WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As the pace of terrorism accelerates agencies around the world are trying to find the needles in the data haystack that can help them predict attacks before they happen.
In the movie Fast and the Furious 7 movie a secretive US government agency created a program called “God’s Eye” that could watch everything in real time, but compared to some of the latest developments in the world of pre-crime fighting even that technology looks quaint and old fashioned. Take, for example, DARPA’s program to create an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can “monitor the whole world for threats,” or BAE’s AI that can scour the dark web and predict cyber attacks before they happen, or the UK government’s latest program called the “Unblinking Eye” that hopes to use AI and big data to predict terror attacks, invasions, and wars at a global scale.
By leveraging some of the latest technologies and thinking the UK government is now spending millions of pounds on the project that uses cutting edge identification systems to track and monitor individuals who are deemed a security threat.
The cutting edge system, which echoes scenes from science fiction film Minority Report, where police used psychic technology to arrest murderers before they act “will analyse human behaviour and make appropriate decisions to help defend the UK from attack” say officials, while trying to “avoid dystopia.”
Needless to say the Unblinking Eye will filter and analyse data at rapid speeds, and will need to evaluate, predict and measure risks and probability outcomes within seconds, and according to Sun newspaper, computer specialists and engineers have been invited to work on the project with an initial fund of around £5million. Meanwhile, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) have opened up a competition to find experts who could help “unlock the potential” to predict human behaviour from vast amounts of data they could upload online.
The open-source initiative is open to all and will run until 2020, beginning with a series of workshops that will also act as a selection process and a place where experts can discuss the legal, ethical and moral implications of such a technology.
Officials admit that finding predictors in such large quantities of data will be “like finding a needle in a giant haystack” – but they believe that with modern computer wizardry it can be done.
A spokesman for Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), who’s overseeing the cross-government project, said: “There are huge amounts of data out there which give clues as to how we behave, as individuals, in groups and as a wider population. There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data uploaded every day and we are searching for a way to use it to predict people’s behaviour, not just here in the UK, but among our adversaries as well.”
The government also believes the technology could help the British Army when in conflict, and want to build an international system that could predict attacks and invasions on a global scale.
The DASA spokesman continued: “It will enable us to predict events and make interventions to prevent problems arising in the first place, and at the most basic level, it should improve people’s judgements and help them with their decision-making process. It could, for example, help a commanding officer to make an informed decision to deploy or intervene in some way while out on the battlefield, but this technology takes years to develop and we are looking to accelerate as rapidly as we can.”