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The Hissy Fit Generation and The Loss of Free Speech VI: The Jekyll & Hyde of Social Media (3)

Photo by Zulmaury Saavedra on Unsplash

“People will accept ideas presented in technological form that would be abhorrent in any other form. It is utterly strange to hear my many old friends in the world of digital culture claim to be the true sons of the Renaissance without realizing that using computers to reduce individual expression is a primitive, retrograde activity, no matter how sophisticated your tools are.”

  — Jaron Lanier, You Are Not a Gadget


Censorship and Fakebook News

Since the fake news trope has been doing the rounds Facebook is now the Establishment’s social media tool of choice to combat the rise of alternative news outlets, as well as more mainstream but editorially more responsible news rooms such as Russia’s wildly popular flagship news network RT.  Under the banner of “tackling fake news” Zuckerberg’s crusade is the perfect platform for the terminally offended and the easily swayed by the vast echo chamber of predominantly left-liberal delusions that make up Facebook’s political discourse. News is further filtered, sanitised and put through the algorithmic grinder of FB’s ideology.

It doesn’t matter whether you are left or right leaning in your views  – one political belief censored in favour of another is bad news for free speech and democracy. Indeed, in late 2016 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to employ a few websites that would have the honour of labelling stories as “fake news” according to an agreed media consensus. These include ABC News, Factcheck.org and PolitiFact, and the so-called myth-busting website Snopes.com. According to conservative website The Daily Caller there is a problem:Almost all of the writers churning out fact checks for Snopes have a liberal background, and many of them have expressed contempt for Republican voters. The Daily Caller could not identify a single Snopes fact-checker who comes from a conservative background. Snopes did not respond to a list of questions from The DC regarding the site’s ideological leaning.” [1] Match this with Facebook curators and you are unlikely to get unbiased news, rather  it will be selected according to what is deemed acceptable to modern day, left-liberal thinking. As discussed previously such thinking is no longer the kind of leftism that values free speech but has slipped into opinion-hungry authoritarianism.  

Debunking spurious news stories is less admirable when it comes from mega-corporations who are walking in step with Establishment, the cogs of which are greased by psychopathic perceptions. Thankfully, a large proportion of the public are simply not buying it.[2] This is due to the hard evidence provided by independent media of the very thing of which it has been accused: propagating lies and fake news propaganda. This is what makes it so painfully ironic. The mainstream media is, and has always been fake news. It has been caught red-handed, with its pants down  on numerous occasions, peddling sometimes subtle psyops and on other occasions ludicrous BS that would have made Machiavelli cry with shame. Whether it’s 24hr fear-mongering, Deep State anti-Russian propaganda, paid-up editorials, or the ping-pong of culture wars,  the MSM has been at the forefront of the most atrocious fake news for many decades.

Facebook has elected to take on the “disinformation” circulating from alternative news outlets and conveniently forget the most obvious examples of fake news which was spread by most of the corporate-chained MSM. The explosive details of tacit media support and collusion for the Clinton election campaign exposed in the Wikileaks Podesta emails and by The Intercept was purposely omitted and suppressed by Facebook, Google and Twitter as a matter of policy – policy which is founded on personal opinion of their CEOs and shaped by the Liberal arm of the Establishment.  This included drafting news pieces and handing them to suitably “friendly” media plants dotted around MSM outlets. [3] An internal strategy document dated January 2015 reads: “As we discussed on our call, we are all in agreement that the time is right [to] place a story with a friendly journalist in the coming days that positions us a little more transparently while achieving the above goals.” [4] All of this and more was happily shared on social networks with Facebook as the primary disseminator.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and The Loss of Free Speech VI: The Jekyll & Hyde of Social Media (1)

By M.K. Styllinski

“Social media spark a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.”

― Brian Solis, Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web

***

“Ignorance meets egoism, meets bad taste meets mob rule.”

Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amateur


The above quotations from writers Brian Solis and Andrew Keen are equally valid. Social media has already offered enormous benefits to connect, share and liberate humanity. It has revolutionised business as a marketing tool and allowed us an instantaneous global reach. Yet, technology – as everything else – always presents a choice between a Jekyll or Hyde application. Which perception and allotted values gain dominance will logically characterise how it develops. The internet and social media is still very much driven by the same pathology of Mr. Hyde that has been bludgeoning ordinary humanity into submission since the rise of the oil industry to the emergence of big data as the new oil. Consequently, Hyde is subsuming Jekyll at a faster rate with its moral character disappearing fast.

Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple surpass the national GDP of many countries and have more overt and covert control over our lives than the State – if indeed there is much difference. Monopolisation is too weak a word to describe how these companies seek to dominate our lives through the kind of advertising, marketing and data capitalisation that is literally predicting our every move. We are becoming the new algorithms in a vast simulation of global consumption and predictive analysis. This is inseparable from the National Security State and its SMART surveillance infrastructure. The new frontiers of social media are redefining communication fully enmeshed in the propaganda of eco-SMART cities of the future and the visions of the technocrats.

The 1960’s saw a genuine revolutionary spirit of inquiry and an expansion of awareness which was comprehensively hijacked by the Establishment. Now, we have the same commercialisation, consolidation, centralisation and control (the 4C’s) appearing in the 2000’s to divert and re-direct the enormous creativity present in humanity in partnership with this technology. To do so, the Establishment and its agencies must ensure that generations of young adults are suitably disconnected from perennial values and re-connected – even addicted – to technology as an end in itself; to be made to believe that their lives and their eco-SMART future is inevitable. Social media and its communication and consumer platforms are part of this agenda, about which most of us are wholly unaware.

“But I couldn’t do without my smart phone…”

And that’s how it works. Tweak society just enough so that such tools become indispensable because infrastructure, economics and commerce is built around it.  Once again, technology is not the problem, it is those with the money and mindset that determine its trajectory. The reasons why must be  understood in order to have the choice to resist such impositions. Our freedom of mind depends on it.

Before we get into the murky world that is Facebook, this somewhat lengthy post will start with the new human appendage granting entry into social media – and just about everything else – the smart phone.

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Technocracy XII: Google’s World

 “It’s a future where you don’t forget anything…In this new future you’re never lost…We will know your position down to the foot and down to the inch over time…Your car will drive itself, it’s a bug that cars were invented before computers … you’re never lonely … you’re never bored … you’re never out of ideas … We can suggest where you go next, who to meet, what to read…What’s interesting about this future is that it’s for the average person, not just the elites.”

– Google CEO Eric Schmidt on his vision of the future


google-logoPerhaps the most iconic representation of the internet is the search engine and household name Google Inc. that now eclipses Microsoft Corp. for its sheer omnipresence.

Innovations in aerial mapping has taken the internet by storm over the last several years. This is, in part, thanks to the ease of access available on Google’s own websites as well as mobile phones, android phones, tablet PCs and most other devices. With Google Maps ™ and Google Earth ™ Incorporating aerial and satellite photography together with comprehensive street mapping, the company has created a user-friendly virtual world that is unquestionably fascinating and practical. At the same time, you will not get anything closer to a simplified template of mass surveillance already being used at a higher level by the intelligence apparatus.

Since Apple Inc. in 2012, had more cash in the bank than the US government, we can see why it is one of a number of companies at the cutting edge of so many SMART platforms currently manifesting out of the hovering Cloud Drive of new ideas. In combination with this rival company which employs the most invasive military grade monitoring technology on its own products, Google is still pushing ahead with the experimentation of new technology that will create a virtual 3D rendering of the planet. Apple meanwhile, has tested its own similar “spy technology” on scores of locations around the world. [1]

Google and Apple have been constantly battling petitions, complaints and protests around privacy and surveillance issues and it is easy to see why. CEO Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin are sitting at the top of a vast monopolistic leviathan which has begun to flex its corporate muscles in the last few years. According to The Wall Street Journal: “Google has ratcheted up competition with established websites by developing its own specialized services and often promoting them above regular search results in recent years.” All of Google’s products may appear randomly mixed in with other results but there is no indication that they are in actual fact, Google-sponsored content. [2] The European Union agrees and anti-trust investigations into Google’s treatment of search engine results continue. Yet these commercial manipulations are just part of a more worrying development.

From January 2012, Google combined the privacy policies for all of its many applications into one Google umbrella. These  include “Google search,” “Gmail”, “Google Maps,” “Google+,” “YouTube,” and “Android mobile” as well as over 60 others. When you input information onto any of those sites then it becomes shared amongst them all. [3] Opting out? Not possible. Unless, that is, you never wish to use the internet again. An extremely complete picture of your online activity is now possible. However, bearing in mind what we have explored so far, Google has been doing this all along, it’s just decided to come clean as it will not be able to go to the next phase of snooping if it doesn’t. If you’re the owner of an Android phone then this is like having a permanent Google eye observing your actions wherever you are. Google’s insistence that this would make the user experience more beneficial is once again missing the point, notwithstanding its other research activities under Google X which is rivalling DARPA for its Big Brother applications.

Android is a Linux-based operating system for SMART phones, tablet computers and other similar mobile devices. Google’s Android mobile phone has been popular due to Android’s large community of developers writing applications (“apps”) offering 500,000 from the app store run by Google. As of December 2011, the estimated number of applications downloaded from the Android Market exceed 10 billion. [4]Yet, certain gifted techies from the public are keeping the search giant on its toes.  What the Federal Trade Commission failed to discover, twenty-five year-old computer scientist Jonathan Mayer did not. He found that Google was secretly planting cookies on millions of iPhone browsers. Mayer thinks iPhones were purposely targeted by Google. [5] Nor is it the first time that the public acted on their “hunches.”

According to ProPublica an investigative journalist organisation:

A privacy official in Germany forced Google to hand over the hard drives of cars equipped with 360-degree digital cameras that were taking pictures for its Street View program. The Germans discovered that Google wasn’t just shooting photos: The cars downloaded a panoply of sensitive data, including emails and passwords, from open Wi-Fi networks. Google had secretly done the same in the United States, but the FTC, as well as the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees broadcast issues, had no idea until the Germans figured it out. [6]

Similarly, the privacy watchdog in 2011 Greece banned Google Inc. from gathering detailed, street-level images for a planned expansion of its panoramic Street View mapping service.[7]

the-google-street-view-mapping-and-camer-1

Google Maps Street-view car Source: aol.com

At the end of 2011 Trevor Eckhart, a security researcher and Android operating system developer discovered something a little less celebratory running in the background of these Android devices. The culprit was ostensibly a diagnostic software tool called Carrier IQ or CIQ which was integrated deep within the device. It was able to monitor, record, and transmit private data and interactions. According to Eckhart this included the ability to “… monitor every single individual keystroke and every interaction with the screen for that matter, along with encrypted Internet browsing sessions and searches, GPS data, network data, battery data, among other pieces of information which many people would likely like to keep private.” [8]

Carrier IQ proceeded to sue Eckhart for copyright infringement, a groundless accusation which was immediately retracted when the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) took on Ekhart’s case. Carrier IQ continues to claim innocence, disregarding Eckhart’s research claiming keystrokes are recorded.

Online journalist Maddison Ruppert takes up the story:

As a result of Eckhart’s findings, lawsuits have been filed against Carrier IQ, HTC, Samsung, Apple, AT&T, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, and Motorola, alleging that it breaches the Federal Wiretap Act, Stored Electronic Communications Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Despite the company’s insistence to the contrary, the suit alleges that, “[i]n addition to collecting device and service-related data, Carrier IQ’s software can collect data about a user’s location, application use, Web browsing habits, videos watched, texts read and even the keys they press.” The establishment media has come to the aid of their corporate cronies, citing so-called experts who “debunked” Eckhart’s findings.[9]

Six big corporations with vested interests in profits and PR took on Eckhart’s research to ensure that Android had no publicity and reassured the public that it was all nonsense. However, their evidence for these assurances was less than convincing. If the key stroke accusation proved to be untrue, this still left the admitted ability of Android devices to collect data “… that would be able to determine the exact person who is using the phone, what programs they are running, when they charge the battery, what calls they make and where…”

After Vice President Andrew Coward of Carrier IQ software made conciliatory remarks to the computer news outlet CNET he also offered the following howler which tells us a lot about either the ignorance of the man or his capacity for disingenuous statements: “… we did not expect that we would need to be so open and transparent about everything … We recognized as the crisis kind of developed that that was required for us to clear our name. That was a huge learning process …”

God forbid in the age of surveillance and data mining that a software company or any other business swiping the public’s data without telling them should be “open and transparent.” The opposite was perhaps the general idea and he never imagined such a carrier would be discovered. This is especially curious when Coward himself admitted to CNET that: “…the Carrier IQ software is embedded into the device to make it not only hard to detect, but nearly impossible for any regular user to remove or control.” [10]

As of December 2011, Apple’s iPhone also had the Carrier IQ software but with minor adjustments. They have since removed it from future models. (However, Apple’s has assisted the push to get the populace accustomed to biometric ID usage with its 2013 iPhone 5s which includes a “Touch ID” sensor, or fingerprint sensor. If it’s on my iPhone then all is well…). According to United States Patent 8,254,902 Apple has yet again proved its cozy relationship to law enforcement by helpfully providing a “Kill Switch” for its mobile devices because: “covert police or government operations may require complete ‘blackout’ conditions.”

Ask yourself what conditions would require such a move where all devices are summarily turned off? Public interest or private need?

Google Inc. has another contribution to the SMART Grid in the form of the Google Wallet application for Android and iPhones. The app. offers wireless payment capabilities by using a sensor located on a designated ticket vending machine. Train and bus tickets are accessed from what appears to be a similar process to bar-code scanning but with the extra method of “near field communication,” where data transmission can take place when phone and sensor are about a one or two feet away from each other. The transaction is completed when the user receives confirmation on his phone. Google Wallet is currently compatible with prepaid Google cards and Mastercards.

google_cards

Scanning via your i-phone

It does sound very convenient doesn’t it?

And it probably is if you don’t think about the fact that it takes us one step closer to a chip in the arm and a cashless society, something which is embedded in the SMART Grid design itself. However, its actual arrival may be longer than we think. This is partly to do with the global nature of drug smuggling and money laundering where cash is king. (Just ask HSBC). But to be sure, a global electronic currency is coming and from which it will be near impossible to opt out. [11] That may not necessarily be a bad thing, it all depends if it is a truly transparent and open source. Who lies behind the formation and organisation of the world of cyber currency is key. For example, so far, the rise of Bitcoin seems a much better bet than anything Google could provide since the parameters of Bitcoin appear to be truly emancipatory, with encryption and transparency operating in the hands of people and none of the official culture middle men, i.e. lawyers, brokers and speculators. The proof will be in the pudding.

Google’s Android and Apple’s i-Phone both have voice recognition apps. Speak into your phone in a normal voice and it will answer any number of queries such as maths problems, directions – complete with a map popping up, showing your route – as well instantaneous translations form one language to another and the dictation of email and text messages. So how does it do it? Well, it is but one result of Google’s artificial intelligence programs and as Slate.com’s delighted online techie enthuses, the apps obtain their power: “… by analysing impossibly huge troves of information. For the speech system, the data are a large number of voice recordings. If you’ve used Android’s speech recognition system, Google Voice’s e-mail transcription service … or some other Google speech-related service, there’s a good chance that the company has your voice somewhere on its servers. And it’s only because Google has your voice—and millions of others—that it can recognize mine.” [12]

ANew York Times’ article of 2013 reported on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) testing of its Biometric Optical Surveillance System, or BOSS that: “… pair[s] computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces.” They have also been busy creating a system of voice recognition software that can analyse and determine whether or not a person is drunk, angry, or lying. A Homeland Security News Wire article called “Voice biometrics: the next generation lie detectors” published in December 2011 describes how several research teams are working away across the United States on various programs one of which can “deconstruct an individual’s speech pattern to see if they are being honest by searching for cues like volume, changes in pitch, pauses between words, and other verbal signs.” Another system is under development whereby an individual’s emotions can be analysed “… by using mathematical algorithms that scan hundreds of vocal cues like pitch, timing, and intensity.” Funding has come from the US Air Force. [13]

Of course, voice recognition and many other so called “innovations” which have been perfected and adapted to the SMART public have been considered obsolete by the private military-corporate complex for quite some time. The technology is being allowed into the public arena alongside developments in governmental sponsored and outsourced changes in infrastructure designed to revolutionise the nature of society.

