by David Thrussell
New Dawn 162
Imagine, if you will, a war in the near future...
A war not fought between
East and West. Not fought between nations, nor creeds nor races. A
war fought brother to brother and sister to sister, father to son
and mother to daughter.
(technologists) against NonTesh
The Tesh, a tribe or
caste intoxicated and socially validated through their umbilical
connection to technology and the Meta/Hive Mind.
Glued to Google Glass,
status permanently updated: the Tesh always offer the right opinion
at the right time. Incapable of nonGroupThink, the Tesh occupy all
positions of import in the professional, media, academic and
Opinions counter to Tesh
GroupThink are not only by definition incorrect, they are also
invisible - filtered, de-platformed and deleted into a silent
The NonTesh are homeless, stateless non-people. Unable to
participate in comfortable society's rituals and prefabricated
dialogues, without access to currency and the staid social discourse
that lubricates function in the mainstream.
They attack from the
margins: wild wastelands, hardware graveyards and mountain ranges of
landfill - zones abandoned by the Tesh as beyond rehabilitation. The
unknowing progeny of the much-maligned (but historically vindicated)
Luddites, the NonTesh build primitive Drone traps, savagely attack
convoys of technicians and inflict random violence at the edges of
They slaughter and
destroy with no plan, no blueprint - a simple, intuitive anger and
violence that Tesh mainframe-algorithms cannot comprehend and
struggle to strategize against.
This will be the Final War - man against machine and man against
The omniscient progress of technology brings with it many benefits -
this is beyond serious doubt.
But seldom if ever
discussed is technology's insidious and largely invisible
detriments. They remain near-invisible for many reasons: commercial
imperatives, an infantile inability to see past convenience and
short-term rewards and a surfeit of attractive and entertaining
Perhaps the most
difficult to discern are those problems that might occur in the
moral, predictive, philosophical or ideological realms: spheres
apparently far less concrete than instant, addictive neurochemical
rewards and the superficial and textural allure of consumer
Modern-era human society also appears rusted to the concept of
progress - the idea that all technological advances are
intrinsically positive whether immediate gains outweigh severe
long-term deficits… or not.
The black silicon squid of hyper-technology sends its powerful
tentacles into every domain of human activity, its vice-like grip
stultifying thought and any hint of animalistic defensive
Our species suffocates in
the death-grasp, yet lacks even the primal survival instinct to
Is humankind fatally
trapped by techno-blindness?
Big Data &
While essentially unknown to the general public, the astounding
technologies of the London based firm Cambridge Analytica
(CA) are credited by some as having a fundamental role in the 2016
election of US President Donald Trump and the 'Leave'
campaign that led to the UK Brexit.
CA trumpets proudly on
its website and in its strategic communications that they "use data
modelling and psychographic profiling to grow audiences, identify
key influencers, and connect with people in ways that move them to
Birthed at the nexus of leading Cambridge University Psychometric
scientists and the SCL Group (self-described as a 'global election
management agency'), Cambridge Analytica works big data to identify
and manipulate the intentions of mass voter populations.
According to CA Chief Executive, Alexander Nix,
"Today in the United
States we have somewhere close to four or five thousand data
points on every individual. So we model the personality of every
adult across the United States, some 230 million people."
...CA builds profiles of
every individual in the target audience (i.e. every potential voter
in the US during election season 2016) and generates a
'psychographic analysis' in combination with the OCEAN ('openness to
experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and
neuroticism') personality trait or 'lexical hypothesis' model to
predict and influence the electoral actions of individuals.
As reported in the Swiss Das Magazin, with just ten Facebook
'likes' as input, CA could,
"appraise a person's
character better than an average coworker.
With seventy, it
could 'know' a subject better than a friend; with 150 likes,
better than their parents. With 300 likes… (the) machine could
predict a subject's behavior better than their partner.
With even more likes
it could exceed what a person thinks they know about
Deployed in a number of
developing nations, the SCL Group has worked extensively with
military and political contacts in activities that Slate magazine
described as akin to a 'coup' scenario.
