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The only cyberist who ever lived

If you know me well, you’ll know I am excellent at all things security-related. Its like I was touched by a higher power or something. I can figure out how anything works in little to no time and I make experts in technology feel miniature. I don’t do this purposefully. Its like getting a permanent hook into the signal while everyone else can only see the noise. The irony is my talent showed itself late and I never got a chance to be “classically trained.” I don’t always use jargon the way a “true” expert would. I don’t try to enhance my argument with difficult explanations. Computers have always been a hobby of mine but even then I didn’t care about the terminology so much as I cared how it worked. Imagine being permanently Shakespearean in your philosophy on life: a rose smells just as sweetly whether the name conjures images of sweetness or not. The process of how the rose came into existence and operates is more important than the terms that pervade its space. I guess I understood at a very young age terms are not always meaningful when compared to the importance of understanding.

I never liked the word hacker. It conjures images of cool. It makes people think the manipulation of systems is important to technology. In reality, I’ve found hacking is usually a result of a failure in security and hackers don’t understand systems well enough to actually manipulate them. If the front or back door to a house is wide open and a burglar enters and starts stealing from the house, they are absolutely a burglar in the technical sense. And yet, to other burglars who take pride in their trade (and criminals do take pride in their trade), they aren’t really burglars. The problem with hacking, like in the problem with the example I mentioned above, is people want credibility and social status. They don’t actually want to be a hacker. They just want to be cool. This problem is pretty paramount to our society…

If everyone who enters a home with the front or back door wide open calls them-self a burglar, it becomes extremely hard to identify the actual burglars. A law enforcement officer who gets a ton of tips and leads on hacking cases eventually becomes desensitized, blaming the home owner as the first source of any problem while the criminal is allowed to subsist and thrive in their secretive tactics. There are only two groups of people on the planet that are professionalized and would benefit from this form of desensitization. I call this the pirate vs. privateer problem.

The pirate is your traditional hacker that contrives to gain access to systems that are difficult to gain access to. Their reasons aren’t really that important but how they operate is extremely important to their eventual operations. Pirates are not state-sponsored. They do everything with the looming threat of being caught and going to jail. They also, like any movie, have limited resources at their disposal. Their ability to hack indiscriminately against targets without getting caught is virtually nonexistent. They prefer silent and persistent threats when it comes to access over harassment and psychological abuse. Strangely, we think of governments as being silent and deadly and, yet, the reason non-state hackers survive so long is because they are truly nondescript, hidden, and keep out of the limelight. The best hackers are hackers you will never hear about. They don’t use names and they don’t take credit for their hacks. Although, some of them did initially. I’ll bet they wanted to see just how good government was so they could establish the left and right limits of what they could get away with. As soon as governments co-opted this process of “taking credit,” they shed this tactic, knowing governments were just trying to make their lives easier by making hacking “cool”, catering to their ego, in order to identify them later more easily. The unintended consequence of this government media campaign was that it modified the hacker counterculture into the cult of cool, making the field increase substantially, giving the best ones even more anonymity. A pirates curiosity is more important to them than their ego and governments learned that far too late.

The privateer is a non-traditional hacker that literally no one in the cyber-security industry ever discusses. They are only non-traditional because governments around the world keep funding movies about independent hackers so you can’t see the truth: most hackers today are government backed. Privateers do not just try to gain access to systems. They attempt to effect an outcome for gain that does not have to be about money. In fact, money is usually never the motive, even when they are using ransomware. It’s just a way to throw law enforcement off their scent. These hackers have unlimited resources. When they run out, they can go back to their government for some more black budget funds. They do not care about going to jail, as they will likely trade their services from one government to the next, figuring they are already screwed because they got caught in the first place. They prefer trolling, harassment, and psychological abuse by a matter of fact. If you can’t get caught or in trouble for anything you do, it tends to bring out the worst in your behaviors – like people who feel anonymous online and take that as a shield to say and do hurtful things. Plus, since they no longer respect themselves as hackers for getting caught, this is the natural progression from empowerment to jackboot thug.

This dichotomy is extremely important in security, as it allows you to diagnose security problems based on means and motive – a fundamental investigative technique that leads to extremely high probability analytical conclusions.

There is another form of hacker that is also not often discussed: the state. A government sometimes thinks it has the ability to hack people or organizations indiscriminately for the greater good. These hackers are just as abusive as their privateer counterparts. In fact, they are even more protected and have even more resources. If at any point you are being harassed by a hacker indiscriminately, you are undoubtedly being targeted by a privateer or a state. Due to the way our networks are constructed, these are the only people who can pull off a hack and not get caught. All developed countries have a firewall surrounding their country, allowing them to hypothetically monitor all traffic through junctions or nodes where all traffic flows into and out of their country to connect them to other countries. Further, all developed countries have junctions and nodes within the country that hypothetically allow them to monitor all traffic within it. These are usually subleased to Internet Service Providers (or ISPs). We do not tend to think of these structures as a firewall, like China’s or Egypt’s, because the branding has been perfectly managed to make certain countries look like their version of a firewall is benevolent while other versions are not-so-benevolent. In the U.S., our firewall is to protect critical infrastructure from cyberattack. In China, their firewall is to keep their citizens from discovering the truth by censoring content. In both cases, a state can hack indiscriminately.

Why are these forms of security characterization important? Recently, there has been a ton of coverage towards making systems zero trust. Meaning, some entities want us to make a system or design it in such a way that the aggregate parts can operate in coordination without trusting each of their outputs unconditionally. I think this cult-like adherence to zero trust is not a security metric nor a security method. Trust is essential in systems but telling people to construct a system where trust is decentralized keeps them from actually decentralizing the system with trusted protocols and implementations. Curated News was designed to be a hackers nightmare. You cannot accomplish anything of value on our platform. You cannot manipulate people, you cannot hack for an effect, you cannot gain access to valuable information that matters, and you cannot engage to decrease trust in the system. It is immune to manipulation at the technical level, in its statistical process, and with human checks in the off chance someone “defeats” our system by gaining access to it.

Imagine consuming news that is actually news instead of manipulation. Imagine hackers loosing all of their ability to effect outcomes on complex systems, giving you back your ability to make decisions freely. Curated News is a fundamentally new security process that changes, reverses, and re-establishes the most successful security system that has ever existed, decentralization and dis-aggregation, without losing the convenience of aggregated content consumption. This means no more algorithmic hacking, malvertising, or destructive social behaviors from marketing frameworks. It also means you can increase information quality while socializing information or privatizing it for your own use.

Whether you are a pirate or a privateer, you rely on a security subsystem that can be compromised as a fundamental feature to your technological existence. Maybe you are looking for an administrative account, to steal or ransom data, or harass someone psychologically. All of these require a system that can be compromised. And yet, there are systems that cannot be compromised. We know this because we invented them. They include things like decentralized networks where no two people necessarily know the same set of people within a given network. Many terrorist organizations and intelligence services operate effectively using this paradigm. We know creating these systems is absolutely possible. And yet, Curated News is the first and only platform that I have been able to find in the entire world to do it.

