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"Science fiction and science have always danced around each other. Science fiction is the subconscious of science."
- Greg Bear

Profile Sniffers  
  A software device that sifts Internet access records for patterns associate with particular personality types.  

This goes beyond the well-known "Carnivore" system which provides the FBI with the ability to determine which emails may be lawfully intercepted.

In the Secret Service, we found out a long time ago that the nets are a major intelligence asset for us. Demented, violent people tend to leave some kind of hint, or track, or signal, well before they strike. We compiled a hell of a lot of psychological profiles over the years, and we discovered some commonalities. So, if you know the evidence to look for, you can actually sniff some of these guys out, just from the nature of their net activities."

We built those profile sniffers quite a while back, and they turned out pretty useful.

From Distraction, by Bruce Sterling.
Published by Bantam Spectra in 1998
Additional resources -

Here's what Carnivore does, according to the FBI's site:

"The Carnivore device works much like commercial "sniffers" and other network diagnostic tools used by ISPs every day, except that it provides the FBI with a unique ability to distinguish between communications which may be lawfully intercepted and those which may not.

Carnivore serves to limit the messages viewable by human eyes to those which are strictly included within the court order. ISP knowledge and assistance, as directed by court order, is required to install the device."

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Distraction
  More Ideas and Technology by Bruce Sterling
  Tech news articles related to Distraction
  Tech news articles related to works by Bruce Sterling

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