Tuesday 26 May 2015

How Google and the NSA are creating a Jealous God

Posted by Pierre-Alain (Perig) Gouanvic

Before PRISM was ever dreamed of, under orders from the Bush White House the NSA was already aiming to “collect it all, sniff it all, know it all, process it all, exploit it all.” During the same period, Google—whose publicly declared corporate mission is to collect and “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”was accepting NSA money to the tune of $2 million to provide the agency with search tools for its rapidly accreting hoard of stolen knowledge.
-- Julian Assange, Google Is Not What It Seems

Who is going to process the unthinkable amount of data that's being collected by the NSA and its allies? For now, it seems that the volume of stored data is so enormous that it borders on the absurd.
We know that if someone in the NSA puts a person on notice, his or her record will be retrieved and future actions will be closely monitored (CITIZENFOUR). But who is going to decide who is on notice?

And persons are only significant "threats" if they are related to other persons, to groups, to ideas.

Google, who enjoyed a close proximity with power for the last decade, has now decided to differenciate Good and Bad ideas. Or, in the terms of the New Scientist, truthful content and garbage.
The internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free "news" stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness.
Google's search engine currently uses the number of incoming links to a web page as a proxy for quality, determining where it appears in search results. So pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. This system has brought us the search engine as we know it today, but the downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them.
Of course, it is not because vaccine manufacturers are exonerated from liability by the US vaccine court that they are necessarily doing those things that anti-vaccine fanatics say. Italian courts don't judge vaccines the same way as US courts do, but well, that's why we need a more truthful Google, isn't it?

Google will determine what's true using the Knowledge-Based Trust, which in turn will rely on sites "such as Snopes, PolitiFact and FactCheck.org, [...] websites [who] exist and profit directly from debunking anything and everything [and] have been previously exposed as highly partisan."

Wikipedia will all also be part of the adventure.

What is needed by the intelligence community is an understanding of the constellation of threats to power, and those threats might not be the very useful terrorists of 9/11. What is more problematic is those who can lead masses of people to doubt that 19 novice pilots, alone and undisturbed, could fly planes on the World Trade Center on 9/11, or influential people like Robert F. Kennedy who liken USA's vaccine program to mass child abuse.

These idea, and so many other 'garbage' ideas, are the soil on which organized resistance grows. This aggregate of ideas constitutes a powerful, coherent, attractive frame of reference for large, ever expanding, sections of society.

And this is why Google is such an asset to the NSA (and conversely). Google is in charge of arming the NSA with Truth, which, conjoined with power, will create an all-knowing, all-seeing computer-being. Adding private communications to public webpages, Google will identify what's more crucial to 'debunk'. Adding public webpages to private communications, the NSA will be able to connect the personal to the collective.

And this, obviously, will only be possible through artificial intelligence.

Hassabis and his team [of Google's artificial intelligence program  (Deepmind)] are creating opportunities to apply AI to Google services. AI firm is about teaching computers to think like humans, and improved AI could help forge breakthroughs in loads of Google's services [such as truth delivery?]. It could enhance YouTube recommendations for users for example [...].

But it's not just Google product updates that DeepMind's cofounders are thinking about. Worryingly, cofounder Shane Legg thinks the team's advances could be what finishes off the human race. He told the LessWrong blog in an interview: 'Eventually, I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this.' He adds that he thinks Artifical Intellgience is the 'No.1 risk for this century'. It's ominous stuff. [ You can read more on that here..]


help us.


docmartincohen said...

This page is 'top of the pops'! How about that? Maybe time to remove the box at the top...

I still kinda think this argument is 'conspiracy theory' style whereas Google (it seems to me) is sinister in a PUBLIC way, and not otherwise. If we take sites like thePhilosopher, for exmaple, Google gives it a reasonable go, and it seems to be that it does so in the old fashioned librarian way - a humna being entered info on the site in their DB (plus a point); the site is oldish, the alogorithm considers the content to be 'serious', etc etc All boring stuff in ohter words - but the site gets a higher proifile than a purely quantitative system would give it. I beleive the same is true for this blog, actually - time wil tell!

So Google has sinsiter aspects but I'm not sure this article has pinned them down, and Google has postive aspects which in the nature of things need to be set against the negatives - or we mislead ourselves.

Perig Gouanvic said...

Those humans who decide what is garbage are organizations who are "highly partisan". Full of good will, very public, as you say, but still highly problematic. Lists are being built, right now, where PI could be put if it attracted traffic due to the popularity of global warming-related pages and other topics we have touched upon in the past (alternative medicine, 9/11, vaccines, so forth); we could easily be lumped in the garbage-o-sphere. And traffic would decline. This is exactly the plan of Snopes et al., with their new giant ally, Google. The evaluation process of what is garbage is *not* public, the debunking of Snopes et al. is not transparent, and this is the problem.

Google also fights for freedom, very publicly... But abroad, in regimes that are in the US's strategic interests. This choice of targets is not transparent either. That's what Assange explains (follow link).

All this can still remain in the realm of good intentions, and that's what God is all about, right. To offer context, I'd not only speak about the other 'good' things that this search/truth engine does but also examine the various truthers who will be marginalized.

Now with the decidedly secret component that I describe. I consider it a matter of material necessity that the owner of the foremost artificial intelligence initiative (google) will be necessary to process the data of the first and foremost data gatherer (google) and the data gathered by its first business partner (US defense-NSA-Utah data center). Google is now amongst the first US lobbyists, before most of the traditional war and energy lobbyists.

Tessa den Uyl said...

Power subjugates whatever it doesn't need, it will always avoid to show other realities, even when it 'preaches' the opposite. A 'machine' that produces repression, and maybe even to the level of unconscious social desire, must however be fragile.... what is fragile, simultaneously, is the subjugated person by a 'machine'... What is the actual machine?

Whatever system we have to live in, freedom resides in ourselves and probably this is where all work should start, understanding how free we actually are inside ourselves, then other things might change for this freedom will never reside in the outside of things... but this freedom will reflect on the outside...

A small note of possible optimism in a world reigned by numbers...

Perig Gouanvic said...

I often get this feeling, that we are so much more powerful than we think, even in the face of this giant, this master of propaganda.

Google, once disdainful of lobbying, now a master of Washington influence - The Washington Post

With years, I have gradually adopted the view that the power within ourselves is within us, collectively, not within us as individuals. And it certainly makes sense as a response to the computing behemoth that is eating up all old fashion thoughts in the world. What's needed is a new kind of thinking, new like the famous commandment by Jesus ( ;) ) -- a thinking that is shared and organic, theoretical and practical, heart and mind. My note of optimism -- which I believe is in harmony with yours, although not on the same octave.

Perig Gouanvic said...

Some good stuff here -- and yes, I hate the title : Nick Bostrom: What happens when our computers get smarter than we are? | Talk Video | TED.com

Tessa den Uyl said...

I'd like to refer to a frog: when a frog is put into cold water and that water is slowly heated, the frog is unable to mark the moment when to respond.

You have to mark a moment to be able to respond.

Being in front of something abstract, we somehow have great trouble dealing with that abstract premise for we're deeply coded and we report following these codings.

I don't see the split of the individual or the collective, if I'm in the world and the world is in me, then my responsibility is far greater, selectivity is one of the main distortions in the mind.

Let me put it this way: what about all those persons who are not using the internet, or rarely, how are they afflicted in their coding in regard to the google story or many other similar stories? We shouldn't forget that as soon as we put a dance into words, its not a dance any longer and simultaneously we should remember that evolution is based on keeping things the way they are: repeating the same dance. Strangely it looks like we have to deal with many many juxtapositions, (I think far too complex too discuss here).

Mark Shulgasser said...

Perig -- scary stuff, well-written.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

My experience in another sphere, the Church, is that the flock tend to be a year behind the cognoscenti in awakening to things. Perhaps Google will suffer such a fate? Or not.

Perig Gouanvic said...

To answer your question, I think that those who have no internet connection, and those who are unaware of this nascent synthetic being, will be exposed to the Jealous God in a variety of ways : if influential voices who criticize 'war on terror', like globalresearch.ca, which also makes an impressive amount of work in many other areas, are made silent, driven in the margins or the Googled Internet, the landscape will flatten and gradually the rest of the media and the broader population will return to its conformist mediocrity and will let even more outrageous policies be implemented, and more war-on-terror agressions be perpetrated.

Some products will appear on the shelves despite of 'conspiracy theories about GMOs', others will disappear because they are 'unproven folk remedies with potential adverse effects / contamination risks'.

I could go on with other topics, we'll get back to the pre-Internet age, in a way, while the government-industrial has the most impressive synthetic being-network in history in its possession.

Perig Gouanvic said...

You know the esteem I have for your writing skills, so -- many thanks for that.

Perig Gouanvic said...

Google, behind who or what?

Sorry, I don't understand.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

Your observations may be prescient. But given time, the people may think as you think. What happens then?

Perig Gouanvic said...

People need to discover what has been termed by Pierre Lévy Collective Intelligence, they need to wonder

"How can people and computers be connected so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any person, group, or computer has ever done before?"

The web needs to be rethought as a means of achieving real networks of real people, to achieve major societal changes.

The notion of identity is already changing, as people constantly browse the stream of their friend's and acquaintances activities, which are themselves "Reshares" of other acquaintances and friends, indefinitely: one has to wonder what is left of the Self when all you do is put back in circulation ideas that have, themselves, been reshared over and over!

What seems to emerge is an awareness of the interdependence of people. New values are appearing as well. People are expected to get a functional level of understanding of many diffferent things; children learn new languages increasingly naturally (I just witnessed by son rapidly learn english by shooting digital bad guys with friends from the anglosphere...).

One may contrast this with the obvious decline in formal education, and I don't disagree that a lot has been lost. But what seems increasingly obvious is that, for instance, some people who would have told me, pre-Internet, that I'm strange, odd, original, hard to follow, now look at me, offline, in the real world, with more respect, they understand what I'm up to, more or less.

So, what happens then? We create/discover a better God (the only one ;) ). That's the plan anyways, S/HE told me that.

Perig Gouanvic said...


Google Made a Chatbot That Debates the Meaning of Life | WIRED

Perig Gouanvic said...

How the CIA made Google — INSURGE intelligence — Medium

Perig Gouanvic said...

Israel meets with Google and YouTube to discuss censoring Palestinian videos

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