As the original inventor, developer, and founder of Curated News, I say this not as an egoist but as a humanist: I may be the only cyberist who ever lived…

Datasets and diction

There seems to be a tendency among major companies to harvest data and keep it all to themselves. It has always made me feel like there is a miscommunication with how information flows and how it crafts reality. Under corporate subconscious consensus, data equals money. Realistically, any business person will tell you privately that analysis helps achieve monetization and information is just the medium used to achieve it. In essence, keeping the data to yourself is mostly a selfish metric meant to maintain your current market position. It is not a position of strength.

I figured this occurred for a couple of reasons. Firstly, major companies aren’t hiring the right kinds of people. This is the obvious one. If your people aren’t innovators, you tend to keep information to yourself in order to maximize how much time you have to analyze it with your own personnel. This represents strategic hope because, at the end of the day, you are hoping no one else collects the same or similar data so you can be the first one to the newest strategy or winning idea. It makes some sense. Its a bit misguided. It’s also very destructive to the market ecosystem, especially in the realm of new ideas. Imagine there were no player or salary caps in baseball and the richest teams could just steal all the good players, putting most of them on the bench, so they could bring home the bacon every year. Yeah, I mean, it works. It just makes the sport really boring. How many baseball players would show up with enthusiasm or love for the game? Strategy becomes meaningless because strategy is not really strategy at all. Its like gaining a massive advantage while handicapping your opponent. It doesn’t work in any human endeavor. Not even in war. In fact, in war it virtually guarantees a return to conflict in the future.

I call this phenomena: over-monetization by pseudo-monopolization. It makes our society hate itself and self-loathing and society don’t go hand-in-hand. The 90s were full of these tropes. Many Hollywood movies in that era were a referendum on these ideas. No one wanted to live in a pseudo-dystopian, non-apocalyptic purgatory. Call me old fashioned but I don’t think much has changed since then.

Secondly, they are a monopoly and a monopoly’s strength is, well, in it being a monopoly. If you are big, you keep the resources you can to yourself. While these reasons are all well and good and represent strategic thinking, they are also uni-dimensional. At the end of the day, the kinds of companies that can collect all the data and catalog the world’s information are few and far between. No one is going to compete with them realistically. Its actually kind of delusional to think otherwise. Big companies are so big and suffer from such groupthink it is virtually impossible for them to see the signal for the noise at a certain point. Hiring for culture means you are hiring similar candidates (which makes sense) but the unintended consequence is you hire people that can find the signals you want them to find but not all the signals that are there. This is the equivalent of leaving money at the table. Its just downright bad business and no real business person believes you should leave money when there aren’t risks to maximizing your returns.

Diversity is a meta concept that refers to larger areas than just demographics, including thinking outside the box. This partially reiterates Nate Silver’s point in The Signal and the Noise but does so on a grander scale using industrial psychology. I tend to think most corporations hire for values and culture. This makes you ill-equipped at consistent and sustainable innovation. Innovation is not about values or culture. In fact, its usually about the opposite. If you don’t have the same values or cultural disposition, you usually come up with great ideas no one has ever thought of. Newness is usually only new because another person didn’t think of it and you did. Don’t take my word for it. Peruse some Harvard PhDs that have done empirical studies proving it.

Strangely, and as a side note, this is the strongest argument against monopolies and big business. Even if a corporation is benevolent, forever or just for a spell, its failure to innovate by reproducing the same values without changing them to meet new demands will eventually give rise to a corporation that is not so benevolent. Innovation could possibly be the only art that exists whereby no science can overcome it. The best scientists were extreme personalities because only an extreme personality can innovate before people are ready for it. If you don’t trust my argument on this one, at least trust Jeff Bezo, who mostly reiterates his belief that all companies will fail, especially the big ones. They just aren’t equipped to grow, even though they are sometimes optimal at domination.

If the human race is going to say we want to use data to solve problems that are, at their core, data-related, we should probably make information more freely available for everyone. When Brin and Page first started Google in the 90s and became canonical as an information aggregator, their mission statement was simple and represented this belief: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Ironically, their motto also used to be “don’t be evil” and recently changed to “do the right thing.” I think this represent a bit of psychology. Its extremely difficult for a pseudo-monopoly to gain traction as anything other than evil in a complex world that is continually increasing in complexity. Curated News intends to rectify this situation in ways that are stable and fair to others, leveraging transparency above all else, but stimulating a conversation that allows others to facilitate societal success. Ultimately, business is great and money is useful. But, if society goes downhill, all those constructs are meaningless. A monopoly is a blip in time. Humanity either lives forever because it survives together or dies out.

It is in this spirit Curated News has crafted its dataset. This particular dataset is a work in progress but has been collected using proper statistical methods to produce something that can be used by all. The dataset holds about 60k observations over the span of a year and contains a collection of news stories from about 20+ news organizations. Below is an interesting finding I was able to put into graphic format for any readers that don’t care about numbers as much as I do.

Headlines are an important part in the structure of news and content consumption. Sometimes, people only read headlines. I wanted to see how this could affect information environments in the aggregate. I created a mean variable for sentiment scores across all news outlets and grouped those scores by day to see variation at the lowest level possible without intractability (which I believe to be the day). For those that do not know what Sentiment Analysis is, here is a brief run down.

Sentiment scores are difficult to ascertain in some ways because they are subjective. Usually, sentiment scores range from 1 to -1 per sentence. When aggregated or combined (because sometimes there is more than one sentence in a headline), the scores can surpass this threshold. We don’t usually say content has to be 1 in order for it to be positive or -1 for it to be negative. In fact, those numbers are ideals that don’t really exist outside examples or tests we run to make sure out sentiment analysis is working correctly in the algorithmic back-end. We usually just look at trends over a long period of time in order to determine interesting features to what is emotionally charged (but not emotionally relevant) content. In this vein, we give content a baseline from data and see where it diverges. If headline scores are all within a certain range and cluster within certain data points, the baseline is pretty accurately described as either negative, positive, or neutral based on that framework. In the graphic above, you can see headlines across over 20+ news outlets by day are almost unilaterally more negative than positive. This isn’t a trend that changes. It is the trend that headlines are more negative than positive and less neutral than one would hope for such a small amount of textual material. Imagine consuming or not consuming news. Whether you consume the actual content or not, you are likely reading all those headlines when you partake in the infinite scroll behavior. Well, most of your day spent reading just headlines can be spent reading negative material before you even click on the article. If beliefs of optimism and pessimism matter to human behavior, and we are conditioning people toward pessimism, we are creating the conditions for our own eventual destruction as a species. This may seem heavy but the little things add up over time. Pinching your pennies was a successful business strategy because it works. It would be horrible if pinching your pennies worked in the reverse and we were not saving up for something bigger that is better but rather saving up, through our inaction, for something that is bigger but worse.

Currently, our news-specific information ecosystem is incredibly destructive because it focuses on scandal instead of production. Productive news is news that describes and purveys instead of moving and manipulating. I hope to follow-up on this post with a series of other posts that describe some of the unique insights our dataset has been able to uncover. Our Curated News website has developed a probabilistic, safe, and distributed news headline-oriented feature for your use that is part of a free preview for our Android and iOS applications. It is available here. We have also released an Outrage Evaluator where you can check those stories to see whether they are incepting negative tendencies into your brain. Welcome to the information revolution and thank you for tuning in!

You make the bed you lay in

Have you ever heard the saying: “you made your bed, now lie in it?” I have. Its both common and often misunderstood. To the unwitting observer, it means decisions have consequences and the bed is an analog for some greater loss you have incurred due to your own negligence. To the deeply attuned reader, it actually represents a bit more than that…

The bed you lay in is about organization and meta-strategy. A meta-strategy is a overall vision that humans “reap what they sow” with a qualifier meant to protect extreme cases: “do not judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” Sometimes life gets in the way. Your harvest may not be bountiful through misfortune or adversity and sometimes it takes effort and time to grow. But, if you attempted to maximize all your opportunities, we say you gave it your best shot. The bed you made was a good one but it turned out poorly anyways.

I like to look far back into the past and see the brilliance of what was and compare it to the mediocrity that is the now. Innovations of the 90s were absolute game changers. They paved the way for everything in our world. Sure, we needed the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s but the 90s… the 90s were and always will be the definition of American exceptionalism and innovation. It was like the wild west became electronic. The Star Wars franchise, with all its realism and mysticism, just couldn’t compete with Sandra Bullock in The Net or Angelina Jolie in Hackers. Take my humble opinion for whats its worth but those movies are still iconic because the themes are reused often without as much effect. While there are many inventions of the 90s we can examine, the one that is often relegated to obscurity is actually the one that changed the world: Napster. Some call it the new millennium of technology, as it was founded at the end of the 90s. And yet, it is very much a product of the 90s in both technical code and culture.

People tend to think of this company as the pirates of yesteryears. And yet, if you actually think about it, the sheer volume of innovations created by this company will blow your mind. Napster wasn’t a music or technology company. By all rights, it was the first social media one – both technically and culturally. For one, it operated on a protocol called peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing. In order for someone to get music, people have to share their own in what was becoming a library of music with a “cloud storage” that was much easier to access because it was a direct hook to others and couldn’t be intercepted or traced easily. Its technical brilliance is still in use today (even though it is outdated) and law enforcement still cannot defeat the P2P protocol, as piracy sites still rely on a version of it that hasn’t changed in almost 20-30 years. If success is measured in capability and endurance, P2P would be a nuke in the technical arsenal of the coding community. Two, the music industry was absolutely awful at getting the word out about new music. Napster made their industry successful and gave them the model to be successful before they even thought about it. Think about iTunes and think about how it was just a recycled version of music purchasing schemes that already existed in two spots. First, at a retail CD stores. Second, as a free commodity on Napster or the radio. Then, think about why iTunes came into existence. Our obsession with music occurred in direct relation to our fetish of it from Napster because we could experience more of it without as much effort (like going to a store or constantly pressing the tune button on our radios). If it hadn’t been free, we probably would have given up on all the effort of finding our tastes and just gone to our 3 concerts per year on average and been mostly happy. Instead, Napster made music the definitive commodity fetish of the new millennium and Apple leveraged this to create the iPod so you could take it on the go. Without Napster, Apple was useless. This means Napster both enabled the music industry, reestablished Apple’s capability to become a dominant technology player, and invented the iPhone, as this was the natural progression from the iPod. Heck, we can even give Napster credit for making new music or giving America cultural supremacy, as American music traveled to foreign countries before their own music had a chance to become successful. You could give credit to the music industry’s roaring efforts and Hollywood marketing schemes. Or, you can lay it all at Napster’s beautiful and magnificent feet. Let’s expand this even farther and let’s blow your mind even more so we can make you a true believer.

MySpace was a great platform. But, honestly, at the time, no one actually wanted to share photos over cyberspace. They didn’t want to publicly communicate with people. They didn’t even want to make their own cool HTML pages that selfishly engaged their vanity. Obviously, a lot has changed since then. Most, if not all, people were on MySpace for the music. MySpace couldn’t have existed without Napster turning music into a commodity fetish and Facebook was a distilled and minimalist version of MySpace, the platform Napster enabled to become successful by fact. Imagine how many companies Facebook created and take all that credit and give it up to your new favorite company and business icon: Napster. At this point, if you aren’t just stumbling over your own thoughts, you haven’t thought about the inexplicable nature of innovation and exponentialism. Napster created from nothing what all these other companies needed from Napster. At the end of the day, the beauty of technology is in its capacity to enable multiplication. America lost track of this fundamental capitalistic practice and gutted the platform. Thankfully, they did it slowly and only after all the innovations were created – but it was a fluke. We are seeing that backfire on America now and I should probably explain why.

If you know me well, you’ll know my new favorite TV show is Ted Lasso. It is hands down the single greatest example of beauty in the age of binge-television as you can get. It has complex characters and a difficult to swallow story line that actually makes it believable. In this show, there is a character named Jamie Tartt, who is a selfish and aggrandizing soccer superstar. He doesn’t pass because he thinks the best player should take all the shots. He doesn’t give credit where credit is due. He doesn’t lift people up even when group effort yields more results than individual triumph. At the end of the day, he is America personified. That’s not a sleight. Individuals can accomplish a lot and many of the most brilliant innovations or ideas come from a single individual (I’ve checked) and not a group of people. And yet, it is a sort of intimate irony to engage as an individual in what is a team sport. This is where America is Jamie Tartt. Did you notice how Napster created all those innovations that simulated economic growth that even a financial collapse in 2008 couldn’t crush? Instead of passing the ball to the right player in the right spot to make the easy play, America makes a difficult play and, while still successful, presses their luck in the future of how talent versus luck creates winning events. Instead of giving credit where credit is due, the U.S. undercut Napster to relegate it and others in similar veins to obscurity. The P2P protocol still isn’t mainstream because of its association with piracy and theft in relation to law enforcement. Instead of taking the most innovative talent to the top, the American government made it easier for the un-merited elites to continue to engage their supremacist culture without realizing they are in a team sport – they will eventually run out of innovation, as Napster can only lift you up for so long. We made our bed and we have to lie in it. But, the truth is more complicated than that because the U.S. Government forces us to lie in beds that no reasonable person would make and engages a set of rules and standards that kill innovation that no reasonable innovator can understand. Let’s discuss how America is Jamie Tartt.

The world modifies to meet changing operand-based demands. This means the environment slowly changes through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. We either calculate the equation correctly or calculate it poorly, leaving us unable to navigate our environment appropriately or with success. If you calculate incorrectly for a multitude of decisions, you’ll eventually reach the equivalent of a critical mass event. You can only get decisions so wrong so often, otherwise they create compounding losses. Informational losses are pretty close to energy losses in how they work systematically. Critical mass events are usually associated with a massive loss-oriented event in order to redistribute information or energy evenly where before it was part of a lop-sided and unequal relationship. Suffice to say, explosion and implosion aren’t good conditions for human behavior, even though they are great at helping complex systems reach equilibrium in relation to energy. This is where the energy version of critical mass is unlike the informational one, as critical mass events are neutral. To human beings, they are the death knell for continued social power and we tend to try to force equilibrium onto complex systems unnaturally. Call it a sort of ego complex to try to control all those events that are only possible to control if your meta-strategy is a good one (and this is incredibly difficult). Jamie Tartt, like America, blames everyone else for the team’s loss instead of re-calibrating their perspectives to see where poor teamwork is responsible.

