According to Ars Technica, the machine learning algorithm used by the NSA to analyse cellular data and determine if someone is a terrorist is "ridiculously optimistic" and "completely bullshit." As a result, thousand of innocent people "may have been mislabelled as terrorists," resulting in their "untimely demise." The authors worry when this system will be used nationally, "assuming it hasn't been already." Above, a screenshot of an NSA presentation showing how a journalist was labelled as a "member of Al-Qa'ida" because of his travels.
The program, the slides tell us, is based on the assumption that the behaviour of terrorists differs significantly from that of ordinary citizens with respect to some of these properties. However, as The Intercept's exposé last year made clear, the highest rated target according to this machine learning program was Ahmad Zaidan, Al-Jazeera's long-time bureau chief in Islamabad.
As The Intercept reported, Zaidan frequently travels to regions with known terrorist activity in order to interview insurgents and report the news. But rather than questioning the machine learning that produced such a bizarre result, the NSA engineers behind the algorithm instead trumpeted Zaidan as an example of a SKYNET success in their in-house presentation, including a slide that labelled Zaidan as a "MEMBER OF AL-QA'IDA."
|Amazingly, Americans Don't Want Another War|
|You Can't Hack Constellations|
|A Big Sea of Planes: Quantitative Display of World War II Bombers|
|The World's Armies Stage Psychological Warfare on Facebook|
|"Nuclear weapons can cause immense destruction and huge losses of life, but the effects are still comprehendible on a human scale."|
|“What life is like on the front lines of the digital revolution.”|
|“Let the Chinese Communist Party rule forever and enslave us all?”|
|“It is full of hallucinations both wonderful and terrifying, a mental goulash of reality and fantasy.”|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|“How to build a house.”|
|When the Wrong Hastag Can Get You Killed by an Assassination Drone|
|Humans Need Not Apply|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|"Acting better than Star Trek deserves."|
|Knowing how to operate a smartphone does not qualify as being tech savvy.|
|“Instead of consuming fossil fuels, it would then feed surplus electricity into the grid.”|