Proving and developing a causal link

After recent terrorist attacks many governments are increasing their spending in cyber-security areas.  They are also enhancing their legislations to support detection and prevention of threats.


This new wave of action and reaction could be to many a reliving of previous episodes.

It is yet to be seen how new powers are going to affect individual freedom on the internet and how citizens are now to be governed with the help of technology.

What seems now clearer than in previous episodes is that technologies could support detection and prevention in new ways.  Technologies could be used to ‘infer’ potentially harmful behaviour.  They could be used to analyse language and topical trends in social media.  They could also gauge public opinion quickly and find new correlations.

What remains as in previous episodes is the action that takes place over the data that is generated.  Despite technologies becoming sophisticated, most of action that follows in cities is still in the hands of humans.

How can action be planned rather than simply becoming a reaction? Are governments educating experts and citizens on the use of data to act? What would be the impacts of policies in individual freedom and the right to choose?  What methods could be devised to responsibly and ethically improve links between data and action?

So far most of the thinking and resource allocation seems to be dedicated to prove a causal link between data and crime prevention.  What seem to follow is a refinement and sophistication of such link.  But we need to question its underlying assumptions.  Citizens need to be better informed to understand how their governments are currently thinking.  We also need to be able to come up with new causal links on the impacts of such thinking.

If only we could give ourselves and our governments bit more of time to think before acting…


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