Anyone who has watched the Terminator movies may remember the AI warfare system talked about in the movies by the name of Skynet. But it seems that there is such a thing as the name has been used for a technological surveillance program owned by the National Security Agency in the US.
[Image Courtesy of ScienceAlert]
Skynet is said to be a real security program used by the NSA and it watches over locations and communication patterns of any suspects that are said to be of interest. It harvests the metadata of mobile networks along with bulk call records. Apparently one person that was watched over by Skynet was Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan when he was suspected of being a courier and giving information to terrorist agents.
The Skynet program is said to be a collaborative cloud research effort. This came about in a leaked PowerPoint presentation where it said that Skynet applies “complex combinations of geospatial, geotemporal, pattern-of-life, and travel analytics to bulk DNR data to identify patterns of suspect activity”.
The system is able to analyse behaviours and movements of users of mobile phones so as to ascertain high-scoring selectors thought to be terrorist couriers. Zaidan, a journalist for Al Jazeera was identified by Skynet as being the “highest scoring selector that travelled to Peshawar and Lahore”.
The revelations about the Skynet program have practical implications for investigative journalists and at the same time give us evidence that there are ways of stored metadata being used against individuals without them suspecting. Of course just because there is a system in real life that has been used in the Terminator movies this doesn’t mean that we are going to see other tech, such as the mercury type changing materials from the movie or the Cyborgs that travel back in time to wipe people out or save them.