BKC Research Associate John Bowers writes on a "far from uncontroversial" change at the US Department of Defense, which is piloting a new clearance system called "continuous evaluation," to analyze behavior of applicants and proactively identify security risks.
"The attractiveness of an autonomous system capable of identifying security risks before they become security failures is obvious. But pinning individuals’ clearance statuses – upon which many rely for their livelihoods, and to work effectively in service of national security – to automated inference-making raises a range of troubling questions," writes Bowers. "Jonathan Zittrain of the Berkman Klein Center (at which I work), is fond of dividing challenges in machine learning into two broad categories – those that arise when machine learning goes off the rails, and those that arise when it works as intended. That’s a useful framing here, as the DSS pilot presents a fair few of each."