Not wanting to left out of the silicon rush Microsoft demonstrated in early 2013 how webs surfers could get a feeling for a bar or restaurant by using a smartphone microphone app 6 to 10 second audio samples are taken, extracted data processed so that: “… the size of the crowd, the level of chatter, and the music volume can then be classified as “‘low,’ ‘normal,’ or ‘high.’ As MIT Tech Review’s Jessica Leber reported on March 11, 2013: “The app could even tell a searcher what song is playing.” Later in the year to complement this, Microsoft researchers came up with a system which can predict your physical location up to three weeks in the future. They did so by creating new techniques which made use of volunteers going about their daily lives and who each carried a GPS device much the same way they carried a cell phone. Neither of these two advances is in the public domain but given the pace of change it shouldn’t be too long.

Meanwhile, British scientists have used the social networking website Twitter to create a computer program called “Emotive” to “map the mood of the nation.” The software works by: “accessing the emotional content of postings on the social networking site.” According to the Loughborough University research team it works by scanning up to 2,000 tweets a second which the program rates for expressions from a list of eight human emotions drawn from each tweet. These are: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, shame and confusion. The grandiose and simplistic claim on a par with Pre-Crime technology of Homeland Security is that: “Emotive could help calm civil unrest and identify early threats to public safety” by tracking “criminal behaviour or threats to public safety.” Since over “500 million people across the world use Twitter, and more than 340 million tweets are posted daily,” then, that’s quite a demographic. Academics involved with the program then made the gargantuan leap that this technology: “may be able to guide national policy on the best way to react to major incidents…”

socialemotions1Social networking represent fertile for mining emotions tailored to predesigned outcomes. “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), found that people mirror the positive or negative emotions that their friends express in their posts—all without the aid of nonverbal cues like body language or tone of voice. Image credit: from his article: The Emotions of Social Sharing

Google was recently granted permission and issued a patent under the title of “Advertising based on environmental conditions” to maximize its profits and snooping ability to unheard of levels. Software collates and analyses background noises during your online phone call to effectively take an auditory snapshot of your environment and use the data to create a tailor-made advert for you that comes that bit closer to the ad man’s idea of perfection and our idea of a commercial dystopia. Here’s the patent description:

A computer-implemented method comprising: receiving, from a computing device, a search request comprising (i) information about a first environmental condition of the computing device, and (ii) one or more search terms; parsing the search request; selecting, from the search request based on parsing, the information about the first environmental condition; identifying an advertisement based on the first environmental condition and at least one of the one or more search terms; providing the advertisement to the computing device; receiving one or more of an audio signal, an image signal, or a video signal from a sensor of the computing device; and determining a second environmental condition based on the one or more of the audio signal, the image signal, or the video signal. [14]

John Simpson, the spokesman for Consumer Watchdog observes: “What these unilateral decisions by Google and Facebook demonstrate [referring to the forced usage of the timeline feature] is a complete disregard for their users’ interests and concerns,” continuing: “It’s an uncommonly arrogant approach not usually seen in business, where these companies believe they can do whatever they want with our data, whenever and however they want to do it,” he said. [15]

Not content with prising open our private lives on the internet, Google intends to virtually sit on our face and look through our eyes. Google X has come up with “Project Glass” and its “augmented reality” glasses (or headsets) still at the prototype stage; the next step up from your Smartphone, becoming as close to a natty cyborg as it is possible to be. The glasses will allow you to instantly read text messages, pull up maps, emails and all manner of useful and potentially accident inducing possibilities. More functions will be added over time. With live streams put through the glasses they could revolutionise media, communications, business and – amateur porn… Or stall at the first hurdle.

Controlled by voice or via a small touch-pad on the right arm of the device it can be connected to the internet via a phone cable and lasts for several hours, which will eventually be extended to a day, according to the developers. Prices start from $1500. What is more, Google will have it all stored and ready for multiple purposes.

