It is not, will there be another Cambridge Analytica…rather, where are they and how many are there now?

 

There have been many many articles written on this subject, and documentaries made.  It will sell until the cows come home for one reason.  It is about you.  Attempts have been made, some more for appearance, in assessing the dangers of another US election being affected.  Many meetings have been held at senior levels and suggestions made as to how we can avoid it happening again.

 

Here’s one hypothesis.  It will never stop happening.  It is far too late for that.  Cruz was the loss leader, the one the pushers used to get the US hooked on the data drug, and the Trump administration piled in.  The relationship between money, greed and power (and therefore information) has probably been around since the beginning of time.  Why on earth would we be surprised if this continued, and not only continued, but got more sophisticated?  Julian Wheatmand, the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica was recently quoted as saying “I’m pretty sure nobody’s thinking of trying to start it up again under a different guise”.  The word that stands out there is “pretty”.  Come on Julian, who are you trying to kid?

It is possible of course, and highly likely, that these models were conceived well before CA and in the rooms of some departments in the Government machine somewhere.  Before these revelations came out, of course it was Snowden who revealed the existence of mass surveillance on its citizens.  So what is the difference?  Were they not doing essentially the same thing as the Government?  All that happened is it moved horizontally to CA in the private sector.  Which has been the process seen in the US for several years…take PIA’s as an example. The US Government is tendering out its business which provides it with some plausible deniability. That has to have been the biggest lesson learnt from the Snowden/Assange revelations surely?  It has been a steady move over the last few years, and indeed, it is nothing new.  Also, one would be naïve to assume this is simply as US (Western) phenomenon. Here’s the question.  Is there actually anything fundamentally wrong with it?  So what if Facebook or CA have 5000 data points and know your personality profile and carry out AI based Psychological Evaluations..  Every man and his dog nowadays sees a shrink or does an online psychology quiz, anxious to find out which box they fit in to.  It’s part of our society now.  Everything we are seeing now is egocentric and very much with “me” in mind. How many followers I have, what my views are , here’s how I do things or I walked 5200 steps today.  Couple that with the huge technological moves which are creating the individuals as their own transactional powerhouses capable of remarkable things such as international money payments on their smartphones, access to blockchain technology, IOT and 5G.  At the same time, and rather ironically, these same individuals are becoming myopic and less able to spot what is going on around them.  The self is now much more important that the society.  These are the more concerning questions.  As far as the likes of Facebook or CA is concerned, what is the difference between what CA did, to what a political campaigner or marker researcher does by standing on the high street with a clipboard asking questions or when post comes through the door with a survey attached.  The internet is now the high street.  Twitter is the board at the local post office.  The political campaigner that was once on the street now uses the full spectrum of social media.  So, is there actually any difference?  These people are not breaking into your homes and stealing your belongings.  Some would say that netaphorically, they are.  Those people may have life a little too comfortable and sit slighty to the left of reality.  There does have to be a line however.  The criminal line ie. Actual theft.  But that is not the question being addressed here.  Will this end simply because of the CA scandal, the Trump Impeachment and concerns of his involvement?  Of course not.  So, what is the likely outcome?  Well, the problem as we have already learnt, with criminalizing something like this rather than regulating it, is that it can end up far more dangerous and cost people a lot more than money.  Then it gets serious.  Quite possibly,the answer is to create data as an actual commodity rather than simply information that is changing hands in relatively disorganized informal ways.  So, maybe opening up the debate on regulation through valuing private data is an option. It is certainly something we have carried out a great deal of our own work on, and it has legs.  The exact structure and how the data is valued (priced) is key, and having exchanges of some sort to ensure basic market forces are in operation is also a big task.  Even with those mechanisms in place we are still likely to see firms operating independently, but only in the same way as companies and businesses still operate now that are not privatized.  Markets also have corruption and price manipulation to deal with which is what the regulatory bodies and specialist legal and law enforcement teams in each nation is designed to address.  Insider dealing for example will always be a problem and of course money laundering.  In essence what we are acknowledging is that no system is perfect in this scenario, but one will certainly cause less damage to society than the other.  It is worth considering no? Full Report

Intelligence Reports

Crack the Code

Turing, Moon, Microsoft, Moore, Military, Musk, Drone, Nano, RFID, Spanish.

