Saturday, June 8, 2013

On Why Data Mining Is Useless at Preventing Terrorism

Over at The New Republic, Rachel Levinson-Waldman has a great piece.

Credit card companies are held up as the data-mining paradigm. But the companies' success in detecting fraud is due to factors that don’t exist in the counterterrorism context: the massive volume of transactions, the high rate of fraud, the existence of identifiable patterns (for instance, if a thief tests a stolen card at a gas station to check if it works, and then immediately purchases more expensive items), and the relatively low cost of a false positive: a call to the card's owner and, at worst, premature closure of a legitimate account.
By contrast, there have been a relatively small number of attempted or successful terrorist attacks, which means that there are no reliable “signatures” to use for pattern modeling. Even in the highly improbable and undesirable circumstance that the number of attacks rises significantly, they are unlikely to share enough characteristics to create reliable patterns.
via Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns & Money

This is my field. If you don't have a pattern you have nothing to match against.

1 comment:

  1. they are only using the telecom data to generate networks-they can use existing intelligence to identify a possible node and then use the network to identify possible c-conspirators.


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