back to article UK Home Sec thinks a Minority Report-style AI will prevent people posting bad things

The Home Secretary believes artificial intelligence will soon be used to stop people posting on the internet pre-emptively with a kind of Minority Report-style "precrime" unit. Amber Rudd made the call at an event hosted by the US think tank the New America Foundation. The Home Secretary castigated the platforms for taking " …

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  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The only viable explanation for going off the straight and narrow and onto a bender.

    I'll take an ounce of whatever Amber Rudd is smoking. It is obviously great gear. :-)

    Does she really expect people to listen and take heed and action on such AI Meanderings? Strewth says it all methinks.

    1. Solarflare

      Re: The only viable explanation for going off the straight and narrow and onto a bender.

      "I'll take an ounce of whatever Amber Rudd is smoking. It is obviously great gear. :-)"

      When amanfromMars calls you out for crazy, incoherent babble, you know you have a problem.

      1. Chemical Bob
        Boffin

        Re: The only viable explanation for going off the straight and narrow and onto a bender.

        "When amanfromMars calls you out for crazy, incoherent babble, you know you have a problem."

        No, you don't know because you are too crazy and incoherent.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rudd is a mouthpiece of utter conjecture. "Real people" shouldn't listen to her.

      If we'd found out she'd pronounced 'AI' as in 'Al-istair' during her speech, would any of us really be surprised?

      She is quite like a computer though, her parents fed what amounts to Garbage into the Private Education system, and at the end of all that expense, it produced Garbage out.

      You can have the best private education in the World, but unless you have the raw ingredients to nurture, it can be such as waste, as Rudd clearly shows.

      Rudd's simplistic ideas are blunt instruments, lacking any of the required nuances, that will have us all in digital zombie-like virtual shackles. Step out of line, and you'll find those digital systems laser-focused on you, with no room to maneuver. You'll be digitally silenced.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rudd is a mouthpiece of utter conjecture. "Real people" shouldn't listen to her.

        El Reg could help her out, instigate a trial of a big reg AI Button in the top right corner of El Reg, where readers could (at the click of switch) digitally silence Amber Rudd content and leave every other non technical diuretic mouthpiece to carry on regardless because the only extremely divisive content I've ever felt 'digitally threatened by' is the online web content authored by Amber Rudd.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The only viable explanation for going off the straight and narrow and onto a bender.

      I'll take an ounce of whatever Amber Rudd is smoking. It is obviously great gear. :-)

      The finest hashtags known to humanity.

    4. Tom Paine

      Re: The only viable explanation for going off the straight and narrow and onto a bender.

      No idea how well or badly it works, but there IS a commercial product out there that claims to do this, pitched at the enterprise "don't frighten the horses" market: http://www.safescribe.com .

      Anyone got first hand experience with that thing?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Count me unimpressed

    "Our best brains have been working for a decade on behavioural analysis, which powers the giant ad duopoly of Google and Facebook, and the recommendation systems of Amazon."

    If the Amazon recommendations are one of the poster boys for behavioural analysis, then I can only conclude that our "best brains" are the same sort of very-well-qualified-yet-supremely-stupid people who (in the UK) normally go into government or run the Civil Service.

    In what, fifteen years of buying from Amazon, I've never, ever bought anything that Amazon has recommended to me, and I've always scoffed at the crapness of their recommendations. Looking over my partner's shoulder at their Facebook feed (won't touch it myself), its full of garbage adverts and garbage news that likewise is ignored.

    1. tony72

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      Amazon is great at recommending things I want to buy ... after I've already bought them. Hey you bought a nice TV; here are some more nice TV's. Thanks, already got one. I guess I probably don't buy enough from Amazon for them to properly profile me though, so maybe that's not fair, but on the surface, that seems to be about the level of intelligence behind their recommendations.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

        Re: Count me unimpressed

        It's a small step from "you bought X so you'll like X"

        FTFY

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      "[...] I've never, ever bought anything that Amazon has recommended to me, [...]"

      Books, DVDs, and CDs are a more reliable category of Amazon Recommendations. Not really AI though - it just has to recommend what other people have bought that overlaps your purchases or what you have looked at.

      It does occasionally recommend titles that I have already bought through Amazon though.

      They used to have lists compiled by users - and that was a far more intelligent way to introduce you to things that were possibly of interest. Obviously that was more limited compared to using the sales/viewing data. It depended on users having the motivation to compile a list - and almost certainly only covered a subset of their own titles.

      1. 0laf Silver badge

        Re: Count me unimpressed

        I usually only get recommended things I've already bought. and often they're not the sort of thing you would ever buy twice

    3. TitterYeNot
      Coat

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      I'm afraid I must disagree with the naysayers, post-behavioural-analysis precognition can be shown to be an extremely reliable predictor of behaviour.

      For example, after scanning the headline, but before reading the article, I was able to accurately predict that Amber Rudd had opened her ignorant gob and made a complete tit of herself. Again...

    4. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      It's a small step from "you bought X so you'll like Y" to "you posted X, so you'll post Y next".

      If I buy a Motorhead CD it's quite reasonable to think that I might like another Motorhead CD. However it's a very different thing to claim that the next item I buy will be a Motorhead CD. I wouldn't even say it's the most likely thing I would buy next. Now change the arena from purchasing preferences to posting subject/response behaviour, and it's much less likely to be accurate because so much of what I post (like this) depends entirely upon what articles are published and whether or not (let alone when) I notice them.

      Screw that precog shit.

    5. Chris King
      Windows

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      "Our best brains have been working for a decade on behavioural analysis, which powers the giant ad duopoly of Google and Facebook, and the recommendation systems of Amazon".

      Errr, no.

      I bought an ironing board cover from Amazon one time, and for several days afterwards the only thing it would recommend was porn videos. And absolutely nothing else.

      Maybe this was Amazon's way of saying I needed to loosen up a bit ?

      Icon, because that must have been one of the best brains they could find.

      1. smudge

        Re: Count me unimpressed

        I bought an ironing board cover from Amazon one time, and for several days afterwards the only thing it would recommend was porn videos. And absolutely nothing else.

        Maybe this was Amazon's way of saying I needed to loosen up a bit ?

        Maybe millions of housepersons watch porn whilst doing the ironing?

        1. John 110

          Re: Count me unimpressed

          "Maybe millions of housepersons watch porn whilst doing the ironing?"

          I wouldn't, not near a hot iron...

          1. Anonymous Noel Coward
            Boffin

            Re: Count me unimpressed

            @John 110:

            Hi, I'm here to nurse your burn...

            *muzak*

      2. BongoJoe

        Re: Count me unimpressed

        I bought an ironing board cover from Amazon one time, and for several days afterwards the only thing it would recommend was porn videos. And absolutely nothing else.

        According to the AI you like hot, steamy manual back and forth action whilst bending over a table...

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Its a small step from

          conning people into believing that the items advertised at you are chosen because you'll like them rather than the advertiser has paid to get rid of the tut.

    6. SkippyBing

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      'If the Amazon recommendations are one of the poster boys for behavioural analysis, then I can only conclude that our "best brains" are the same sort of very-well-qualified-yet-supremely-stupid people who (in the UK) normally go into government or run the Civil Service.'

      So the sort of people who, in the UK, are advising Amber Rudd? I think we've found the problem...

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      "I've never, ever bought anything that Amazon has recommended to me"

      I have. Before it was even recommended. How's that for precognition?

    8. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      The Amazon AI should be fine - It only needs to be smarter than Amber Rudd, after all. And, to be fair, it does have a kind of logic "You bought an expensive TV, so you must a) Really like TVs and b) Have money. Would you like to buy another TV?"

      Or as Zaphod said: 'You'd just have to program it to say "What?" And "I don't understand" and "Where's the tea?"'

    9. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      "In what, fifteen years of buying from Amazon, I've never, ever bought anything that Amazon has recommended to me"

      I once bought something in the "Others bought this with that item". But that's just data, not AI, or even algorithm,

    10. Suricou Raven

      Re: Count me unimpressed

      Amazon, for some odd reason, keeps suggesting condoms to me on their discount deals. All manner of condoms. Colored condoms, ribbed condoms, flavored condoms.

      I'm a thirty-two-year-old single virgin. If my parent's house had a basement, I'd dwell there. Amazon really does not know me.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        Re: Count me unimpressed

        Whenever I buy some product, most recently a 6V sealed led acid battery for my telescope, all these "AI" methods from Amazon and the like keep trying to flog more sealed led acid batteries. Same with the tumble dryer I bought online: endless tumble dryer adverts. Same again when I bought a 100-400mm zoom lens: they keep trying to flog more of exactly the same type of lens. Now, if the AI had suggested lenses complementary to the 100-400 (and not the 18-55 kit lens, which someone with a 100-400 zoom either has, or has already replaced by something better), that would show a modicum of intelligence. As it is, I am not impressed.

        Youtube has made some interesting recommendations, I must say. It's latest one of The Dead South (In Hell I'll be in Good Company) did put a smile on my face

  3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    She's deluded

    if she thinks that people will stop posting Crap. A whole generation are addicted to FB, Twitter etc and most of what they post is pure dog poo.

    Still, a story like this will take the mind of the plebs off of BREXIT, who has supposedly molested whom and other political nonsense for a few seconds.

    1. Chris King

      Re: She's deluded

      "if she thinks that people will stop posting Crap. A whole generation are addicted to FB, Twitter etc and most of what they post is pure dog poo".

      We'll only accept it if it can muzzle idiots like her and Boris Johnson.

      Poor bloody AI doesn't stand a chance.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        Re: She's deluded

        "Poor bloody AI doesn't stand a chance."

        Not sure about that. A rule-based system could learn rules like

        IF (post.poster.name = "Boris Johnson") OR (post.poster.name = "Amber Rudd") THEN

        REDIRECT(post, "/dev/null")

        But somehow I think they don't want that kind of AI

    2. inmypjs Silver badge

      Re: She's deluded

      "people will stop posting Crap"

      The delusion is not that people will stop posting crap. The delusion is that the crap people post makes any significant difference to anything.

      That for some subjects the whole world must stick its head in the sand and pretend they don't exist - the woman is a moron.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone needs to own up. Who let her near a computer again?

    My limited understanding of AI is that you need large data sets to enable it to learn which puts this back to the original problem of employing people to monitor content in the first place.

    Would it not be a simple case of people that get their content reported are then monitored?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Who let her near a computer again?"

      Nobody. Her HO minders gave her another script to mouth.

      If anyone let her near a computer there's a faint chance (admittedly on the levels of monkeys and Shakespeare) that she'd Google something that would explain stuff to her. HO thinking can't allow even the faintest chance of that. They depend on her deepest ignorance so that she can read out what she's given with complete sincerity.

  5. Zippy's Sausage Factory
    Black Helicopters

    I think it's very possible that Amber Rudd intends to waste a huge amount of taxpayers' money on artificial intelligence software that won't work. What really scares me is that based on recent legislation, the government tends to make things statutory offences* so that there can't be any defence against the charge when they really shouldn't, and I wonder if "being told you're going to do so by precog software" is going to be one of them... :(

    * if that's the term - ones where there's no permissible defence, like the five years when they find a hun in your home or child porn on your laptop...

    1. Roj Blake

      Statutory Offence

      A statutory offence is one that's definde by statute (ie law that's been passed by parliament).

      1. Tom 38 Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Statutory Offence

        A statutory offence is one that's definde by statute (ie law that's been passed by parliament).

        Yeah but OP clarified that he wasn't sure if that was the correct term and explained what he was searching for, which is actually called a strict liability offence, in which mens rea is not required.

        1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

          Re: Statutory Offence

          @Tom 38 you are correct - strict liability offence is the term I was looking for and can never remember.

          No doubt I won't remember it next time I need to refer to the concept, either... :)

    2. iron Silver badge

      Five years for having a Ranger's fan in your home?

  6. graeme leggett

    A problem made in Holywood

    Someone paid too much attention to the Film and not enough to the book and subjects of issues of free will and authoritarianism?

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    You gotta laugh ... otherwise you might cry.

    Whenever one hears of such fantasy from the likes of a government minister/political party stalwart, is one never going to their aid with applications of anything resembling what they might need in the future because they are obviously terrified of communications and the sharing of alternative and/or opposing views has them petrified and stagnating in a present struggling with the baggage of the past.

    Such as is certainly a crazy madness in them, condemns such souls to continued existence in pools of ignorance where arrogance is rife and rabid.

    But hey, if that is all you are equipped for, that is all you are equipped for.

    I wonder if that puts aliens on any AI Watch Lists? :-)

  8. Roj Blake

    Shocking

    Minority Report was 2002?

    1. HieronymusBloggs

      Re: Shocking

      "Minority Report was 2002?"

      The short story was written in 1956.

      1. Solarflare
        Joke

        Re: Shocking

        Calling Tom Cruise 'The Short Story' is a bit harsh. He is a bit vertically challenged, but the guy has feelings. Also, he was born in 1962, not 1956.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: Shocking

          Calling Tom Cruise 'The Short Story' is a bit harsh

          Remember the old Hollywood joke: fan is short for fanatic, hype is short for hyperbole and Tom Cruise(*) is short for a leading man.

          (*) Substitute Mel Gibson if you like.

  9. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Emily Post

    Dear Net-Mail User:

    Your mailbox has just been rifled by EmilyPost, an autonomous courtesy-worm chain program released in October 2036 by an anonymous group of net subscribers in western Alaska ([]ref: sequestered confession 592864 -2376298.96534, deposited with Bank Leumi 10/23/36:20:34:21. Expiration-disclosure 10 years.] Under the civil disobedience sections of the Charter of Rio, we accept in advance the fines and penalties that will come due when our confession is released in 2046...

    In brief, dear friend, you are not a very polite person. EmilyPost's syntax analysis routines show that a very high fraction of your net exchanges are heated, vituperative, even obscene.

    Of course you enjoy free speech. But EmilyPost has been designed by people who are concerned about the recent trend toward excessive nastiness in some parts of the net...

    Of course, should you insist on continuing as before, disseminating nastiness in all directions, we have equipped EmilyPost with other options you'll soon find out about...

    ----

    courtesy David Brin, Earth

    1. Kiwi
      Pint

      Re: Emily Post

      courtesy David Brin, Earth

      I inherited a rather large collection of ebooks a while back. I've learned of some great authors there from posters here on El Reg (eg a comment about "The Mote in God's Eye" led me to an author I'd never heard of and, in a roundabout way, a whole SciFi concept I'd not discovered in my 40+years circling Sol).

      I've just tagged this one in my reader as well, after I get through the stuff about wars with oversized moggies..

      So much thanks for the heads up!

      (I should really get out more...)

  10. hplasm
    Holmes

    Amber Rudd's Brain

    The only thing that current AI is less deluded than.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amber Rudd's Brain

      Something that is thicker than three short planks where all other politicians are only as thick as two short planks.

  11. Goit
    Joke

    I'm not racist but

    Your post has been deleted

  12. ukgnome

    Eeek

    Time to moderate my comments

    ___ ______ _ _____ _ smiley

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Eeek

      Back when we first heard rumours of Echelon and the like, it was relatively common for people to pepper their online posts with words such as C4, dynamite, bomb, assassinate, president, gun, shoot etc. There was very little comment from people saying they would be more careful with what they posted.

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