Because it’s different honey

The head of the National Crime Agency (NCA) has challenged the social media giants to explain why they can develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) to target adverts at users but not create AI capable of protecting children from child abuse.

In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph, Lynne Owens said the failure of the social media firms to prevent paedophiles targeting children on the open web was distracting the NCA and police from hunting down the “worst offenders” who were operating on the dark web.

It’s a different problem with a different level of difficulty.

For example, false positives in advertising don’t matter very much. Indeed, they’re expected and allowed for. False positives in allegations of child grooming or paedophilia are quite an important thing.

44 thoughts on “Because it’s different honey”

  1. Bloke no Longer on Facebook


    Yet another bod in “authority” that doesn’t understand the first rule of computing:

    Garbage in = Garbage out.

    Even the magic bullet “AIl ” can only base itsellf on what it has been told. It helps if the groomer has spent the previous two hours on and hasn’t cleared his cache in a few months. But really, false trails, or even no trails at all are pretty easy with the right browser and vpn.

  2. We mow live in a society were official fuckwits do not even have the intelligence to understand that a hard shoulder on a motorway is a good idea. Or even worse want more people killed as part of their “impoverish the masses–take the car off them” plans on behalf of the globo elite.

    So now they want tracking programmes from big tech turds that can track down certain activities. Do they really care about pedos? No–they have allowed beardie pukes to largely do as they like with white girls and still are to a large degree. Without need for any “dark web” cockrot. Which is much more likely to be used by those against the corrupt scumbag state.

    They want tools to snoop generally . That is it. Tell the cop bitch to fuck off.

  3. Perhaps, I’m being miaive, but I’d have thought someone who knows what they’re talking about told her all of this, but she’s gone ahead and challenged faceborg ET Al anyway.

    Why? The best answer I can think of is so that she can fit them up to take the blame.

  4. I was going to stick to my guns, Mr B, labouring under the impression that it was proper, if old-fashioned. Like gaol.

    But a bit of double-checking leaves me red in the face. So all right… Naive. Or naif, if you prefer.

  5. “Perhaps, I’m being miaive, but I’d have thought someone who knows what they’re talking about told her all of this, but she’s gone ahead and challenged faceborg ET Al anyway.”

    We’re into the “stupid bitch or lying bitch, pick one”. Either way, she should be fired as incapable of doing the job.

  6. Do they realise how shit that ‘targeted’ advertising is? It shows me the last thing I looked at. Genius!

  7. It’s the normal human desire to have someone else do the work. I suppose she would still expect to be paid even if the tech companies did the actual work.
    Bit like our problems with Brexit. Too many MPs would rather someone else devised and implemented policy, they just want the money and the status.

  8. I think our rulers are quite keen for AI to replace the EU or UN. “it was the nasty boy over there wot made me dunnit” won’t be a viable excuse when we’re out of the EU.

    Mind you, as Snowden indicates, Public Health England are doing sterling work to cover Government bottoms.

  9. If only we had some sort of autonomous biological intelligences whose job it was to protect their own children from child abuse.

    This hypothetical construct would come in two models – masculine and feminine – to help raise psychologically healthy children. And would have an integrated submatrix for buying sweeties and answering interminable questions.

  10. It’s worth looking at what the actual problem is, here. Children want unrestricted access to social media. But children want free access to all sorts of things. Children want free access to the roads & to be able to cross them or play on them whenever they like. But we don’t erect fences along every pavement edge to prevent them being run over.. Children are taught that roads are dangerous places & young children are hopefully supervised by a responsible adult in proximity to them. And safe play areas, without cars hurtling about in them, are created where children can play in safety.
    And the answer to the children on social medium problem could be similar. Don’t allow unsupervised children free access to the interweb. And provide child friendly social media platforms for them to play on.
    It’s not as if it would be hard to achieve. The tech companies would jump at the opportunity if there was a market. But there isn’t. Because parents have zero sense of responsibility when it comes to their children and the internet. They expect everyone else to mind their children for them.

  11. As an aside, I was a fairly early arriver to the internet. Arriving somewhat before it entered the station via the Usenet boards. The early internet may have been anarchic but it was, at least, populated by reasonably intelligent people. You needed a degree of smarts to handle the tech required. As the tech’s got progressively easier to handle, the intelligence of those on it have declined. Until the advent of the smartphone flooded it with complete & utter morons.