Regardless of whether Project Glass gets off the ground or is just another gimmick, it heralds a significant change in the way we interface with the material world. Myk Willis Computer consultant who attended the June 2012 Google’s I/O developers’ conference had this to say about the product and the more probable future of what is dubbed “wearable computing”:

When we look back 10 years or so in the future, it’s going to be so cheap to integrate computing and communication into everything that it’s going to stop being about gadgets. The real impacts of wearable computing are most likely to come in things that don’t look like computers at all. […]

Computing is infusing every physical object that we interact with, so I think that’s going to end up being the more important angle. It’s not that we’re inventing new gadgets that people can wear. We are taking things that people wear or can carry with them and infusing them with intelligence, computing and connectivity. [16]

The problem is, Google will be gathering real-time information about your every move, something intelligence agencies will be falling over themselves to mine. That is, like Facebook and most social networking platforms, they aren’t in bed with Google from the outset, which seems like a certainty to me. Privacy? Nice idea. What else are we going to be “infusing” into our neural networks which will have the ability to make life easier, faster and accessible?

Darkly comical in the context of Google is the company’s co-founder and CEO Larry Page who refutes the charge by Edward Snowden and many other whistleblowers that they have been inside the CIA and NSA’s pocket for some time. Indeed, since Google is accepted as the leading search and internet tech-company in the world, accounting for 90 per cent of search engine traffic in the UK alone and is the user application of choice for virtually everyone it is simply inconceivable that Google has somehow kept itself immune from the intelligence apparatus. Without them, corporations of that size and magnitude wouldn’t be able to exist in their present form. This is especially true with their dominance in the surveillance and telecommunications game.

Scott Huffman, Google’s engineering director, says the company’s intention is to: “… transform the ways people interact with Google”. And that largely benign wish for many of Google’s employees happens to fit into the “transformation” that is very much part of the social engineering discussed on this blog. Google’s intention is to recalibrate all devices so that they exist not just in our pockets “… but all around us in every room” then it behooves the relevant agencies to get on aboard such an enthusiastic vision early on – which is probably exactly what they did. [17]

circleeggers

The Circle By Dave Eggers (2013)

How does the All Seeing Eye of Google, SMART devices, the Internet of things integrated with our social networks change our daily lives? Author David Eggers has more than a good idea as to how it could morph into something less than convenient. Eggers’ book The Circle paints a truly Orwellian picture of a surveillance state welcomed with open arms by the global population. Privacy is jettisoned and their lives directed and managed by a single corporation: the Circle, a mutant blend of Google, Facebook and Twitter. Since the idea of hiding any information from another is abhorrent and against the whole concept of naturally free world of sharing then to delete any information is deemed a crime. With a direct homage to George Orwell’s 1984 and its paramoralism, the Circle employs the absolute mantras of: “SECRETS ARE LIES,” “SHARING IS CARING,” and “PRIVACY IS THEFT.”

Seen as a Dystopian satire by reviewers it is much more than that, since it perfectly describes aspects of our present let alone our future. Eggers provides a mirror for how technology provides accelerated communication, entertainmen and seeming efficiency while at the same time ensuring compliance and a sickly positive affirmation hardwired into the user experience. Health monitoring of bio-signatures linked to records and location support the contouring of the correct existential meaning mixed together in the blender of the social networking matrix. Nano-cameras placed in every nook and cranny of the world ensure that an optimal mood is maintained along with access to every product you desire. In the end, products determine sense of self and purpose. As everyone is a user it is impossible to opt out of what is essentially a vast system of mind control through homogenisation and uniformity by sensation and instant gratification. Vacuous and empty lives are propagated so that the line between the user and the used becomes impossible to find. A reduction of crime – even its disappearance – Yes. But the cost would be of what it means to be human: creativity, spontaneity, originality and innovation would be crushed under a technopoly of plenty inhabited by “followers” “likes” and “friends” who are merely numbers in a programming matrix and a peripheral relation to objective reality. Eggers book asks the question how much are we prepared to sacrifice? And in doing so, is this ultimate transparency really what it purports to be?

