[ExI] The NSA's new data center
anders at aleph.se
Mon Mar 26 12:44:07 UTC 2012
It is worth noticing that changing the budget assumptions by a factor of
ten in my model only shifts the arrival dates by a few years. Eventually
the Railroad Retirement Board might decide to put apart some of its
budget for the task...
On 24/03/2012 18:34, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> Suggest this to any actual prison warden, and they'll point out
> there's no way they'd have the budget for that. Some of this can be
> argued as priorities - money goes to things that are important. But if
> it really was that cheap to do complete surveillance, this wouldn't be
> enough to rule it out. Conclusion: it is not, in fact, that cheap to
> do complete surveillance, likely due either to costs not accounted for
> or the assumption of more capital than is in fact available.
It is not cheap or efficient to do total surveillance *yet*. When data
processing, storage and analysis is expensive you cannot afford to do
more than to focus on persons of interest, and you will have to throw
away superfluous information because you cannot store it. As they get
cheaper you still want to ignore noise and there might be legal
constraints on who you are allowed to intercept, so you add filters. But
eventually the cost of data gathering and storage will become small
enough that it is cheaper to first get all data, and *then* filter out
what you want from it.
I suspect that the expensive part will remain analysis. Sensors are
getting cheaper as per Hendy's law by a factor of about 100 per decade;
the Internet of Things will be an excellent surveillance tool paid for
by consumers, and so on. Analysts are paid salaries and can only process
a working day of information per day. The key factor influencing how
efficient they can become is software support: automatic pattern
matching, decision support, all sorts of AI apps - as they become
better, then the same staff can do much more. So what I *really* would
love to know (and my friends at IARPA will *never* tell me :-) ) is
whether that software is showing exponential-ish improvement. I suspect,
given current trends in language crunching, that this might be happening.
This might not lead to better eventual decisions, but it might very well
enable managing total surveillance on a limited staff budget.
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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