Clarium Capital Management

Technocracy XI: Social (SMART) Grid and “Cognitive Infiltration”

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World


thSocial networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Yahoo! and others have offered new ways to chat, make friends, speed-date and keep in touch with family wherever you are. It has revolutionized information in ways which we are only just beginning to understand. The networks have become such a normal part of our daily lives in such a short time that it is only recently that serious questions about privacy and surveillance have filtered through to the MSM. But ethical questions are being left behind as the Information Age surges ahead. Indeed, if you don’t have a Facebook account then you have already consigned yourself to the hinterlands of suspicion and abnormality. According to some, this may even be a red-flag for suspected terrorist or paedophile. Such is the power of social networking websites on society and the ridiculous assumptions now circulating. [1] $billion companies like Twitter and Facebook have become the largest database on the global population, representing a free and easy resource for intelligence agencies to data-mine. With over 900 million active users it is not difficult to see how useful data catchment could be.

Growing awareness that social networks are being used by intelligence agencies to monitor citizens’ activities prompted cyber-consumer advocate Electronic Frontier foundation (EFF) to file requests in October 2009 to provide records about federal guidelines on the use of social networking sites for investigative or data-gathering purposes. Among other issues related to surveillance as discussed previously, they sued the CIA, the US Department of Defence, Department of Justice and three other government agencies for allegedly refusing to release information on their involvement in social networks. The cases are on-going.

There are so many dubious aspects to Facebook aside from its intelligence connections and origins it is hard to know where to start. We will pinpoint a few however.

The company makes no secret of is its drive to know everything about its members. It wants to extract and mine as much the data from them as is humanely possible and then make it available to all kinds of interested parties. The implications of their drive to happily make your social life – including information you might not ordinarily reveal – fully integrated into the net experience is of course, never discussed. Facebook has been busily creating “Shadow Profiles” in a bid to extract even more information. Using various functions on the software interface which encourages users to share personal data of other users and non-users of Facebook such as mobile phone synchronization, search queries, friend invitations, email-provider imports and instant messaging means that even if you don’t use Facebook you may have a profile nonetheless. [2]

Since Facebook is such a fan of being “social by default” then it shouldn’t be concerned when the tables are turned. Since Facebook revealed in 2012 that more than 83 million Facebook accounts (8.7% of total users) were fake accounts, ongoing controversies with privacy issues, class action lawsuits and litigation as well as the virtual ownership of members’ profiles, it is hardly surprising this was reflected in the stock value which dropped below $20 in the same year. [3]


th“You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content.”

– Facebook Terms of Service. (It has since been updated yet protests groups claim little has changed).


When independent software developer Pete Warden crawled all the data that Facebook’s privacy settings changes had made public, the company sued him. This occurred before the Open Graph API system which means they were planning to make the data publicly available anyway. As Vice President of Engineering at Border Stylo Dan Yoder comments: “Their real agenda is pretty clear: they don’t want their membership to know how much data is really available,” stating further: “It’s one thing to talk to developers about how great all this sharing is going to be; quite another to actually see what that means in the form of files anyone can download and load into MatLab.” [4]

In 2010, a Canadian security researcher Ron Bowes created a specific crawler script which he then used to take information from Facebook’s open access directory. He managed to download 2.8Gb of personal details including credit card numbers, account names, profile URLs and contact details; names of those users’ friends, (even with hidden profiles) and more intimate photos of over 100 million Facebook users. This cache of private information gold was then dumped on P2P file-sharing service BitTorrent, which was subsequently downloaded by scores of major corporations many hundreds of times. The point was not the relative ease by which such data was “stolen,” though this is an important issue, it was the fact that the data is already publicly available, provided Facebook members have not chosen to hide their profile from search results. [5]

As of 2012, there are now a raft of members, celebrities, underwriters and advertisers all taking a cut of Facebook profits. On the management board is co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg with the largest ownership percentage of an individual at 28% (he is worth $33.1Billion) with co-founders Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Sean Parker taking between 6-4%.  Venture capital company Accel Partners, Russian internet firm Mail du Ru take 10% repsectively and former PayPal CEO and venture capitalist Peter Thiel 3%. Thiel sums up Facebook’s history of double-dealing and entrepreneurship very well.

