[Updated on January 18: the excellent discussion of William Binney about what went wrong at the the NSA: http://www.alexaobrien.com/secondsight/wb/binney.html which explains it much better and in more detail than I could in Lect3A November last year. The crux was all about finding “patterns” by correlation and only then zoom in to people if necessary]
[Updated version: December 24] Here are my slides you can download: Lect3A NSA OSDC2014 JvTill4f
[Updated on Januari 7, 2016 : Binney testifies about the intended UK snooping bill, and reapeat the points I have made in this lecture L3A. See: Former NSA official tells UK politicians mass surveillance risks citizen safety: http://bit.ly/1TEROQ4 Crux: the security services should be looking at specific patterns of cooperation instead of persons]
Warning: most of this lecture is NOT on the slides, but was said during the presentation. So you can see that on the videorecording at the OSDC2014 in Conference in Australia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgZUUnY-F4E
And even then, there are a few essential pieces of information I have prepared. but where not possible to present in 30 minutes.
For instance the CRUX of what IMHO went wrong at the NSA has not been presented during the speech due to time limitation of the lecture. But here it is:
[ The NSA generals and GCHQ directors walked with open eyes and full conscience into the trap of Ashby’s Law (the Law of Requisite Variety). That control theory law, derived and defined by scientist Ross Ashby is a brick wall many nation states (Habsburg Empire, USSR, DDR, Chile, USA) have run into, during sometimes hundreds of years of decline : ‘If you want to control a part of Reality, your Model of that Reality must be at least as complex as the part of reality you want to control’.
The consequence of this Law was for instance that there where more civil servants in the Dept of Agriculture of the USSR than there where farmers they wanted to control. Very often governments and their controlaholic regimes resort to simplifying reality, which result in arresting citizens and sometimes even killing them. Because these persons are too complicated to map in the ‘cleaned’ bureaucratic State Model.
To do the controlling the NSA has to replicate the total world in realtime in their computer model!! The whistleblowers I read about and spoke to had in fact suggested to only filter the massive incoming flow of surveillance data, to extract certain patterns, and NOT STORE IT or keep files updated about all individual citizens. The generals decided to do that total storage We already see the first symptoms by USA and the five eyes countries of ‘simplification’ by law enforcement and legal system that perform arrests, judgement and jailing based on secret info provided by the NSA. Many other things are already going wrong in conflict with the Constitution and Human Rights. Civilisation is only a thin layer, can be gone in minutes.
The only remedy to this Ashby’s Law complexity syndrome is to decide on top levels to humble with their ‘wish to control’ hubris: not all of the world in real time and to segment the world in autonomous local control systems each with their own independent Models and distributed authority, P2P coupled. ]
So, if you are interested, you can invite me to lecture and give the whole story (about one hour).
Jaap van Tlll, Connectivist and Btwiener.
PS 1. Text of an interview (dd. Nov 12) with William Binney, mathematician and once CTO of NSA, who was sidetracked for disagreeing with the directors about the false direction they wanted to take. consortiumnews.com/2014/11/12/plumbing-the-depths-of-nsas-spying This and other interviews of whistleblowers support what I have presented and written in this blog.
PS 2. See also my earlier blogs about this subject: