Statistics

Best Defense When The Not-So-Secret Police Use AI To Claim You Are The Anonymous Tweeter

I want you to memorize something important. Never forget it. Ready?

Artificial “intelligence”, or AI, is just statistical modeling. (Regular readers already knew this.)

Here’s something else to know. Some things called “AI” aren’t AI at all, but are instead fast and large computers storing and processing massive amounts of information.

Like how your phone company tracks you everywhere you go, knows which websites you’ve been to, and at what times, and who you called, and when and where and for how long, what you said in text messages, and things like that.

And how Google reads your email, Twitter your direct messages, and Facebook—but you get the idea.

This kind of AI, which isn’t AI, is how these “private” companies will give your information to the regime’s not-so-secret police even without a warrant.

That isn’t any kind of “intelligence”, except in the form of being able to “remember” things. So let’s call this not-AI “storage”, or a “database”, or just “The Cloud.”

We’ll call the kind of AI that models the data in The Cloud to make predictions, or fake pictures, or things like that, statistical models. There is no harm in calling the modeling aspect AI, except that term produces unreasonable fear and awe.

As proof, here are two headlines that I want you to read out loud:

  1. Intelligence Community Developing AI Tool To Unmask Anonymous Writers;
  2. Intelligence Community Developing Statistical Model To Unmask Anonymous Writers.

First one sounded a lot scarier, didn’t it? Second one likely gave you the impression of “Meh.”

Now if government, or government-contracted, censors told you that they had used a statistical model to tie you to a Twitter account, you’d probably laugh. You’d laugh because you already know there is no way any statistical model could do this with anything approaching certainty.

Unless, of course, they were using The Cloud. Then they could have noted the suspect tweets came from your phone, at a time you were known to be using the phone, just by tracing the IP origin of tweets, and things like that. The Cloud can, at times, provide certainty, or something near enough to land you in solitary.

Statistical modeling won’t. And that is cheering news. Let’s look behind the headline to see why.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has announced they are developing an AI tool to unmask anonymous writers.

A press release on Tuesday from the ODNI revealed that the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), their research and development arm, is starting work on the Human Interpretable Attribution of Text Using Underlying Structure program – HIATUS for short.

“Humans and machines produce vast amounts of text content every day,” with “text containing linguistic features that can reveal author identity,” a document from IARPA notes. The HIATUS tool would therefore use AI to identify anonymous writers via features such as “word choice, sentence phrasing [and] organization of information.”

“Think about it as like your written fingerprint, right?” program manager Dr Timothy McKinnon said in February. “What characteristics make your writing unique? So the technology would be able to identify that fingerprint compared against a corpus of other documents, and match them up if they are from the same author.”

This is mere braggadocio by Censor McKinnon, a bit boast (a boast about bits) without backing. About which more shortly. First, why are they doing this?

McKinnon said that the AI program would be used by the intelligence community to track “disinformation campaigns,” and combat “human trafficking and other malicious activities that go on in online text forums.

Ah, there it is. Like I’ve told us three hundred and forty two times (an estimate), official disinformation needs some Official agency to define and track it.

Chances are the algorithms Censor McKinnon develops will be used to suspend user accounts, shadowban, and whatnot without any appeals process. “The censoring AI said 83.817561615% chance this is disinformation,” will say Censor McKinnon’s algorithm. “Ban the user.”

But there’s a possibility the not-so-secret police will show up with armed men, break down your door, and say, “Censor McKinnon’s censoring AI gives a 95.13815787417% chance you tweeted this disinformation.”

They might use the argument that “AI” IDed you. And, like Ricky Vaughn, have you indicted for spreading “hate”, or whatever.

Here’s how to challenge it. Have your lawyer demand an independent test of Censor McKinnon’s censoring statistical model. Have it prove, under neutral monitored conditions, it can identify, with great accuracy, from a sea of tweets (or whatever kind of posts), not just your tweets, but everybody’s.

Now I don’t know what accuracy Censor McKinnon’s censoring algorithm will have, and I am ignorant of the law of how good “scientific” instruments have to be to be considered reliable in court, but I am telling you the answer will be NOT THAT GOOD. Because “AI” is just statistical modeling, and modeling of this kind is not that good.

