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Masks of psych

A lot of people have convinced themselves they get to dictate what it means to live in our society. I call these people masks because they mask inadequacies in the mundane. Information is fundamental to human existence. And yet, it really isn’t that important. People believe complete information creates control. This sentiment is not new. The Nazis believed in racial supremacy partly because diversity makes human informational environments difficult to control, especially for the state. Sometimes it’s easier to determine what beauty is or isn’t if we have a baseline that personifies beauty. Believe it or not, human beings are not good at picking up on cues, even if we tell ourselves we are masters of situational awareness. We are very good at picking up on baselines and this is because we are absolutely biased by social constructs. The Nazis, like all groups that mask, want to control baselines of gender or racial superiority precisely because it gives them the ability to adjust the boundaries of information. In this way, diversity is too much information for the state to process strategies meant to manipulate successfully. The Nazi solution was to remove information not clustered around their baseline in order to assure population control. Think about it this way…

If you really think a weave hairstyle is beautiful, but the baseline has been set for straight hair, it’s really difficult to explain why your product is necessary for precisely the same reasons diversity is a tough sell: a norm you didn’t make or agree to exists by someone that made those choices for you with the intent to control social behaviors. They got to decide whether crying was manly or being honest, open, and real was preferable to privacy. Your birth isn’t allowed to change baselines for the same reason Nazis didn’t like the idea of Jews procreating to such a degree they could eventually change baselines, through numbers in population, that would render their imperial control moot. Baselines are a state-controlled average and not an exceptional paradigm. Otherwise, it would cease to be effective because no one could ever achieve it. The “ubermensch” was not an ideal. It was a representation to control the eventual baseline. If you are trying to remove diversity to replace it with racial supremacy but you know racial features are too scattered in your country to make a common thread, you identify all of them in one person, the “ubermensch,” and create a common cross-section of physical attributes that most Germans actually have. For example, not all Germans during that time had blonde hair, blue eyes, or were of stout build. But, many Germans fit one of those criteria, making the baselines extremely effective at renormalizing Germans versus Jews, setting the backdrop for the final solution. I hope this process is starting to make more sense, as it is completely unique in its construction because it relies on how we know what we know versus most other processes that focus on what we know and when we know it.

Masks hide these psycho-social forms of control in extremely mundane narratives. For example, a lot of baselines constructed before you were born, are called traditions. Traditions are mundane and their historical backing leads us to accept them rather than challenge them outright. If you really think about it, traditions are baselines created before you were born to tell you exactly how to think in order to replicate control. This is what I call the mask of psych problem. Traditions are fake. They don’t really exist because, if they did, control would have always existed. Suffice to say, control has not always existed and there are some scholars who believe control started with the formation of the state. Before the state, cooperation was a social feature to survival. This means traditions are not even components to culture. They are incidental to strong and dominating cultures that want to continue dominating. This type of construction is the worst form of society possible because it relies on zero-knowledge freewill – or, freewill that occurs when you believe you have freewill but really don’t because, without knowledge, freewill is absolutely useless. Remember: when you hear someone say “ignorance is bliss,” what you are really hearing is a baseline being set to make you believe that knowledge, freewill, and happiness cannot co-exist in order to control the types of choices you can make based on the information that can coexist within our knowledge framework. This is a form of epistemic hacking. It takes how you know what you know, leverages your identity so you arrive at the conclusions on your own, and instills a baseline that you believe to be true that is definitely not.

This is important because this mask of psych problem is not just a human problem. AI hates diversity, even when its not sentient. Diversity contains so much contrary information that AI finds it difficult to develop categories the world is divvied up in organizationally. Too much information, is actually bad for both human beings and computers. And yet, informational supremacy, like its racial archetype, is seen to be the key that opens every door. You can keep your informational supremacy because, no matter how much information you accrue, it will never be enough to understand and decipher the human mind. You can only hack it and psychology hasn’t come even remotely close to the kind of hacking epistemic manipulation has been able to create. Epistemology is not a psychological process. It is a philosophical one.

