Monday, 24 October 2011

The coming world

EVERYTHING is changing. In a decade, even the traditional manner which we have engaged in HUMINT will be gone (this is human intelligence), never to exist again. Why? Well we have systems already that allow facial recognition and validation. The technologies will allow the “bad guys” to match Identities in just a few years. For example, as different as people have told me I look I have looked in photos and more, and though people do not recognise me in different guises, computers do and will. We will need HUMINT, but it will be a different and new form we have not seen before.

As a silly example, I have an image of a “character” I portray for fancy dress parties and the like named Gilbert Dibley.



When these are compared to my profile image, it seems to some a different person. This of course is a silly exaggerated example. I am not suggesting that those involved in HUMINT dress up funny, just that even these images are linked to my professional or personal life.

Simple small changes, for instance I shaved my beard this year make big differences to how we see one another, these are not changes that fool a computer.


A computer can already match these pictures with the facial structure of my skull and say if I am the same persona as is portrayed (me) in my profile image. Without major facial reconstruction, I will show up in images.

We can expect that the images of those working for the NSA, OICI, CIA etc. will be recorded in time. The persona that is us will be recorded from yearbooks and personal images on. In time, those images that are used in undercover work will be no more.

For instance, a police detective does not start as a detective. S/He starts in joining the force and there are always records of this. These are pictures and images from graduations and just general life in training. Then you move to a uniform. Again, there are records.

Worse, we cannot control the images that others have. Image search techniques in coming years with more computational power and the growing use of mobile devices mean that we can expect to see ourselves online, not from our own actions, but in those of others. That image taken by a tourist as you brush by may we searchable and give away your location.

Right now, we have a system based on obscurity. This works now to some extent, but it will not in the coming decades. When images from our entire life are on disparate systems, we will be able to be traced, traced and our lives reviewed.

We can even try and make this illegal, but the thing is, criminals do illegal things. Making it more expensive to commit a crime and be caught makes the reactions of criminals worse. They are more likely to become brutal and shot first ask later.

The thing with exponential computing power growth and decrease in cost is that in a decade the “bad guys” will have access to all of this material. What we create for good also leads to other uses. A hammer can be used to build as well s to destroy.


Some say I am opposed to privacy

Not at all, I just see that it is going to be blown out of the water with the technological changes that are coming. I am not against privacy, I simply do not see that anything we do will be private one day.

The ethics of this can be debated all we like, but the process of change has already started. The time for this debate was a decade ago and we missed it. I see this as the moral equivalent of debating why a volcano causes destruction. It just does and no matter what we try to tell it, it will react as it will with no desire or thought. It is simply a force of nature. The genie never goes back into the bottle.

The changes we are seeing are similarly a force that we can do little about as much as some lament this and want change to cease.

Well, we are at the point we were a decade ago with regards to security. We can lead change or let it roll over us. We can look at the gaping holes and do something to ensure these existing breaches to not expand until it creates a rift we cannot know how to close, or we can act. That is act now.

Right now, we have a choice. Soon we may not.

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