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GCN : December 2012
EDITOR'S DESK BY PAUL MCCLOSKEY HOW TO REACH THE STAFF You can reach staff members of 1105 Government Information Group. A list of staff members can be found online at www.gcn. com. Go to Contact GCN andclick on GCN Editors, Writers, Staff and Beats. Staff members of the 1105 Government Information Group can also be reached by e-mail, phone, fax or mail.E- MAIL: To e-mail staff members, please use the naming convention of rst initial followed by their last name @1105govinfo.com. So John Smith would be firstname.lastname@example.org. PHONE OR FAX: The switchboard is open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. After 5:30 p.m. you will be directed to individual extensions. VIENNA OFFICE: (703) 876-5100; Fax (703) 876-5059. 8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 500, Vienna, VA 22182-2215. CORPORATE OFFICE: (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. -- 5:30 p.m. PT) Telephone 818-814-5200; Fax 818-734-1522 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Suite 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311 EDITORIAL INQUIRIES: Go to gcn.com/pressroom REPRINTS: For all editorial and advertising reprints of 100 copies or more,and digital (Web-based) reprints, contact PARS International, Phone (212) 221-9195, E-mail: 1105reprints@ parsintl.com/QuickQuote.asp EDITORIAL STAFF EDITOR-IN-CHIEF PAUL McCLOSKEY MANAGING EDITOR KEVIN McCANEY EDITORS/WRITERS MANAGING EDITOR ONLINE SUSAN MILLER MANAGING EDITOR PRINT DAVID HUBLER MANAGING EDITOR HEATHER KULDELL SOCIAL MEDIA SENIOR EDITOR RUTRELL YASIN GCN LAB DIRECTOR JOHN BREEDEN II SENIOR WRITER WILLIAM JACKSON STAFF WRITER GREG CROWE CONTRIBUTING WRITERS MICHAEL DACONTA, KATHLEEN HICKEY, PATRICK MARSHALL, SHAWN MCCARTHY, EDITORIAL/ONLINE PRODUCTION CREATIVE DIRECTOR JEFF LANGKAU ASSISTANT DRAGUTIN CVIJANOVIC ART DIRECTOR SENIOR WEB BISWARUP DESIGNERS BHATTACHARJEE MARTIN PEACE DIGITAL MEDIA WILLIAM WINTON PRODUCT MANAGER PRESIDENT & CHIEF ANNE A. ARMSTRONG CONTENT OFFICER CHIEF OPERATING ABRAHAM M. LANGER OFFICER SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT JENNIFER WEISS & GROUP PUBLISHER VICE PRESIDENT, CARMEL McDONAGH MARKETING PRESIDENT & CHIEF NEAL VITALE EXECUTIVE OFFICER SENIOR VICE RICHARD VITALE PRESIDENT & CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER EXECUTIVE MICHAEL J. VALENTI VICE PRESIDENT VICE PRESIDENT, CHRISTOPHER M. COATE FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION VICE PRESIDENT, ERIK A. LINDGREN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY & APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT VICE PRESIDENT, DAVID F. MYERS EVENT OPERATIONS CHAIRMAN OF JEFFREY S. KLEIN THE BOARD www.gcn.com Volume 31 Issue 12 The current stare-down in Congress over how to avoid the "fiscal cliff" could serve as a re- minder that many complicated problems cannot be resolved by resorting to automatic if/then remedies. No one wants to experience the indi erence of an automat- ic trigger, especially when it s pointed straight at them. Yet today government is becoming infused with tech- nologies that automate many small and even global busi- ness processes and which are designed to perform the roles of IT administrators and other live managers. These range from scripts that configure network tra c across agencies to more sprawling ef- forts to put advanced machine intelligence to work to pinpoint ine ciencies in the public health care system or to repel enemies on the battlefield. These systems are character- ized by their ability to perform for indefinite periods of time without human intervention or oversight, as well by their low cost and inability to oper- ate outside their algorithmic scripts. Within those limits they are tirelessly e ective, which is why investments in such programs are on the rise. In government, examples are proliferating. In our current issue, GCN Senior Writer William Jackson reports on a project sponsored by the Homeland Security De- partment to develop a capabil- ity for "automated collective action" to defend the nation s critical networks and infra- structure. DHS is studying what it would take to build a cy- ber "ecosystem" that could, "through machine learning and automated information sharing, detect, mitigate and respond to threats while main- taining mission-critical opera- tions," he writes. Elsewhere, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is working on "Project X," an e ort to develop ways to assess threats on the cyber battlefield, including setting up automated ways to monitor cy- ber battle damage and weapons deployments. And in the intelligence sphere, process automation is in high gear, with the Intel- ligence Community looking for machine-based methods of sift- ing, synthesizing and tagging streams of data from scattered locations. In one project, the Intelli- gence Advanced Research Proj- ects Agency is working on the development of an intelligence community enterprise architec- ture, designed to streamline in- telligence gathering resources using automated data analysis and other techniques. While national security has been a driver for advanced automation in government, civilian investments in these technologies are around the corner, including the use of ma- chine-to-machine technologies in the transportation sector. In Europe, for instance, the eCall project aims to equip every vehicle with an auto- matic emergency call system by 2015. Insurance companies are running usage-based programs that set premiums for vehicle insurance from monitored driv- ing behavior. All of these applications should earn the gratitude of a cash-strapped nation, shouldn t they? After all, they deliver the classic pay-o s of automa- tion: cheap, high-performance systems that allow more costly expertise to focus on weightier problems. Well, they probably won t. Labor-saving systems are terrifi- cally unpopular in a recession. And it has been pointed out that automated defense sys- tems, like the human immune system, have the potential to attack themselves when threat warnings go haywire. But for the most part, these systems will become fixtures of the government technology tool box. If managed closely and carefully, they o er the public a benefit that s too good to ignore. Besides, to quote the Star Wars Borg, the ultimate in automated collective action: "resistance is futile." • AUTOMATED IT: IS RESISTANCE FUTILE? 4 GCN DECEMBER 2012 • GCN.COM GCN (ISSN 0738-4300) is published monthly by 1105 Media, Inc., 9201 Oakdale Avenue, Ste. 101, Chatsworth, CA 91311. Periodicals postage paid at Chatsworth, CA 91311-9998, and at additional mailing of ces. 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