Monday, November 8, 2010

Behaviour Analysis Software To Monitor Massively Multiplayer Online Games

"That means if a player is signed in as an 8-year-old boy, but the program believes they are chatting or behaving like a 40-year-old, moderators will be alerted to watch them."

"But as the popularity and the potential revenue of these games grew, so did the importance of moderation. Modern massively multiplayer online games don't have to deal with just cheating and player hazing, but gold running, character theft, even real world crimes, like players targeting underage players for real-world sex or discussing crimes they want to or already have committed."

"[massively multiplayer online games] are often compared to theme parks, they are fun destinations you can go hang out in with lots of other people," said Ryan Seabury, one of the founders of MMO developer NetDevil. "Statistically speaking, with a large enough group of people, you are going to get a small percentage of trouble makers, and as the saying goes one rotten apple spoils the bunch. Most theme parks I've been to have safety and security staff on hand monitoring all areas to ensure that inevitable small percentage does not disrupt the enjoyment of the majority patronage. So monitoring in MMOs is very much along the same lines of thinking. " - A Computer Mind To Finger The Real Bullies, Pedophiles and Killers of Virtual Worlds


Policing online communities of all sorts is an important thing. I have been involved in more than one real world organisation, and more than one bulletin board, where a single asshat has destroyed or seriously damaged the community.

The thing that makes me worry about software like the kind discussed in the article is that the same kind of "preemptive behavioural policing" could easily be applied to other behaviours in life. That the same way the student ID linked debit cards gives school administrators the ability to receive fitness profile warnings if student buy too much junk food from school vending machines, a behavioural matching data program could preemptively point out to police whether someone was behaving in the same way as someone doing something they shouldn't - e.g. criminality. Whether you are actually a criminal or not.

Now before you get thinking that I'm getting weird and paranoid, I'd like to point out that rudimentary data mining looking for criminal behaviour is already taking place. Laws are being passed that allow armed police to raid your dwelling based strictly on data points.

Yes, that's right.

Armed police can smash down your door with drawn weapons, handcuff and detain you and your family, and then not even give an apology if they were wrong. All based on data points in a behavioural analysis program and profile.

It's not a movie.

Even as you read this, there are computer programs going over electrical records all across Canada (and I believe the United States) looking for atypical electrical usage:



Heavy Users Of Electricity Will Be Reported To Police Under New B.C. Legislation.

Near the end of this month, municipalities will have BC Hydro records on demand, data which will be turned over to police to determine whether spikes in power use were caused by a marijuana grow operation.

Marijuana grow ops require high power consumption, typically three to 10 times the amount used by a normal home.

"This amendment will help local authorities target and shut down marijuana grow operations more quickly and more efficiently," Minister of Public Safety John Les said in the legislature Thursday, as he introduced Bill 25. "With these amendments, municipalities will now be able to obtain information from electricity companies about residences with unusual power consumption."

The names and addresses of the account holders will now be given to local authorities to investigate whether their homes contain a grow operation, he said."

It doesn't always work out the way the police intend...


"An Abbotsford mom says gun-toting police terrified “innocent” children on the weekend during a raid that failed to produce the underground grow-op bunker police were after.

“Maybe somebody’s going to get shot the next time,” mom Jennifer Hewison, 35, told The Province after an emergency response team surrounded the family’s home on Saturday, looking for what they called a “large-scale grow operation” in an underground bunker.

Abbotsford police admit they failed to find a bunker, but said no apology will be made."

"“What Abbotsford police did was wrong. They didn’t investigate properly. They came with guns drawn into a house with children. It is an innocent home. They treated us like criminals.”

It was the second such incident involving Abbotsford police and an attempted grow-op bust in just over a month. On July 4, officers burst into a home with guns drawn, only to apologize later, calling the family “upstanding citizens.”"

"After family members emerged, police handcuffed everyone except two preschool-aged children, Hewison said.

“The kids were scared. They can’t sleep at night,” she said."

"“Two high-voltage compressors are used in a tool shop,” Hewison said. “Our bill is about $300 per month in the winter.

“We also have a nosy neighbour who sees us using a generator and thinks everyone is a criminal."

The Province - Abbotsford family fury after botched grow-op bust


Preemptive arrest and detention based on data points without corroboration is probably not a great thing. You know this will happen with so-called anti-terrorist activity. And as a guy who gets consistently profiled and extra questioned at airport security because I look vaguely Middle Eastern/Central Asian when I have a tan... I'm already fed up with being profiled (yes i have a personal axe to grind on this one [for the record, I am of Ukrainian descent])


As for behavioural analysis and crime fighting, and intrusions on your privacy - keep it in mind when it hits the news over the next few years.

Or, wait until the Toronto or Ontario Provincial Police come and arrest and detain you preemptively before the next G20 summit. Perhaps you will have been out purchasing bubble soap solution...

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