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USAgov for Researchers




It is difficult to find official government information. Perhaps one solution could be to use USA.gov – jump from topic page.

 

  • Main page: https://www.usa.gov/topics
  • Icon: TBD
  • Topic name: Public Information
  • Description: Get official information on government data, statistics, audits, reports, federal court cases, file a Freedom of Information Act request, and more. 

 

Content: similar to https://www.usa.gov/laws - do a grid:

 

  1. Court Cases – Search Federal court cases – link to PACER.gov – https://www.pacer.gov/
  2. Official Data Sets – Search Data.gov – https://www.data.gov/
  3. Inspectors General reports –https://www.oversight.gov/
  4. GAO reports – https://www.gao.gov/
  5. FOIA - https://www.foia.gov/#agency-search – the portal already exists
  6. Fact Sheets – I don’t think we already have a super-portal, but we could create a search that crawls individual agency sites in the beginning (e.g. State https://www.state.gov/s/seci/c64446.htm,https://www.dhs.gov/news-releases/fact-sheets)
  7. Press Releases – same as above
  8. Historical Research – similar to NARAhttps://catalog.archives.gov/advancedsearch
  9. Government Photos – we could aggregate government photos in one place (perhaps start with Flickr)

 

This page would be enormously helpful to anyone seeking official information or validation from the Federal government.

 

It seems there already is a “For Media and Partners” page on USAgov https://www.usa.gov/media with feature articles https://www.usa.gov/features

 

However the researcher is likely to want to find their own data and then curate stories out of that.

 

It seems like we already have the data and the sites. Not too heavy a lift to bring it together.

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Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. Public domain. All opinions are the author’s own. Photo by Dr. Blumenthal.

The Terrifying Implications of “Human-Machine Teaming”

Terminator: Rise of the Machines (2003) movie poster

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense called for “human-machine teaming” as essential to national security.

This is the future, regardless of which political party is in charge, and it is both powerful and terrifying. We need to block abusers of this power.

To rephrase then-Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, our defense has evolved from:
  • Beating their conventional weapons with our nukes
  • When nuclear parity was reached, achieving “near-0” targeting of their conventional weapons 
  • The man-machine warfighter.
Within the man-machine phase there is:
  • Improved machine learning
  • Intelligent machines guiding human decisions
  • Humans wearing electronics/apps in combat — using them to fight better
  • Humans and computers (robots) fighting together
  • Weapons that kill on their own
It is obvious that we have to have better fighting capabilities than our enemies if we are to resist an invasion. Having humans control the robots is ideal. Here is a 2015 example out of MIT — the “robot with human reflexes.

It’s also critical to have robots that can assist in times of disaster — they are powerful, efficient and can save the lives of rescuers who would otherwise be at risk. An example is the Atlas robot, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and announced in 2013.

But it is also obvious that in the wrong hands, these kinds of weapons can easily be used against citizens.

Protecting citizens against tyrannical leadership is the essence of the Second Amendment. It’s not only about guns.

If the government has these weapons which can be turned upon the people, the people must have a means of self-defense.

Obviously there is no way to provide literal arms to the people equivalent to government power.

But it is possible to address the pressing issue of government abuse of power through the use of machines. This is not the technocracy of Silicon Valley but rather the Enemy of the State scenario. Or even, as some speculate, the deliberate destruction of democracy under the belief that the technologically literate are superior.

A “soft” risk is that humans will become dependent on machines for everything from identity to companionship to actual cognition.
  • How do you authenticate your identity? Google, Facebook, Amazon.
  • How do you connect? Facebook, Twitter.
  • How do you learn? “Google” it. 
“Freemium” is the classic marketing technique where you give it away to create dependence, much like selling illicit drugs. Think of iPads in kindergarten.

The (perhaps unanticipated) problem with machines becoming smart is that humans become correspondingly dumb, because of “distributed thinking.” Basically, we shut off part of our brains because we don’t need to make the effort anymore.

What happens when bad people are in charge of the technology that guides everything from education to entertainment? When they censor a wide range of opinions, leaving only a choice between vanilla, strawberry and chocolate ice cream?

What happens when Google itself is buying the robots?

What happens when the computers are loaded up with “data” — socially constructed — that you use to make decisions about other things besides fighting an adversary? What is the difference between “education” and “advocacy?”

When President Trump says “fake news is the enemy,” the implications are much deeper than it seems on the surface.

All combat, all self-defense, begins in the mind.

Alex Jones is right: There is a war on for your mind.

Maybe that is why they “deplatformed” him.

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By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. This content is hereby released into the public domain.