Phi Beta Iota: Closing down or transferring the drone program should have been John Brennan’s first order of business when he assumed his position as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. That he did not do so is his epitaph.
In the last week, much has been made of the leaked DoD briefing entitled ISR Support to Small Footprint (CT) Operations – Somalia and Yemen, dated February 2013. To date, all the reports I have read, save one, focus on the “critical shortfalls” of drone warfare revealed in these slides — see, for example The Intercept, which broke the story on October 15 and placed the slides on the net, and this report in Common Dreams, and anti-war progressive outlet. Both of these reports and the briefing slides contain a lot of useful information are well worth careful reading. But there is more.
I joined the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) well over 3 years ago with a very specific mission and mandate: to develop and deploy next generation humanitarian technologies. So I built the Institute’s Social Innovation Program from the ground up and recruited the majority of the full-time experts (scientists, engineers, research assistants, interns & project manager) who have become integral to the Program’s success.
Recent scientific research has shown that aerial imagery captured during a single 20-minute UAV flight can take more than half-a-day to analyze. We flew several dozen flights during the World Bank’s humanitarian UAV mission in response to Cyclone Pam earlier this year. The imagery we captured would’ve taken a single expert analyst a minimum 20 full-time workdays to make sense of. In other words, aerial imagery is already a Big Data problem. So my team and I are using human computing (crowdsourcing), machine computing (artificial intelligence) and computer vision to make sense of this new Big Data source.
Phi Beta Iota: Worth a full read. We are reminded of DARPA’s STRONG ANGEL and note with interest that the Internet being down in Nepal makes a lot of the UAV collection irrelevant — sort of like NSA’s global collection that is not processed and 99% of “big data” not being processed (per Mary Meeker). The lack of bandwidth, lack of processing, and lack of open source sense-making tools continue “The Big Disconnect.”
A group of military veterans is taking aim at U.S. drone strikes overseas with graphic TV ads directly asking Air Force pilots to stop flying the unmanned aircraft, calling the operations immoral and illegal.