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Living Intelligence System

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

My twitteramigo @ckras has put your tax dollars to work attempting to shatter the stovepipes of analytical excellence in the IC.

And it is pretty cool…..notice how issues of lines of authority and reliability of information are facilitated and made infinitely more efficient with off the shelf Web 2.0.


The nice thing about this project of @ckras is that his model can be generalized to any large organization or system where bureaucratic complexity and the territoriality of guarding tiny empires is gumming up the timely flow of information into the right hands.

Google’s DARPA of Foreign Policy Cometh?

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Interesting. I suggested something like this years ago.

….What the USG desperately needs is a national security equivalent to DARPA that can both engage in deep thinking and have the freedom to run pilot programs to enhance America’s strategic influence that can later be expanded by our traditional power bureaucracies. This would be far more than a just a federally funded think tank – RAND, Brookings, Hoover , Heritage, AEI, CATO, CFR, Carnegie, CSIS and others all do a fine job of policy analysis. They also give statesmen a productive place to hang their hat as an alternative to whoring themselves out as corporate or ideological lobbyists. Another one of those is not what the times require.

What I’m proposing is a lot closer to a cross between a soft-power version of the Institute for Advanced Studies and a clandestine service – one with the objective of developing innovative programs to maximize the influence of American values and promote “Connectivity ” in nations mired in the endemic, isolated, misery of the “Gap”. This is not what the USG normally does. The bias of State and Defense, State in particular, when dealing with foreign policy questions tend to be orientated toward day to day, tactical, crisis management….

Google appears to be trodding down that very path:

Google Grabs State Dept. Star Jared Cohen for Foreign Policy “Think/Do Tank”

Jared Cohen joined Google last week as the director of its newly created Google Ideas “think/do tank”-an entity whose objective is to dream up and try out ideas that address the challenges of counterterrorism, counterradicalism, and nonproliferation, as well as innovations for development and citizen empowerment. He has also landed a side gig as an adjunct fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, focusing on innovation, technology, and statecraft.

Google has now hired Cohen to set up Google Ideas, which will look for innovative approaches to some of the stickiest international issues of the day. Out of his New York office, Cohen will, he told Foreign Policy, seek to “[build] teams of stakeholders with different resources and perspectives to troubleshoot challenges.” As for why he decided to give this a shot in the private sector, rather than in the public sphere, to which these issues have traditionally belonged, Cohen says there are “things the private sector can do that the U.S. government can’t do.”

The big thing is the resources and the capabilities. There are not a couple hundred [computer] engineers in the State Department that can build things; that’s just not what government does. You don’t necessarily have some of the financial resources to put behind these things. It’s really hard to bring talented young people in; there are not a lot mechanisms to do it. [And] on some topics, it’s very sensitive for government to be the one doing this.

During the Cold War, DARPA was a great success, as government bureaucracies go, partly because secrecy freed it from the normal political and bean counting constraints. The other reason was that DARPA’s focus was primarily upon engineering types of problems. Technically difficult, innovative and exploratory problems to be certain, but generally not the sort of socially constructed or influenced “wicked problems“. Or “intractable ones” ( DARPA delved into technical problems that were, due to the technological level of that earlier era, also intractable, but that is still a different kettle of fish from socioeconomic, perceptually intractable, problems). It would seem that Google Ideas will be tackling the harder set of problems to solve.

Google Ideas is an entity to watch but all the observation will be detrimental to the accomplishment of it’s mission, as the nature of social wicked problems carry with them vested interests determined to defend the dysfunctional status quo from which they derive benefits. In some scenarios, with extreme violence. In others, with political pressure. There’s a reason these problems in the human realm go unsolved – sweet reason and pilot program rational incentives might not appeal to leaders of La Familia or Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Google might also need a formidible Google PMC.

Hat tip to Larry Dunbar.

Guest post: Cameron on Joan Rivers, Terrorists & Inflight Catering

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Charles Cameron, my regular guest blogger, is the former Senior Analyst with The Arlington Instituteand Principal Researcher with the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University. He specializes in forensic theology, with a deep interest in millennial, eschatological and apocalyptic religious sects of all stripes.

