The Guardian's Julia Powles writes about how with the advent of artificial intelligence and so-called "machine learning," this society is increasingly a world where decisions are more shaped by calculations and data analytics rather than traditional human judgement:
"Contrary to the claims of America's top spies, the details of your phone calls and text messages—including when they took place and whom they involved—are no less revealing than the actual contents of those communications.
In a study published online Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Stanford University researchers demonstrated how they used publicly available sources—like Google searches and the paid background-check service Intelius—to identify "the overwhelming majority" of their 823 volunteers based only on their anonymized call and SMS metadata.
Using data collected through a special Android app, the Stanford researchers determined that they could easily identify people based on their call and message logs.
The results cast doubt on [show as lies] claims by senior intelligence officials that telephone and Internet "metadata"—information about communications, but not the content of those communications—should be subjected to a lower privacy threshold because it is less sensitive."
"Alphabet's [Google] executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, recently joined a Department of Defense advisory panel. Facebook recently hired a former director at the U.S. military's research lab, Darpa. Uber employs Barack Obama's former campaign manager David Plouffe and Amazon.com tapped his former spokesman Jay Carney. Google, Facebook, Uber and Apple collectively employ a couple of dozen former analysts for America's spy agencies, who openly list their resumes on LinkedIn.
These connections are neither new nor secret. But the fact they are so accepted illustrates how tech's leaders -- even amid current fights over encryption and surveillance -- are still seen as mostly U.S. firms that back up American values. Christopher Soghoian, a technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, said low-level employees' government connections matter less than leading executives' ties to government. For instance, at least a dozen Google engineers have worked at the NSA, according to publicly available records on LinkedIn. And, this being Silicon Valley, not everyone who worked for a spy agency advertises that on LinkedIn. Soghoian, a vocal critic of mass surveillance, said Google hiring an ex-hacker for the NSA to work on security doesn't really bother him. "But Eric Schmidt having a close relationship with the White House does..."
Guess what's behind that wall?
The use of technology that allows the police to "see" inside the homes of suspects has raised privacy questions.
At least 50 US police forces are believed to be equipped with radars that can send signals through walls.
The use of the radar device, known as Range-R, was made public in a Denver court late last year.
It was used by police entering a house to arrest a man who had violated the terms of his parole.
In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that police cannot use thermal cameras without a warrant, specifically noting that the rule would also apply to radar-based systems that were then being developed.
"The idea that government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what's inside is problematic," Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union told USA Today.
"Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the intrusive tools that police have."
"What happens when a typical, upper-middle-class man from a respectable American family becomes the target of a covert organization bent on controlling both mind and body? When that secret organization is armed with high-tech weaponry which includes microchip technology aimed at controlling the minds and actions of its victims, terror reigns. In this chilling, true-life account, writer Michael Fitzhugh Bell is drugged, abducted, raped, and surgically implanted with microchips. Tracked and tortured, Michael's predators can even read his thoughts. In this battle of man versus technology turned against us, Michael must prove his case to the police before his attackers not only eliminate Michael's memory-but eliminate Michael. From the terror of being electronically stalked to the horror of surgical microchip implants and mind control, Michael Fitzhugh Bell's experiences as a victim will leave you shocked and amazed. His uphill battle with doctors, lawyers, police, Government, F.B.I., C.I.A., and a secret criminal underworld begins in Hollywood, races into and through the North Carolina backwoods, and then back to California. As you experience Michael's journey on each horrific page, you will see actual medical photos, X-rays, ultrasound and MRI images, all showing non-therapeutic tracking and torture devices. These instruments and tools are available to anyone on the Internet, including criminal organizations like those which targeted Michael Bell. His battle for survival continues today. Are you prepared?"