This Is The Biggest Waste Of Taxpayers $$$

mr2medic

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Check out these articles i saw in the news today (copy and pasted from yahoo news):

U.S. Spies Want to Find Terrorists in World of Warcraft

By Ryan Singel February 22, 2008 | 2:15:43 PMCategories: Spooks Gone Wild

Be careful who you frag. Having eliminated all terrorism in the real world, the U.S. intelligence community is working to develop software that will detect violent extremists infiltrating World of Warcraft and other massive multiplayer games, according to a data-mining report from the Director of National Intelligence.

The Reynard project will begin by profiling online gaming behavior, then potentially move on to its ultimate goal of "automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world."

The cultural and behavioral norms of virtual worlds and gaming are generally unstudied. Therefore, Reynard will seek to identify the emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms in virtual worlds and gaming environments. The project would then apply the lessons learned to determine the feasibility of automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world.

If it shows early promise, this small seedling effort may increase its scope to a full project.
Reynard will conduct unclassified research in a public virtual world environment. The research will use publicly available data and will begin with observational studies to establish baseline normative behaviors.

The publicly available report -- which was mandated by Congress following earlier concerns over data-mining programs -- also mentions several other data-mining initiatives. These include:

Video Analysis and Content Extraction - software to automatically identify faces, events and objects in video

Tangram - A system that wants to create surveillance and threat warning system that evaluates known threats and finds unknown threats to issue warnings ahead of an attack

Knowledge Discovery and Dissemination - This tool is reminiscent of the supposedly-defunct Total Information Awareness program. It seeks to access disparate databases to find patterns of known bad behavior. The program plans to work with domestic law enforcement and Homeland Security.
The report gives no indication why the find-a-terrorist cell in Sims project is called Reynard, though that is a traditional trickster figure in literature
 

mr2medic

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Terrorists? In My MMO?
The U.S. government may start scouring virtual worlds for terrorists.

By Mike Smith

World of Warcraft, the online world that's home to more than 10 million players, could also be home to violent extremists -- at least, if you believe the Director of National Intelligence, which released a report this month detailing a project intended to identify potential terrorist or criminal threats in large-scale virtual world games.

Yes, really. "Reynard," as the study is known, is currently considered a seedling by the Director's Office, but if successful may be expanded to a full project. It'll begin by observing the activities of virtual world inhabitants to "identify their emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms", before applying these norms in an attempt to detect suspicious behavior automatically.

At least it's not a classified project, so presumably Joe Public will get a look at its conclusions, and to see the quality of the data it's gathering. Reynard is part of a multi-pronged set of new projects; others focus on reviewing video databases for content that's "of intelligence value," and hunting through conventional databases for "deceptive behavior." Oh, and addressing any privacy risks that might result from the gathering of these data -- if you believe that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is in a good position to safeguard your privacy, we have a virtual bridge we'd like to sell you. Talk about leaving the Reynard to guard the henhouse.


Watch "Wrath of the Lich King" Trailer


What does this mean for virtual worlds denizens? Maybe if you gripe about your taxes to your online gaming buddies, you'll be flagged for an audit. Perhaps if you're a woman who opts to play a male character to avoid unwanted attention, the Government will note your name on the National List of Deviants. Maybe if you don't meet your "norm" of tired old Chuck Norris gags in public chat channels, you could be in for a spell in Gitmo. Reynard is watching you.

Reynard's got plenty to see, too. Any player who's been involved in virtual world gaming for any length of time will have hilarious tales of lawlessness and mayhem to tell. Back in 2006, a Cnet correspondent's interview with a Second Life entrepreneur, taking place in the game, was interrupted by a protester who launched an attack of flying-- well, gentleman's ventral protuberances.

Imperial Order, a powerful clan on the Detheroc World of Warcraft server, once held the entire server to ransom, refusing to open a gate that would have enabled new content for everyone until they were paid a large sum of (pretend) money. Take these actions out of context, and words like "criminal" and "terrorist" become less of a stretch.

So if Big Brother's going to be taking notes on these things, Big Brother is going to have to understand their context. People behave differently in virtual worlds because, well, they're just games. They're playgrounds where the worst possible punishment is being expelled, nothing more. If cutting loose in World of Warcraft means potential wiretaps in your future, online life is going to become a great deal less interesting.


(I find the part about holding the server ransom particularly funny)
 

Cowwmann

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You're right that is the biggest waste of money i have ever seen.
What was the name of gate that didn't open?
 
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Dr Zaius

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It'll begin by observing the activities of virtual world inhabitants to "identify their emerging social, behavioral and cultural norms", before applying these norms in an attempt to detect suspicious behavior automatically.
That should be interesting for the people assigned to the project. What do you think they will discover?
 

Oobie

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Hrm, now I wanna make a guild called <Terrorists>.
 
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