04-28-2014 | The Wrong Questions

We know, and have known for some time, that traffic analysis is more powerful than content analysis. If I know everything about to whom you communicate including when, where, with what inter-message latency, in what order, at what length, and by what protocol, then I know you.

This is not, however, about you personally. Even Julian Assange, in his book Cypherpunks, said "Individual targeting is not the threat." It is about a culture where personal data is increasingly public data, and assembled en masse. All we have to go on now is the hopeful phrase "A reasonable expectation of privacy" but what is reasonable when one inch block letters can be read from orbit? What is reasonable when all of your financial or medical life is digitized and available primarily over the Internet?

By now it is obvious that we humans can design systems more complex than we can then operate. The financial sector's "flash crashes" are the most recent proof-by-demonstration of that claim; it would hardly surprise anyone were the fifty interlocked insurance exchanges for Obamacare to soon be another. Above some threshold of system complexity, it is no longer possible to test, it is only possible to react to emergent behavior.

We Are All Intelligence Agents Now - Daniel Geer

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