Datamining article in NYTimes

Data mining is already being used in a diverse array of commercial applications — whether by credit card companies detecting and stopping fraud as it happens, or by insurance companies that predict health risks. As a result, millions of Americans have become enmeshed in a vast and growing data web that is constantly being examined by a legion of Internet-era software snoops.

Although Congress abruptly canceled the program in October 2003, the legislation provided a specific exemption for “processing, analysis and collaboration tools for counterterrorism foreign intelligence.”

“The theory is that the automated tool that is conducting the search is not violating the law,” said Mark D. Rasch, the former head of computer-crime investigations for the Justice Department and now the senior vice president of Solutionary, a computer security company. But “anytime a tool or a human is looking at the content of your communication, it invades your privacy.”

Much of the recent work on data mining has been aimed at even more sophisticated applications. The National Security Agency has invested billions in computerized tools for monitoring phone calls around the world — not only logging them, but also determining content — and more recently in trying to design digital vacuum cleaners to sweep up information from the Internet.
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How data packets work…a movie grandma can understand.

I am writing this paper for the Gandhain Nonviolence Conference today. IO have been thinking a lot about how to “explain” the internet to these peace loving types. I found this movie that does a good job of explaining data-packets moving around the net. Believe it or not they are all animated. i would have put more information in about rendering web pages but it is a great intro.

Accelerating Change Highlights: 2 (Esther)

Esther Dyson did a great thing opening her talk “I am going to lead this time like the internet – If you don’t like it go somewhere else. Do your own thing. This is what the net allows you to do.”

Governance on the Net – The best way to regulate systems is for the people loosing control someone else is loosing it. (This is the current theme of the Release 1.0) Accountable peer-to-peer as opposed to some authority that can be corrupted.

The rulesets you create matter a huge amount. You can’t just have an idea precision matters. You can’t just allow users to design the rules you may end up with the wrong set of rules. There is an evolution of competing models.

An organization that Esther is working on advising is safecount.org that is addressing cookie issues – if the decide they all should be disclosed she will continue to work with them.

Concentrated power gets abused. Power is so corrupting. Give people power to do things not power over people. Give more power to individuals and not the power of institutions.

The articulation of accountability and identity and identification.
Reliable accountability – the fact that what you did as X you are accountable today for what you did yesterday as X.

Peer to peer accountability. The less power anyone has the less it matters when they make a mistake. The mistakes that one makes matters less.

An illustrative example that was given about how market based mechanisms don’t necessarily work. This day care was having a problem with kids being picked up late. It wasn’t working for anyone -the kids would get stressed out, the daycare staff would have to stay late etc. So they decided to deal with in a market based way – $10 for every 5min you were late. This totally backfired because then it was no longer immoral to be late it was just expensive.