Despite these CEO protestations that public “trust” is essential to the success of Google it becomes rather insulting when we know that Google headquarters and their advancing technology is monitored and directed both inside the corporation and outside by the NSA. As discussed, the mainstream media has been suspiciously hysterical about Snowden and the NSA and happily ignoring AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein and others who have been warning us since 2005 about the fact that the NSA has been wired into top internet companies’ servers, Including Google and Facebook.

With Google co-founder and Chairman Eric Schimdt willing to swallow nanobots to spring-clean his inner workings and uber-geeks like the Vice President of GoogleSearch Ben Gomes welcoming the company as a utilitarian presence in every aspect of our bodies and minds, it begs the question of whether there will be a choice.

Google-GlassGoogle promotion for “Project Glass”

In an interview with The Independent newspaper in July, 2013 Gomes gives us some idea what he thinks about our future. Presently residing at the Google HQ, Building 43 or the “Googleplex” he is an example of a techie genius who sees the unstoppable wave of innovation in this sphere as a wholly positive outcome for all concerned. Ben Gomes talks with barely concealed excitement about a “new epoch”. Waxing lyrical about Google’s new vast information resource Knowledge Graph he exclaims “It’s a meld of all the world’s interests and information needs,” which will accessed by voice commands anywhere you find yourself. The ultimate pot of gold for Gomes is a chip embedded in the brain which he believes is “far from a sci-fantasy.” Indeed, the employment of transhumanist guru Ray Kurzweil believes that in under twenty years “… the size of blood cells … we’ll be able to send them inside our brain through the capillaries, and basically connect up brain to the cloud.” The “cloud” meaning a vast virtual storage system which is already a reality. [18]

As director of engineering, Kurzweil’s Singularity University – of which Google is a partner –  feeds into the worrying trajectory that Google is inside the Elite’s obsession with transhumanism. DARPA is merging with Google innovation and thus pulling the internet under its influence where robotics, surveillance and human augmentation do indeed merge on behalf of those forces which care nothing for visions for human betterment.

Radical life extension has made transhumanist eyes bulge with anticipation, a belief which seems thick on the ground at Google HQ. The corporation recently launched a new company called “Calico” aimed at human lifespan and solving aging-related diseases. Like Bill and Melinda Gates, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a keen interest in genetics and life extension. As explained in the 2005 book: The Google Story by David A. Vise, Google geeks have been put to work to assist the revolution by generating: “… a gene catalogue to characterize all the genes on the planet and understand their evolutionary development. Geneticists have wanted to do this for generations … Google will build up a genetic database, analyze it, and find meaningful correlations for individuals and populations.” [19]

And it is here where we see a mind meld of transhumanist exuberance, technical genius and wilful blindness as to the nature of who is guiding who. Clearly, when such a concept is embraced by people at the frontline of such advances which has already taken on a life of its own, they are likely to be assisting in much more than simply technical innovation for its own sake. Every action has a moral and ethical dimension which is smoothed over with lullabies of technocratic peace and harmony. Google, along with the Information Age, is in danger of becoming just another arm of Pathocracy as complete as media, television, industry and agribusiness. If we want to opt out of this integration into the SMART-grid will we be able to do so if our very lives are dependent on its functionality? Moreover, would such rogue thinking be allowed to threaten the infrastructure in this singular future?

Neural networks are not the only bio-real estate available for redesigning. Locator information can be purloined from nearby phones to ping back-and-forth to gain the most accurate coordinates of the person being tracked. Not exactly heart-warming when genetically modified food and gene-twisting technology meets in a grim embrace inside the human body.

So, what’s so special about DNA? We’ll have a look-see in the next post.

 

Update: See also: Data is the New Oil

 


