Menu Home

the irresistible temptation for algorithmic function creep 

From Infoglut, by Mark Andrejevic, loc 622:

From the perspective of the statistician, the step from target marketing to terrorism- tracking is all but non- existent. As McCue puts it, “The same tools and techniques that are used to determine credit risk, discover fraud, and identify which consumers are likely to switch cell- phone providers also can be exploited in the fight against terrorism and the protection of homeland security.” 12 The convergent character of database monitoring makes so- called function creep – the repurposing of data collected for one purpose for new and perhaps unanticipated ones – all but irresistible. In this regard, the data itself might be described as a highly convergent resource insofar as information about everything from people’s locations in time and space to their Web browsing habits can be used for purposes ranging across the spectrum from marketing and healthcare to political campaigning and policing. The very premise of “total information awareness” is that data collected for one purpose (transactional information about book purchases or movie rentals, geo- locational information about travel destinations, food preferences, and on and on) might reveal unexpected correlations that are useful for other unrelated purposes (such as target marketing or targeted surveillance). A crude example of this kind of repurposing – but one that reveals aspects of a data- driven security mindset – is the FBI’s attempt to identify covert Iranian operatives by data- mining grocery purchases in the Bay Area: “the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco- area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists.”

Categories: Pre 2020 reading notes

Tagged as: