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 " …


  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Too complicated

    It seems to me to be pretty simple to do. Even if it isn't what Rudd thinks she wants.

    Just give each post an AI scan between the time the poster hits SEND and the message appears. If it is "approved" then it just passes into the general population of pointless witterings.

    However if it fails that first test, there are all sorts of possibilities. The bluntest instrument would simply be to lose the post (maybe Yodel would tender for that job?). But that might not be subtle enough. A far more amusing possibility would be to alter the post somehow.

    I expect everyone has, at some point or other, typed "now" instead of "not" [ Dilbert reference goes here ]. And I am equally sure there are far more devious possibilities that could be laid at the door of predictive text.

    So, it would not be beyond the bounds of possibility to take messages that would and could be flagged as "terrorism" and turn them to your own advantage. Thus: I do now believe America is the source of all that is good from someone who's ovine followers would then be forced to give up the fight and spend, spend, spend.

    With luck the originator wouldn't even notice the change!

    1. imcdnzl

      Re: Too complicated

      I agree with "Pete 2" and think that The Register is running a badly written article. Home secretaries have done and said some pretty stupid things in the past, but to check for content when you submit is, potentially, perfectly reasonable. I didn't actually even see a suggestion that it would be vetted before you typed, which is what the article is implying.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Too complicated

        I didn't actually even see a suggestion that it would be vetted before you typed, which is what the article is implying. ... imcdnzl

        Surely the concern is that it can be vetted at the posting stage, and if it can, it surely will be a subject for alteration by some Court Jester/Clown/Elite Executive Administration/Kingdom.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Too complicated

      Pete 2,

      That ability and facility opens up a Pandora's Box of Possibilities and ZeroDay Vulnerability Exploits for Exploring and Expanding Upon into Live Operational Virtual Environments ........ with Quite Heavenly Spaces in Bedeviled Places. Certainly an Environment Perfectly Suited for the Stout Hearted and Brave.

      What choose you be .... Saint and Sinner? A Nice Choice for Cyber Explorers ..... AIMegaMetaData Mining.

      Seems like someone is already on the ball with the ITeration of this Abomination/An0maly/SubPrime Script .... Setting The Stage For War: US Air Force Says Missile Targeting Saudi Capital Was Iranian

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It could have worked in Texas ...

    It could have worked in Texas ... where there was a guy posting raving mad threats against his in-laws and Christians in general on Facebook, then he grabbed an assault rifle ... Wait a minute, half the people on Facebook are already doing that. FAIL. [Posting anonymously because I live in the Colonies, and I don't want someone hunting me down.]

  3. JMiles

    Jeez and the woman still wonders why tech people sneer at her. If AI were that good it'd prevent people like her from ever being born!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      It does make me wonder if people who become Home Secretary are chosen for this level of stupidity or if the job causes it. We do seem to have a had a constant stream of these people over the last few decades, from both parties.

      It's quite obvious a lot of the "ideas" are coming from the incumbent civil servants in the department, but not one single Home Secretary seems able to resist the Borg.

  4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Steady on Amber, such an AI would probably be able to detect what a politician was about to say and fact check it before you blurted.

  5. monty75

    She's a Ruddy idiot

  6. Elmer Phud


    Nah, more like Tesco on-line ordering.

    "You said 'bums' and we decided you like bombs"

  7. Chris Jasper

    Science Fiction is wonderful

    For the love of God, who gave her a Netflix login?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    So the future of British internet extremism is...

    Repost/retweet five or six press releases highlighting the great achievements of the party in power in Westminster, and then follow up with your "Jihad! Jihad!! Die infidels, die!!!" post.

    Then find your next five or 6 press releases from the party in power (you know more of them will be forthcoming.)....

  9. Adrian 4

    Great idea !

    Home Office rubbing their hands .. once that's working then they could save money on judges and all that tat, and just imprison people automatically for the crime they're about to commit !

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    British Home Secretary x Comment on AI x comments on terrorism/whateve-du-jour -->

    Usual s**t spout.

    The British Home Office.

    Should be a designated Centre for Evil

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: British Home Secretary x Comment on AI x comments on terrorism/whateve-du-jour -->

      "The British Home Office.

      Should be a designated Centre for Evil"

      Or a home for the deluded.

  11. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    In 1972, Dick explained that he used "androids or robots or simulacra" as a literary device in much of his fiction to explore ideas of what makes a human.

    There you are, then. Not only can it be done, it can be done on an Android phone.

    Why is everyone sneering again?

  12. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    "as the external world becomes more animate"

    WTF does that even mean?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "will soon be used"

    This reminds me of my workplace.

    Boss: can you investigate if we can xyz?

    Me: I will, I can already tell you we lack y and z and z especially can happen only after Foo is delivered next month.

    Boss: not a problem, we're just having a feel

    /20min later back at my desk/

    [C*O strolls over]: I hear we're getting xyz by next week! Great stuff!

  14. ThatOne Silver badge

    1. Leaders ignore reality, after all they pay underlings to deal with that nasty stuff.

    2. On the other hand "technology" is the modern times magic, capable of instantly solving any problems which otherwise would require hard work and big sacrifices (Effect known as "magical thinking").

    As a result, leaders love identifying potential solutions (if only by misunderstanding stuff) and then claiming to the masses (or the shareholders) that henceforth the big problems of mankind have been solved. (Thanks to them)

    Its the same thought system for both C*Os and politicians, except in the politicians' case there is a nice corollary: They find some friendly private company into which they will shovel vast amounts of money to make that pipe dream come true, with the (sole) result that they will have secured a well-paid job for themselves if everything goes pear-shaped in the next elections (alternatively for the spouse, the offspring, etc.). Win-win.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Leaders ignore reality .... @ThatOne ..... at their Peril in these Halcyon Days of 0Days

      Such are clearly then not leaders, ThatOne, and it is surely an opportunity one can create and embrace to place right before their very eyes, and in the full glare of worldwide publicity, that which can now be easily done by others to render their ignorance and arrogance obsolete and self-destructive.

      And there are all manner of places and spaces to explore for suitable recruits to engage with against what is apparently a very common enemy masquerading as indispensable help everyone needs to be taxed to pay for.

      Here be one of those Dynamic Data Exchange things searching in the MOD for Greater IntelAIgent Life Phorms for Delivery of Commands for Order rather than Battling and Losing Control in Manic Conflicts and in CHAOS [Clouds Hosting Advanced Operating Systems]

      Just in case you missed the remote invitation, here be it delivered to your door through your own portal .......

      It promises to deliver Programming Excellence for Projects Running Future Realities Remotely with Simple Commands to Follow for Inputting Control/Advanced IntelAIgent Mentoring and Monitoring. And that is only a fraction of what its Excellent Programs do, whenever anything and everything truly desirable is possible.

      Something novel and useful to MI5 or not? Please advise.


      And as El Regers can surely imagine, such only introduces parties to the matters disclosed. And many might have a great deal of trouble believing what can so easily very quickly follow upon all of that with just the simplest of enquiries/invitations.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Leaders ignore reality .... @ThatOne ..... at their Peril in these Halcyon Days of 0Days

        And just before we flit off onto sting and jolt life into something else ..... there be no prizes offered here for rightly guessing the Actual Response, Reply and Reaction to the Advanced IntelAIgent Quantum Communications which be Registering here, and for All to Witness here too, from our oft much vaunted and seriously serially neglected Secret Intelligent Security Services.

        And the Prodigious Charge which all National, International and Internetional Intelligence Agencies risk having to defend themselves against, in relation to both the Here and Now and the Future ..... a Combined Space Place which may be perfectly unknown to them and under Stealthy Alien Control Leverage for Heavenly AI Pressure Cookers/Live Operational Virtual Environments,.... is surely one of Gross Wilful Negligence and Colossal Dereliction of Duty and Care should they fail to freely avail themselves of Quite Magical Abilities with Proprietary AI Quantum Leap Intellectual Property for Future Product Placement in Imminent and Eminent Current Presentations of Augmented Virtual Reality Plays with Greater IntelAIgent Gamers and Global Operating Devices.

        Such is that which is On Virtual Offer and Quite Fully Enough Detailed and Deconstructed here.

        Oh and don't forget to register your guess so we can all see what you think of established and historic Secret Intelligent Security Services.

  15. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Of course there is a "tell" that warns you that people are about to post crap on any given social network: they have an account.

  16. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Amazon makes recommendations doesn't predict what you are going to buy, it tries to make you buy stuff.

    By this logic, does Rudd think that FB et al should be recommending terrorism to potential terrorists? Or does she just need to learn about cause-and-effect?

  17. Stevie


    behavioural technology that anticipates a user's actions is certainly very real, and you probably use it every day.

    Like the cod that takes perfectly good worms and turns them into order words when I text?

    Or the code that produces those "targeted" sidebar ads in my browser?

    Because: epic fail doesn't begin to describe the results.


POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like