Food for thought from across the pond…
Below is the unedited text of a statement sent to to the UK Parliament’s Fake News Inquiry on November 21 2017. The intention at the time of its submission was to provide Parliament and MPs the time to deal with inevitable future disinformation campaigns led by the Kremlin.
If I may offer an opinion by way of metaphor: A dose of bureaucratic inertia, with a chaser of simple-minded weakness, salted rim of cynical political manipulation, and this toxic tonic of state and military justice is made ready yet again for our body politic to swallow.
GTMO symbolizes the inversion of American ideals. It’s a tragedy that endures.
Mr. Trump, give these men trials, sentence them to normal military prisons — show real strength and affect real change where your predecessors could not: Find a deal to shutter this ugly creature from the swamp. The legacy you seek, to make America great again, can yet be secured.
President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order to keep open the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, after pledging during the campaign to “load it up with some bad dudes.”
In the interview below, a Googler speaks about “the redirect method”, a technique her colleagues used to influence extremist sympathizers away from ISIS through targeted advertising. While any effort to combat extremism is good news, what the savvy young employee of the megacorporation misses is that it’s the targeted advertising itself, the consolidation of media online, that her company and its very few rivals like Facebook have done to the internet that may be the more relevant concern. As many have noted, Google and Facebook’s recommendation algorithms and market dominance create closed information systems, rabbit holes of intensification that steer viewers toward greater consumption of self-same information. So the young man who watches an ISIS video will be bombarded with more ISIS videos well before he ticks a blip on anti-ISIS algorithm, and is served alternative information.
Alphabet and Facebook have engineered, deliberately, media systems that offer high-stakes emotional manipulation over civil discourse. This new reality begs a few questions: Who benefits? Can it be controlled? Would mandating a diversity of viewpoints from the algorithms be helpful? Maybe it’s time to consider breaking up businesses that control so much of what we see, what we think?
We need to deepen our understanding of how social media platforms are being weaponized-and to find technological solutions to counter this trend. MIT Technology Review’s Martin Giles and Yasmin Green of Jigsaw explore this topic.
“Everything is PR”. Peter Pomerantsev explains the transformation of Russia from an aspirational, fledgling democracy to a cynical, authoritarian quasi-oligarchy. According to Peter, a madness of sorts now pervades the culture:
I recently had to write a few paragraphs about something called a hybrid threat. Results below.
15 years ago, it was predicted…
Going to war with Iraq would mean shouldering all the responsibilities of an occupying power the moment victory was achieved. These would include running the economy, keeping domestic peace, and protecting Iraq's borders-and doing it all for years, or perhaps decades. Are we ready for this long-term relationship?
Social media, power, algorithms and politics combine to “gerrymander us down to the person”. Author, social scientist and university professor Zaynep Tufekci speaks with Sam Harris in the podcast below. Zaynep asserts that the tools of what she terms “asymmetric surveillance capitalism” — algorithms Google and Facebook build for targeted advertising — have been used by political power-brokers to micro-target individuals for persuasion and control. The click-bait politics of social media are “a perfect setup for authoritarians”, Zaynep states: algorithms stoke divisions and create closed systems that push viewers down a rabbit hole toward extreme ideas.
In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Zeynep Tufekci about “surveillance capitalism,” the Trump campaign’s use of Facebook, AI-enabled marketing, the health of the press, Wikileaks, ransomware attacks, and other topics.