A plan for PRISM

The US government has two major problems right now:

  1. Out-of-control debt
  2. Bad PR around PRISM

Maybe it’s time to start thinking like a business, and figure out how to turn those liabilities into assets. If PRISM brought real benefit to citizens’ lives, would they look on it more favourably? Would they, perhaps, even be willing to give money to the program?


With that in mind, I’d like to propose a new, pay-for-use government web site named prism-suggests.gov. The web site will have a natural-language interface where people can ask questions about themselves or their friends and family, and get suggestions back. Here are some examples:

Q: What book should I read next?
PRISM: You bought Infinite Jest three months ago, but I’ve noticed that you always fall asleep when you try to read it on the subway on your way home. Perhaps something lighter, like Fifty Shades of Grey, would be better, especially since you go out of your way to read Facebook comments about it.

Q: What kinds of clothes should I buy Maria for her birthday?
PRISM: Maria’s credit-card and Google-search history suggest that it’s 87.3% likely she has a bladder control problem, so it would be best to buy things that fit loosely around the hips, to leave room for an adult diaper.

Q: Is Phillip going to ask me out on a date?
PRISM: Unless Phillip has been doing a “research project” for the last 3 years, the type of porn he views on his smartphone suggests that yours is not the gender that interests him.

Q: How can I get a promotion at work?
PRISM: Casually mention the phrases “St Lucia,” “offshore investment,” and “IRS” loudly in hearing range of your boss, then come back a week later and ask for the promotion.

If the site charged $5 for each question, imagine how fast the US federal deficit would shrink! And, of course, all those people whining about “privacy rights” and the so-called “Constitution” would be drowned out by billions of satisfied customers.

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1 Response to A plan for PRISM

  1. Christopher Rabotin says:

    Using the natural language processing of IBM’s Watson in conjunction with PRISM’s database could quickly yield to this good result!

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