According to their website,
is building a future where every individual can have a truly
personal relationship with their favorite brands and causes by
showing organizations not just where people are, but what they
really care about and what drives their behavior."
Albright of Elon University describes CA's algorithms as,
machine. It's targeting people individually to recruit them to
an idea. It's a level of social engineering that I've never seen
people and then keeping them on an emotional leash and never
letting them go."
CA's Nix gave an example
from their brief tenure on GOP candidate Ted Cruz's primary
Cambridge Analytica's big
there was a small pocket of voters in Iowa who felt strongly
that citizens should be required by law to show photo ID at
Leveraging our other
data models, we were able to advise the campaign on how to
approach this issue with specific individuals based on their
unique profiles in order to use this relatively niche issue as a
political pressure point to motivate them to go out and vote for
For people in the
'Temperamental' personality group, who tend to dislike
commitment, messaging on the issue should take the line that
showing your ID to vote is 'as easy as buying a case of beer'.
Whereas the right
message for people in the 'Stoic Traditionalist' group, who have
strongly held conventional views, is that showing your ID in
order to vote is simply part of the privilege of living in a
According to some
sources, CA is able to bombard target individuals with thousands of
uniquely tailored and feedback evolving 'dark ads' (advertisements
that aren't seen by others).
In a piece titled 'The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda
Machine', journalists Berit Anderson and Brett Horvath
assert that Cambridge Analytica,
"has activated an
invisible machine that preys on the personalities of individual
voters to create large shifts in public opinion.
Many of these
technologies have been used individually to some effect before,
but together they make up a nearly impenetrable voter
manipulation machine that is quickly becoming the new deciding
factor in elections around the world."
It would be easy to argue
that primitive versions of these techniques have indeed been used in
various 'colored revolutions' and 'regime change' operations for
decades at least (and more subtly in the general domestic activities
of the mainstream media): perhaps the only salient difference being
that now the 'coup' chickens have extraordinary 'Artificial
Intelligence' technologies at their disposal which have now clearly
come home to roost.
Fraught and fragile as our democracies are, the inevitable march of
'progress' means we're about to lose them permanently to
Technology also threatens to advance and empower policing to the
realm of monolithic totalitarianism.
In an eerie echo of
Phillip K. Dick's 'Minority
Report' short story, predictive policing software and
models are now deployed to assess the assumed future crimes of
identified 'criminal classes'.
In Chicago, a city
wracked by disproportionate levels of gun homicide, gang violence
and rampant police brutality, a report in Scout Magazine
Chicago Police Department, and a partner called Third Eye
have created a cloud-based solution that predicts what types of
criminal activity are likely to take place where.
data, the Chicago force can deploy officers to specific
locations across the city based on how likely crime is to occur
there. They can also predict crime trends based on the weather,
specific times of day or a range of other factors.
The LA Police
Department has developed an algorithm called
PredPol that does the same
predictive models are often wrong.
'Beware', a software model developed by security firm
Intrado, was tasked with
identifying an individual's,
"threat level based
on their address, searches of the deep web, arrest records,
vehicle registrations, criminal records, warrants, property
records, 'known associates' and the content of their latest
social media posts."
Adopted in Fresno,
California in 2015, 'Beware' was soon abandoned in April 2016 after
persistent concerns were raised about its accuracy and deleterious
effect on privacy.
Aside from the obvious, nightmarish and Kafka-esque scenarios
that predictive policing might produce, it should also be noted that
any Artificial Intelligence capability can only be as useful and
accurate as the data it utilizes.
Error-prone, biased or
prejudiced inputs will inevitably produce arrests or harassment for
what equates essentially to
or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time (or even
being the wrong person at the wrong time).
Predictive policing will always risk impugning guilt through data
aggregation rather than actual criminal action.
In recent decades the explosion in electronic and online
communications has been a boon for surveillance industries and the
instruments of the corporate and political state tasked with
gathering masses of information.
Post the revelations of
NSA whistleblowers like William
Edward Snowden (and Wikileaks'
recent 'Vault7' cache of documents), it appears safe to assume that
all electronic communications are vulnerable to surveillance at all
It came to light through the Snowden revelations that police and
other law enforcement departments have regular and essentially
uncontrolled access to 'products' of the NSA/CIA and
Though use of this
ostensibly illegally obtained information is inadmissible in court
proceedings, police routinely work around this impasse by creating
'parallel construction', a technique to mask the use of
'unconventionally obtained' data from defendants or the accused.
According to an August 2013 Reuters report,
"A secretive US Drug
Enforcement Administration unit is funnelling information from
intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive
database of telephone records to authorities across the nation
to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases
rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by
Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to
conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from
defence lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges."
In the US, local police
and the FBI routinely use a device called a 'Stingray'
that mimics a cell/mobile phone tower and thus can capture metadata
and phone traffic content from nearby phones.
No warrant is required
for their use but The Guardian in August 2016 reported on a,
agreement that local police were forced to sign with the FBI
before receiving permission to use Stingray - a document that
mandated local prosecutors to abandon cases rather than risk
information about Stingray becoming public."
Using what are legally
'invisible' technologies to gather incriminating evidence poses
myriad problems for the accused:
a frightening 'Star
Chamber' scenario that is reportedly now commonplace.
As Reuters confirms,
"If defendants don't
know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to
review potential sources of exculpatory evidence - information
that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses."
militarization of police has been of concern to many.
Now airborne drones
(Unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) are also becoming part of the
increasingly high-tech law enforcement arsenal. In the US, North
Dakota was the first state to legalize armed police drones.
The aircraft will be
nominally limited to 'less-than-lethal' weaponry, i.e.,
...though 'mission creep'
would appear to make it inevitable that law enforcement will soon
patrol from the skies with lethal firepower, a scenario that was
science-fiction a few years ago.
to the 'Internet of Things' - Including People
Advancements in 'smart' technology (or as author and Silicon Valley
critic Evgeny Morozov calls them: "Surveillance. Marketed.
As. Revolutionary. Technology.") and the approaching 'Internet of
Things' threaten an ominous near-future where,
...and alike - are, for
'convenience sake', automatically and intrinsically connected to the
Speaking in 2012 to the
In-Q-Tel (the CIA's venture capital
arm) CEO Summit, then CIA Director General David Petraeus
remarked about the impending 'Internet of Things' saying,
"Items of interest
will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled
through technologies such as radio-frequency identification,
sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters -
all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant,
low cost, and high-power computing - the latter now going to
cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater
supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.
"In practice, these technologies could lead to rapid integration
of data from closed societies and provide near-continuous,
persistent monitoring of virtually anywhere we choose.
an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these
technologies, particularly to their effect on clandestine
Taken together, these
developments change our notions of secrecy and create
innumerable challenges - as well as opportunities."
US Director of National
Intelligence, James Clapper, similarly remarked in February
"In the future,
intelligence services might use the 'Internet of Things' for
identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and
targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user
The day is fast
approaching where your fridge might spy on you.
Imagine Cambridge Analytica's 4-5,000 data points harvested for
every individual, correlated with tens of thousands of domestic data
observations, and it becomes possible to build electronic and
informational profiles of individuals of staggering scale and darkly
Wikileaks' 7 March 2017 dump of thousands of secret CIA technology
documents confirmed a landscape of ubiquitous surveillance and data
harvesting. Among the myriad revelations allegedly leaked from the
CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia:
developed by the CIA's Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which
infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones.
Weeping Angel places the target TV in a 'Fake-Off' mode, so that
the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on.
In 'Fake-Off' mode
the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room
and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server."
As Internet renegade
Kim Dotcom noted, the,
"CIA turns Smart TVs,
iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into
open microphones," and further the "CIA turned every Microsoft
Windows PC in the world into spyware."
Also described was the
CIA capability to hack computer networks while cloaked as another
entity or state actor.
