Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The King's Eyes and Ears Are Now Bionic

As the mid-term elections creep closer, and we find that Rove and the GOP are about to light the fuse on a one hundred million dollar advertising and propaganda blitz, and dictator-in-chief Bush signs in to law a regressive, twisted piece of legislation that strips every US citizen of their right of Habeas Corpus, the ever-floundering Department of Homeland Security has sunk a couple million into a data trolling service hoping to snare and analyze even the most inane of anti-American sentiment from across the globe.

Truthout’s Chris Floyd explains this latest insanity shat from the “with us or against us” mindset.

Why is the United States government spending millions of dollars to track down critics of George W. Bush in the press? And why have major American universities agreed to put this technology of tyranny into the state's hands?

As with so many of the Bush measures that have quietly stripped away America's liberties, this one too is beginning with a whimper, not a bang: a modest $2.4 Department of Homeland Security million grant to develop "sentiment analysis" software that will allow the government's "security organs" to sift millions of articles for "negative opinions of the United States or its leaders in newspapers and other publications overseas," as the New York Times reported earlier this month. Such negative opinions must be caught and catalogued because they could pose "potential threats to the nation," security apparatchiks told the Times.

This hydra-headed snooping program is based on "information extraction," which, as a chipper PR piece from Cornell tells us, is a process by which "computers scan text to find meaning in natural language," rather than the rigid literalism ordinarily demanded by silicon cogitators. Under the gentle tutelage of Homeland Security, the universities "will use machine-learning algorithms to give computers examples of text expressing both fact and opinion and teach them to tell the difference," says the Cornell blurb.

Read the entire article: Sentimental Education: Academia Signs Up to Track Down Dissent.

No comments: