An ignored watershed moment in humankind and human history?

And so a week has passed since news broke about Cambridge Analytica, Facebook and the initial on-camera interviews with Christopher Wylie, an IT head honcho turned public whistle-blower, eager to spill the goods on exactly what happened.

For all of this past week, like I’m sure all of you I’ve heard numerous stories about improper (if not illegal) acquisition of, and use of Facebook data (IMO all possibly unethical, remains to be seen what is actually illegal. IMO changing Terms of Use after data has been copied is possibly dubious.)

Completely unreported seems to be what I feel is a wathershed moment in humankind and computer technology.

To my knowledge,
This is the first time in humankind history that computer systems have been used to purposefully and maliciously victimize human beings, and this was apparently done on a large scale.

To properly evaluate what happened,
You first have to understand how Big Data Analysis is commonly used, and this is without future advancements applying independent thought (my definition of Artificial Intelligence). Today, Big Data Analysis is commonly used to identify individuals and groups who can be used to further business objectives. This is what has generally been done for political campaigns, marketing campaigns, and customer retention programs for instance.

But Cambridge Analytica took those benign Big Data results and did something else… The data was given to a Psychoanalyst who created Personality models that identify personality flaws and weaknesses and then ran the data through those models. Individuals might have been known not by name but only by their characteristics and virtual address were then fed information designed to prey upon their specific flaws which might have included such things as susceptibility to suggestion, predilection to conspiracy theories and specific bias.

The result is a possibly fully automatic flow where a computer system searches and identifies flawed humans and purposely and maliciously victimizes them.

Those victimized humans never had a chance.

Today, there is talk about blocking the attack vector by eliminating Cambridge Analytica’s main data source, but it’s likely that is insufficient and effective only in the immediate future, there are too many alternative sources like competitive social media, government census and geo data, shopping clubs, infrastructure critical nodes, practically everything we touch today, we are swimming in an abundance of data around us and it’s unlikely shutting off any single or few sources will have any lasting effect. Facebook as a source is only a convenience and not likely the only available source for the data used. Besides, the abundance of data can also be used for good and will likely benefit humankind beyond anything we can imagine today so data transfer restrictions might have the opposite effect(harming prospects for a better tomorrow).

Some who might have read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy (pub ~ 1942) will note that it described a mathematical practice called Psychohistory based on macro data, then by an invisible hand guide the evolution of civilization across eons, led by the eminent Hari Seldon. In those books, similar in some ways to what Cambridge Analytica did, numerous psychological manipulations happened both benevolently and malevolently.


People have been flooding into the diaspora network over the past few days because of this.

Before the Cambridge Analytica news broke out there was an article on how things went wrong at Facebook.
I have no idea how people are using this as a news site but apparently they are. But as you are saying Facebook is not the only potential problem. There were reports of problems at Twitter and I guess the biggest problem being Google given their position in the market. I haven’t seen any reports yet but I’m sure we will see something at some point, given how much data they have. Also things are just getting worse in the US hence articles like this:

IMHO, the only thing that happened was, political election campaigning (which is not illegal in democratic countries … ) experienced an increase in the computer aided analysis of voter’s feelings and opinions, the results of which were used for the media presence (read advertising) of the election campaign.

  • Whether or not, there was substantial increase in the amount of computer aided analysis used, is a moot point …

[HR][/HR]Bottom line: whether the voters were influenced by the “social media” or, by good old fashioned billboards or, by media shows on steam television or stone age radio or, by pre-historic political gatherings, doesn’t really matter – that’s the way a democracy, as we know it, functions …

Always remember that Facebook is in business to sell a product to its customers.

You (the people who sign up for facebook) are the product. Advertisers are the customers.

Personally, I have never signed up (I was never interested).

Same here.

Facebook? What’s that? Never been there. –Gerry

I’ve never been interested either.

Some of you are missing the point. While Facebook was used the same thing can also be done with data that one can pay to get from Google.
That said people thought I was being funny when I said this but I was really quite serious,“Skynet is real and its name is Google.”

