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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "DARPA"

Nat Wei: How the internet could have been used to protect lives and livelihoods during this crisis. And how we can do better.

Lord Wei is a Conservative member of the House of Lords. He is a co-founder of Teach First, a social entrepreneur, and a former government adviser.

Dominic Cummings famously admires America’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and rightly has sought to create an equivalent organisation here in the UK.

But one not always recognised fact is that DARPA was instrumental to the creation of the internet, which in turn was based on technologies designed to enable global military communications to function even in the face of global catastrophes, such as nuclear war – or indeed pandemics.

We have Paul Baran, an engineer at RAND in the 1960s, to thank for getting the wheels in motion:

“Baran cooked up a system that could divide communications into tiny pieces and use distributed network “nodes” to pass these pieces around. If one node was knocked out, the others could pick up the slack. In 1964, he published a paper on this system – entitled “On Distributed Communications” – and a few years later, it would play into the development of the ARPAnet, the research network that would eventually morph into the modern internet.”

We need to count our blessings that the pandemic, at least in the West, has occurred at a time of widespread fixed and mobile access to the internet, with video calling and conferencing widespread, save in some rural areas.

Millions of families and individuals are getting (further) acquainted with the likes of zoom, houseparty, and their local and national online supermarket websites – and beyond this we are seeing an explosion of online workout sessions, church services and content, and health and education consultations and learning.

But we could have gone even further by now, and lessened the impact of this crisis to our society and particularly to livelihoods.

First, in business, we could have innovated further to enable all our local shops to have delivery services, and the ability to beam content to draw in virtual as well as physical footfall, and even enable automation and remote displays to serve the public even if one is forced to have staff work from home or elsewhere, whilst training up all staff to do better paid work managing and using the machines brought in.

Second, we could have designed our buildings to be even more intelligent than they are now, to protect us from threats such as pandemics, to have anti-viral sanitation built into their operations whether through air conditioning systems, far UV lighting, and in the way spaces are laid out – and we could have focused more on building offsite, in better controlled environments, rather than building as we always have done, largely to save costs.

Third, we could have applied the design of the internet to the way government works, what back in the day Big Society meant for me (not primarily as was widely reported, a way of harnessing volunteers, important and awe-inspiring as the voluntary response has been). This pandemic has shown the centralised government decision making and operations can be clunky, slow, and not always aware fast enough of changing situations which are the norm now in our volatile world – despite the heroic efforts of our leaders and frontline workers.

Fourth, our healthcare systems clearly need to be less centralised in future, since hospitals themselves are a source of infection. More emphasis could have been put on local delivery of services, drugs, and even training up patients and those caring for them to provide treatment using mobile medical equipment and remote consultation. Never again must we be in a race against time to prevent hospitals running out of beds, or put pressure on them to free up beds, nor must we ration testing in future, but make testing the norm even after this pandemic.

Fifth, our financial and business sectors also, for all the innovation in fintech and e-commerce, could have been even further advanced. In future there must be ways for governments and the Bank of England to be able to directly wire funds to citizens and businesses with real time information flowing back and forth. Instead we have been forced to use systems that were not designed for the situation we are in, to try to alleviate quickly the pressure on millions of people.

And, finally, as someone who works in Parliament, which laudably has fought to maintain face to face contact over centuries, we too need to look at how the internet can be harnessed to enable more remote debating, amending, and voting when necessary, as well as to engage the public beyond the usual lobby groups, and for the Lords at least to be like a legislative Wikipedia, in which we pull together to create laws that are just, measured, and which work on the ground.

Why, you might ask, have we not pursued a more aggressive application of the internet and its decentralised approach to our society, to better prepare for situations like this? Well, there are lots of reasons and we will no doubt uncover more over the coming years. Partly it is because we did not think a pandemic would happen (at least not in the way it has). Partly because of cost. Partly because change is hard. And partly because most of the money was focused more on funding Facebook, and Netflix, rather than the above. We basically got distracted.

Our local music school has had to shut recently, like many organisations. It turns out that the tutors could mostly carry on and make a living from one to one tuition online, but the school itself was sustained from group sessions, which have stopped.

I checked online, and up until a few years ago there was great software being worked on to enable live jam sessions, where multiple musicians could play together remotely. But many of the businesses and startups working on this ran out of funds for lack of interest.

