Thursday, August 7, 2014


Mr. S.D. sent this fascinating article, and like yesterday’s article about the Theranos company and its new blood-testing technology, this one went straight to my finals pile. You’ll see why once you read it:
Algorithm predicts US Supreme Court decisions 70% of time
The brave new world just took a significant step, and it’s contained in this one sentence little statement:
“’If you have intelligence that’s reliable about how the court will decide the case, you can make a more informed litigation decision,’ Blackman told the American Bar Association.
Ponder the implications of this capability for a moment, and ponder its implications as the technology improves. Imagine going to an attorney (or, for those in Great Britain, a solicitor), with a legal matter that one wishes to bring to litigation, a lawsuit, perhaps, and being told to fill out a questionnaire, which is run through such an algorithm. “We’re sorry sir (or madam), but our program indicates you only have a 25% chance of success under the best of circumstances. However, if you wish to proceed, we know a number of attorneys that handle such cases, at a higher fee of course.”
I have speculated about such predictive algorithms on this website before, and one only needs to imagine what sorts of predictive algorithms might have emerged from the world of high frequency trading, or, for that matter, within the electronic surveillance state. It is conceivable that within such a milieu, predictive algorithms might have already been developed not only to handle predictions of aggregate populations, but also of specialized  professional populations, like attorneys, judges, doctors, scientists, politicians, and so on. Crunch enough numbers and variable, and (here comes more high octane speculation) one might even have discovered the genuine principles behind astrology (assuming there are any, and keeping those carefully hidden of course). It is a technological capability that would be the ultimate insider trading mechanism, the ultimate social engineering tool, the ultimate “jury fixing” tool.
I suspect, therefore, that this article is but the tip of a very large algorithmic iceberg. If  the statements of the late Ben Rich, late head of the Lockheed Skunkworks, are any indicator – “we found an error in the equations and now we can take ET home” – then I suspect they may also have found many other things, including perhaps an algorithmic key to human behavior, and the stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment