The June Slightware Report: It Is Criminal
June 28, 2011
“Software” and “Government.” Context is the great determining factor in what you think of these terms. When the context includes criminals and terrorists, the humor disappears.
A Terrifying Glitch
Government budget issues are forcing states to make tough decisions. In California, a software application was used to help decide on how to reduce the prison population. The software got it wrong: 450 inmates who were deemed to have a “high risk for violence” were released on unsupervised parole due to a glitch. The parole status was: “non-revocable parole.” The inmates do not have to report to parole officers and can only be sent back to prison if they are caught committing another crime. An additional 1,000 convicts said to present a risk for future drug crimes and property crimes were also released. And it gets worse: State prison officials have been given two years to slash the 143,335-prisoner count by around 33,000.
A Terrifying Lack of Interest
In 2009 a group of researchers and students at UCLA were experimenting with a massive data store and a theory. “Island biogeography” theory was developed to provide insight how a species moves within environments. They decided to use it for something different: Finding Osama Bin Laden.
The data and theory drove them to some chilling conclusions:
- He would not be in a cave. He would be in a house within a high-walled compound.
- He would not be in a rural area. He would be in a small city.
- He would not be in Afghanistan. He would be in Pakistan.
The findings were shared with the media. No one in the government or the intelligence community ever contacted the project leader about the work.
Sadly, they even picked an exact location, and missed by less than 300 miles.
Facial recognition technology, data mining, data modeling and other software applications are now a part of the government’s arsenal for fighting crime and the war on terror. Let’s hope they get it right sooner rather than later.
Kenneth J. Weiss is the author of the book, Slightware – The Next Great Threat to Brands. Download the first chapter for free at www.Slightware.com
Follow him on Twitter @kennethjweiss or connect on Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/kennethjweiss