Censor McKinnon, and the cops, will instead try to present other “verifications”, with astounding accuracy stats, on tests Censor McKinnon’s team did themselves. Or they will point to peer-reviewed papers. Or they will use some other kind of low-value science bullying.

Accept none of this. Make them prove it. They won’t be able to.

Of course, if they use The Cloud, you’re screwed. But that’s why God invented VPNs and opsec.

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Categories: Statistics

7 replies »

  1. I hope all this activity is not tied to the installation of a digital currency which the WEF (World Economic Forum – the oligarchs) and the Fed (the US central bank) want to institute as soon as possible.

    There are many strange things happening right now on a retail/individual/banking level and the associated tracking information. Several people I have talked with recently have also experienced similar peculiarities. So, it’s probably not my imagination nor is it a singular event.

    In the past month (but especially during the past week) various internet retailers, pharmacies, hospitals, and banks are requesting that you “update” your passwords. In addition, the new password seems to be computer specific, i.e., the password only works on one computer (one IP address). Trying to use the password, including the new one, on another computer requires you to start all over again because it destroys access for both computers.

    Unfortunately, the updating process makes it difficult because a real human is trying to communicate with a non-human “computer-human”. And the non-human “computer-human” sounds a lot like Robby the Robot instead of Siri or Alexa.
    PayPal made me update the password (which was easy) and then it wanted me to leave the account permanently open (signed in) so I wouldn’t be burdened with having to “type the new password” in the future. They were effectively saying, “park your car, leave the keys in place with the motor running, and make sure the driver’s door is open so it will be easier to drive away after shopping.”
    Most people would not think too much about these things because they only use one computer. I have several and that’s the only reason I discovered this mess.

    My story gets even stranger because I took a computer to a local computer jock I’ve used for15 years for routine cleanups. This time I also wanted him to transfer info from the currently installed terabyte disks onto new solid state disks in the same computer. His shop had just become a Microsoft authorized repair place, and he proudly used Dollar Bill’s software to transfer the files. It took almost 24 hrs! It was all I could do to not break out in laughter.

    In addition, some strange code was left by Microsoft (Dollar Bill’s place) on the newly installed solid state drive and it would not delete. So, I tried to take a print screen of it and a dialog box appeared to warn me that taking a print screen was forbidden because the server was at Google Place. Imagine, if you will …. Google Gang running Dollar Bill’s copying software for Dollar Bill’s local computer shops to copy customer’s computer files. These people are stealing my info and I’m not allowed to take a picture of them doing it.

    Passwords, gate keepers, and secrecy have been around quite a while as Groucho Marx shows what happens with passwords (about one minute):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaBhpzkjg1w

  2. When I started toward a degree in computer science a long time ago I realized quickly that true AI was impossible on the path of current thinking…so I didn’t waste anymore time pursuing something that was not going to happen following the “big data, faster computers and clever algorithms model.”

  3. Sane people know this is all nonsense on a stick. But the proles have been sitting eating popcorn and cheezedogs and watching “NCIS Everywhere” and believe “science” is magic and will convict at the drop of a hat at the sight of an “expert” wheeled out by “the authorities.” You’re pissing in the wind.

  4. My wife and I took programming classes back in the 1970s and both saw a little poem in the computer rooms we had to go to in order to do homework assignments. I suspect anyone else who goes that far back has seen it as well. It always comes up when so-called AI gathers headlines.

    I really hate this damned machine
    I wish that they would sell it
    It never does do what I want
    Only what I tell it

    That’s the essence of AI. It only does what it has been told to do. They’re exceptionally bad at image recognition. 35-ish years ago, an optics prof told our class something like “they trained the best image recognition AI to recognize a dog. When they showed it a bar stool from a certain angle, the AI called it a dog. A puppy old enough to walk won’t make that mistake.” A few years ago, they showed Google’s Tensorflow-powered, open-source Inception model a picture of a gray tabby cat with a few screwed up pixels. The high-power AI said it was a bowl of guacamole. Roughly 30 years of AI research between the two examples. Something fundamental, do ya think?

    I have to admire the Hype Cycle. The general public seems to have so much respect for AI. I’d guess that respect for AI is inversely proportional to programming experience.

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