The CIA UMBRAGE group,
according to Wikileaks,
maintains a substantial library of attack techniques 'stolen'
from malware produced in other states including the Russian
With UMBRAGE and
related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number
of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind
the 'fingerprints' of the groups that the attack techniques were
Further from Wikileaks:
"As of October 2014
the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control
systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such
control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage
in nearly undetectable assassinations."
This last point casts an
ominous shadow on the 18 June 2013 death of controversial defence
and surveillance journalist Michael Hastings.
Just hours before his
demise in an inexplicable and fiery, high speed auto-crash, Hastings
"The Feds are
interviewing my 'close friends and associates'" and, "I'm onto a
big story and need to go off the radar for a bit."
From 'Smart Dust' to
'Bots' that roam Internet forums and newspaper sites generating
automated comments, from Barbie dolls that collect and wirelessly
transmit children's conversations to marketers, and algorithms or
artificial intelligences that finger potential criminals, generate
credit ratings, parole recommendations and employment decisions:
we are about to leave
the epoch of human decision making and enter a brave new era of
automated or 'virtual intelligence'.
Some, like renowned
technologist, futurist and Google Director of Engineering Ray
Kurzweil celebrate the coming 'singularity' - the point when
computer intelligence equals or surpasses human intelligence and
human mind melds with technology.
Kurzweil predicts that by
2029 our brains will fuse with machines and the event will usher in
a new 'techno-utopia' where according to his evangel,
"We're going to be
able to meet the physical needs of all humans. We're going to
expand our minds and exemplify those artistic qualities that we
technologist, Elon Musk, struck a far more cautionary tone in
intelligence we are summoning the demon."
Control Machine Will Never Sleep
It's easy to drown in the multifarious, conceptual and jargonistic
details - the techno-babble and giddy utopianism.
But the simplest observation is also the best and most essential -
in a few short years we will already be in a future where every
interaction with any electronic device, technology or landscape will
most likely be recorded, stored, analyzed and actioned.
conversation will be harvested for advertising data
search or online visit yielding the raw stuff of social
engineering and opinion/vote massaging
every opinion big
data grist for the 'Shock Doctrine' mill,
...a traitorous crop of
domestic appliances will report on,
...as online algorithms
patrol like nano-ThoughtPolice - reporting social media infractions
to employers and state bodies.
Always on - always transmitting - always analyzing and evolving:
the Digital Control
Machine will never sleep...
It is, in the most basic
form, a nightmare world of permanent, inescapable surveillance and
Prison that serves up constant entertainments and distractions
with the small, dutiful price of mental conditioning and
Permanently connected to
'the Cloud', a remotely controlled and infinite feedback system that
modulates mood, thought, opinion and activity.
Soon we will be digital
puppets, addicted to 'sticky' devices and rewarded for our
compliance by serotonin hits and endless 'content'.
1984 George Orwell imagined
a brutal dystopia of regimented 'Thought Police' and perpetual war.
Brave New World described a future
of bio-chemical thought/mood enhancement and control through the
cheerfully prescribed and gladly ingested 'soma' of ritualized and
inescapable entertainments and obligatory trivia and tribal custom.
Our near-tomorrow will likely be a hybrid of the two - swift, final
technological punishment for the troublesome 'Michael Hastings'
types (those who have transgressed beyond rehabilitation) - and
endless, comfortable distraction for those who submit meekly to the
A soft, warm and
luxurious digital boot "stamping on a human face - forever."
Human society's breathless race to embrace dehumanizing and
inherently totalitarian technologies must have an end point.
It's possible to form a cogent argument that recent political
'shocks' and developments:
...are in some sense the
manifestation of a sublimated rejection of technology (and
the government/economic/corporate systems empowered by technology)
from a dazzled, bewildered but instinctively antagonistic
Is it to be war
Transhumans who accept and
rejoice in their hybridization into
the Matrix of omniscient
ideological control technologies,
an adjunct of the
modern permanent state of entertainment/distraction and
...and those on the
margins who knowingly or intuitively reject the encroachment of
optic fibre, microwave blast and touch-screen texture into every
last human domain of flesh, thought, sinew and soul?
The Final War -
the ragtag remnants of man-kind against man-machine: