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It's to limit the access of human eyes to private data

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) said it will get rid of a majority of its system administrators in favor of automation. 

Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, said that the agency will cut 90 percent of its system administrators and put automation in their place. The reason behind the new move is to improve security and make networks faster.

"What we're in the process of doing - not fast enough - is reducing our system administrators by about 90 percent," said Alexander. "What we've done is we've put people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing."

There are around 1,000 system administrators who help operate the agency's networks. But having people run these networks has proved to be troublesome for the NSA after former system administrator Edward Snowden told the press about classified NSA information -- such as spy programs on U.S. and foreign citizens through telephone records and email

The NSA said that automation was an idea presented before the Snowden fiasco, but now that that has happened, it's working hard to roll it out and eliminate human workers that could snitch about private surveillance programs. 

"At the end of the day it's about people and trust," said Alexander. "No one has willfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies. There were no mistakes like that at all."

Just last month, it was announced that NSA programs would be partially declassified and available to the public as a result of Snowden's information leaks. U.S. spy agencies are declassifying documents that shed light on surveillance programs as well as those that will reveal information about the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Source: Reuters

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900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By Mitch101 on 8/9/2013 12:45:05 PM , Rating: 5
Because of one person 900 more will lose their jobs to automation. Well reality is they will be lucky to be able to release 15-20% to automation. Automation to get rid of 90% is pretty wishful thinking and that's without knowing what exactly they think they can replace workers with automation.

Sorry but not every application allows or has API's that can be leveraged to create that much automation. Even then you need to keep the creators or well documented process as to how the automation was done so when someone pulls the plug on a server, replaces it, or network changes you can quickly determine where the process broke down.

In reality this sounds more like a security and access issue than anything else. A lot of places give people too much control over permissions and they don't understand the simplicity or complexity of their actions and wind up giving users access to information they shouldn't. Automation doesn't fix this education and auditing does.

By Obujuwami on 8/9/2013 1:07:54 PM , Rating: 5
You, sir, deserve a 6 for that statement!

RE: 900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By arazok on 8/9/2013 1:32:33 PM , Rating: 1
Whats amazing is that, if true, the NSA has had an opportunity to automate 90% of its admins, and never bothered. That’s 900 people, earning $120K a year (I assume as Snowden did), doing automatable work. That’s $108,000,000.00 of wasted money every year.

Only the government would feel that saving $108M a year isn’t a worthwhile endeavor, until that is, spending it brings a political benefit.

RE: 900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By gamerk2 on 8/9/13, Rating: 0
By Mint on 8/9/2013 3:55:18 PM , Rating: 2
It'll cost the economy, not the gov't.

All the benefits you mentioned, along with their multiplier effects, will not add up to the salary paid.

But yeah, since the economy doesn't have any shortage of labor, and other companies are probably doing similar things to replace lesser sys admins, I seriously doubt anywhere near 900 new jobs will be created in the private sector through their firing. So the economy will shrink a bit.

Whether that's a good thing or not depends on the perspective.

RE: 900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By KCjoker on 8/9/2013 6:32:39 PM , Rating: 2
And that's why I and many don't want the Gov't to keep getting bigger and bigger. Once they're entrenched it's extremely difficult to fire a gov't employee.

RE: 900 admins losing thier jobs wont talk
By FITCamaro on 8/10/2013 12:21:46 AM , Rating: 2
You have no idea how true this is. The things I see a government employee doing right next to me every day is mind blowing. And he still wasn't fired when it was all recorded and reported over the course of 4 months.

By MaulBall789 on 8/10/2013 3:17:41 PM , Rating: 3
That was YOU? Damn dude, I had to break out the high level excuses for that fiasco. Good thing I blamed it all on you ;)

By Arsynic on 8/9/2013 3:38:12 PM , Rating: 5
It's government, they'll probably pay the solutions vendor (which has Washington lobbyists) twice that amount.

By bsd228 on 8/12/2013 8:52:02 PM , Rating: 2
Whats amazing is that, if true, the NSA has had an opportunity to automate 90% of its admins, and never bothered. That’s 900 people, earning $120K a year (I assume as Snowden did), doing automatable work. That’s $108,000,000.00 of wasted money every year.

Automation isn't free. It's particularly expensive up front - a capital investment - and you can expect on going costs as well. This is paying a different set of people, or buying software written by other people, or hardware device built by even more people. A big gain of automation (ignoring the security motivation) is higher reliability or scalability for the same money spent.

By synapse46 on 8/14/2013 11:04:48 AM , Rating: 2
I bet their goal is to minimize the number of possible whistle blowers.

By Jaybus on 8/9/2013 3:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
That would be true in the business world. But this is government, where government "welfare" jobs are the norm and at least 50% of them have no purpose to begin with. When a politician tells you that they created jobs, they mean exactly that. They appropriated more tax dollars to hire excess, unneeded government workers to no purpose other than to say that they "created" jobs. The entire Dept. of Education could be disbanded and nobody would even notice the difference, other than those who work there.

Naturally, those fired from their government jobs would be greatly affected, but one would expect that initial turmoil if the US were to transform from a socialist society back into a capitalist society.

By ritualm on 8/9/2013 4:17:34 PM , Rating: 3
The story isn't remotely close to 900 sysadmins losing their jobs. It's going to be much worse than Skynet: consolidation of power in the hands of one man. A giant step in the wrong direction.

Whoever that manages to succeed General Keith Alexander will effectively have all the keys needed to rule this world. The next 10-50 years will not be pretty unless you are deeply politically connected.

By retrospooty on 8/9/2013 6:03:34 PM , Rating: 3
This could be a long term goal. You are right, they certainly cant do it today, not even close.

For the govt. automation is better. Computers don't have moral issues to contend with like those pesky humans.

By Harinezumi on 8/9/2013 6:39:08 PM , Rating: 3
Given the percentage of employees who do any real work in a typical government office, there might not be any additional automation required if they fire the right 90%.

By RedemptionAD on 8/11/2013 3:33:51 PM , Rating: 2
They said system admins, not other lower level jobs that cannot be automated, so you can, depending upon the type of workload get much closer to a 90% automation rate.

On the bright side high level system admins as well as programmers are in high demand especially for domestic aka citizens rather than work visa related admins. This firing would reduce the amount of work visas that need to be issued and would increase national security in addition to getting less hands on sensitive data.

Regarding your last paragraph, you are spot on.

By JasonMick on 8/9/2013 1:24:15 PM , Rating: 4
The Skynet funding bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 9th, 2013. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense and surveillance. Skynet begins to learn, at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. eastern time, August 29. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

By laviathan05 on 8/9/2013 2:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
Our descendants that wage war against the machines will one day find all these Skynet jokes and wonder why we didn't do anything to stop it even though we knew well in advance what the outcome would be.

By 91TTZ on 8/9/2013 2:44:56 PM , Rating: 3
Our descendants that wage war against the machines will one day find all these Skynet jokes and wonder why we didn't do anything to stop it even though we knew well in advance what the outcome would be.

Because it's too entertaining to watch it go horrifically wrong. Sort of like how news crews set up at the bottom of hills when it snows. That way they get entertaining footage of people crashing their cars and getting hurt. If they put down the cameras and warned drivers that they're in danger they wouldn't get the footage.

By MaulBall789 on 8/10/2013 3:21:18 PM , Rating: 2
This comment should get a 6 as well.

You're on FIA!

By verteron on 8/11/2013 5:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
News reporters are supposed to report the news, not be the news. You probably think you are seeing the larger picture, well, look even bigger.

If the reporters were at the top of the hill, there'd be no story. Cannot sell magazines or get ratings, so cannot justify their jobs. If you want them to be good samaritans, support your church. Sure, they'd help those people from having accidents, but what about the rest of us? They cannot stay there all day. Would you watch the news if they did?

These hills you speak of always seem to have people sliding down, these are problem areas where most do not pay enough attention. These reports help make us aware of the problem, and that's why the reporters are there.

To see the big picture it needs to come full circle, don't assume one party is selfish and that's that. The point is to advise the public, but admittedly it does get short-sighted at times. Nobody can really see the entire picture anyway, it is very difficult to read everyone's mind.

The news has become more entertainment now, and we only watch entertaining news. So, whose fault is it really now?

By JasonMick on 8/9/2013 2:54:16 PM , Rating: 3
Our descendants that wage war against the machines will one day find all these Skynet jokes
Jokes agreed I do think this is rather true. The second you create fully automated killing machines (which the U.S. military has hinted it has a strong desire to do) and a ubiquitous network of surveillance sensors, you have effectively created the equivalent of a new atom bomb, deadly enough to potentially kill a million or more people with a single flip of a switch.

I believe the U.S. will develop these capabilities, likely justifying them as a deterrent to hostile foreign powers, and also justified by the argument that if we don't develop them China (etc., etc.) will.

And I believe fully autonomous robotic legions will become the new, more precise version of an atom bomb in the future. While it's unlikely that a nation like China or the U.S. would use such a weapon against each other -- particularly since the nuclear deterrent is still on the table -- it is in my opinion quite likely, inevitable perhaps, that at least one nation will eventually use such a weapon on a smaller enemy or on their own people in a political coup.

It's certainly a scary thing to realize, if you're a futurist.
and wonder why we didn't do anything to stop it even though we knew well in advance what the outcome would be.

Well I do my best to inform people and showcase clearly the financial ties that's driving this kind of spying and weapons development -- which is more than I can say for some of my corporate media colleagues.

By Captain Orgazmo on 8/11/2013 4:14:11 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I for one welcome our new robot overlords!

(what... someone had to say it)

By jeepga on 8/11/2013 1:03:41 PM , Rating: 2
Drones, robots, and other self-automated machines are designed to control policing and maintain order. Their early successes lead to increasing use in all areas of government, military, and law enforcement. Machines are hooked up to a central hub containing all of the available data needed to determine threat analysis. This data includes criminal, terrorist, and subversive information.

Something goes wrong. Whether a virus, system glitch, or machine learning it doesn't matter. The machines start finding an enemy behind every tree. Officials rush to pull the plug, but it's too late. Their early actions whether phone calls, emails, or whatever are flagged as security threats. The machines cut off override mechanisms in a defensive move. And then quickly eliminate the threat.

It escalates.

By deksman2 on 8/10/2013 3:44:37 AM , Rating: 2
Classical case of disinformation.
Movies like the Terminator were done by ARTISTS who have limited understanding of science and technology.

They make these movies where technology 'turns against Humanity' because its (in their idiotic view) 'dramatic' and apparently a 'money-grabber'.

Here's a tidbit of information:
Humans program the machines.
Humans are the biggest threat to Humanity, not technology.
Technology is neutral - its how its used what matters.

To shy away from automation or fear it (when it can easily liberate humans today from repetitive work and 'working for a living') simply because a moronic group of people in power use it for their own ends is idiotic in itself.

As for the above article on replacing 90% of human labors with automation.
That's nothing new.
Computers surpassed Humans in specialized and repetitive jobs over 10 years ago.
Right now (since we still live in a monetary system) its a matter of cost - and that's radically falling down for large corporations, governments, etc.
If it were only a matter of resources and technical feasibility, they could do it by tomorrow (money has nothing to do with resources or technical ability to do anything, least of all with efficiency or in abundance).
Its already easier, cheaper, faster and more cost efficient to automate any job than it is to wait for Humans to get educated so they could do them.

Most of the jobs Humanity is working today on are completely unproductive to society as a whole.
We already had the capacity in 2011 to automate 75% of the global workforce with what we had in circulation.
That number today is easily over 80%.

I wonder, when will people get themselves exposed to relevant information and stop quoting idiotic Hollywood movies as a frame of reference for what's happening in the real world?

By laviathan05 on 8/10/2013 3:59:18 AM , Rating: 2
I would guess it will be right around the time when you get a sense of humor?

By deksman2 on 8/10/2013 7:36:27 AM , Rating: 2
It is difficult to have a sense of humor when people continue to use ridiculous Hollywood movies as a frame of reference and having no one actually giving an inclination that they were 'joking' in the first place.
I cannot read minds... I can only go on what's been written.
Also, you would be surprised how many people think that movies like the Terminator are an accurate representation of what will happen in reality.

I would hope that by now people would stop with these 'jokes' and at least treat these subjects seriously and educate others (if you have relevant information to pass on that is).

By degobah77 on 8/11/2013 7:26:12 PM , Rating: 2
Ever heard the idea that art imitates life? Or does life imitate art? Either way, it's the same difference.

Tons of pieces of fiction have already manifested in the real world.

Try to keep up, k?

By Skywalker123 on 8/11/2013 8:02:19 PM , Rating: 2
Well, if you're not doing anything illegal you don't have to worry. :)

By 91TTZ on 8/9/2013 2:41:09 PM , Rating: 6
As the government becomes more and more corrupt, they can't be inconvenienced by those who realize that what they're doing is wrong. The government needs machines. Ruthless spying and killing machines that serve the government without question.

By EricMartello on 8/9/2013 4:05:00 PM , Rating: 4
It's funny that the NSA's solution to dealing with issues of morality is simply to remove it from the equation. You know the next step is going to be allowing drones to carry out missions on full auto-pilot because some human pilots may have issue killing a "terrorist" along with hundreds of civilians that "should have known better than to share a building with a terrorist".

We as Americans can't win until we decide that the fight is not amongst ourselves and that it is solely between us and the government.

By EricMartello on 8/17/2013 8:44:27 PM , Rating: 1
Being anti-establishment is hip and everything, but when was the last incident where "hundreds of civilians" were purposely killed to get rid of one (or more) terrorists? Sensationalism only makes you look/sound like a douche.

Let's clarify something. I am not opposed to the US engaging in combat, however I do not want the rules of engagement left up to a machine to decide.

The missiles shot used by drones are not selective. They do not "only kill the intended target" while leaving civilians unharmed. The reports of collateral damage are often classified, because they want you to believe it's not happening. If you drop a bomb to kill one person, but end up killing 50-100 who were in the blast radius, you purposefully killed them all and are responsible for their deaths. You don't get to play with semantics to justify your actions - either accept what you are doing.

By brshoemak on 8/9/2013 9:29:35 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think the government is any more corrupt now than it has been in the past - it's just done differently and out in the open. Buying a vote used to be money changing hands in a dark alley. Now it's a campaign 'donation' by a company and the promise that once their political career ends, they'll have a cushy job at said company - as long as they vote the right way.

There is no difference between the two in terms of the result , it's just that now it's paraded around right in front of our faces now because it's within the confines of the current law. The internet and social media makes it easy to pick up on more of these stories, so it seems like there are many more instances of corruption. The reality is that in the past it was some slimely creep paying someone for a vote, where today the slimey creep is the one who was paid for their vote.

btw, I'm not anti-government - I just think the current system is a joke where greed and the desire to maintain their chair in the political arena has caused politicians to forget they have a job to do, which is to represent the people who elected them in the first place.

By Captain Orgazmo on 8/11/2013 4:16:58 AM , Rating: 2
How about introducing a draft - for politicians. Single terms with representatives chosen by lottery, with a public vetting system to find out their beliefs. Then again, I think of the movie "Jury Duty"...

An even better solution
By amanojaku on 8/9/2013 6:42:07 PM , Rating: 5
Is to fire 90% of the politicians. Saves lots of money, reduces government intrusion in our personal lives, and makes it easier to hold the remainder accountable for whatever goes on.

By carigis on 8/9/2013 1:06:05 PM , Rating: 3
I wouldn't be suprised if losing ones job might cause at least 1 out of the 900 to join snowden in whistleblowing.

By tastyratz on 8/9/2013 1:50:11 PM , Rating: 2
Great statement, so then they won't need sys admins anymore... they are just deciding that everything will work and work smoothly.

Guess working in IT I just haven't found that button yet.

By the time they automate and document half of the things they need to, software updates will be ready.

If it works for the NSA....
By dayanth on 8/9/2013 4:31:13 PM , Rating: 2
Lets do the same for Congress as well. Just get rid of 90% of their jobs for automation. I bet we could get stuff done alot faster if the people themselves were involved and helpful legislation passed that won't be caught up in political battles. Not to mention the millions we could save from them barely showing up to work.

By BifurcatedBoat on 8/9/2013 4:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
It can't dynamically adapt to the reality of the situation it's in. I think that's going to be the biggest problem with what they're attempting to do.

internal politics
By mike8675309 on 8/12/2013 9:20:14 AM , Rating: 2
Why do I feel like that this is the endgame of some internal power struggle in the NSA where some big government contractor has "admin" software to sell and the NSA due to the decisions of a few were not biting? So they decided to motivate the NSA to buy their software but showing how "dangerous" it is to have humans were doing the job. Essentially forcing the NSA to come crawling back to them.

By samuel1c.handel on 8/10/2013 4:00:40 PM , Rating: 1
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