Skip to main content

Cloud Cover

I’m looking at the actual and forecast weather this morning and debating whether to pop across to Rochester to pick up fuel but I think I’ll pass. It’s quite flyable but it’s damp and cold and there’s a 30 per cent chance of snow across the western side of Kent this morning and another 30 per cent chance that I’ll flatten my battery trying to start an engine with cold oil. Here in Thanet we are more likely to get rain instead. If you look out of the window at the towering cumulus clouds, you’ll see what I mean The aircraft on the left is one I used to own before I became sensible and I miss it sometimes.

I see there’s a fuss in the Guardian newspaper and elsewhere over the size of the police DNA database and that a particular racial group appear to be over-represented. Perhaps it would instead be fairer if we all contributed a DNA sample in the interests of supporting law and order. After all, the police have reportedly caught 30,000 criminals through the simple expedient of matching-up their DNA against a hair, blood or any other tiny “biological” left at the scene of the crime and then simply gone looking for the owner at his or her last known address. Very CSI Miami..!

While I worry about the introduction of ID cards and other Home Office measures that appear to threaten our freedoms in a democratic society, I don’t see a DNA database as such a threat, if and it’s a very big “If” the information is used and shared properly and responsibly. However, when you think that the DVLA is quite prepared to sell your address, from your number plate to private parking and often “cowboy” clamping companies, there is that niggling worry that one can’t trust an organisation as large and inefficient as government or perhaps even the police, to use a national DNA database only for the purpose for which it was intended.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.


In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Nature of Nurture?

Recently, I found myself in a fascinating four-way Twitter exchange, with Professor Adam Rutherford and two other science-minded friends The subject, frequently regarded as a delicate one, genetics and whether there could exist an unknown but contributory genetic factor(s) or influences in determining what we broadly understand or misunderstand as human intelligence.

I won’t discuss this subject in any great detail here, being completely unqualified to do so, but I’ll point you at the document we were discussing, and Rutherford’s excellent new book, ‘A Brief History of Everyone.”

What had sparked my own interest was the story of my own grandfather, Edmond Greville; unless you are an expert on the history of French cinema, you are unlikely to have ever hear of him but he still enjoys an almost cult-like following for his work, half a century after his death.

I've been enjoying the series "Genius" on National Geographic about the life of Albert Einstein. The four of us ha…
The Mandate of Heaven

eGov Monitor Version

“Parliament”, said my distinguished friend “has always leaked like a sieve”.

I’m researching the thorny issue of ‘Confidence in Public Sector Computing’ and we were discussing the dangers presented by the Internet. In his opinion, information security is an oxymoron, which has no place being discussed in a Parliament built upon the uninterrupted flow of information of every kind, from the politically sensitive to the most salacious and mundane.

With the threat of war hanging over us, I asked if MPs should be more aware of the risks that surround this new communications medium? More importantly, shouldn’t the same policies and precautions that any business might use to protect itself and its staff, be available to MPs?

What concerns me is that my well-respected friend mostly considers security in terms of guns, gates and guards. He now uses the Internet almost as much as he uses the telephone and the Fax machine and yet the growing collective t…