Or, to put it another way, if you enter data into a database which is not owned by you then, you do not own that data …

Those of us who are living in democracies which maintain records of their citizens are affected by the “non-ownership of data issue”:

  • Countries which are democracies tend to have records of our birth, addresses and telephone numbers, bank account details, employer details, vehicle data, our family – and their data – the dog license (if you own a dog), if you’re a property owner then, the property details, and finally, our death. >:)

The above list of data “stored by the state” is not complete and, it may be extended …

So, given the amount of data your “country of residence” has about you, the question arises, why do human beings (or, even your cat) provide private details to commercial enterprises? To be perfectly honest, I’m absolutely mystified …

On 2018-03-26, tsu2 <> wrote:
> To my knowledge,
> This is the first time in humankind history that computer systems have
> been used to purposefully and maliciously victimize human beings, and
> this was apparently done on a large scale.

Probably not the first time. It’s just this time they got found out. Were it not for Christopher Wylie and Channel 4
News, we would probably never know. Big data is big business and I suspect this sort of thing happens as a matter of
routine. If people are using social networking applications freely giving away their personal data thinking there’s any
credible protection, then they are naive.

And when it’s not industry passing around your data, then it’s the security services. What was so astonishing from
Edward Snowden’s disclouse was not that surveillance data was being passed around globally as a matter of routine, but
that people were actually surprised when they found out. I believe the same principles apply to commercial industry
especially for those companies who acquire much of their revenue through targetted advertisement. While use of their
services may not necessarily cost money, you pay instead with loss of your privacy. Nothing is free.

Given that, the results of Cambridge Analytica’s analysis is being used for political election campaigns in more than a few countries, what do you mean by “preying on specific (human) flaws”?

AFAIK, this is what politicians normally do during their (democratic) election campaigns – with or without big-data analysis …

Or, are you suggesting that, social media has bent human behaviour drastically enough that, current election campaigns – world-wide – are decided almost purely by the information broadcast by the social media?

Are you suggesting that, the politicians who can broadcast the best looking social media information and/or put up the best billboards and/or can trigger the best headlines in the boulevard newspapers will win the elections?
[HR][/HR]Given that “smart phones” have caused a physical change in the way that (some) humans walk and sit (some humans no longer walk or sit upright), the thought that social media is changing human behaviour is possibly not incorrect … :wink:

I also do not use Google.

DuckDuckGo has a no-tracking, etc., policy.

Really? You also don’t use Android on the phone? I’ve also read some article that said even if you don’t use Gmail and host your own email server Google still has 50% or more of your emails.

Regardless of what someone wrote somewhere, today Google annoyed my (not so) smart mobile Android telephone by sending an unexpected security e-Mail to my GMail account. The only happy news is, at last, I’ve set-up my GMail account to forward to a 'Google-only´ e-Mail account located at my ISP (they allow more e-Mail accounts than I need and, I’ve paid for them anyway with the DSL bill … ) and, I went through Google’s “security” checks and disabled everything … >:)
[HR][/HR]And, no, I suspect that, the ISP I use is not associated with Google – 40 %+ is owned by a family, other named investors fill out to 55 % and the rest (45 %) is publicly floated …
Even if, Google happens to be within the 45 % public share holding, I suspect that, they are not allowed to say or influence too much …
And, the annual turnover of the ISP I use about 4 billion Euros (not exactly “back yard” or “garage”) …

Nope, no Android phone.

Apparently, I am wiser than a Wise!

+1 to you

Sadly I fail here. I like the ease of my android and its facilities. And when I forget I can always ask google where I live and what my shoe size is etc.

I know a lot of people rely on google as their brain (me included at times), although I don’t own one of their phones yet. :slight_smile:

Surely you didn’t succumb the the i-people :open_mouth:

Truth be told it’s a company iPhone, but when that ride ends I guess I’ll have to consider my options. :\

I have a flip phone, non-android. I am old school, I guess, want my phone to be a phone, nothing else.

I do have what is supposed to be an Android (not-so)Smart phone, a Moto E, but I never installed a SIM card, disabled all phone features and keep it in “Airplane Mode”. It is my handheld “computer” and Palm Pilot replacement.

I connect it internally on my network with Wireless and synchronize my reference and log files with my PC. It is blocked from any Internet connectivity going out or coming in by the Firewalls.