Joan Rivers, terrorists and inflight catering

by Charles Cameron

Don’t you love it when the internet provides us with what appears to be reliable (albeit counterintuitive) answers to rhetorical questions? As when Joan Rivers asks about terrorist dietary restrictions on David Letterman:

Joan in the subject of a new documentary, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”. Dave calls the film a wonderful, compelling documentary and something she should be very proud of. Joan recently had some trouble at a Costa Rica airport. She uses an alias on her passport, Joan Rosenberg, her married name, when she travels. The airport security was suspicious. Joan was detained at the airport for 24 hours while everyone she was with went on ahead. It was ridiculous. “What terrorist would take the name ‘Rosenberg’?” Joan wonders. She continued, “Do I look like a terrorist? Does a terrorist order a kosher meal?” Late Show with David Letterman, Show #3345, July 22, 2010

…and the answer is just a quick google away in Ha’aretz:

Matiri’s instruction manual for intelligence agents is part of a series of documents he has written. These include pointers on explosives, building an organization and recruiting agents. There are also explanations about Islam’s enemies. In his writings, Matiri comes across as someone who knows what he is talking about. He cites studies and conclusions from the experiences of other intelligence agencies, and he discusses methods used by Al-Qaida. … Matiri covers a variety of topics in the 42 pages of his instruction manual, among them advice on how the religious spy can get out of uncomfortable situations. He suggests that “Jewish meals” be ordered on airline flights – kosher meals that do not contain pork. Al-Qaida’s mother of all spy manuals, Ha’aretz, May 30, 2010

Surfing the Google Wave

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Thanks to the kind invitation of S. Anthony Iannarino, I have been on the much vaunted, often coveted,  Google Wave beta app ( I do not have any invites yet, sorry ) which mashes up email, realtime transparent instant messaging, other embedded web 2.0 apps and a wiki-like functionality. The interface looks like this ( from O’Reilly Radarwho can explain Google Wave far better than I can:

What is it like?

First, for me, it’s a small handful of my blogcircle ( most of who are techies) milling about chatting, trying to figure out the functionality. The champ so far is Sean Meade, who is Tom Barnett’s webmaster and also the web editor for ARES; Sean assembled a tutorial “wave” for the rest of us that I have just begun to plod through. It is not easy to find other googlewavers which is why people are posting calls on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

Secondly, this is a very unfinished symphony of a beta – at least compared to prior beta experiences I’ve had. Sliderocket, by comparison was very smooth and probably 95 % ready when I received a beta account while with Google Wave I’d anticipate significant differences before it becomes generally available. As it is going to be open source, the potential creativity for future apps is vast.

Cool, interesting, not entirely sure how I will eventually use it on a regular basis yet.

Selil Blog: Google is Evil

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Sam wages a different kind of cyberwar:

Evil Google: What you don’t know just might hurt you

Google as a company has a policy”You can make money without doing evil“, but the question is with a corner on the search market of the Internet and rolling out a variety of tools is that motto even possible to uphold. In a dictatorial and autocratic world where the span of the Internet crosses international borders can Google even claim to be “nice”.

To make our case that you may be in grave jeopardy up to and including national security consider this. What if the government bound by law not to gather personal information about citizens (Privacy Act 1974 could instead just purchase a large volume of information about citizens. Just such a deal was made by the government to purchase what it could not gather from ChoicePoint. Of course, ChoicePoint is the company that also sold records and personal identification information to Nigerian scam artists. Also, ChoicePoint is not above purportedly acting in an illegal manner as a corporation. We as individuals though think we have nothing to hide. That might be the case if the rest of the world was as ethical as we think we are.

And Sam has more:

….When challenged by this argument the luddites among us will of course say they do not even use GMAIL so therefore they are safe from the minions and Googliers. Of course they are right up until Google actually started taking pictures in our back yards. There is nothing like having our private lives instantiated on the web for the entire world to peruse.  You may have no expectation of privacy, but the recording of events, without your knowledge is a violation of your privacy. An argument that can be fought by different nations from different cultures. Do not worry though. Google was more than willing to violate peoples property rights to impact their privacy rights as they sought to record things they should not have had access too. One aspect is that regardless of how you feel about the technologies privacy aspects these same tools can be used by terrorists to impact national security . Of course when you have a satellite partially purchased by and used to assist the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Of course Google Earth can look down on our back yards behind our fences we erect for privacy to peer into our lives without our knowledge .

Read the rest here.

With governmental units trying to find all kinds of reasons to acquire records our DNA, we may soon see our own unique genomic code being used in massive databases to the financial benefit everyone else who can pay for the aggregation of data and to our own disadvantage. Corporations and government bureaucrats using such information (or misusing it, leaking it, altering it, deleting some of it) to make life-altering decisions for individuals or groups, most likely in secret, without notification or review. Can’t happen? Think about the shenanigans that can be inflicted (and are) upon critics and political opponents with the data already at the government’s disposal by vindictive idiots with access .

Does that worry you ?

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