Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing date: 03/20/2017
Digital Vetting – Hundreds of Thousands Erroneously Issued Visas – A History of Budget Overruns – Will it Ever Work
Craig Peterson: Time for another TechSanity check. We’re going to talk a little bit about a tech story that has to do with politics today. I know, it’s a shock, right? I never get close to the political realm. But today we’re going to. We’re going to talk about these green cards. We’re gonna talk about citizenship. You know with everyone talking about President Trump’s executive order, now his second one, being stuck in limbo by a federal judge, that was trying to stop people from coming into the country until we can figure out the vetting system. Extreme vetting. Whatever you might want to call it. And when I was down in Florida talking with my mom, she’s just all upset that the United States is just so terrible and not letting people in. So we’re going to talk about digital vetting system. It’s in the news this week and you’re listening to me right now. We’re going to talk about it. Stick around, here it goes.
You know there’s a whole lot we could talk about here when it comes to sanity in these digital systems, the digital vetting systems and we’re going to talk about it right now. Obviously, trying to get it done in 10 minutes, it just plain isn’t going to happen. But here’s the basic problem. I’ve seen it for decades now. People somehow think that a computer is smarter than they are. Even today, with artificial intelligence, computers aren’t getting close to human intelligence. So think about it for instance. You’ve got smart devices now. You might go an Amazon Alexa. You have Siri on your iPhone and now on your Macs. You might have something, you know, Cortana on your Windows device. Do you talk to them? Have you ever asked them a question? Like, go ahead. Ask them a basic question. Most of the time they’re going to get it wrong. They’re going to misinterpret the question. They’re going to cheat and just do a web search to try and find an answer to your question because they don’t know. They can’t parse your language well enough. They can’t put the data together well enough.
Now let’s go to the next step here. Have you ever heard of people filing tax returns and having problems with the IRS because the IRS said something like hey, you’ve already filed a return. Or the IRS said we got this reported income for you. This isn’t the correct income. How does the IRS put all the records together? Well, they use your name and your birth date and your social security number if they have it, and they try and put it together. Even with that information they still get it wrong. Now of course there’s bad guys, we’ve talked about this before, who are out there doing data mining. Filing tax returns on behalf of people that they are not, and getting the tax money, you know, the return money. And then cashing the check and running away. Ok, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m talking about is the intelligence of computers. Now, I get it, right? It’s serious. Not too bright. So what’s our next best bet out there? Well, people go to Google.
Google has some artificial intelligence in there. But the bottom line is that Google search engine uses a number of different criteria to try and figure out what the best search result would be based on the phrase. And then also, even customizes those search results based on you. Where you’re physically located? The types of things you’ve searched for before. Is that artificial intelligence? Have you ever tried to look up a problem? This is a great one I think. I’ve got a problem with my computer and I go ahead and I type in that exact error message into Google. And what do I get back?
What are the results? The results of your search? You’re not going to find many errors. It’s amazing to me how many times I punched an error into Google and I don’t get an answer. So we’re going to talk more about this in a second.
I want to point out, I’m in a great mood today. Over the weekend on Friday last week, we launched something new. I’m asking people, hey, if you could sit down with me and ask me any two questions you would like to ask me, what would those questions be? Pretty simple. You know, I talk about security and technology here and you might have a question. And I got some really, really great response here from putting this out. And I’m going to be asking this for the next couple of weeks. But here’s what it is. All you have to do is send an email to me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and list the two questions that you would want to ask me if you and I were just sitting down together. We’re talking about coming up with some prizes and things for the best questions but what could I do? What questions could I answer that would help you in your life and in your business? Just send them to me, email@example.com. We’re going to have this going on for the next couple of weeks. But the sooner you get in, the better.
Alright, so, we know computers aren’t great at putting everything together? We know that when you go ahead and do a search for something you think would be obvious and it doesn’t come back with any sort of answer that’s reasonable, particularly if it’s a tougher search, right? If you’re doing a bit of a tougher search where you’re trying to figure out something other than maybe somebody’s birthday, you may or may not be able to get any sort of a reasonable response out of it.
So what we have found out when it comes to the federal government when they’re trying to do the vetting is they’re relying heavily on digital systems. They’ve gone and they have put in place this digital vetting system. That way the computers can put everything together, right? That’s the whole idea. Well turns out things haven’t worked out as well as they had hoped. Digital vetting, although in theory it sounds great, right? Oh yeah, we’ll have a computer do it. And how can anything possibly go wrong when it comes to vetting, right? Computers can do that? Because all the computers have to do is put together this record and that record, right? How often have we talked about big data here? On my radio show, when I’ve talked about it on TV. We’ve talked about it here on the podcast. Where they take all kinds of data, put it together, and now can hack your life. Because they’ve kind of figured out everything there is to figure out about you. Well that’s kind of what they thought. We can do big data. We can make it work.
So the US Citizenship and Immigration Service started working on a new system back in 2006. So this was during the Bush years. And it was supposed to be able to bring the vetting to immigrants from the old paper and pencil times all the way forward to the digital era. Isn’t that exciting here? But, not so good as it turns out. Not so good at all. http://Nextgov.com, you’ll find them online. Of course you’ll also find them right here, attached to this podcast. A link directly to these things here. But has it quite an article here. Shut downs, delays and budget overruns in the information technology system the government’s immigration service uses could allow terrorists or criminals to mistakenly receive citizenship or green cards. Lawmakers fret Thursday. And yes, that was just this past Thursday. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services tech troubles date back 2006, when the agency began a massive program to create an electronic immigration system. What is it with the federal government not being able to make these types of systems work?
That project, spearheaded by IBM had stumbled miserably by 2012 when they cut the project up into shorter time frames with smaller deliverables. Now that’s normally a good idea right? Since then, the project had continued to suffer bugs and delays. The agency and its auditors testified about this before a house Homeland Security committee panel. The program is currently scheduled to be fully deployed early 2019, yeah good luck, at a cost of roughly $3 billion, hey I can do it for a tenth of that, which is more than $1 billion over the original price tag according to testimony from the government accountability office. Because of system bugs, shifts between manual and digital processing and other issues, they’ve erroneously issued about 20,000 green cards and granted citizenship to more than 800 people who had previously been deported during the past 6 months, an auditor found. We’re talking about potential criminals and terrorists using this information to compromise our national security so it’s no small matter, that’s according to side committee chair Scott Perry.
What do you think about that? Vetting, that’s what this whole thing’s about, right, with President Donald Trump. That’s what his executive order’s were about. We wanted to do “extreme vetting”. Well now, we have testimony on record that by the way, have you heard this on the media? I haven’t heard this anywhere in the media. Except right here. We have testimony now on record that the system that they’re using is horrific. Wouldn’t you call that horrific? Issuing erroneously 20,000 green cards and granting citizenship to more than 800 people in just the last 6 months? What? This is egregious but it’s typical. We all know that, right? But when it comes to the federal government, nobody can mess up computer systems better than the federal government. Extreme vetting? Let’s have it.
One more thing, by the way, when we’re talking about this sort of thing. It’s one thing to have a country like the United States or Canada or most of Europe, where there are incredible detailed digital records about our lives. It’s everything right? The federal government has everything. You know about our online social media accounts. They know about our phone bill. They know about our electric bill and utilization. They know about the houses we own. The vehicles we own. The credit cards we have. They know all of this stuff. Because they have full access to it. So it’s no problem, right? They just go to a digital aggregator who sells it to them. So they can’t collect it themselves. We’re not collecting that information. But they are getting it through third parties. So they’re getting all this information about us. They’re processed it. So they know a lot about us. How about somebody coming from Syria? How about someone that they don’t know anything about? Where there are not these types of records? How do we know that they are coming to the US because they’re fleeing persecution or they’re fleeing just a terrible situation over there, right? I get it. I’m an emigrant. I’m an immigrant to the United States. I left my home country when I was 19. Right? I’ve been in the US ever since. So I get it. I understand. But we have to have systems in place and we can’t trust what they’ve got obviously. It’s terrible. By 2019 I suspect a worse system would be in place. Oh my.
Anyhow, have a great day. A little TechSanity check. And we will be back tomorrow. Don’t forget, if you have 2 questions, what 2 questions would you ask me if you and I were sitting down? You could ask me anything you wanted, what would they be? Just email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks. Take care. Have a great day. Bye bye.
Today’s TechSanity Check is about how the tech story that is government-related. Green cards and citizenship vetting system has long been how some immigrants can get to the US, but what does this entail, if the system itself isn’t secured?
We’ll talk about this and more today on TechSanity Check!
- Super. Our digital vetting system gave citizenship or green cards to thousands who were ordered deported
- Delays and Bugs in Immigrant Vetting System Trouble Lawmakers
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