We Just Built Skynet in the Desert, Now What?
March 20, 2012
Ten years after 9/11, the National Security Agency (NSA) is close to putting the finishing touches on what will be the single biggest spy center in the country. According to James Bamford of WIRED, this new one million-square foot spy complex in the Utah Desert will actually be capable of monitoring, intercepting and de-encrypting just about any message sent over any communication network in the country. It will be capable of keeping tabs on any civilian in the U.S. or any foreigner visiting the USA. And it will all be hooked up to federal computers in Washington, giving it access to the records and databases of the most powerful government agencies in the country. If all this is starting to sound a lot like Skynet in the Terminator movies, that’s because, well, it is – minus the Schwarzenegger robots, of course.
The sheer amount of data that the NSA – and by extension the CIA, FBI and Pentagon – will be able to collect on both foreigners and its own civilians is staggering. The $2 billion center, which goes by the disarmingly bland name of the Utah Data Center, is the final piece in the puzzle for the Pentagon, which has been attempting to build a Global Information Grid ever since 9/11. Remember the Total Information Awareness program of 2003? Well, it’s now here in physical form – and it’s heavily guarded. In military parlance, it’s not a “soft” target – the facility has been hardened to the point where a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling at 50 miles per hour couldn’t muscle its way inside. At its peak, this new surveillance center will be able to handle so much data that the NSA practically had to coin a new word to describe it: yottabytes. There are so many servers running this system that the annual cooling costs are estimated to be $40 million.
That’s quite an electricity bill for a “data center.”