[FoRK] what to do with the PRISM database

Damien Morton dmorton at bitfurnace.com
Thu Jul 11 04:43:15 PDT 2013

On Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 3:36 AM, J. Andrew Rogers <andrew at jarbox.org> wrote:

> 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.

I would love to hear your version of a more sophisticate 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.

Well, Snowden has pulled the curtain back to a certain extent, at least as
far as the sensors go. We don't know what kind of analytics are being
applied to the data stream. We don't know what actuators/effectors the
system has.

I guess the purpose of my question was to get the ForK collective's musings
on what kinds of analyics might be being applied to this data.

> 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.

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