Terrorism and Big Data: A Solution?

August 18, 2022

I recall hearing that a person allegedly named Ayman al-Zawahiri was a terrorist and, thus, became a target for the US. (I thought an entity named Ayman al-Zawahiri had been terminated on one, maybe two previous occasions. But maybe not. Since that action, I have noted a number of terrorism related articles. One that caught my attention was “How Big Data Is Helping Fight Terrorism?” The article contains a shopping list of intelware functions. These types of content types and their applicability to deterring terrorism can, for some, be difficult to find. Here are the items on the list presented in the article. For definitions of leach function, please, consult the original source:

  1. Processing test, audio, and video inputs. The idea is that intelware can do this work more quickly than officers and analysts.
  2. Identifying money laundering activities. The gist of this function is that intelware can detect actions and patterns more quickly and effectively than investigators.
  3. Pattern identification. The idea I think is that smart software can extract from large data sets sequences or connected events better than a person sitting in a cube in a government office.
  4. AI and machine learning. The author is confident that smart software can improve, learn, and operate in a more effective way than a task force.
  5. Risk projects. Smart software can identify that doing A presents a greater likelihood of taking place than B.

Stepping back from this list, it is clear to me that the hype, the PR, and the jargon of intelware has diffused outside of specialist circles and been recycled in a particularly snappy way. From my point of view, this article is quite different from the information my team and I will present at an upcoming law enforcement conference in mid September. The jazz and zing of marketers has obscured a number of very important points about what intelware can and cannot do. In fact, there are more cannots than many want to accept.

Stephen E Arnold, August 18, 2022


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