CIA Collects “All Human Information” to Create Sentient TechMarch 26th, 2013
At the GigaOM Structure:Data conference earlier this month, CIA CTO Ira Hunt delivered a bizarre and thought-provoking presentation on the CIA‘s “cybersecurity” plans. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much time to discuss cybersecurity and instead confessed that the CIA is committing widespread identity theft against American citizens. Said Hunt of Central Intelligence Agency policy on stealing private data, ”The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time. Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang on to it forever.”
CIA Director John Brennan’s confirmation testimony reminds us that the CIA is disallowed by law from engaging in clandestine activities within the United States. Collecting data on Americans would seemingly fall within that definition. Also, Hunt’s presentation concluded with a rattling twist — the CIA intends to use the data it collects to create “sentient” programs that learn from humans. The organization that deploys weaponized drones worldwide is also attempting to build something along the lines of Skynet from The Terminator. Check out his presentation below.
The CIA’s James Bond Obsession
Intelligence services do not need to develop weapons technology. Defense contractors do this type of thing for a reason. For DARPA to roll the dice on robotics technology in the private marketplace makes a degree of sense, whereas the CIA is supposed to be using existing technology to identify and prevent threats from foreign nations and terrorist organizations. However, this has not stopped the private intelligence agency from attempting experiments of all types, even in some cases on US citizens.
The MK ULTRA tragedy is an example of what happens when CIA bureaucrats overdose on spy movies when drawing up policy. Similarly, the Church Committee exposed a past project in which the CIA developed icy darts that poison victims and cause heart attacks. The clandestine community has wandered even further down the “sounds good in a movie but should never happen in real life” trail ever since the television show 24 caught the public’s attention, thus mainstreaming torture and rendition.
Should CIA Tech Officers Focus on National Security or Pet Projects About Sentient Machines?
Ira Hunt’s presentation mainly focused on the possibilities that are available to CIA tech analysts who have access to unlimited human data. He made it sound as if allowing them such exhaustive access to our personal data will someday provide us with useful technology to save us from ourselves by controlling our cars and pacemakers from afar. However, the CIA does not create consumer technology and will not share its data with anyone who will. The CIA creates kill lists and assassinates the people on those lists. It destabilizes governments. It trains and arms rebellions.
Hunt concluded by implying that one could use this growing pool of data to program machines to learn from humans, even in ways that humans can’t themselves understand. While self-aware technology might make for a fun presentation at a World’s Fair, for the CIA to pursue it alongside drone programs is either downright terrifying or outrageously silly.
He went on to admit that the CIA has the capability to engage in cyber-stalking, ”You are aware of the fact that somebody can know where you are at all times, because you carry a mobile device, even if that mobile device is turned off. You know this, I hope? Yes? Well, you should.”
Unfortunately, Hunt ran out of time before he could give his report on cybersecurity, which is what taxpayers pay CIA tech officers to focus on in the first place.