  12. Ted: Yes, halcyon days before AOL. Usenet was very erudite and I learned a lot in all sorts of spheres – the sex scene in Seattle was an eye-opener to us English provincials! The few fruitcakes were amusing – there was a guy on sci.physics, a tenured professor no less, who came out with the weirdest stuff.

  13. “False positives in allegations of child grooming or paedophilia are quite an important thing.”

    You are fishing for a commenter to say “except to the Met, the CPS, the Victims’ Commissioner, Mr Tom Watson MP, and other skullduggery merchants”.

  14. @TMB
    Modem access via a uni portal was indeed valuable. But early days, can’t remember encountering that many degree bearers. I specified smarts, not credentials. Most uni-tossers aren’t that bright. Why they need to go to uni, I s’pose.The only contact I had with a university was pulling crumpet in SU bars. But I built my first machine up out of components from mail order.

  15. @Jim, thanks. I am proud of persuading offspring not to do a PhD and never to think of taking academic jobs.

    High spirited youngsters of high intelligence should steer clear of academic life.

    When I compare the state of play to my undergraduate days I could weep.

  16. I’m trying to remember why I got into it in the first place. Electronic mags being on the same shelf as the one’s told you how to build hot rods out of a family saloon’s part of it. That the people hacking around in computers were the same sort of people build hot rods out of family saloons’s another. But less oil & skinned knuckles..

  17. Interesting New Statesman article, that, JIm. But it manages to miss out the most important thing. Who prices the value of a university education? That, I would submit, is done by employers when they hire university graduates. If they’re willing to accept fraudulent credentials, what can you expect?

  18. Jim,

    “OT, but on the topic of degrees, there was a savage takedown of the university system in the UK in the New Statesman of all places:”

    They couldn’t help but mention Mrs Thatch, despite the real problems being under everyone since.

    There’s also still lots of good degree courses. Go and do hard science at a good university, your degree will be good. The problem is the humanities degrees and stuff at ex-polys which like the subprime dogshit of this bubble.

  19. HTF are they expecting Facebook to stop somebody browsing BigNBouncyBabes without breaking into their house and physically restraining them?

  20. “They couldn’t help but mention Mrs Thatch, despite the real problems being under everyone since.”

    Yes, I think thats a requirement of every article on Leftist publications – Rule One: Regardless of when the problem is or when it started, always blame Thatcher first.

    One wonders how far we will have leave the Thatcher era in the rear view mirror before this rule is abandoned. I mean its highly likely that many people writing such articles were not even born when Mrs T left office, and even more highly likely that they were only a child during the ’79 to ’90 period, so can have no personal experience of the politics of that era. Its just a sort of knee jerk reaction. 1979 is 40 years ago, so its like someone in the 1980s blaming Churchill or Attlee for their current woes.

    Will we eventually reach a point where no one in politics has any adult experience of the Thatcher era and they are all still blaming her for everything?

  21. @Jim

    The think that irks me more than using Thatcher as the go-to for blame-listing, is the laziness in viewing 1979 as effectively Year Zero for everything. There’s a logical inconsistency in almost all Thatcher-bashing articles, whereby supposedly Thatcher Made Things Worse – but that implies there was some kind of pre-Thatcher “Golden Age”, and yet most such articles view history as having effectively started 1979.

    If there was some idyllic era then you’d think it would merit exploring in great detail for all the useful guidance it can teach us, but instead it’s usually ignored. And as you say, you’re going back 40 years already, so to understand the context of the “Thatcher reforms” or “rise of neoliberalism”, you might as well examine the decade or two beforehand to understand the backdrop these changes were played out to.

    If you do so critically, what you often discover is that big social, cultural and economic changes were often not dictated by Mrs T from No 10 at all, nor even a direct reaction to her, but parts of wider trends operating across the western world and beyond, and often in the decades both before and after her time in office. Globalisation, deindustrialisation, social liberalisation, decline of the nuclear family and organised religion, growth of the service industries, computerisation, the rise of imports (and exports) … a lot of stuff just happened to occur simultaneously with her time in office, but she was there for a political aeon so there was sufficient time for them to make their mark felt. If you look at a graph of e.g. the number of coal miners in the UK from 1960 to 2000 then you’d find it almost impossible to pick the Thatcher years out – they basically match a trend that started before her and finished long after her. But more of that transformation happened under her than anyone else.

    In contrast, the growth in social media and power of the big internet companies has been spread across the late Blair, Brown, Cameron, May and Johnson eras, so none of them individually seem to have presided over a seismic change. If in some alternative reality we’d had a single PM from 2006 to 2018 they’d likely be remembered as “the guy who let Facebook take us all over”.