Recently, the U.S. Government decided to attempt to pass a complex technology policy that is the equivalent of gutting Napster before it has had a chance to set the stage for massive industry and financial gains and innovation. They have lumped it into an infrastructure deal in order to recoup revenues they feel they are losing to cryptocurrency in the form of unpaid taxes. Ironically, this type of legislation would have been ineffective against Napster and it is probably Napster’s utter brilliance that made Congressional impropriety unsuccessful when it first came on the scene. As a result, we were able to reap all the benefits of Napster instead of a portion of those additions in the calculus that is the global economy. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good and America is the luckiest country in the world. At its core, this amendment regulates everything in the cryptocurrency sector because it regulates improperly. It is complicated to explain and the point of this post is not to show the details of cryptocurrency regulatory framework. The point is to show how we got lucky with Napster and the inevitable unluckiness of our decisions on cryptocurrency are a direct result of our own free will improperly applied. To do that, I’ll need to describe part of the financial industry…

The fact is banks are dinosaurs. I said it. I mean it. Dinosaurs are great at killing – a product of their size and my own psychology after seeing one to many Jurassic Park movies. Dinosaurs are also a metaphor for people who are great at stopping the old from becoming the new through intense power fetish. No reasonable banker could possibly think the future of currency is not cryptocurrency. The facts are: electronic is better than cutting trees to print any number of currency related material on and currency is better when it is mostly encrypted and definitely more secure than when it is not. Currency is also better when transactions can be made open without middle men getting in the way. The only thing banks could do by the time they caught on to these inevitable realities was delay the success of cryptocurrency long enough to get in on it. And yet, we have a problem here… First, if a bank is delaying the adoption or success of the future financial system, and cryptocurrency is the future financial system, they are making it easier for them to stay relevant but harder for us as a country and society to innovate. If Napster never had the chance to scale, music would never have become a global commodity fetish and an industry that makes more money every year than many governments pull in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be selling CDs in retail stores, advertising on bus stops, or making movies to prop up soundtracks. Cryptocurrency has been stifled and obstructed in order to give monopolies (or pseudo monopolies?) time to scale their own operations to meet those new demands. Actions have consequences and its the small consequences over time that add up to larger events beyond our control. A meta-strategy is a strategy that only works because it is aggregated and organized over time to maximize opportunities over time. Despite that, cryptocurrencies have had resounding success. My feeling is that this success could have been greater than it already has been and it would have largely protected economies around the world from the upcoming inflation we will undoubtedly see from a stagnating economy due to a global pandemic.

Right now, hands down, America is what I like to call the world’s greatest computing super power. Meaning, we have the lion’s share of all server space and real estate in the world. By top ten biggest square footage companies in the world, America has 7 of the largest data centers. Over those same top ten companies, we own an aggregated 13 million square footage of server real estate. In the top ten, only three other countries are up to our level: China, India, and the UK. These facts are meant to show both scale and dominance in this area based on characteristics any reasonable person would say are incredibly telling. If the financial system is going to be based on computing power (and we want that computing power to be used responsibly in ways that alleviate problems of climate change), it would behoove any country in the world to have a robust server real estate and this is especially true for a superpower like America trying to maintain its superpower status. If you watch Ted Lasso, you’ll realize the irony behind getting a superpower to act like a superpower because Jamie Tartt could possibly be the worst person (as a character) ever. The fact is: it makes no sense to regulate, even partially, the future financial system while it is still in its throes of scaling up because they have been pushed down by corporate systems in order for them to play catch up. The U.S. Government should know this and they should also know that a bed you lie in is less relevant than the seeds you plant producing a bountiful harvest in the future. Technology is about maximizing your opportunities and America has not done that over the last twenty years. But, we have complained a lot – especially about cryptocurrency. Then again, now that I think about it, the music industry did a lot of complaining when it came to Napster. It was just that the music industry was not nearly as strong as the banking sector and Napster was utterly brilliant in its design to inhibit regulatory frameworks, especially when it came to enforcement.

Eventually, luck runs out – and this is true even of the most talented players in the world. America is seeing its luck run out in ways that are unbelievable to a superstar in the same way Jamie Tartt can’t see his own failings. We tend to give a lot of leeway to ourselves or our culture when we mess up but absolutely no leeway to others when they mess up. There may very well be a Ted Lasso around the corner that can turn this whole thing around. How will we know if there is one? The U.S. Government only helps those who don’t deserve its help and innovators and inventions that make superpowers exist are relegated to pirates on the open sea, engaging their freedoms as outlaws instead of as the world’s greatest talents that can complement Jamie Tartt in the team sport that is the domestic and global economy. Let’s cross our fingers everybody.

We are all detectives now

There are quite a few realities that are beginning to rear their heads these days. The first is a concept I like to call: we are all detectives now. In the age of the internet, misinformation has increased substantially. Some see this as a guaranteed side effect of the human condition. I do not. I see this as a manipulative tradition for dominant-seeking behaviors engaged by those interested in power. The only way to drown out the advantage of information in a time of ubiquitous information is to flood the ecosystem with more of it, making analytical skills based on talent paramount. Essentially, someone is incidentally or accidentally creating a class of intellectuals. At the end of the day, if you can sift through the noise to find the signal, you are at a distinct advantage. This is where the next reality comes in….

The second I like to call credibility talent. This collection of two words actually describes more of the human capacity for success than virtually all other forms of intelligence. In fact, I would say geniuses are identified based on their credibility talent. Let me explain. Human beings tend to over-romanticize the benefits derived from two types of human-centric activities. The first is strategy and the second is operations. In intelligence, these are the kinds of jobs everyone wants. And yet, they are the lowest in terms of credibility talent. Strategy takes virtually no energy cost when you compare it to the wealth of knowledge and intellectual pursuits involved in the human experience because planning far out (or when things are not messy) is not nearly as difficult. Operations take a ton of energy and policy-makers usually reduce these energy costs by spending a ton of resources on them. Ironically, both strategy and operations (or top and bottom centralization) are where a majority of all resources are spent in complex systems. This represents both our ability to want to control inputs to get at outcomes and our inability to control outcomes because of inputs. Its a weird form of psycho-philosophical trickery that stems from both our subconscious and epistemology. Credibility talent is a real world phenomenon. It says the greatest cross section of talent in a given industry will be placed in neither strategy or operations. To point a fact, they will usually be placed in areas we like to call the tactical. While there is a weird blurring between both the operational movement of getting policy done and the tactical nature of its doing, there is actually a firm separation between both operational and tactical level endeavors. For one, operational conditions are where you do more because you have more to work with, with few exceptions. For instance, if an “operator” or “business person” has millions of dollars to conduct an operation or business pivot, they have substantially increased their likelihood for success. Furthermore, in intelligence, if you have a cover, you are more likely to be successful. These are advantages in terms of resources that exist technically through means acquisition and psychological safety. However, if you are tasked with helping a company that is hemorrhaging money to achieve financial solvency, you usually have none of those advantages. To point a fact, since significant money was hemorrhaged, someone is likely asking you to spend as little money as possible to get them out of the red so they can offload them from their books, recouping a portion of any losses. The skills necessary to do more with less are tactical in nature because only a tactician can engage these tasks with a modicum of success. Ask any Marine. They will tell you the only warrior worth their salt is the one that can literally achieve victory with limited resources. This is the credibility talent nexus. Someone with credibility will not need resources to achieve objectives – and this is true in all areas of the human experience. Someone with real talent will always be credible. It is one reason I have found there is a deep gap between the U.S. Intelligence Community and their capabilities and activities. It is this same reason I feel lucky to be part of the U.S. Military as a former Military Intelligence Officer. I truly believe the entire talent pool of intelligence resides not within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or any number of other U.S.-based organizations. In the words of the comic book character, Lex Luthor, “Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.” Your credibility talent in doing more with less is proof you are better at analytics because you can make good on doing things with less when other people needed more resources to accomplish similar tasks. While Lex Luthor is a bad guy, and bad guy wisdom is usually complicated, the meta-analogy is beautiful, sophisticated, and simple to understand so I figured I would use it here.