 

Ten words, three questions – What links them?  Which is the odd one out? Why?

 

If you can answer these three questions then you have the correct answer and do not need our report.  If not, complete the form and we will send you the next three words in the sequence and explain why.

14 April 2020

After AI comes Quantum AI...and then what?

When Google's Sycamore effectively moved us to the next step in AI it will become one of those defining moments...but how will Quantum Artificial Intelligence affect the Intelligence World?

21 March 2020

Neurodiversity & ASD within the Secret Intelligence Services

Some have gone as far as to say that the 'diverse' represent the next step in the evolutionary process.  Maybe.  But, ignore the Neurodiverse at your peril!

12 May 2020

A Government Department of Virus Safety

A Government run, uniform and credible safety certificate to be used across the board, would benefit UK business greatly.

Wuhan conspiracy theories aside, diplomatic traction is the reward.

 

A week or two ago we wrote an article "Conspiracies & Ripples" which focused primarily on conspiracy theories and kicked off with the rather obvious statement that a conspiracy theory is simply a theory without the facts i.e. just a theory.  Within that we highlighted that ‘flavour of the month’ theorist’s delight, the origins of the Coronavirus and its links to Wuhan.  This echoed our views published in February which, as many did, ponder the chances of this remote coincidence maybe actually being true.  Since then there have been swathes of articles on the topic citing all sort of sources and from numerous ‘renowned’ scientists.  We have also recently had the opinions offered by those whose opinions really count, that this virus originating from the labs in Wuhan may not actually be so far-fetched after all.

We do tend to agree, or at least we did.  That was then and this is now and in the world of Politics things move quickly and one does have to look at the reality of the situation.  If there is enough fog between you and your destination, then sometimes the route you take can change, leaving you all sorts of options.  If the objective was originally to circumnavigate through uncertain waters to establish who, what, why and when the virus came about – then that is now lost in the fog.  It is arbitrary.  Now we have something that is far more concrete and tangible to use to our advantage – we have uncertainty.  We now have enough debate and conspiracy to render the findings of the scientists open to interpretation.  And that… is a diplomat’s dream come true.   This particular carcass will feed many and although the WHO will go in, on the ground, and no doubt find yet more uncertainty…it really is irrelevant.  You will certainly not find individual government’s chomping at the bit to send their representatives into Wuhan anytime soon, and even if they did, why?  Wuhan is not some sleepy suburb in leafy Northamptonshire… it is in China.  Whatever was there has long gone, if indeed it was ever even there.  So perhaps it would be wise to assume that at least for the next few decades this is a conspiracy that will never find out those salient facts. 

Now, listening to the scientists, there is an overwhelming urge to say, “shush now”.  Step back ladies and gentlemen and look at the bigger picture at play.  Nobody is actually interested whether or not the virus started in Wuhan, intentionally or not.  As long as it is open to debate, it is far more valuable.  The scientists have debated at length and argued, but there is still no unequivocal proof either way that satisfies all parties…and why could that be?  Scientific fact is not open to debate or questioning, that is a given.  However, to say Science is correct, is not true.  That is because Science has Scientists, and Scientists are human beings who in turn are fallible and motivated by many many other factors.  In China for example, one might say that scientific fact is exactly what they want it to be.  Indeed, who is to say it ends in China.

 

So why is uncertainty such a blessing in this case?  It provides an additional bargaining chip and a weapon in the armoury for all Governments to now use against the Chinese.  Maybe on the other side of the fence their own initial conspiracy theory that a foreign Government (the US) planted the virus in their midst, is being written about in their own press.  Or maybe not. The fact is it is a safe bet to assume that no body will ever know.  There will be no compensations or admissions of guilt in this case sadly…however the capillaceous network that is politics, diplomacy and economic negotiations will be the real beneficiaries.

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