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Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A problem for data scientists

If flash mobs or riots (like the ones in London) are organized using Twitter, Facebook, BlackBerry and SMS, won't it be very easy to catch the people responsible? Not only are the organizers / initiators easy to track down, but with geolocation (GPS or cell tower) and a court order it would be easy to determine whether any particular individual had participated. Perhaps current privacy laws prevent that data from being stored, but we can easily modify the laws if necessary.

Where are those law enforcement data scientists when you need them? :-)

27 comments:

MtMoru said...

"Where are those law enforcement data scientists when you need them? :-)"

Fobbing off bespoke derivatives to pension funds?

God bless England's riots. It would be more effective if they stormed the Houses in session and cut off Cameron's head.

Seth said...

It was a small, but angry and near-desperate minority of *Parliament* -- after considerable badgering by the most successful Parliamentary military leader, Cromwell -- that beheaded Charles I.   Disorderly mobs don't get far in the revolution business.

Maybe Labour will get its act together and start speaking for something other than corporate Britain.  Stranger things have happened. 

Jake said...

"Disorderly mobs don't get far in the revolution business."

coughfrenchrevolutioncoughreignofterrorcoughrussianrevolutioncoughcough

man, oughta get this cough checked out... sorry.

Anyway, I was saying that's an interesting point you made :)

Jake said...

"Perhaps current privacy laws prevent that data from being stored, but we can easily modify the laws if necessary."
"easily", eh? Not likely. In any case, I'm glad people like you don't run things :)
(That's something a compliment.)

MtMoru said...

Suppose these people are scum. Why are they scum? Conservatives think, though never say publicly, that genes are the reason. OK, so why are these people at all? Why were they ever born?

But politicians won't ask these questions. Both left and right will prescribe morality.

botti said...

Was Enoch Powell the brightest UK politician in the 20th century? It's a shame he isn't around to comment on the riots.

"He was brilliant. Everyone said that, even those who loathed his ideas. Few doubted the story that he was reading Greek at five, coached by his mother, a schoolteacher. Young Enoch won a free place to Trinity College, Cambridge, took prize after prize in classical studies and, of course, gained a first. He took no part in the social life of the university, which, for many students, was the whole point of being there. A fellow politician in later life remarked that there was something mechanical about the way Enoch Powell studied. He apparently learnt German without visiting Germany to pick up its idioms, and the result sounded wooden, though the syntax was flawless.

Still, at 25 he held the chair of Greek at Sydney University, and so became the youngest professor in what was then the British empire (and rather cross that Friedrich Nietzsche, whose philosophic works he admired, had become a professor at an even earlier age). His war service was equally remarkable: wearing “the king’s coat”, as he put it, he was the only British soldier to rise from private to brigadier (although he never saw combat). He added systematically to his store of languages, among them Hebrew, which he learnt at 70 to help his studies of the Bible."

http://www.economist.com/node/113952

5371 said...

Alternatively, PC Plod could just not take a dive because he wants to make a point about the government cutting his pay and pensions. Or the government could be on the ball and keep Plod in working order. But that wouldn't supply an outlet for the moral indignation of gasbags, or big contracts for security and software firms.

MtMoru said...

He had a moustache. Therefore, he was stupid.

LondonYoung said...

It is well documented that viking raiders pounded away on Britain for centuries.  What are a few looted shops compared to that? ... oh, and maybe the answer to your "genes" questions just slipped in there ;-)

botti said...

What, like Einstein?

Carson Chow said...

The rioters are mostly using encrypted Blackberry Messenger so it would mean forcing Blackberry to give up their records and their one selling point over Android and iPhone.

steve hsu said...

Court order?

LondonYoung said...

We've all seen The Wire, haven't we?

Seth said...

You should read up on those revolutions.   Neither one was run by a disorderly mob.  

MtMoru said...

GS partners watch television?

MtMoru said...

GS partners watch television?

steve hsu said...

We've known each other since college.

Carson Chow said...

it would be ultimate hypocrisy after UK supported social networking for Arab spring and Western powers criticized India for making Blackberry provide a backdoor.

Yan Shen said...

Is Western hypocrisy anything new? I mean you have white Australians who are living on land recently stolen from the aborigines lecturing to the Chinese about Tibet.

botti said...

It probably doesn't excuse shifting them off the land, but the aborigines were no saints.

http://www.psychohistory.com/originsofwar/07_childAbuse.html

Yan Shen said...

You're missing the point of my criticism. I'm not singling out white Australians for having engaged in a unique form of barbarism. I'm singling them out for their hypocrisy in criticizing the Chinese over Tibet, when they're basically living on land recently stolen from the Aborigines. It's like hearing a murder criticize a thief over his criminality.

MtMoru said...

Really big diff Yan.

China's occupation of Tibet is much more like the Russian Empire's/Soviet Union's occupation of the Ukraine, Belorussia, Poland, or Finland. The Han and the Tibetans are ethnically and linguistically related AND the Tibetans unlike the Abos or Maori or native Americans have an elaborate culture and written language.

botti said...

Yeah, I wasn't really disagreeing with your hypocrisy point.  And yes, I do live in New Zealand :)

Yan Shen said...

"the Tibetans unlike the Abos or Maori or native Americans have an elaborate culture and written language."

I've seen a lot of people on Mangan's blog basically state that the Native American Indians were savages and that therefore Europeans had a right to dispossess them of their land.

MtMoru said...

Such a sentiment has nothing to do with race. That you have equated culture with race makes you the racist. But I already knew that.

Yan Shen said...

Oh I see. So you merely think that the Amerindians had a primitive and savage culture, but that with the right guidance they could have attained the superior culture of Europeans. Somehow, that still seems racist to me, but then again what would I know? For someone who constantly harps on others for being "racist", you should be ashamed of yourself. You're nothing but a white supremacist.

MtMoru said...

You're paranoid and irrational Yan.

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