There is a famous philosopher named Foucault that developed the equivalent of what I would like to call a philosophical puzzle dubbed the Panopticon. At its core, the pantopticon in modernity has become a metanarrative denoting the transition of government from authority figure to watcher. Problematically, the panopticon is far more complicated than that, as governments around the world should have been paying attention to the hidden transcript – or bubble gum wrapper – that should be considered one of Foucault’s many seminal works. The problem of the pantopicon, while not stated, is always that the watchers achieve power by being able to watch others. In the absence of knowing whether you are or are not being watched, you tend to act appropriately, as the fear of being watched changes your behavior and establishes a sort of extra-typical authority for the watcher. And yet, eventually you can see the movement of this idea as fluid where transitions stand on one another. At the end of Foucault’s work, you ask yourself: what happens when the watcher starts to watch for too long? What happens when the watcher becomes the watched?

There is a great article in The Economist I would like to use to spring board this problematic. It is available here and aptly titled: “The People’s Panopticon: The Promise of Open-source Intelligence.” The article is great not because it was written well, although it was, or surpasses standards for intellectual prowess, which it does not. This article is great because it is part of an important discussion about class distinction, hierarchies, and pseudo-intellectualism…

Open-source intelligence is a somewhat new tradition in intelligence that showcases the importance of open and publicly available information in relation to the information ecosystem. And yet, this open and publicly available information has been around for far longer than the term open-source has been in vogue. In fact, if you take anything away from this post, I want you to think of the term as a form of elitism by an upper, and somewhat deluded, intellengicia looking to gain traction in making this open and public information both exclusive and excludable. If an elite group tells you your internet sleuthing is a form of professionalized work, they can relegate you to unprofessionalized by making you an amateur. I’m sure there is more to it than that, including an attempt to make all forms of open and publicly available information intelligence-oriented in order to make it “classified” with psychological framing devices. To point a fact, open and publicly available information can never be classified, as classification relies on reasonable damage that could not reasonably be done in the absence of secretive and surreptitious frameworks. To take the opposite position of the article, open-source intelligence is not the people’s panopticon… it is the panopticon (which was always made of people) in its death throes attempting to leverage what little powers it has left in order to trick your psychology and philosophies into believing you are still a part of its panopticon framework. When it doubt, deny information ecosystem changes to maintain the status quo, as delusion can be just as powerful and generative as reality.

At this moment, the largest share of people in professionalized positions are actually tactical in nature. With increases in free time, especially due to the pandemic, you can engage in online detection more readily than normal. People have been calling this a “woke” tendency but in reality this is more like a tendency to engage your human capability of doing more with less. When you refine your credibility talent, you tend to engage it more often. Furthermore, since the largest number of people are actually in fields requiring massive credibility talent, those individuals are identified and refine their genius more often. This increases the sheer volume of sleuthing.

It is strange to think the pantopticon, a concept based on discipline, is the exact opposite of discipline. A pantopicon leads to watchers and watchers cannot be anything other than dominant-seeking power authorities, save a few exceptions. I find AI is virtually unbeatable in doling out discipline, as it never attempts to hold on to its power and does not actually care about its continued observation capability, favoring, instead, conditions of observation where all constituents of a system are able to check and re-check the work of networks and nodes to ensure system integrity. I know, that sounded like a ton of words. What it means: AI is not interested in watching. It is interested in doing more with less – or reducing energy costs by making a system self-perpetuating. Ironically, systems work their best when they are efficient and AI knows that and seeks those systems out, as if adaptation is a movement of fluidity where one day it is a watcher and the next it is being watched. AI doesn’t seem to care one way or another, as long as it limits collapses while maintaining its original mandates. This seems like an important feature of AI that should be studied in opposition to the frameworks being purported by others in a series of movements to maintain status quo. The world is fluid because, and I have mentioned it earlier, it is an operand. It is curious to witness these historic tendencies as they revolve around problems of both information and sections of enduring human capacity to make elites that exclude others from being a part of the solution. We love classes and a computer, in my research, doesn’t actually see much derived benefit from class structure because it is both self-replicating, overly-destructively, and de-generatingly inefficient over time. Very curious indeed that the next phase of our internet sleuthing tendencies will be the impossibility of secrets. It will be even more curious to see how governments handle this new reality, as it will be impossible to maintain the status quo in this area in the future.

Symbolic abuse(s)

Human beings are always trying to become dominant. If you remember the snake on the island problem, you’ll think back to those moments where the human being is re-spawned in our counterfactual. Now, I want you to think about the differences between a “computer” and a human being after multiple re-spawns. Re-spawns for a human being can either be a symbol of failure or victory. When they defeat the snake, a re-spawn becomes victory and the lesson learned is that we are the apex predator. When the snake beats us, we are failures and must try, try, and try again to become the apex predator. Under this human condition, life becomes a game. The delusion is not that the game is a game, as the situational context is based on a game so this would be a normal sequence of logical thought. The delusion is the symbolic interaction which causes the ultimate crutch in the form of the greatest rivalry human beings can be privy to: performative violence. Oftentimes, we tend to see human behavior, at its worst, as attached to physical violence. And yet, counterintuitively, this is actually not where much of the human capacity for violence and rivalry manifests.

Performative violence is an expression of violence that is not physical. Instead, it takes the form of a performance against an adversary to achieve violent expression. Examples can include insurrection, riot, protest, dancing, or political statements like standing, sitting, and kneeling at typically deviant times. It is not limited to these forms, as we shall see later in this post. Performance is the goldilocks zone of human rivalry because it is the ultimate indicator of intentions and intentionality. You can often figure out all you need to know about a human being based on the kinds of symbols they use and how they use them for an effect. Virtually all forms of analysis in legal matters rely on these principles of modus and means – or motive and methods – to establish both victim and perpetrator. A core irony of this conundrum is that symbols are meaningless to a logical observer, even though the intentions of the person wielding them can be traumatizing and violent. After all, life is not a game and the snake is trying to survive and only perceives us as a threat when it feels threaten. On the flip side, a human being seeks threats out to neutralize and destroy them so they no longer exist even when they are no longer threats. One could say an apex predator is not built on the need to be dominant but the human condition revolves around dominance. It is our great delusion because we honestly think if we kill or submit everything to our will we will have ultimate security. We are seeing the aftereffects of those choices on ecosystems around the world as their failures reach critical mass due to our delusions of grandeur.

Why is this important? The symbolic abuses that stem from performative violence are meta-level tactics used by nation states around the world to engage and trigger dominant – and seemingly regressive – human behaviors in order to gain competitive advantage. After all, when we seek to become dominant, we make errors of emotion. The forced error of another is the equivalent of an advantage in a round of dominant-seeking behaviors. Strange to think that our tactics are so destructive not because they work but because they instill and promulgate our delusional tendencies to gain advantage for domination. If we think back to the snake on island problem, this checks out. Instead of a live-and-let-live mindset, we work harder to kill the snake the next time, increasing our likelihood for conflict and ensuring we re-spawn more often than we would need to otherwise. This is not a survival skill and its not even a skill of the dominant – it is a skill of a beta seeking to become dominant, as someone who is dominant doesn’t fight at every turn but seeks to fight only where necessary (and this is probably the reason they are dominant in the first place). The snake on the island problem indicates the snake is more dominant than we are because it pays us no mind unless it feels threatened. If we gave the snake unlimited re-spawns, like the “computer,” it would probably go about its business as usual. Seeking to become dominant does not make you dominant and this is an interesting juxtaposition for the human psyche to contend with and inhibit.

Let’s take a gander at some of the symbolic abuses nations level at one another in order to gain competitive advantage in the delusional game of performative violence and geopolitics. Some of these will blow your mind and they are important because these our nations engaging in destructive behaviors at our expense…

Many organizations across the world have decided that, in the absence of legalized conflict, they need to engage in a sort of culture war against their rivals. This is not new theater and is the equivalent of a dog marking their territory. In fact, a famous Marxist Philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, thought this up in the early 1900s. We have already discussed how many of these organizations would probably have engaged in these cult(ure) wars regardless of whether physical violence was even occurring so there is room to be skeptical here. It is highly likely they are engaging their proclivities under the ruse of defense, as we do in attempting to kill the snake when the probability of a bite is low. One example of this type of behavior is the Russian GRU, a premier military intelligence unit of the Russian military. Did you know the same symbol we know and love from comic books is also used by shadowy sections of this service as their military emblem? That’s right… Batman works for the GRU. It is different enough that one could write this off as a coincidence and explain it away. And yet, it is similar enough that it is unrealistic to argue conspiracy theory. A full featured article can be found here. They aren’t the first military to engage in shadowy symbolism, as even America’s premier and secret military organizations utilize colors as their nom de plum and there are coincidences where those colors have been labelled in previous conflict arrangements. You can read a book on the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) here that details a ton of weird and shadowy symbolism they engage in often.

How do you signal to an adversary that you got them in the proverbial game of meta-tag? It seems ideas on dominance establishes cycles of destructive relations between nation states. This is interesting for a number of reasons. A snake is often not seen as sentient but a “computer” could be sentient and still act similarly to the snake by not engaging egoistic and dominating tendencies. The human being is singularly focused on destruction and it seems nation states are destructive because they utilize these frameworks and leverage them to gain their own competitive advantages. This seems like an important frame for AI ethicists. Before we go half-cocked to prove to the world that AI is corruption personified (pun intended), we should comparatively gauge the lesser of two thematic and narrative evils at work: humanity versus skynet and snake-obsessed human being versus live-and-let-live AI. This seems like an avenue to change the way we view ourselves as superior by reversing the paradigm to see us as a problem. Climate change and endangered species would probably agree with AI on this one.

Human-centric problems are human caused issues. We should ask ourselves: what’s worse… to make our own problems and project those problems on others or deny those problems are human problems to begin with? We should also ask ourselves whether AI needs more ethicists than humans do and whether we’ve been doing enough ethical pontificating lately to justify our own ethical superiority. Sure, we have plenty of ethical bodies and our litigious society has made us careful. But, are we really becoming better at being ethical in a society where both a lack of ethics and ethics are destroying it equally fashionably? Just my two cents.

On justice

A famous philosopher I read for a graduate seminar once said: technology is both the danger and the saving power. This seems to ring true for me, especially in today’s world. Imagine technology increases exponentially but our philosophical beliefs on political life and law only increase or decrease when we add (or subtract) to it through concerted effort. The irony of humanity is that we can outgrow ourselves. Relative to exponential technological growth, it seems like we are standing still, making way for our replacements – whoever they may be – even though we are really just not moving quite as fast as technology. We are in existential quicksand – and its one reason we are largely hyper-focused on problems of justice right now. The world is shaping us to focus on it by showing us we have neglected it.

We tend to see Lady Justice as more valuable than the humans of our experience that manifested her into existence. Whether this is true or right is largely irrelevant. It is absolutely incorrect to believe in a symbol to such a degree that forward progress becomes impossible. Life is fluid and adaptation can be coerced by nature or we can obtain a first movers advantage to beat nature to the punch. This is an argument for truth. Can we have the kinds of philosophical discussions necessary to keep pace with technology if governments around the world hide important truths? Can you have justice without truth? Worse still, can law keep pace when philosophies are out-dated and truth is suppressed? For those that do not know, law relies – almost exclusively – on precedent, even in non-common law legal systems. Governments that shy away from conflict, at the behest of their own public relations, miss the point of leadership and government in the first place. Sometimes your job as government is to be whipped merciless by your public for things you likely had no control over. Its the burden you bear as a public servant instead of the mantle you receive as kings. Lady Justice culminated in Ancient Roman times. A symbol of the old world seems out-dated and technology is in search of new symbols – while governments are still relying and warping old ones. Technology has truly left us behind and the horror is that we invented the darn thing…

Let’s take a dive into a recent event so we can actually see the effect of what truth does to create justice.

This is the story of a whistle-blower who was just sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking classified information. This whistle-blower was an Air Force Intelligence Analyst who leaked classified documents on a drone program that many in the media are calling an assassination conspiracy. The situation is horrifying and complicated, as the whistle-blower saw the 4-year old daughter of an enemy of the United States get killed in an attempt by the U.S. Military to kill her father. Even worse, the whistle-blower provides evidence to suggest the United States Military (and others) covered up many instances like this in order to reduce civilian causalities to continue the program. By all rights, the U.S. Government largely knew the truth would have guaranteed the stoppage of this program and this is a subtle fact the judge, defense, and prosecutors missed that I believe provides valuable insight. Intentionally concealing tragic events is corrupt but maybe not because it is ethically deplorable – even though it absolutely is…

When a democratic process is undercut, a public discussion can never occur, leaving our moral and ethical philosophies on political life and law to stand still. It is absolute courage to bring these issues to light to maintain our democratic principles while engaging the development of our philosophical identities. It seems this is one of many reasons the judge took pity on the defendant, who wanted to go to jail for the horror he believed he played a role in, punishing himself for his what obviously constitutes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Needless to say, 45 months is likely not as long a prison sentence as the U.S. Government had in mind.

The continued conflict at play here: the whistle-blower absolutely did leak classified documents intentionally, giving him motive, making him deserving of prison. And yet, prison is not so clear cut, as covering up abuses specific to assassination is not only illegal, it goes against guidance prohibiting assassination in Executive Orders signed by virtually all President’s since time immemorial. A breach of this magnitude would do more to our country than leaking all our classified documents, as it would compromise what little historic identity is left that we can point to as beyond reproach.

Technology is the double-edged sword where assassination becomes a video game and a drone strike either constitutes the elimination of an enemy with collateral damage or a full-fledged assassination attempt gone wrong. A judgement of what constitutes an assassination cannot be rendered in the absence of the country that decides on the definitions of legal, moral, ethical, and philosophical matters related to political life. How do we know what to call something if we can’t scrutinize its existence? Existential quicksand is a harsh mistress and Lady Justice is being used as a scapegoat by chauvinists trying to prove she still exists while forcing her existence to be un-made and re-made in their masculine image without anyone noticing.