Notes

[1] ‘Apple has more cash in the bank than the U.S. Treasury has left to spend’ By Matthew Humphries http://www.geek.com Jul. 29, 2011|‘Apple ‘spy planes’ to film homes from the air’ “Apple has recruited a private fleet of aeroplanes equipped with military standard cameras to produce 3D maps so accurate they could film people in their homes through skylights, according to reports.” By Nick Collins, Telegraph, 11 Jun 2012.
[2] ‘Rivals Say Google Plays Favorites’ by Amir Efrati, The Wall Street Journal, December 12, 2010.
[3] ‘Google will know more about you than your partner’: Uproar as search giant reveals privacy policy that will allow them to track you on all their products’ by The Daily Mail by Ted Thornhill, 3 March 2012.
[4] ‘Google’s 10 Billion Android App Downloads: By the Numbers’. By Christina Bonnington, Wired December 2011.
[5] ‘How a Lone Grad Student Scooped the Government and What It Means for Your Online Privacy’by Peter Maass, ProPublica, June 28, 2012.
[6] Ibid.
[7] ‘Google’s Street View rejected in Greece over privacy’RINF http://www.rinf.com.
[8] ‘The Carrier IQ Conspiracy’ by Madison Ruppert, December 16, 2011 Activist Post, http://www.activistpost.com.
[9] Ibid.
[10] ‘What does Carrier IQ do on my phone–and should I care?’ by Elinor Mills, CNET, http://www.cnet.com December 1, 2011.
[11] ‘The Cashless Society is Almost Here – And With Some Very Sinister Implications’ By Patrick Henningsen 21st Century Wire: […] It’s arguable that we approaching the cusp of that US Dollar collapse, and perhaps a Euro implosion on the back end of it. Risks of hyper inflation are very real here, but if you control the money supply might already have a ready-made solution waiting in the wings, you will not be worrying about the rift, only waiting for the chaos to ensue so as to maximise your own booty from the crisis.
Many believed that the global currency would be the SDR unit, aka Special Drawing Rights, implemented in 2001 as a supplementary foreign exchange reserve asset maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). SDRs were not considered a full-fledged currency, but rather a claim to currency held by IMF member countries for which they may be exchanged for dollars, euros, yen or other central bankers’ fiat notes.
With the SDR confined to the upper tier of the international money launderette, a new product is still needed to dovetail with designs of a global cashless society.
Two new parallel currencies are currently being used exclusively within the electronic, or cashless domain – Bitcoin and Ven.
Among the many worries Ben Bernanke listed in his speech at the New York Economic Club last week was the emergence of Bitcoin. But don’t believe for a second that these digital parallel currencies are not being watched over and even steered by the money masters. Couple this latest trend with done deals by most of the world’s largest mobile networks this month to allow people to pay via a mobile ‘wallet’, and you now have the initial enabler for a new global electronic currency.
These new parallel cashless currencies could very quickly end up in pole position for supremacy when the old fiat notes fade away as a result of the next planned economic dollar and euro crisis.
Both Bitcoin and Ven appear on their surface to be independent parallel digital money systems, but the reality is much different. In April 2011, Ven announced the first commodity trade priced in Ven for gold production between Europe and South America. Both of these so-called ‘digital alternatives’ are being backed and promoted through some of the world’s biggest and most long-standing corporate dynasties, including Rothschild owned Reuters as an example, which should be of interest to any activist who believes that a digitally controlled global currency is a dangerous path to tread down.  (Read more at http://www.21stcenturywire.com/2012/11/29/the-cashless-society-is-almost-here-and-with-some-very-sinister-implications/)
[12] ‘Google has developed speech-recognition technology that actually works.’ By Farhad Manjoo, April 6, 2011,www.slate.com.
[13] ‘Facial Scanning Is Making Gains in Surveillance’, Charlie Savage New York Times, August 21, 2013.
[14] ‘Advertising based on environmental conditions’ Inventors: Heath; Taliver Brooks (Mountain View, CA) Assignee: Google Inc. (Mountain View, CA) Appl. No.: 12/017,613 Filed: January 22, 2008 / Issued March 20 2012, US patent number: 8,138,930.
[15] Quotation from ‘Big Brother Google just got bigger’ By Madison Ruppert Editor of endthelie.com, January 24 2012.
[16]  ‘U.S., British intelligence mining data from nine U.S. Internet companies in broad secret program’ Wall Street Journal, June 6 2013.
[17] ‘Project Glass: Developers’ verdicts on Google’s headset’ By Laura Locke, BBC News, June 28, 2012.
[18] ‘Inside Google HQ: What does the future hold for the company whose visionary plans include implanting a chip in our brains?’ Ian Burrell, The Independent July 20, 2013.
[19] p.285; Vise, David A.;The Google Story (2008) Published by Pan.

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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