With a new Terminator movie coming out later this year, we felt news of a government program called Skynet was probably worth reporting on. That’s right, there is an NSA program actually called Skynet. While this particular program isn’t creating deadly forms of robotic androids for artificial intelligence purposes, it is involved in something that may be just as insidious.
Techworm.net and the Intercept report that the NSA does indeed have a program called Skynet. It is a surveillance program and its purpose is to collect phone metadata. At least one journalist from Al Jazeera was reportedly placed on a terrorist watch list after being tracked by the program.
Based on a 2012 government presentation obtained by none other than Edward Snowden, it appears that Skynet’s primary goal is to “track patterns in communication habits and physical movements of suspects.” Of course, that these ‘suspects’ are terrorists or even remotely connected to terrorist activity is dubious at best. As a result, we’re left here with unconstitutional use of power utilizing unreliable metadata to determine who may or may not be killed by a drone strike–we feel it’s intellectually honest to describe this as sinister.
It’s also worth pointing out that the NSA has another program that is even closer in nature to the original Terminator Skynet program. This one is called MonsterMind–yes, MonsterMind. According to Techworm.net, the program accomplishes a goal that is disturbingly similar to the robot initiative in James Cameron’s Terminator movies:
“Like the film version of Skynet, MonsterMind is a defense surveillance system that would immediately and independently disarm foreign cyberattacks against the US, and could be used to launch retaliatory strikes as well….Snowden also stated that MonsterMind could one day be designed to automatically return fire without human interference against an attacker. Because an attacker could twist malicious code to keep away from detection, a counterstrike would be more successful in neutralizing future attacks.”
So, what do you think….is Skynet self-aware and, more importantly, is this the year it fights back?