mark-zuckerbergCEO Mark Zuckerberg

The first lump sum from his venture capital funding amounted to $500,000 – a tidy sum no doubt drawn from his £3bn hedge fund Clarium Capital Management and a venture capital fund called Founders Fund. Thiel is the Author of an anti-multicultural missive The Diversity Myth and on the board of VanguardPAC a radical internet-based Neo-Conservative pressure group that was apparently set up to attack MoveOn.org, a left-liberal pressure group website. VanguardPAC’s mission is to “reshape America and the globe” according to Neo-Conservative values – the type of values which are still carving up the Middle East. Thiel is certainly not the shy and retiring type and promotes a New World Technocracy laced with transhumanist and right-wing conservatism. The Guardian’s Tom Hodgkinson summarises Thiel’s curious mélange of fascist views: “… since the 17th century, certain enlightened thinkers have been taking the world away from the old-fashioned nature-bound life, and here he quotes Thomas Hobbes’ famous characterisation of life as ‘nasty, brutish and short’, and towards a new virtual world where we have conquered nature. Value now exists in imaginary things.” [6]

pthiel1

Peter Thiel: Technocratic Neo-Conservative

From where did Theil obtain his inspiration? Stanford’s University’s René Girard and his mimetic theory that states all cultures and ancient societies were built on the victimisation and an eventual sacrifice of the innocent, even though they believed they were guilty. Mythology was used to legitimise and rationalise the fact that society was founded on violence. If Girard believes that people are sheep and will follow the one strongest in the herd then according to Hodgkinson:

“The theory would also seem to be proved correct in the case of Thiel’s virtual worlds: the desired object is irrelevant; all you need to know is that human beings will tend to move in flocks. Hence financial bubbles. Hence the enormous popularity of Facebook. Girard is a regular at Thiel’s intellectual soirees. What you don’t hear about in Thiel’s philosophy, by the way, are old-fashioned real-world concepts such as art, beauty, love, pleasure and truth.” [7]

Perhaps this is something that may be said for much of the neo-feudalist collectives currently infiltrating our social systems?

Consider the other board member of Facebook, Jim Breyer a partner in the venture capital firm Accel Partners who put $12.7m into Facebook in April 2005:

“…. On the board of such US giants as Wal-Mart and Marvel Entertainment, he is also a former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA). Now these are the people who are really making things happen in America, because they invest in the new young talent, the Zuckerbergs and the like. Facebook’s most recent round of funding was led by a company called Greylock Venture Capital, who put in the sum of $27.5m. One of Greylock’s senior partners is called Howard Cox, another former chairman of the NVCA, who is also on the board of In-Q-Tel. What’s In-Q-Tel? Well, believe it or not (and check out their website), this is the venture-capital wing of the CIA. After 9/11, the US intelligence community became so excited by the possibilities of new technology and the innovations being made in the private sector, that in 1999 they set up their own venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel, which “identifies and partners with companies developing cutting-edge technologies to help deliver these solutions to the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community (IC) to further their missions”. [8] [Emphasis mine]

With significant lobbying costs totalling over $41,000 in just one quarter of 2010 the focus of their expenditure was primarily intelligence agencies such as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). It was the only internet company to do so out of Google, Amazon, eBay, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple. The DNI is an umbrella office founded in the wake of 9/11 synthesizing intelligence from 17 agencies (including the CIA) and advises the President on privacy and federal cyber-security policy.

Which begs the question: Is Facebook lobbying merely to keep their operations free from interference for their Intel handlers?

Meanwhile, Facebook, Blogs, newspapers, radio TV channels, and internet chat rooms are poured over and monitored by the Open Source Centre or “vengeful librarians” – even the constant “tweets” from the Twitter network reaching over 5 million per day. Information is gathered by an army of analysts to find the low-down on the emotional level of a certain city demographic or whether a country is ready to be invaded or …”Democratised.”

facebooklogin1


 “Facebook is not your friend, it is a surveillance engine.”

– Richard Stallman, software freedom activist


It is now common knowledge that The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s command centre monitors blogs, forums newsgroups and message boards on a daily basis. Scores of popular websites, including Twitter, Facebook, WikiLeaks, Hulu, and many alternative and left-leaning news sites also come under the umbrella of US surveillance.

Among the many examples that the Obama Administration has provided and which go above and the beyond the Neo-Conservative crimes of the Bush-Cheney cabal is President Obama’s regulatory Czar and legal scholar Cass Sunstein. Just before his appointment as Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, this gentleman managed to add to the grand façade that is American democracy by writing a 30-page academic paper co-authored with Adrian Vermule entitled: “Conspiracy Theories.” In the paper he suggested the government should “infiltrate” social network websites, chat rooms and message boards. This “cognitive infiltration,” according to Sunstein, should be used to enforce a U.S. government ban on “conspiracy theorizing.” This ban would be imposed on such heresies as anti-anthropocentric global warming; the World Trade Centre attacks on 911 were an inside job; Al-Qaeda is a US government-created mercenary unit for hire and a range of other proven conspiracy facts, most of which feature on this blog. By “conspiracy theory” Sunstein defines it as “an effort to explain some event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role.”

