The analysis of one of the documents released by Edward Snowden on Wikileaks has revealed a startling fact. The SKYNET program of the NSA that works on metadata instead of human intelligence to identify and target terrorists could actually be flawed.
According to a data scientist Patrick Ball with the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, in a testimony he gave to the war crimes tribunal is that the manner in which SKYNET operates is wrought with inaccuracies and inefficient manner.
How does the SKYNET work?
SKYNET uses computer algorithm to analyse the activities of the people who the NSA thinks could be the potential dangers. It collates the data from various sources such as the movements and actions of the people, their travel records, telephone records conversation and other sources of data. It is entirely raw data with little or no analytical information readily available. The SKYNET then analysis this raw data, churns it, traces the specific patterns in the algorithm and then matches the conclusions with the existing information regarding algorithms that classify the analysed persons into potential threats or innocuous persons.
This data is then fed to the drones that attack those who are classified as potential terrorists by this algorithm. Hence, practically there is no human judgement or analysis involved here. Even the attacks are carried out by unmanned drones that simply rely on the instructions based on the information supplied by the SKYNET. The system works just like a Big Data analytical application with the only difference is that the commercial applications are meant to sell products to the customers and any mismatch in profiling does not lead to killing them.
The system is highly flawed as revealed by these documents. These drone attacks have killed between 2500 to 4000 people in Pakistan in the last 12 years. It is now revealed that the data interpretation tagging people as terrorists was flawed meaning that there could be several innocent persons who could have been killed by these drone attacks.
This number can run into thousands. The program considered them as extremists making them a target for the drone attacks.