By identity on Jan 19, 2010
Semantics: “The study of meaning”
This morning I read a thought-provoking article by my associate Mark Montgomery entitled “Systemic failures, by design.” The article proposes that in many high-profile cases, catastrophes could have been averted or moderated if appropriate semantic-based analysis and action had been taken, based on data that existed prior to the event:
Over the course of the past dozen years the U.S. has experienced a series of dangerous and costly systemic failures throughout our security and regulatory framework. The unfettered bubble in technology, missed opportunities to prevent 9/11—leading to two ongoing wars, the tragic response to Katrina, the largest financial crisis in history, the Fort Hood massacre, and the ‘underwear bomber’ incident on Christmas Day all share one commonality.
In each of these cases, data had been collected by U.S. government agencies that contained a high probability of either entirely preventing or substantially mitigating each event, if only the information had been recognized and acted upon within the window of time allowed by circumstances. In case after case, repeated warnings by recognized experts, sourced internally and externally, were ignored or suppressed.
In the past few months, I blogged a couple of times about the use of data analytics with Digital Identity:
In his address at Digital ID World, Jeff Jonas’ discussion about using data analytics to discover space-time-travel characteristics of individuals was both challenging and disturbing. He proposed that advanced analytic techniques could be effectively used to pinpoint the identities of people of interest based on patterns of use of mobile phones and other data sources readily available today.
While there is certainly danger of loss of freedom to ordinary citizens due to government surveillance, it is apparent that a much better job of identifying and acting upon potential threats and the identities of people involved is quite possible if existing data, lawfully acquired, is more effectively analyzed in meaningful (aka semantic) ways.