Susan Pizzo: Not stoked

August 19, 2013 

Not stoked

Regarding the Aug. 16 news article “NSA will pay for data lab at NCSU”: Oh, no! Let me be among the first to express dismay at word that my alma mater has accepted funding from the NSA for a major analytics project during this time of national soul-searching on the subject of unconstitutional behavior and the dangers posed by big data in an ethically challenged world.

I understand the dilemma of conducting research in an era of austerity when revenue streams from ethical partners are few and far between, but it is important to note how data are currently being collected and used pre-emptively (signature drone strikes, etc.), often in direct contravention of basic human values.

Much of what ails our world is connected to how we use our resources, both natural and, in the case of money, man-made. The military-industrial complex has power because it binds to itself via grants and contracts so much that could be used for other, better purposes.

I hope at the very least that NCSU will find a way to guide the project in a direction that benefits the greater good, by which I mean enhancing life for the rest of us. After all, “1984” was a warning, not an instruction manual.

Susan Pizzo


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