Heaven forbid we should try to expose that …

And of course, Sunstein implies that that there are no conspiracies operating in government, banking and corporate activities and if you are one of the mentally deranged few that believe so, then medical help and a good psychologist is the only path open to you. It seems everyone is a potential extremist if you are aren’t giving the government a virtual back-rub. He further suggests: ““… a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.” [9]

Cass SunsteinCass Sunstein 2011, (AP Photo)

Sunstein’s objective is to raise: “… doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action,” which places a whole new angle on some of many trolls and trouble-makers who periodically appear on website forums to sow seeds of discontent in ways which follow distinct patterns of emotional programming indicative of paid disinformation agents. Indeed, PSYOPS targeting the web have been in operation for several years, possibly since the internet’s inception in some form or another.  Sunstein’s suggestions are merely an updating of the US Dept. Defence’s Information Operations Road Map of the future. [10]

To make sure such a future – and the mass mind – is firmly where it should be DARPA means to keep biometrics and the internet connected to the same port (which, one day soon, may be located at the back of our skulls). Pentagon scientists are helpfully creating a program to use biometrics as a platform for creating a “cognitive fingerprint” which would dispense with all those passwords building up in our little black books. Which means, according to their website: “… validating any potential new biometrics with empirical tests to ensure they would be effective in large scale deployments.” Named the Active Authorisation Program (AAP) it offers deep analysis of the user’s cognitive processes and thus their online behaviour in the hope of inventing new forms of biometrics so that your identity can be ascertained.

Parallel to this grateful assistance in making our lives so much more efficient and safe, online tech journal Security Ledger reported in April 2013 on one time hacker and DARPA’s cyber chief Peiter “Mudge” Zatko heading to Google Inc. Joining Google’s Motorola Mobility’s Advanced Technology & Projects (ATAP) group, it has a mission to deliver “breakthrough innovations to the company’s product line on seemingly impossible short time-frames.” While Microsoft continues to track users of the Windows phones which have a unique ID that interacts with Wi-Fi locations and GPS to know anyone’s longitude and latitude. Customer privacy isn’t a big issue for Microsoft and really any of the big internet companies. Google knows the password of every Android device (phone or tablet) which has ever logged on to a particular Wi-Fi network. (Android accounts for 79 per cent of phones shipped worldwide).

Business Insider’s article of August 14th, 2013 alerted us to the fact that if you are one of 400 million persons who chose Gmail then you can also expect no privacy at all. In a class action complaint of 2013 Google responded by claiming “a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties.” So, be warned, even though it is unlikely you’ll be able to avoid Google even if you wanted to.

It seems Google and DARPA are courting each other for good reason.

 


Notes

[1] Is not joining Facebook a sign you’re a psychopath? Some employers and psychologists say staying away from social media is ‘suspicious’ Daily Mail, 6 August 2012.
[2] ‘Facebook Is Building Shadow Profiles of Non-Users’ October 18 2011, http://www.slashdot.org
[3] “Facebook: About 83 million accounts are fake”. USA Today. August 3, 2012.
[4] ‘Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook’ by Dan Yoder http://www.gizmodo.com May 3 2010.
[5] ‘How 100 million Facebook users ended up in a list on BitTorrent’ Jemima Kiss, The Guardian, 29 July 2010.
[6] ‘With friends like these …’ by Tom Hodgkinson, The Guardian May 2010.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid.
[9] ‘Conspiracy Theories’ by Cass R. Sunstein (Harvard Law School) and Adrian Vermeule (Harvard Law School) January 15, 2008, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 08-03, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 199 U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 387. [ During my own experience in working for several alternative news websites there was no question that persistent problems from site “trolls” on the relevant forums fell into this category. Some exhibited high knowledge on certain specialist subjects and exhibited a standard formula for contouring ideas and concepts which included the very same “cognitive infiltration” tactics cited by Sunstein and often in a highly elaborate form. Once “outed” they were gone but often the damage was already done].
[10] As part of the “Information Dominance” strategy of the Pentagon, ‘The Information Operation Road Map’ was a paper commissioned in 2003 and declassified in 2006. It was personally approved by the then Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld. It included details of major PSYOPS disinformation campaigns to place false stories in newspapers and the internet as well as the kind of beginings of “cognitive infiltration” that Sunstein was so keen to see materialise.

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