Sunday, June 9, 2013

Big Data Is  Tracking and Watching You
Industry experts say that intelligence and law enforcement agencies use a new technology, known as trilateralization, that allow tracking of an individual’s location, moment to moment…”It’s extremely Big Brother, “ said Alex Fielding, an expert in networking and data centers.”
Just four data points about the location and time of a mobile phone call, a study in Nature found, make it possible to identify the sender 95 % of the time.
James Risen and Eric Lichblau, “How the U.S, Delved Deeper Via Technology: Mining Ever More Data Ever More Quickly,” New York Times,  June 9, 2013
This is not a political blog post about the use and abuse of data mining to undermine our personal freedoms or protect our national security.   Rather it is written with a sense of wonderment and bewilderment about  the reach and scope of computer technologies .
It is an attempt to get my arms and mind around explosive advances  in the ability of the U.S National Security Agency to track the activities and movements of almost anybody almost anywhere on the globe without actually watching them or listening to their conversations.

The U.S. has poured billions of dollars into this surveillance enterprise over the last 10 years and is now building  a million  square foot data center in the mountains of Utah to mine the mountain of data for storing personal data indefinitely.  
According to the Times, thanks to smartphones, tablets, social media sites, email, and other forms of digital communication,  the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, and that is expected to double every two years.  Once integrated into huge databases,  the government can find everything it ever wants to know about you, your shopping habits,  your personal income, your health care status, your movements,  without ever having to ask your permission.   It can outwit you, outguess you, outreason you,  and discern patterns and correlations beyond your intelligence , as demonstrated by the performance of IBM’s Watson computer in outperforming three Jeopardy champions.
Great things may be done when the minds of men and mountains of data meet, but that will depend on the minds behind collecting the data and the rules of engagement.
Tweet:  The reservoir of personal data in government hands is exploding at exponential rates, and its proper use has yet to be determined.




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