[ExI] Security clearances
anders at aleph.se
Thu May 12 06:05:00 UTC 2016
Since I will be working on information hazards this summer, I am curious
about the world of security clearances. How do they *actually* work?
Practically, it seems to be a combination of (1) getting people to
acknowledge that they will deal with Important Stuff and are responsible
(a psychological effect), (2) creating a cultural environment where
information flow is shaped (a social effect), (3) creating penalties for
doing things wrong (an incentive effect). I assume there is also an
assumed (4): that cleared people are less likely to leak or mishandle
information (a selection effect). Does anybody know if there have been
any proper studies of how well 1-4 actually work?
Bringing this into the transhuman world, we may consider what happens if
we get really good at these things.
On 2016-05-10 22:49, spike wrote:
> Ja. When the security people hear a credible rumor, they can call the
> clearance holder in for an interview, without even telling why. If
> the holder refuses, clearance is suspended. If the holder accepts and
> confesses everything, then the holder is in trouble for not coming
> forth earlier before he was caught, but might hold on to the clearance
> if the investigation decides national security was not compromised.
> If they find the holder intentionally tried to cover his tracks, or if
> the other participant wasn’t cleared at the same level, or they want
> to make an example of the guy, or if the ranking official is in a bad
> mood that day, or any number of other factors, the holder gets his
> clearance suspended or revoked.
> Any big aerospace company is populated with straight-arrow law-abiding
> types, which is how they qualified for those clearances to start
> with. If any high-up leader has a clearance suspended, word quickly
> gets around why it happened, and that guy can no longer effectively
> lead that crowd: they have no respect for him. This is what happened
> to the LM second in command a few years ago.
> Funny aside: a long time ago, I was in a proposal group where we were
> trying to find civilian uses for a whole bunch of surplus military
> stuff we could buy for about a nickel on the dollar, stuff that was
> idled by a treaty that took effect right at the tail end of Bush41’s
> term. It included rocket motors, guidance systems, not the nukes of
> course but all kinds of cool rocket stuff, originally designed to
> carry nukes but now all of it surplus and ready to haul rich people to
> space, that kinda thing.
> In that building where we were generating proposals, we had a
> soundproof meeting room. It was seldom used for anything: it was a
> pain in the ass to even get there, since it was a structure within a
> structure, kinda like a massive refrigerator inside a building, and
> you had to code in, etc, so they could archive who went in and when.
> We decided to find out if it really was sound proof. We had exactly
> one woman in that group, mid thirties, fun sense of humor type. We
> said “Hey Lurleen, go in there and close up, then scream like you are
> being murdered or something.”
> Leave it to her to respond, “Or something, OK.”
> Took us several minutes to stop laughing. Then, she went in there,
> closed up, screamed. We couldn’t hear it. The structure worked as
> We didn’t need Lurleen to point out to us what that facility enabled.
> I don’t know if anyone ever used it for that purpose, but I wouldn’t
> be a bit surprised. If they did that and self-reported, the security
> people probably wouldn’t tell the company (I wouldn’t think (they
> would have nothing to gain by telling.))
> In any case, the security people make it clear during initial training
> and all subsequent periodic updates: they get it that people are not
> saints. They understand. They are not your priest. But they do need
> to know what you did, so they can watch out for negative
> consequences. If you cross them, they can hurt you. If you lie to
> them, this is a bad thing.
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
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