Friday, October 20, 2006

"Emotion Detection Technology" Anger Alerts

This article describes a new technology being tested at telephone-based customer service call centers to alert supervisors when a customer's anger level reaches a certain point. In short, a computer measures 200 elements of voice tone, word choice, etc., and the new article describes a "major attraction of [the] emotion-detection technology is its promised ability to help identify customer frustration." The article continues...

"The software conducts a flow analysis of each call, examining 200 elements to give a holistic picture of the customer experience. Besides emotion detection, Perform uses two other methods to analyze customer experiences with call centers. The software allows users to create lexicons of words and phrases a caller may say that could raise red flags: cancellation, frustration, or a competitor's name."

While the new technology may be promising for companies seeking a better way to identify customers who are upset, what about the technology's potential for corruption? In other words, in an age when the President willingly violates the Fourth Amendment and allows agencies to eavesdrop on purely domestic phone calls between citizens, wouldn't this new technology make Dick Cheney's dark eyes light up?

We are told that the new "Military Commissions Act,"- which allows the President to determine who is an "unlawful enemy combatant" and who is thus able to retain their ability to be tried in U.S courts, to contest their detentions via writs of habeas corpus, and their ability to retain rights to counsel, to speedy trial and to confront their accusers- will not be used to punish his political enemies. "Don't you worry your pretty little heads," we're assured. "This power will only be used against terrorists."

But try to fathom now that (1) we don't know how much eavesdropping is being conducted, and that (2) soon this new "emotion detection technology" will allow computers to search speech for phrases which may be deemed to "purposefully and materially support[] hostilities against the United States" as is criminalized under the new MCA.

The implications are terrifying for anyone who believes the Fourth Amendment should be anything but a "quaint" reminder of an earlier, pre-9/11 mindset, to paraphrase the Attorney General's assessment of the Geneva Conventions application to the GWOT.

While the implications of this new technology and our lack of knowledge about the scope of eavesdropping is truly terrifying, it is even more shocking to read this description of the "enemy at home" by the Rishwain Research Scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, Disesh D'Souza.

"In this book I make a claim that will seem startling at the outset. The cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11. … In faulting the cultural left, I am not making the absurd accusation that this group blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I am saying that the cultural left and its allies in Congress, the media, Hollywood, the nonprofit sector, and the universities are the primary cause of the volcano of anger toward America that is erupting from the Islamic world.

I realize that this is a strong charge, one that no one has made before. But it is a neglected aspect of the 9/11 debate, and it is critical to understanding the current controversy over the ‘war against terrorism.’ … I intend to show that the left has actively fostered the intense hatred of America that has led to numerous attacks such as 9/11. If I am right, then no war against terrorism can be effectively fought using the left-wing premises that are now accepted doctrine among mainstream liberals and Democrats.”

In other words, (1) you can be made to disappear at the Decider's whim, without access to a court or a lawyer if he concludes that you "purposefully and materially support[] hostilities against the United States," (2) phone calls between citizens are being eavesdropped upon at unknown levels and the ability of search these calls for phrases is now available, and (3) many mainstream, right-wing "intellectuals" believe, as D'Souza does, that "the left [in America] has actively fostered the intense hatred of America that has led to numerous attacks."

Is it too far of a stretch to believe the MCA will be "stretched" soon to allow the those they believe "caused" 9/11 to be described as "purposefully and materially supporting hostilities" against the U.S. to be deemed "unlawful enemy combatants" and removed to those new detention facilities being constructed inside the U.S. by a Halliburton subsidiary?

I sure hope so.


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