Amidst the tragedy and death unfolding, and huge pressures on the NHS ,whose staff are heroes who we must protect and backup; and amidst the financial earthquakes reverberating around the world, we need as a nation and as a world, to make a bold decision to rebuild after this pandemic has peaked – harnessing all that is good about how the internet works – to rise out of the ruins of our old way of life and build a new, more resilient one.

And we need to remember the internet is a gift from above that we must not waste again, but harness it and the approach to design inherent in it, to allow us to weather and overcome other future shocks with both humility and strength.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Eyes a New Program to Detect Warning Signs of Mass Murder Among the Mentally Ill. But How Slippery’s That Slope?

Westlake Legal Group camera-4277525_1280-620x413 Trump Eyes a New Program to Detect Warning Signs of Mass Murder Among the Mentally Ill. But How Slippery’s That Slope? white house washington D.C. Uncategorized safehome mental illness mental health mass shootings healthcare harpa Guns gun control geoffrey ling Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump DARPA crime bob wright Allow Media Exception



The Trump administration is peering into a proposal wresting mental illness’s role in mass shootings.

During a speech following the El Paso and Dayton murders, the President touted “reform[ing] our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence, and mak[ing] sure those people not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement.”

The Commander-in-Chief pointed to a comparative irrelevancy of firepower when it comes to the slaying of innocents:

“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

As reported by The Washington Post, now the White House is contemplating the creation of a new agency to study how such atrocities may be averted via the signs of mental disturbance:

The White House is considering a controversial proposal to study whether mass shootings could be prevented by monitoring mentally ill people for small changes that might foretell violence.

Former NBC chairman Bob Wright, a longtime friend and associate of President Trump’s, has briefed top officials, including the President, the Vice President and Ivanka Trump, on a proposal to create a new research arm called the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) to come up with out-of-the-box ways to tackle health problems, much like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) does for the military, according to several people who have been briefed.

The Daily Wire notes that a three-page proposal — sent to Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar among other officials — rolled out a plan called “SAFEHOME” (Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes). The initiative would determine how technology could pinpoint warning signs. Cell phone data would be included in that implementation.

For those interested in the slipperiness of a slope, the proposition emphasizes that participation would be on a volunteer basis. There would, as stated, be no “profiling of any kind.”

How many would-be murderers would say, “You’re right; I’m probably gonna try to kill everybody; here’s my consent so you can stop me”?

Among the mentally ill, there surely might be some; but a lot?

As the Post relayed, Geoffrey Ling — HARPA’s lead researcher — defended the program with maybe not the most convincing sales pitch:

“To those who say this is a half-baked idea, I would say, ‘What’s your idea? What are you doing about this? … The worst you can do is fail, and failing is where we are already. You need to find where the edge is so you can push on that edge.”

The FBI indicates a quarter of mass shooters have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

So we’d be looking at volunteers among that 25%, and then the government’s ability to effectively discern and extinguish impending evil?

How slick is that incline again?

What are your thoughts on the program? Let us all know in the Comments section.



See 3 more pieces from me:

A Television Icon Laments America’s Divide, But There’s A Greater Lesson – A Forgotten One We Learned Long Ago

Pioneer David Hogg Changes His Tune – The Cause Of Violence In America Is No Longer Guns

The NRA Pulls No Punches In Its Strike Against Walmart’s New Anti-Gun Policy

Find all my RedState work here.

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The post Trump Eyes a New Program to Detect Warning Signs of Mass Murder Among the Mentally Ill. But How Slippery’s That Slope? appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group camera-4277525_1280-300x200 Trump Eyes a New Program to Detect Warning Signs of Mass Murder Among the Mentally Ill. But How Slippery’s That Slope? white house washington D.C. Uncategorized safehome mental illness mental health mass shootings healthcare harpa Guns gun control geoffrey ling Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump DARPA crime bob wright Allow Media Exception  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

U.S. military looking to fight #fakenews

Westlake Legal Group SemaFor U.S. military looking to fight #fakenews The Blog First Amendment DARPA #FakeNews

The next war for the U.S. military will involve destroying #fakenews. DARPA’s plan involves a new program called Semantic Forensics which involves using technologies to automatically find and label fake text, audio, images, and video in hopes of keeping “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks” from ever happening. DARPA’s Broad Agency Announcement documents include this table looking at how they believe the program will work.

Westlake Legal Group SemaFora U.S. military looking to fight #fakenews The Blog First Amendment DARPA #FakeNews

It appears the government will be using four Technical Areas to develop the SemaFor program.

