[FoRK] what to do with the PRISM database

J. Andrew Rogers andrew at jarbox.org
Thu Jul 11 00:36:42 PDT 2013

On Jul 10, 2013, at 11:39 PM, Damien Morton <dmorton at bitfurnace.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jul 10, 2013 at 9:52 PM, J. Andrew Rogers <andrew at jarbox.org> wrote:
>> The low-hanging fruits are the same things it is already used for:
>> blackmail and profit.  If you are more ambitious and technically adept, you
>> can engage in large-scale puppetry with the population.
> Yes, I was imagining the combining of the PRISM database with the kind of
> big-data analytics databases used by the Obama campaign. You could, for
> example, map out key opinion leaders within real social networks, and
> target them for persuasion.

That would be a simplistic use. People underestimate what is possible. The technical capability already exceeds the depictions generated by Hollywood's idle speculation in many aspects, and it is unfathomable to many people that capabilities can exceed science fiction in practice. You still see laughable nonsense like "burner phones" on television.

The question no one asks is if it is really a "democracy" if an election boils down to a battle of people manipulation algorithms by organizations with billions of dollars applied to that purpose. What was done by the Obama campaign with "big data" was unsophisticated; as political parties level up, it will become a different kind of game.

>> Any sufficiently advanced behavioral manipulation is indistinguishable
>> from free will.
> Until the curtain is pulled back on it.

Who would pull the curtain back? And how would you know when the curtain was pulled back? You underestimate the sophistication of the manipulation possible.

The elegance of the attack is that it can be constructed such that you are cognitively incapable of discerning it. Even if an insider leaked it, they could be effectively neutralized via the same mechanisms. The point to these exercises is to maximize leverage while minimizing the target's perception of that influence. It is not difficult to do; the challenge is scaling it up. 

More information about the FoRK mailing list