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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Profiling - a behavioral science

I first learned about the FBI Academy's Behavioral Science Unit through the crime novels of Patricia Cornwell. The BSU was established in 1972 at the FBI Academy and was disbanded in 2014 (Wiki). Apparently, this unit was then transferred into field operations and renamed into Behavioral Analysis Unit. Wiki: "The BAU was brought into mainstream culture by television shows such as Criminal Minds, which depict an elite group of "FBI profilers" who travel the country assisting local law enforcement on diverse cases". Note: italic markings by LO.

Many products and services of Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are free. Nevertheless, we all know - or should know - that there is no such thing as a free ride. These companies monitor our online activities, discover patterns through data mining, build a user profile, and then sell (parts of) that profile for targeted advertising (eg, PC World).

There is a science fiction crime drama called Person of Interest (8.5 in IMDb) in which an artificially intelligent (AI) surveillance program sends the identities of civilians involved in impending crimes, based upon their spoken or written word. To some extent, the idea is in line with the 2002 Sci-Fi movie Minority Report (7.7 in IMDb) in which a special unit - the Pre-Crime division - of the police is hunting for people who only think about committing a crime. 

On Sunday 19 June 2016, Donald Trump stated the following on American national TV in relation to the profiling of American Muslims: “I think profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country. We really have to look at profiling. We have to look at it seriously. And other countries do it. And it’s not the worst thing to do. I hate the concept of profiling, but we have to use common sense. We’re not using common sense.” (eg, CNNPolitico, WP).


Essentially, Donald Trump is now combining all 3 elements of the above: criminal behavioral science analysis, AI surveillance, and a Pre-Crime unit for minorities. On 19 June 2016, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that his fellow Republicans should follow their “conscience” when it comes to whether or not they support Donald Trump. “This a very strange situation,” Ryan said in an NBC interview, and “[Trump is] a very unique nominee.” (eg, Guardian, NBCTIME).

On 18 June 2016, Donald Trump called these efforts by a group of Republican convention delegates to prevent him from officially clinching the nomination “illegal” and “a hoax.” (WSJ). Obviously, things cannot both be illegal and a hoax. If it doesn't exist (hoax) then it can't even be illegal. Also see my 19 April 2015 blog on "Urban legends and hoaxes".

PolitiFact: "Trump said delegates seeking to change the convention rules to prevent his nomination "can’t do it legally." Under current rules, the delegates are bound to vote for whomever won their state’s primary or caucus (in most cases, Trump). But if this year’s rules committee votes to change the rules to thwart Trump, it’s well within its authority to do so. And intervention by the courts would be unlikely. Because political parties are private organizations, courts have said they can set their own rules. We rate Trump’s claim Mostly False".

I sincerely doubt that Donald Trump sees the irony of calling the NeverTrump or DumpTrump movements as illegal and - at the same time - proposing criminal profiling of US minorities. At least, Joe McCarthy would have been proud of Donald Trump. First communists and homosexuals, now Muslims. Who is next??

The Profilers - Bye Bye (2010) - artistsMySpace, SonicBidsvideo


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