Thursday, March 22, 2018

Information Operations

The most overwhelmingly powerful weapon in the history of humanity has been constructed, deployed and so few people have yet to realize this. Not only that, but as time progresses, that weapon will only get much stronger and potent.

First to understand the gravity of this, we need to take a look at algorithms. The way algorithms are created today, it's not done by humans. It's done by other algorithms. A programmer creates an algorithm in order to create a bot, and originally, this bot is useless. It then goes through a specific process of being tested, copied, destroyed and through this method, evolves to suit a specific task via repeating these steps.

With this we've been able to create algorithms so complex that creation has outpaced our understanding of them and, because of the nature of business, that information isn't being shared in order to provide a required understanding in the first place.

That's one part of Information Operations and what aids in its precision as well as gives it the ability to escalate to unfathomable potency. The other is the human brain. It's complicated enough to give us a sense of individuality however its deterministic nature and the fact that it adheres to the laws of physics, causes patterns of behavior to emerge.

And from those patterns come various fields of study like psychology. I've illustrated such phenomenon in previous videos as I've been quite interested in understanding the machinations of the human mind, as a layman. I never dreamed people would take it so far as to, not only understand the human brain, but to weaponize a system powerful enough to sway public opinion.

Enter the recent news surrounding Cambridge Analytica. This company, armed with the knowledge of psychology, obtained data of millions of Facebook users and was able to create psychological profiles. Not only that, they constructed a delivery method tailored to that psychology and had a population elect a reality TV star as its President as well as have the UK vote to leave the EU.

How many of you have Steam accounts with games you haven't even bothered playing? That's the power of targeted advertising alone. And with data driven analysis, companies like WalMart can predict something as odd as the rise in demand for strawberry pop tarts,whenever there's a hurricane.

This is different. This is preying on your brain's deterministic nature to make you go out and buy strawberry pop tarts without you even realizing it. Only what they're selling surrenders your freedom to those in power.

And here's the scary part. When individuals are targeting a collective for their own gains, the collective is sure to suffer but not before willfully surrendering to the individual. We won't even realize it. This is what happened with Cambridge Analytica and the highest bidder. And, as time moves forward, the more potent this weapon will become.

Reminiscing on Independence Day, I now realize that an advanced alien civilization would not have to dominate us with giant energy cannons. All they would require is access to our personal information, construct a psychological profile for each of us and have their advanced system deliver information that would cause us to act precisely as they would want us to act. And we'd be all out of Jeff Goldblums.

I wonder what other events might have been influenced with such methods? The Arab Spring perhaps? The only reason we've caught wind of this is due to the scale and lack of humility on the part of Cambridge Analytica. Considering the revelations Snowden brought forth regarding how easy it was to have access to personal data, privacy has become paramount if only to slow down any potential for progress on this front.

Thinking of the possible applications for this turns my stomach having studied and understood how much control over ourselves we actually have at any given time. It's not much and to violate this, influencing other human beings on this scale, is utterly grotesque and completely unethical.

All those engaging in these practices need to be prosecuted and we need to be vigilant of any other attempts in the future. Critical thinking and an understanding of our own machinations would be where I'd start as well as demanding privacy be upheld by one's government. This includes keeping our information safe from prying foreign eyes. But I fear we're just fighting the clock at this point.




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