Why Ghosts in the Machine Should Remain Ghosts

Walter Haydock recently posted a proposal that the FBI build and deploy its own troll army, social media bots that he refers to as Artificial Intelligence Targeting Personas (AITPs). These would automatically engage with people, looking for evidence of radicalization and violent tendencies, and report back to a human if such evidence was discovered. According to Haydock, the AITPs would save FBI time and resources, adding efficiency to terrorist investigations. On first glance, the idea sounds as if it might have merit. But there are three problems that make this proposal highly unsound. First, we don’t really understand how these programs work. And that means that we are in the well-known computer situation of GIGO: garbage in, garbage out. Second, the effort would only have merit if the data on which the machine…


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