been mining all Internet data too and from the UK for a few years, but were still subject to an attack.

    While voice calls are routed through an underground massive network of computers looking for key-words,
    • Actually that data exists, in companies like ChoicePoint and Acxiom, in databases ranging from Talon and Telco to Google and Yahoo's caches.

      In one demo of this technology a while back, they were able to input a fragment of a license plate number, a partial description and a few other items, and, in the space of a few seconds, search a gigantic database and come up with not only the full files on the person involved, but all friends, relatives and people that person had been in contact with for years previou
  • by Omaze (952134)
    I already know who's going to get the fat contracts for this. I already know. I'm so amused I could practically pee myself. I'll probably get picked up by the NSA by the end of the day over this... but I already know!

    At my last performance evaluation, at a non-profit federal military contractor, my manager was attempting to explain to me why my job sucks so much and why he couldn't do anything about it. At the end, though, he said,"You see that 30 acre construction project we're building across the stre
  • by Baldrson (78598) *
    The NSA can get what it wants via a compression prize competition. Compressing a corpus must find the most predictive patterns.

    They could fund a prize competition such as the following [geocities.com]:

    Let anyone submit an open source program that produces, with no inputs, one of the major natural language corpora as output.

    S = size of uncompressed corpus
    P = size of program outputting the uncompressed corpus
    R = S/P (the compression ratio).

    Award monies in a manner similar to the M-Prize [mprize.org]:

    Previous record rati

    • Wel, you would not only want a compression method that simply compresses some text effectively, but that also would proceed to produce sensible and interesting output when the compressed file is padded.

      This means that the usual methods of compression that favor blocks and limited dictionaries(or Huffman buffers or whatever) are not those to look at, because the only input files (corpus) that represent what is sensible are the complete body of accessible human works. It is interesting that this body is not s
      • The C-Prize doesn't care how you go about maximizing the compression ratio so traditional compression methods would very quickly find themselves outmodded.

        Re-ordering the corpus prior to compression is fine so long as it is reversible. That means the ordering information must cost less than the gain in compression by reordering.

        A classic example is the bzip algorithm. Beautiful.

  • Data Mining and Data Warehousing is increasingly being used not just at Governmental levels but even in Colleges. We're going to be investigating this as a way of reducing load on the main online transaction processing where I work. Data mining is going to be very common in the near future.

  • And several Silicon Valley executives say one side effect of the 2003 decision to cancel the Total Information Awareness project was that it killed funds for a research project at the Palo Alto Research Center, a subsidiary of Xerox, exploring technologies that could protect privacy while permitting data mining. The aim was to allow an intelligence analyst to conduct extensive data mining without getting access to identifying information about individuals. If the results suggested that, for instance, someo

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.

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