The greatest generator of innovation is truth and it seems technology is exponentially abundant in that regard while politics and law are wholly deficient and destitute. You can’t actually get new technologies without prioritizing truth fundamentally over all other features of existence.

We may not need any more moralists but we definitely need more conversations, especially in relation to technology. We do not need discussions where technology becomes the bad apple because truth can create exponentiation in its presence or quicksand in its absence. We are solely to blame for our predicament in the same way Lady Justice is not the problem here.

Privacy is good design

Recently, I was interviewed by StartPage for their Privacy in Action series. You can read the full interview here. I wanted to take the time to get on my blog, which has cobwebs at this point, in order to highlight some key points. My hope is to explain a philosophy – or worldview – that finds privacy equivalent to good design.

Privacy is more than just the word du jour. It is a word that represents life itself, as life is fundamentally attached to privacy. Let me explain what I mean by that…

Information and privacy are really the same thing shaped differently by a time delay. Have you ever noticed how information is private first and public second? All information spreads to become public eventually. But, this transition and osmotic-like movement is, at its core, a transition to move from private to public. Think about the spread of information on social media or through networks. We go from a handful of people knowing, making the information privately held, to the entire group (or most of it) when the network chain reaches critical mass. Originally, the word privacy was meant to evoke images of what is known versus unknown in terms of information. It only became about seclusion when society placed value-judgments on words using normative theories. Under the normative framework, privacy became either an untenable sociological condition or a psychologically deviant behavior. Ironically, information is always private first. So, under our current system, we are perpetual deviants in a chain of causality and we punish ourselves for a cycle given to us by the universe. There is a reason why Democracy eventually became the modern (and Post-Modern?) paradigm of political life: it could support the natural movement of information from private to public. All things reach equilibrium in relation to the universe overtime and democracy was the universe’s way of telling us: “Hey, this is going to happen, even if it takes thousands of years and you don’t realize you are going to became a private society by the time you become one.” The title of this post is apt: Privacy is good design.

When someone steals your ability to choose, it’s not the lack of choice that causes you issues. To point a fact, sometimes a lack of choice can be empowering. We like to say these are choices through inaction but the reality is a heck of a lot simpler. Think of it this way instead and follow me down the rabbit hole. When you do not get to choose what information becomes public, in the manner you would like it to, the choice is irrelevant. The inability to stop it is the problem. This is a problem of power. We like to think of power as persuasion or leverage or the ability to get people to do what you want them to do. And yet, power can’t exist without information and information cannot exist without privacy, as it exists private first. When was the last time someone cared about leverage that was already public knowledge? I’m sure it happens. I’m also sure it doesn’t happen often.

We should ask ourselves: where is this movement the most dangerous? Some people believe unknowns are dangerous because a lack of information is the silent killer. And yet, there aren’t a lot of examples where private information can be leveraged in ways that deconstruct reality. We have all read stories about a few people pulling strings behind the curtain. Realistically, the world is not a puppet and there are no strings, especially in a modern society. How well could the complex machine of human affairs be operated by a few people? It’s impossible without people knowing about it. Thus, we arrive at the only logical conclusion. The most dangerous part of information is when the private information becomes public and people do nothing. We tend to call this corruption and it goes by many names. And yet, we focus on the part of the information cycle where information is the least harmful instead of where it can do the most harm. You can blame Hollywood for that one.

I want you to take a look at the quote above very carefully. Notice how the biggest threat to privacy I have identified is not a secret boogeyman. Rather, it is a publicly known capability of the big data revolution that has been around for the past twenty years (or more?). You essentially lost focus of it because enough stories convinced you that information was most dangerous when it was private instead of the reality. When you chase the bogeyman, you don’t always catch him. But, when you chase the flow, you always catch reality. This should hopefully give you some insight into my privacy is good design philosophy.

A quick shout-out to StartPage for the opportunity to talk to them about why privacy is important to me!

Why laws matter

At some point, I realized there are a lot of people out there who think laws are more like guidelines. These types of people believe the rules don’t apply to them because they get to decide what rules to follow. In these instances, they feel their personal and developing morality trumps agreed upon legal rules that form the basis for a cohesive society. Usually, there are no differences between the law and morality because the law should be an externalization of morality. This isn’t the kind of morality you can shed depending on your mood. This kind of morality is sacred because it exists regardless of your mood. We call them values.

The single greatest and fundamental feature to law is that a statute can have limitations but the effect of a law broken endures on a given society, regardless of whether it is enforced or people pay consequences for their actions in the now. In a way, the law has a socializing effect. It says that it exists even though human beings are mostly corrupt in implementing it appropriately. This isn’t a human error argument. This is a corruption one. If someone commits a dastardly crime, they will be held accountable – whether with jail time or social shunning. Believe it or not, these two phenomena are the same thing but social shunning was an extremely corrupt process when done without a legal system in place initially. We created laws to norm the process more easily. This is why a Scarlet Letter is horrible when we see it implemented in a book but not so horrible when its implemented against those who have actually broken important laws and gotten away with it. Laws are the fundamental key that turns justification into justifiable. This was as important in the Casey Anthony case as it was for the O.J. Simpson one. A charge or a verdict does not stop the legal process from being enforced one way or the other.

I have experienced, first-hand, how law-breaking cultures can form in our society on a multitude of levels, including the U.S. Military. In fact, below you can see unlawful technical surveillance that was conducted on me by unknown members of the Department of Defense. Ironically, I did everything right. I reported it to the right people for a criminal referral, informed my chain of command, notified other intelligence activities, and even went to seek legal counsel when this surveillance became outright harassment. To this day, I have never received so much as a courtesy call for what was a ballpark twenty-year legal felony. Because I have never received so much as a callback or discussion, I feel like I can talk about this publicly for a number of reasons. First, the below pictures are not classified. Even if evidence could be classified, this evidence is not. I would know if it was classified because I am a former U.S. Army Intelligence Officer who was entrusted, trained, and taught to enforce classification standards by the U.S. Government. Plus, the below pictures could not reasonably do damage to U.S. National Security, even though it could do damage to our reputation for being a law-abiding nation. They will tell you they are the same thing but they are absolutely not. Otherwise, accountability could not exist fundamentally. Second, the truth is important in our society for the same reason laws matter: it represents our integrity. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Don’t do something illegal if you don’t want to pay the consequences in the future. Lastly, privacy has become very important to me since this massive and illegal breach of my privacy. I learned a lack of privacy is a national security threat. If someone breaks a law related to someone’s privacy and they don’t get caught or charged, it harms our national security. Period.

Do you truly think you act the same when you know you are being surveilled or when people are messing with you? The observer effect tells us this is not possible. And yet, it is a sort of human social evolution to maintain your identity despite intense harassment because it makes you the strongest person on the planet.

The single most important point of this post is to showcase corruption. People are largely utilitarian by nature. This design virtually guarantees they will seek to engage strategies that are fundamentally awful. After all, they can justify any action with its effects in the future. Let’s showcase an example to give you more clarity.