The first TA puts together the algorithms used to detect, attribute, and characterize falsified news. DARPA’s BAA includes asking the algorithms to “analyze the content of media assets with respect to a purported source to determine if the purported source is correct.” The main goal is looking at media asset content to decided if it falsified with malicious intent “to significantly alter its tone, polarization, content, or real-world impact.”

The second TA will take TA1’s algorithms and develop a single method or score to detect falsified news. The goal for TA2’s algorithms is to automatically disseminate which media reports need to be examined by an analyst to determine whether it’s real or fake.

“This work will support TA2’s development of algorithms that leverage scores and evidence from the TA1 performers to prioritize falsified media for human review,” the author of DARPA’s BAA stresses while also noting TA2 will work with hackers to make sure the system is as secure as possible. “Such prioritization is critical for scaling up to real-world volumes of media.”

It’s TA3’s work which is the most interesting. This group appears to be the primary beta testers and evaluators of the SemaFor project by testing the algorithms with humans and fake news and social media posts. They’ll collect news and social media posts, then falsify a portion of the collected information. It will be TA3 which creates the data to test against humans and looks at their responses.

“News articles should span a range of local, national, and international events with a particular focus on stories where falsification could have significant real-world impact,” DARPA’s description of the project states while also asking for context including URLs, author, and media outlet. “Social media assets should also focus on local, national, and international events where falsification could have a significant real-world impact…All collected or falsified assets should be multi-modal, containing at least two media modalities. TA3 proposers should describe the content their collection and falsification strategies will focus on, and how that content will inform the evaluation design.”

TA3 will also try to prevent any knowledge of what’s been falsified from leaking to the outside.

TA4 is more making sure the SemaFor project is ready for the present and the future, plus troubleshooting. The crews will come up with potential problems and work with TA2 and 3 on fixing the issues.

“TA4 performers will deliver [state-of-the-art] challenges (and supporting threat models if relevant) to DARPA and TA3 starting at month 4 of the program and then at least every 6 months following for the duration of the program,” DARPA’s proposal states while noting TA4 will make sure other groups have a clear understanding of SemaFor issues. “Support for the hackathons will involve working with TA3 to curate additional generated or manipulated media for the challenge problems. If existing media is not sufficient to support the challenge, TA4 will work with TA3 to generate new media to support the challenge.”

The curious part will be TA4’s study of how humans decipher fake news along with their response to it. One would guess the work will probably involve looking at the role of confirmation bias within news reading or viewing and how people respond to learning if something is real or fake. It will also look at how a computer program could be used to help detect fake news.

The justification for the DARPA SemaFor program is to make sure humans can spot fake news quicker. DARPA is rather confident SemaFor will work because it would force those who create fake news to be perfect. “A comprehensive suite of semantic inconsistency detectors would dramatically increase the burden on media falsifiers, requiring the creators of falsified media to get every semantic detail correct, while defenders only need to find one, or a very few, inconsistencies.”

Skepticism remains. Syracuse University professor Jennifer Grygiel seemed to tell Bloomberg the idea was sound but wanted Congress to pass legislative oversight. She noted social media was being used to influence elections and found it interesting DARPA was looking at the issue. Grygiel appears to be in favor of social media regulation by saying, “Educating the public on media literacy, along with legislation, is what is important.”

She has a point on public education, but there are still other issues worth investigating. The chief question is who determines what news is fit to air or broadcast? The common notion is news entities should determine what stories end up published. Yet, multiple different newsgroups can take different angles on a story as is their wont. What Fox News may see as an important detail in a story, CNN or MSNBC may not. The same goes for local or online entities covering stories or getting quotes from people who may have witnessed an event. Sometimes ‘facts’ end up changing due to the circumstances of the event or the information given out. Even fact check websites have bias hence why so many of them exist.

The bigger question is whether a government computer program should be used to help people ‘determine’ what’s real or not. Facebook and Twitter’s algorithms are awful partially due to the agenda of those who work in their halls. It’s why alternatives exist. Doesn’t the government also have an agenda and narrative? Is it not full of individuals who may decide to follow policy or not?

This must be considered before trusting a government-created computer program to decide what’s fit to print, view, or post and what’s not.

The post U.S. military looking to fight #fakenews appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group SemaFor-300x144 U.S. military looking to fight #fakenews The Blog First Amendment DARPA #FakeNews  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com