    In general, Thatcher-blaming irks me for its knee-jerk reflexes, but in terms of responsibility for the way things are today – both good and bad – I’d argue more stuff lies at Thatcher’s door than most other PMs. I base that on (1) her longer time in office, (2) her willingness to shake things up, (3) the fact that, unlike Attlee, relatively few of her changes have been reversed. 1979 Year Zeroism annoys me rather more, both for its intellectual laziness and the way it obscures any useful lessons that could be learned.

  22. “In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph, Lynne Owens said the failure of the social media firms to prevent paedophiles targeting children on the open web was distracting the NCA and police from hunting down the “worst offenders” who were operating on the dark web.”

    Because that’s not their responsibility? That’s the NCA’s, right? So shouldn’t the NCA be on the hook for creating the tool that finds paedophiles on social media? Wouldn’t that fall squarely in their ‘find crime’ remit?

    After all, these people have no problem contracting out the development of facial recognition tools, license plate readers, networked systems to share information, etc? All the tools of law enforcement.

    Why is this one specific tool the responsibility of Facebook, et al?

  23. Also, NCA, their targeted advertising tools are shite. So you want the people who can’t figure out what I want – despite spending most of my free time on the internet and buying damn near everything online – to make a tool that will be used to alert you every time a kiddie-diddler is detected?

    Because that would just have you coming back to the press and complaining about how citizens trying to ‘help’ law enforcement just makes your job harder from all the false positives you’re drowning under.

  24. In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph, Lynne Owens said the failure of the social media firms to prevent paedophiles targeting children on the open web was distracting the NCA and police from hunting down the “worst offenders” who were operating on the dark web.

    Surely them we’ve got two types of offenders which need two different approaches. Those operating on the open web either hosting or downloading kiddy porn pictures should be dealt with by a group setup to deal with that. Should have thought with international cooperation with the septics being quite keen to crackdown on it, that it is relatively trivial.

    Online grooming of kiddies by pedos is obviously a bit harder, but probably better tackled by better parental control (yes, parents need to be included), raising awareness with parents and children of the dangers and better online reporting.

    Not pissing time and money away on idiots making rude comments on Twitter or Facebook would probably help.

    As for the “Dark Web”, surely it cannot be within the whit of man to block it? Especially since the main tool (TOR) is a product of the US Government in the first place?

    Maybe the CIA should have kept things like TOR between the spies and not let it get out in the world at large.

    I don’t know…maybe I am being naïve?

  25. @Edward Lud

    How to remember correct spelling: Naive people buy Evian – tap water bad.


    First use of “internet” by me was 1985 “emailing” and IM on JANET & PrimeNet. Can’t remember how I found it, we weren’t taught/told about it – reading manuals/help files probably. Then in 1988 at work: a 1,200bps (1.2kbs) bulletin board, chat room & file transfer for clients.

  26. I was a teenager in the 70s, and in no way (excepting Mott The Hoople, Slade, Sweet, T. Rex, obvs) were they any better than the Thatcher years.

  27. Bloke in North Dorset

    The infallibility of AI in the eyes of our lords and masters is a sight to behold. The seem to have conveniently forgotten Facebook’s attempts which led to black faces being labelled of chimpanzees?

  28. Bloke in North Dorset

    Re Thatcher years.

    I’ve started pointing people to the BBC’s excellent UK Confidential series where politicians and senior civil servants of the time discuss the release of cabinet papers under the 30 year rule.

    I also point out that from 1964 to 1979 we had a Labour Govt, with the exception of the incompetence of Heath, and during that period everything was nationalised. It ended in chaos and the only time the NHS didn’t have a real budget increase.

    It’s been sobering for a few people and sparked denial in others.

  29. @JG

    I’m not an expert on these things but wasn’t Tor the US Navy rather than the CIA? Also, doesn’t the whole thing only work if you allow other people to get into the act? If all Tor traffic was by spies and all Tor infrastructure was provided for the purpose of serving spies, wouldn’t that defy the point of the traffic’s “anonymity” – everyone who saw said traffic/infrastructure would know it was the CIA or whoever?

  30. It’s been my experience that exposure to false positives and false negatives is zero for many people.

    Further, many people believe no one would ever use something with a high rate of either and then make the non sequitar that therefore everything that gets used must be free of them.

  31. Re Maggie: Surely the day of doom in the future will be beastly Boris and his benighted Brexit.

    I can hear them sighing for the paradise of the EU already.

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