Friday, October 16, 2009

Sucking Data for God and Country

They’re building it in Utah, a giant cyber omphalos turning, turning like a black hole, sucking in every bit of datum drifting in the atmosphere, every key stroke, every web site visited, every number touched on the pad of a cell phone, everything goes into it where it is sorted, collated, listed, classified, analyzed and stored.

It’s the National Security Agency’s (NSA) all new, $2 billion data collection storage center being built in the Utah’s high desert. When it is finished, its computers will be capable of storing the equivalent of one septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of documents.

If you convert a trillion it seconds of time, it works out to 37,000 years. You’re welcome to convert a septillion into years, if you’d like.

There is an irony at work here. The NSC is choking on its own data. “The agency first learned of the September 11 attacks on $300 television sets tuned to CNN, not its billion-dollar eavesdropping satellites tuned to al-Qaeda.” There was an outburst of anger because the dots warning of the impending attack were on the page and the NSC never connected them.

Hello! How do you connect five dots on a page that consists of ten thousand dots? Well, the NSC claims it now has “super computers running complex algorithmic programs to determine who among us may be—or may one day become—a terrorist.”

High priests use to read the entrails of a bull in an attempt to bring order and predictability to a chaotic universe. Now our high priests use complex algorithmic programs. Given the NSC’s track record, both methodologies have an equal chance of success.

And, how do you determine who might “one day” become a terrorist? Would angry dissent be enough to so classify you? If so, click out of this site now! Big Brother is recording your presence.

Here we see an example of new-age oppression. It is no longer driven by ideology or a power-hungry madman. Now, sheer bureaucratic momentum drives it. It is blind and without direction, in motion simply because it’s in motion, and the sheer weight of its forward thrust makes it impossible to stop.

The NSC isn’t building its Utah center to keep us safe from terrorism. It isn’t even building it to spy on American citizens. It’s building it simply because it can. There’s no other rationale for it. It’s a fallacious logic: information is power; the more information you have, the more powerful you are. (Food is good for you, but too much food will kill you, a lesson the NSC has yet to learn).

The average citizen feels helpless in the face of this bureaucratic Blob. My sister emailed me yesterday and the NSC knows that she mentioned our brother just returned from Iraq. Will one of the NSC’s supercomputers pick up the word “Iraq” and will my sister and I end up on a list? It’s thinking that borders on paranoia, but what we don’t understand worries us, as well it should.

It is doubtful the NSC will ever sink beneath the weight of the data it collects. However, it is possible it will collapse because it runs out of electricity. One of the reasons for building the Utah center (along with another one in Texas) is because its center at Ft. Meade in Maryland pulls so much electricity it’s beginning to brow out. The electric bill, to date, for all this data collecting is a cool $70 million a year (our tax dollars at work). Its Utah center will consume enough electricity to power Salt Lake City.

All we need do is pull the plug and it’s out of business.

If only we had a brave leader…


david m said...

My brother called me few weeks back;one nephew is back from Iraq and one was on his way back from Afganistan. Maybe I'll get to meet you in person at the detention center.

Case Wagenvoord said...

It might be a good place to start a revolution.

TAO Walker said...

Must be the threatening presence of "detention centers" keeping theamericanpeople herd of homo domesticus from figuring out just how effectively CONfined to the "global" CONtraption they are already. Until they realize it is the carefully engineered poverty of the very language they use daily trying in-vain to accurately describe their predicament to one another that is the principal agency for keeping them all enmeshed in its toils, the captive peoples will remain imprisoned by their own CONceits.

Anyway, the entire damned command-and-CONtrol apparatus is kid-stuff. The proof is in the total absence of adult Human Beings among its 'general population.'


Case Wagenvoord said...

Orwell nailed it. Unfortunately, the wrong people read him.

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