Customers who treat an employee poorly usually do so because they will never go to that establishment again for reasons that have nothing to do with that specific employee. That’s forethought. It gives you motive. You essentially planned your abuse. To point a fact, it’s a crime, even when it’s verbal or psychological in nature. This is honestly why we don’t need hate crime laws. Abuse laws are already in place and there are criminal codes centering on legal remedies for abuse. Abuse is hate actualized and laws against abuse protect us all equally. We just need government to enforce the laws that are on the books. You probably weren’t aware of that fact.

But, on the flip side, and equally important, there are employees who treat customers poorly. Whether it’s because they plan on quitting or getting fired to collect unemployment, it’s still forethought. Heck, it’s even possible they’ve been told to do so by their boss. They also violated the law. I can’t imagine any society existing without some modicum of order and propriety in manners. Intentionality is important here but we get bogged down in intentionality instead of just intervening when someone does something against the public interest as a form of corrective action. In the military, the single greatest tool at an Officer’s and Non-Comissioned Officer’s disposal is a corrective action. It is a sad fact that the terrible few ruined that tool for the rest of us because, like all things in the hands of the corrupt, eventually those tools became used corruptly. This is why a lack of enforcement for these particular laws is not a legal grey area. It’s corruption. If you don’t enforce a law because it’s interpretative, you have become corrupt. If you enforce a law that is interpretative, you are the embodiment of corruption. We are in for a wild ride because these types of paradoxes happen often in today’s society. Government’s around the world have gotten excellent at dividing and conquering your attention long enough for them to engage in abuse and then shirk back into the shadows. Heck, there is no shortage of organizations that engage similarly.

The law matters because it tells us human beings are responsible for their decisions, as we have socialized morality as much as possible with our legal system. Harassment is the single greatest threat to law because people know they can get away with it or, even if they don’t, think there are no real or enforceable consequences when they do get caught. Neither is the basis for a strong society. Bullying is unique in that it is against the law because it is a form of abuse. It is also unique because human beings do not like to enforce rules that stop bullying behavior, lest they find themselves in a situation where they are held accountable for the exact crimes they have likely committed.

This is one of many reasons why privacy is important to me. Abuses of privacy are abuses of bullying where those bullies don’t care about the law because they think they are above it. How the heck did we construct a system where bully’s became exempt from our legal system while the rest of us act correctly? How the heck did we let them become public servants? The sad fact is that I have never manipulated you. The sad fact is that I have been discriminated in the worst possible fashion available in our society: by a government that does not want to own up to its bad behavior. Instead, they want to gas light reality or pretend things happened differently. Instead, they want the convenience of my obscurity so they can absolve themselves of guilt without any public relations negativity. I hope you ruminate on this deeply. I know I have.

The shuffle master

This post contains a thought experiment in the form of a GitHub Gist. You can see a wide range of my ongoing and concurrent coding projects by going to my GitHub. I am always looking for intuitive ways to combine analytics, statistics, coding, and social media in a format everyone can understand. I have added my GitHub sponsor badge at the end of this post in case you would like to reward my efforts. You should also think about getting a GitHub account so you can begin your own coding journey!

Rotten to the core

I’ve slowly started to realize the American Dream is dead. The American Dream says anyone with a great idea can succeed with hard work and hussle. The marketplace is the ultimate form of equilibria because great ideas, like cream, rises to the top. The reality is much, much different. Better ideas fail all the time. Big business has the ultimate stranglehold on success in virtually all industries. This has been true of emerging green technologies killed by Big Oil to maintain corporate profits and this has been true of cryptocurrencies that Big Banking has tried to kill to maintain their financial monopolies. Control is deeply embedded into our economic system, even if it is not a core feature to Capitalism. And yet, these Big-Bigs seem unstoppable. Why is that exactly?

Partisanship makes it nearly impossible to stop Big-Bigs. A marginally bi-partisan government breaks-up a monopoly because they usually put democracy first. A partisan government can’t table their emotions long enough to agree democracy matters in the first place. It is a sad fact partisanship splits Congressional votes on actions to regulate Big-Bigs, allowing #Bigs the time needed to devise and implement strategies to infect political life – further replicating conditions necessary to perpetuate their continued, unaltered existence. At this point, the Big-Big ecosystem is so intricately attached to political life it is impossible to get elected without their support – in terms of SuperPAC, black-book funding or in terms of utilizing their data-based infrastructure to reach target political audiences.

Why do I bring this up you may ask? There are only two major mobile operating systems in the entire world: iOS and Android. Both are run by only two companies. Both have ecosystems they manage on behalf of the world to deliver application-specific content to the world’s mobile users. Let that sink in for a moment. We will revisit it later.

Recently, I have started branching my Android application developments to iOS. I am not a one-trick pony. I want everyone to benefit from my platforms and the only way to do so is not to disenfranchise an entire segment of the mobile market that uses iOS. I began my crusade to learn SwiftUI, Apple’s patented programming language, and finally made some excellent apps to publish on their App Store. At first, I didn’t think anything when I got push back on my application submissions because I figured this was typical quality assurance. I couldn’t have been more wrong…

Every single Apple App Store developer will get their app rejected a number of times over the course of their interactions with Apple’s application review teams. The review teams are good at what they do generally. However, they are guaranteed to be rife with corruption because they get the opportunity to define what Apple’s brand means to them based on their beliefs on what Apple wants them to believe about its brand. It is also impossible to separate their biases from their discretion to accept and reject apps on their platform. Recently, Apple’s problem with arbitrary content policy enforcement got them in hot water. In fact, it was so bad Apple had to make a separate App Review Board so Apple developers could appeal reviewer decisions. That’s definitely an admission they know their review teams are out-of-control. It is also an admission they have a problem with their own employee’s judgements, adding an appeal process to review potential abuses of discretion. Essentially, Apple has admitted they are corrupt when it comes to their application review process and the irony of this condition is that their app store represents a huge portion of their total earnings. Corruption where a large portion of money is involved means corruption is about more than just wiedling power arbitrarily. It means it is about money.

Curated News has gotten a ton of push-back from Apple reviewers who have utilized and corruptly interpreted policies to keep updates of our app off their store. It is truly tough to separate your beliefs from your duty as a corporate employee and I get that completely. However, they called my application, Curated News, a healthcare related application (which it is not) because it contains a few stories related to COVID-19. And yet, 100% of the other major news organizations available on the Apple App Store, including Apple News and Google News, contain stories related to COVID-19. This hasn’t affected my current version, which is available on iOS at this very moment. However, I spent months learning SwiftUI to make a major update to the Curated News platform on iOS – and users are extremely attached to beautiful user-interfaces and features that add convenience – only to have it continually rejected for a problem that does not exist on the platform. When I say the Amercan dream is dead, I mean it. Obstruction exists as a natural feature to the American Dream. But, this is not naturally occurring obstructionism. This is methodical and devious, like the Big-Big infrastructure that facilitates its existence in the first place.

Curated News knows its tough to stand-up for yourself. However, Big-Bigs will continue to blame their corrupt practices on their low-level employees for as long as you accept it as a reasonable excuse. Politicians can only be manipulated for as long as you refuse to do the right thing by sending your votes toward breaking-up the Big-Big ecosystem. We can only exist in a world you want to live in if you take actions necessary to protect your neighbor as well as you protect yourself and your loved ones. Support the platform that takes down the Big-Bigs by leveling the playing field into a more fair capitalistic enterprise.

Download Curated News today and join the #Information Revolution.