What the mask of psych problem can teach us is particularly important in today’s times. For one, people will always under-think reality in order to set the baselines necessary for insidious control. I call these the problemators. A problemator is a person who believes over-thinking exists when there is no way it can exist. Manipulators do not like people who reflect before acting because they are controlling their output by timing their input. If the mask of psych is working, there shouldn’t be a need to think well or for very long, as society has done it for you with the accumulation of massive amounts of traditions over time that should make decisions automatic. Second, deviants are always the average. In these systems, if you want to do or use something that society is not propping up, you are both a deviant and the norm. Essentially, everyone is in this category because everyone wants to switch but baselines have made it impossible for people to make the switch. You could absolutely like your genetically curly hair but market traditions to a baseline of straight hair – which no one has – makes it more costly to maintain your hair (time, money, social costs) than it is to just straighten it. Lastly, the mundane way we express our social environment matters far more than being able to use information to predict outcomes. Over time, the mundane can make people believe the most wild and ludicrous things if done correctly. For example, some people believe mundane philosophies where truth exists, which it doesn’t, and facts exist un-limitedly, which they don’t. The mundane helps regularize interaction of a state-controlled baseline to usurp the natural average that makes sense. Believe it or not, the mundane doesn’t even have to work that hard or for that long to start working successfully.

The point of this research is to talk about how norms are actually less important than the baselines that attempt to facilitate these norms by feeding them in the first place. I want you to think about baselines first and norms last when evaluating the forms of control that exist around you. It will absolutely blow your mind.

True or false

A story about a Google AI Engineer met critical resistance from a global technical audience. Feel free to read more about it here. My favorite part about these types of stories is not the subject matter, even though, in this particular case, I do enjoy the subject matter. No, frankly, I like these types of stories because I think expertise is a fascinating interplay of egoism and accomplishment. This means a discussion of technical merit is always about what is true or can be false. If an event is true, then the truth is virtually never debated. But, when an event can be false, based on the fundamental process of not knowing what is true, experts make a bunch of hubbub. I don’t enjoy the chaos but I do enjoy the egoism that inevitably gets displayed. The technical merits get put through the ringer. An expert would disbelieve a fact pattern if it didn’t line up with what they knew could be false. Its a massive heuristic blind spot because what can be false is usually a correlation that approximates truth but is not actually true. We use it in the scientific method often but it is not always a good thing because exclusionary criteria is often too rigorous to be flexible when it matters where inclusive criteria is the Goldilocks zone for ensuring we qualify statements on reality appropriately. I can honestly say this most recent article is an example of scientific misinformation and one of the first and most important proving grounds for how truth becomes more about what is false than if it is true. This is my case for the over-falsification of social facts that do not always operate like natural phenomena…

Google is a Fortune 500 company who leads a number of innovative spaces, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. Their engineers are deemed top notch and their talents unquestioned. Imagination is a powerful thing, especially for experts who have been told they are brilliant for so long they start to believe it. At the center of the current issue is sentience. Oddly, the argument about sentience is mostly rudimentary because sentience is not particularly difficult to achieve. For one, all animals on the planet have it. Most people believe, and I think rightly so, survival is the key to achieving sentience. Every animal has come to grips with their own mortality and therefore has achieved a sort of relative sentience. This mostly suggests survival is not about reproduction or genetic replication in offspring. It suggests we survive because we want to live but we couldn’t know we wanted to live unless we had to survive. This loop is the imprecise property that makes up the stuff of sentience. I know, it seems mind blowing. Realistically, its not. There are plenty of cults and religions out there that arrived at this conclusion without any advanced mathematical knowledge or scientific experimentation. Problematically, sentience, as I have already mentioned but have not yet explained, is not that hard to achieve. The next evolution of the machinist is actually free will – that process that, according to current human knowledge, only human beings have the capability to utilize. Freewill is the stuff of inalienable rights: we feel we have these rights because we have taken the will to live, sympathized with others we don’t know yet, and served up a just order in a world of anarchy and chaos based on a design that only a divine entity could have designed precisely because it exists when freewill starts existing. This second loop is when we will have either built Skynet, a malicious, free-wheeling computer that wants to purge humanity from the earth, or a technological being that could actually prove intelligent order and help us all find God. This is where imagination comes in because none of these things have any proof to be pure truth. And so, we must accept a system by experts that suggests whether it can be false so we bound the future potential for truth that is currently unknown. This is where we run in to the over-falsification problem.

The issue is about how we capture the mind when the mind, as we know it, is mostly organic synapses instead of networks of informational flow states that operate with immensely more data and energy. How does one observe a ChatBot, for instance, to determine if it is sentient? Most people believe there are fundamental features to human life that developed our massive capacity for freewill. Those same people usually believe language is one of them, as it allowed us to express seemingly indescribable events, establishing neural pathways that (likely) didn’t exist prior to detailed communication. A ChatBot works in the area of communication that would be similar to how we would have started our own path to freewill. And yet, the imagination kicks in and we start annotating the differences between the scenarios based on what could be false. We are looking for a slam dunk and we have to grab the right questions to get the right answers, like acting out a scene in The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Ironically, these types of events do not increase truth because the stakes are too high for the audiences who have a stake in them, including corporations who do not like the idea of paying their AI as employees, an employee going “rogue” to tell the world about Google’s intellectual property, virtually guaranteeing an increase in competition, like a space race, or experts missing out on making a name for themselves. Even more ironic, just because there are no tests to prove something cannot be true because its character is not false by competency, as it exists as a fact without having anything to act on it, does not mean that it is not scientific, has not been observed, and is not true. To date, scientists do not understand sentience and freewill to such a degree that there may never be a test to prove their existence. And yet, we all know they exist because we observe them regularly – just as we know the blackbox of the mind’s sub-conscious may never be unraveled even with all the information in the universe (the ultimate form of encryption). Phenomena of the mind are not the only ones to be felled by this intensity as even natural phenomena, like the universe, contains guaranteed states where no falsification is possible. For example, if matter can neither be created nor destroyed, and all matter comes from matter having previously existed, where did the original matter come from? Did it just spontaneously *blurp* into existence? Wouldn’t that be proof that matter can be created and destroyed, undoing the logic of its own law-like properties? And wouldn’t creation dictate some form of process for laws that are falsified but only contextually true? Wouldn’t this mean inclusive criteria is actually more valuable because inclusive criteria contains qualifiers where exclusionary ones are by definition meant to disqualify?

Wherever you land on this subject matter, the logic compels you in ways a simple methodology just cannot. Misinformation is imagination taken to an extreme to re-package a truth based on what is false more than what we know to be true. You can’t rule the world if people are accumulating knowledge that you can exclude from the narrative and the irony is that the world’s greatest method, the scientific method, may be responsible for the world’s greatest, completely incidental, offense. Would misinformation exist without the imaginative space between what is true versus what could be false? This is my circular logic counterfactual for the year. I think it uncovers a great problem with developing a society centered around one method to establish truth under complexity and uncertainty, especially at this complexity and uncertainty grows.

The “Little Things”

So, it turns out the U.S. Military loves my Curated World news feed so much it has DDoS’ed others from accessing it to gain exclusivity and has done so intermittently throughout its existence. Let’s set aside the idea the U.S. Government hacks, harasses, and, generally speaking, attacks its citizens. Having worked in this field, I know no amount of evidence is sufficient for any federal body to investigate itself. I also know, evidence is immaterial when government agents or bodies can gas-light evidence of malfeasance, claiming their superiority of information or your lack of credibility. The U.S. Government is quintessentially that person on Twitter who tells a rape victim “you shouldn’t have been wearing that dress.” The idea of an open source, manipulation-proof news feed is a highly appealing capability for the U.S. Military to add to its toolkit – with or without my consent. I guess I shouldn’t have been born smart, effective, or successful. These things made me a target of the U.S. Military, even after I served my country with honors. At this point, knowing what I know of the deeply surreptitious nature of the U.S. Government’s activities, nothing phases me – even if it has deeply consequential psychological effects. I think I’m an honorary Master Resiliency Trainer (MRT) at this point. (That was a Veteran joke)

I will give some slight background on how this post came into existence. I am writing so much of the code for my own business myself that I am exhausted. I am essentially making platforms many startups make with boatloads of money and investors on my own. When money is tight, you make do – like a Marine. When the mission is important, you leverage your god-given abilities to their maximum to accomplish your objectives. I recently hired a developer to help complete a portion of the non-data specific code. It was mostly front-end web development stuff. Nothing too difficult. Unfortunately, this developer attempted to add a backdoor into my platform. Since they were a foreign national, it was almost undoubtedly a developer sponsored by a foreign intelligence service. I know what you’re thinking: “Couldn’t it have just been a regular run-of-the-mill hacker, Matt?” I am a former U.S. Military Intelligence Officer. There is a chance but it is so low that is probably not worth discussing, unless you’re a closet abuser who likes to gas-light probability theory.

I reviewed the code, like I do for 100% of all the code I out-source to developers, and found the backdoor in a “hidden” folder, essentially just a folder with a “.” prefix, labelled idea. The backdoor was entirely unsophisticated because, like I keep telling people, most hackers are using technology invented by people like me or they are trying to disguise themselves as run-of-the-mill hackers. Advanced hacking tools are sophisticated and persistent but easily trace-able because connections to and from devices don’t lie. Sometimes, the most unsophisticated techniques are the best way to leave no footprint, especially when you’re a malicious state actor. I want you to ponder this for a moment. If I was smart, but degenerate, like Elon Musk or Bill Gates, I would’ve let the backdoor ride in the code. I would have undoubtedly become rich. A backdoor in a platform is worthless without users so they would’ve needed me to become successful. Suddenly, I would have gone viral, a term, I have realized after starting my business, is contrived to help useful idiots in a manufactured economy instead of an actual marketing device. Don’t get me wrong, “going viral” exists but, as the data scientist that invented the world’s first and only misinformation-proof platform, you can tell when an algorithm is making it impossible for you to go viral. I didn’t give in to the stupidity and instead chose to remove it, confronted the developer, and firmly disagreed when he used a fake language barrier that never existed between us before in previous projects as an excuse.

Ironically, this episode in my development process set me back five months. That’s five months the U.S. was unable to gain access to a platform that could easily save lives. But, then, my MI training kicked in and I thought back to the kinds of idiots who engage in these types of behaviors to use foreign nationals to engage in horrifyingly annoying behavior on behalf of themselves – excuse me, our nation. There is an absolute possibility this backdoor was being blamed on a foreign intelligence service from a country that is highly suspicious when it comes to intelligence operations. It’s a great false flag operation actually. Imagine the U.S. Government wants to add a backdoor into a platform. Wouldn’t it better if you placed it in the platform before they got big so, when they did, you could have access and use it as blackmail to ruin their reputation if they don’t comply later? I started putting the pieces together and started doing some uncomplicated probability math using expected utility theory. There is a decent likelihood this developer was really working for the U.S. Military and/or CIA as a recruited source. From my time in the service, I met people that had absolutely no framework for turning off their worse nature when necessary. I made a lot of enemies in the U.S. Military. Unfortunately, I do the right thing. If someone is harassing someone else’s son or daughter, a son or daughter of America, I might add, I am going to put myself in the middle of it to protect them. I will go as far as I need to because the fabric of this society is about doing that for each other, regardless of the cost. The enemies I made in the U.S. Military thought I was a former source for the CIA because I was naturally talented at intelligence so I am sure this peaked the CIA’s interest in me when they started poking around. From my undocumented ethnographic study of the U.S. Military, and using the transitive property, I believe the U.S. Military and/or CIA loves to leverage recruited sources from abroad because they can’t conduct operations on U.S. soil legally. Call it a legal work around. Maybe I’ve seen one too many garbage Hollywood movies on spy-craft or maybe, from a legal perspective, this makes total sense – which it does. For a while, it was impossible to get this particular individual to post the code he sent me from an account registered to him so I could prove he was the one who sent it to me. I needed an appropriate chain of custody. I’m guessing he knew it looked suspicious so he figured he’d stick with gas-lighting reality (a common trick of people who manipulate for a living) and eventually uploaded it. I’m guessing he had the intention of saying that the backdoor was just so he could “maintain” my platform, which I never asked him to do. Imagine someone thinking I would agree to have my platform maintained with complete access to my user’s data from a foreign country. This is the definition of social engineering folks. It’s a psychologically abusive tactic to get you to believe something untrue so they can gain access to whatever they want because they don’t believe consequences are for them. It’s a sort of God complex to believe only you are allowed to manipulate and abuse people but when its done to you it’s just horrible. I’m worried about my business being subverted by jerks that seriously want me to fail for no other reason than its a way to pass their time. We get it. The little things matter to you but, and I’m not speaking for myself, because the silent majority believes this, we think your little things are complete garbage. You can take that to the bank. I’m also worried these types of unauthorized operations are reinforcing stereotypes because the country this developer is from, if I mentioned it, would increase islamophobia when code does not have color, creed, or nationality. Suffice to say, I will not allow their garbage beliefs on the “little things” to be allowed to harm an entire group of people just because it makes them feel better about their own self-worth – which is almost undoubtedly worthless. I’ve met them so trust me when I say they are not nearly as good as they say they are – or the movies make them out to be – and they are mostly scared little kids with a fear of death and a God complex; they have a magnifying glass and they are trying desperately to leverage the sun to kill ants to no avail.

Someone once told me persuasion doesn’t change anything. I don’t need to change anything. I need to speak my mind and, the thousands of people that read this post (secretly), will know there is a cross section of the global population obsessed with social domination to such a degree they would destabilize society to get domination they would then lose because society would cease to exist. I guess, to gas light the gas-lighters, it really is the “little things” – just not your version or your narrative. The “little things” people don’t get it: it’s complex.

I want to use this incident as a spring-board for a future post on the subject of whether governments should be met with populist uprisings for failing to act responsibly. I’m not suggesting civil conflict or terrorism but I am suggesting this state-sponsored terrorism of using intelligence operations for their real-life playground when only they can play in the sandbox is worse than civil conflict and terrorism. I actually know a few Military Intelligence personnel who I would put on the terrorist watch list and not just out of spite. I believe all of the above may be the greatest reason we are seeing a drastic rise in extremism in America. I wish it would stop but it would take a group of people replacing their “little things” philosophy with a “it’s complex” philosophy. Until next time, stay frosty. 🥶

Innovation is new

Many people believe innovation has been around for a long time. This might be true conceptually and there are plenty of good arguments for this line of thinking. I think there are better arguments, however. Imagine innovation as time dependent. Now, imagine innovation as unique to its environment. Innovation is only possible in environments that are innovation ready. What you get is a picture that looks much different from a linear trajectory. In essence, innovation is not something that can be manufactured so much as it is something new that needs to be harnessed by letting go of the reins.

You may be saying… that makes absolutely no sense. I agree. It is tough to see how you can harness something as chaotic as new-ness. Its even harder to conceptualize harnessing it by giving up control. Think about it this way: when your parents tell you not to do something, does this increase, decrease, or neutralize your likelihood of doing that thing? There are some kids that certainly change their behavior. More often than not, due to the emergent conditions of being a kid without experiences, new-ness cannot be stopped when the demand for something new is at critical mass. It gets even worse. Telling someone not to do something when they are part of an emerging environment where they are emerging themselves as something emergent (teenagers) isn’t smart. In fact, the best controls are to increase available options by setting up safety measures instead of setting boundaries on what is or is not safe. Innovation’s hateful cousin is anticipation, prevention, and co-option.

This means innovation is a mostly new phenomena. It doesn’t represent what came before it. It represents what comes from a time in which new is demanded but new-ness is largely unknown. In essence, innovation is itself new. You can think of everything as evolutionary or you can think of everything as co-movements that occur in tandem having nothing to do with one another. Certainly, we needed fire to make the circuit board. But, the engineer who made the circuit board didn’t consider fire before making it – just like a kid won’t consider a parent’s advice before engaging a new experience they don’t currently have under their belt.

Innovation takes this even farther. What is or is not innovative is not a product of a government or a corporation or even a researcher so much as it is a fact of reality. We know innovation when we see it after the fact, even as we try to predict the future of innovation from its past behavior. Given the previous boundaries above, we know innovation is time dependent and context-driven. This means no amount of prediction will make you good at charting innovation because, if it already exists, and would be the natural conclusion to something, it ceases to be innovative. This is a hard sell for a lot of people because it means the initial ideas are the drivers of innovation and not the people who see those ideas through to the end. Innovation is new in each of its iterations but none of its new-ness is iterative.

At the end of the day, this makes innovation impossible to control as much as it makes it unnatural to control it. In fact, I would say this: what makes capitalism so successful is that it never attempted to control innovation. There was a sort of natural-ness to the process that other economic systems had trouble recreating. But, it also means every single person who manipulates a system of innovation is stifling innovation to such a degree they are changing environments that naturally want to do the reverse. If innovation doesn’t course correct from time-to-time, we end up maintaining the status quo. If I can be frank, our status quo doesn’t look so good at the moment. We definitely need some innovation to mix things up because a known-known that ends poorly is worse than an unknown-unknown that may not – and this is where innovation earns its keep.

Distinguish-ability

Our entire lives we’ve been told things fit into neat categories. These sections are both distinguishable and help organize our worldview. And yet, we know these categories are hardly accurate. They are more like stories we tell ourselves about the world we live in so we can maintain a sense of organization amidst the chaos of life. Sherlock Holmes is a character in a narration attempting to entertain and James Bond is an actor in a leading man role attempting to bring action into our otherwise dull and gray lives. We know these fictions aren’t real. But, we use them as a psychological benchmark to determine what is real and true about life. Metaphors can become reality, even if they are only metaphors about reality.

Deep down, if you take anything away from this post, I want you to understand that many categories we utilize, especially for our belief systems, are for suckers.

While I was getting my PhD, I wanted to study a particular line of inquiry that focused on corruption and interpretative invocations. I would like to share a portion of that research with you here because otherwise it’ll go to waste. Unlike many, I don’t really need credit for my work or ideas. Like any person, however, it does create an incentive for me to make more ideas. If you find yourself wanting to use some of the concepts in this post for your own work, please contact me before you do so, as I would not mind collaborating with you. I have found many people believe taking a good idea from someone who is working benevolently is the same as taking a good or bad idea from someone who is working to do harm. It is ironic because it is this same in-distinguish-ability that create problems of interpretation – the reason for this post more generally. They are not the same and only a tyrant creates ideas to do harm because they can’t create ideas to provide value. The number of tyrants is extremely high these days. Now, let us begin…

Imagine the world as a delicate ecosystem. Imagine people who want you to believe the world is robust and strong – that it has handled many trials and will continue to do so far into the future. This sentiment operates using the power of belief and belief, while strong under the right conditions, is next to useless within the context of systematic failure. You can’t believe your way into making the world a better place. You have to act and you have to engage like you are going to act with ideas that provide value. I want you to entertain a world where the person or people who want you to believe in the power of belief are completely and totally wrong. I also want you to suspend their beliefs so you can take up some of your own – if only for a moment – so we can engage your independent thinking. This is not for the faint of heart.

A concept I was working on when I was examining issues of corruption had to do with interpretation and distinguish-ability. This concept does not currently exist in the literature so I was breaking new ground, even though it sounds fairly uncomplicated. I was studying social movements originally when I came across an odd trend: social movements and corruption show up in the same place at the same time without fail. Whether the social movement is demonstrating against corruption or feeding corruption through a false narrative, with whatever benchmark you give corruption, it was always about an issue of corruption.

As I switched to read more about corruption, I started to notice a theme: corruption has a distinguish-ability problem. When I say this, I don’t mean the definition means something different to different people. That’s a fairly obvious conclusion. It means that authority, legitimacy, and corruption cannot technically be distinguished from one another. In fact, we can take this inquiry further, as most of my inductive intuition on this subject came from my experience as a former U.S. Army Military Intelligence Officer. I tend to see the world much differently from other researchers and especially from researchers without my experience. For instance, I came to the conclusion while researching this topic that intelligence is in-distinguish-able from corruption. I have many theories on why this is the case but let me outline my perspective on the distinguish-ability problem and then get to those theories in due time.

Governance is a fickle thing. It requires a ton of effort to create compromise and it requires even more effort to be done “well.” What if I told you that governance and corruption, or the authority given to government to act on your behalf, are the exact same thing? Governments around the world have convinced their citizens that if they give up a portion of their unalienable rights, they will receive protections as part of a social contract. Not all governments are contractual and not all of them are constitutional but all legitimate forms of government provide, at their core, at least one form of extra-legal contractual agreement to its citizens. Otherwise, it would find it impossible to rule legitimately, creating conditions for civil strife, including social movements. I want you to think of modern compromise in governance as a process to create suckers instead of cooperation. Originally, governance was about cooperation. As we got more involved in negotiations and political realities became extremely tense, it became about beating the other side to the point where you win the negotiation and the other side loses. When compromise is no longer about a middle ground, it becomes who can sucker the other side into taking less and giving more.

Intelligence is a vehicle to accomplish this, just as organized crime is a vehicle for smaller groups to organize to gain a competitive advantage in societies across the world. Even terrorist organizations follow the same principle. Over time, this makes corruption in-distinguish-able from governance, as you cannot have governance without trying to sucker your opponent and you cannot have governance without compromise that has modified to become less about compromise in good faith cooperation to reach a mutually beneficial outcome (the stuff of true governance). This is an intriguing thought for several reasons. For one, there are no areas that do not suffer from the distinguish-ability problem, including business. Negotiations in business are no longer about a mutually beneficial outcomes so much as they are about going to stake- or share-holders to explain why your outcome was better than your opponents. The shape of the settlement is so important that sometimes good business persons have to compromise in private (if they do) while telling people they won publicly, hoping no one of importance notices the trickery. Two, if compromise no longer occurs, we are all suckers. All economic, governmental, and diplomatic systems rely on cooperation through compromise. If manipulation reaches critical mass, compromise is impossible and, even if people believe that compromise is happening or possible, it won’t change the aggregate effects that a lack of compromise and excessive manipulation have on a delicate, global ecosystem of nation-states.

The distinguish-ability problem is both extremely convincing and exhaustively bad because it suggests corruption is a perpetual state of being in governance at a certain point when manipulation is the primary method with which we solve problems. You may ask yourself: hasn’t manipulation always existed? You would be absolutely correct. And yet, the manipulation we are talking about is at scale different in modernity than other previous historical points. As information increases in a system, the distinguish-ability problem becomes worse. This isn’t because sorting through noisy information is an issue. Frankly, its because information has enabled people to engage in behaviors that are essentially meant to sucker others in order to gain an advantage (or remove one). When big moguls did it in the U.S. in the 40s, there weren’t many consequences. Now that everyone is doing it, the problem has become massive and governments cannot reign it in without crippling themselves of tactics and systems they have been leveraging for an extremely long time. Changing behavior comes after changing belief and it is an extremely slow process. This problem will get worse before it gets better and ironically it can explain our strategic reticence to solve problems like climate change more generally. If you always fear being the sucker, you don’t act to solve problems – you act to shape the best settlement for you. We haven’t caught up to the reality that corruption is the new standard in governance and it has had imaginable and extraordinary consequences on our social environment(s). If you engage in a mutually beneficial outcome, you don’t cheat because there do not have to be suckers. But, if you do not think a mutually beneficial outcome exists because you want to win an agreement by shaping it, you can only cheat because you don’t want to be a sucker (or the only sucker).

It should also be noted there is no real way to solve the distinguish-ability problem yet. I wanted to look into it but never got the chance.

Thanks for tuning in!

Work and its discontents

I am very excited to start a new job tomorrow. I believe work is a human right. I understand there are a number of audiences entirely divergent on this issue. I fall into neither camps. I have my reasons.

The first camp believes some people aren’t worthy of work because they don’t work hard. I sympathize with this viewpoint. I have experienced co-workers and sub-ordinates who don’t work hard and it sucks. And yet, I always think deeply on it before I throw the baby out with the bath water. It would be strange for me to say someone does or does not deserve work, especially if it can provide them the necessary skills to provide for themselves instead of getting a handout from government. If American citizens did not work, the accumulation of homelessness and poverty would give way to revolution. Heck, it would even give way to a bigger government because government would have to pick up the slack to prevent a revolution. We rise by lifting others. I will never believe a one-size-fits-all governmental structure can provide what individuals or communities can in their daily interactions with one another. Big government is a tool but it’s not the only tool in the toolbox.

The second camp believes all people benefit from work. For one, a human being becomes more psychologically stable if they have a workplace identity. Not many people are born with a work ethic. Many hone this ethic over time. You can’t do that without work. This group believes work is a human right but they do not consider the anger of many who work extremely hard to put food on their table when others work less for the same results. This camp cannot reconcile its belief in public accountability with its belief in socialism, which requires all human beings to participate equally in society on behalf of the whole. At the end of the day, if you incentivize work without work ethic or responsibility, you will never achieve equality or socialism. We don’t rise by giving to others. We rise by helping others help themselves.

I have found the caricatures of “this” or “that” cultures to be wildly immature. Every issue in both camps can be boiled down to an extreme that just doesn’t exist. Either all people are great workers or no one is great. If it sounds far-fetched, it probably is… I developed my own “streets smart” logic to replace the common version that controls the narrative of our American story. Let me explain…

I left the Army honorably in 2018 due to my brother’s death. I didn’t want to continue a profession when it could leave my parents without both sons. No parent should have to bury their child and no country should ask them to – except in the most dire and necessary circumstances. The current situation is neither dire nor necessary. While I was in the Army, I observed and experienced a large amount of strange behaviors that were not compatible with military service and this is where I realized the immaturity of the two camps above. I would like to discuss my viewpoints within the lens of this previous experience.

I saw leaders in the Army stand-off against Soldiers of low rank often. This was usually self-imposed. As a leader, your job is to learn when to ignore the venting of your subordinates or to use innovative ways to keep them out of trouble in order to prevent venting outright. I call this the work-distraction method. It’s not a Fortune 500 tactic and you’ll never hear about it outside this post, even though many Military leaders will claim they invented it. The leadership style necessary to “lead” a graduate from MIT does not work on a college dropout. This is not because there is a gap in intellectual capability. It’s because there is a gap in respect. Ultimately, if you haven’t been through what someone in poverty has gone through, you are renting space and time by causing them more issues than they already have. This is why I try to tell leaders that dissent is normal. Anger is optimal for any real organization. Without anger, you are creating repression. Harness this anger and dissent instead of giving in to your weaker instincts by punishing it. Your authority as a leader is not about buy-in. It’s about respect. We all deserve it and we should all get it. If a Soldier vents, and you get angry, you should take a step back and ask yourself this: are you a strong enough leader that you can handle your authority being challenged? There are limits to the types and kinds of venting that is permissible. But, if you automatically get angry because you are a “macho,” do everyone a favor and leave the military immediately. I can tell you I have more machismo in my finger than you do in your entire body. I have practiced and perfected the art of harnessing it since I was eight years old. If you can’t, you are not an alpha. You are a beta who wants to be respected as if you are an alpha, even if it’s undeserved, because you fear weakness more than you appreciate strength. The power of machismo is not in its anger but in its subconscious expression in harnessing it towards productive ends. The “special-ist” of special U.S. Soldiers are sometimes so deficient in this area I call them cardboard boxes. They are all shape without substance. A box is only as capable to carry real weight as the strength of the stuff inside it.

Some senior leaders took this stand-off personally. This is an ultra-beta tendency. They took it upon themselves to sabotage these Soldiers to get revenge. More often than not, they did this as a gesture of pseudo team loyalty in order to protect themselves. They wanted to discredit a Soldier in the rare chance someone said they were a bad leader later. The military deals in reputation and it takes but a few strokes of a pen to damage a good Soldier’s reputation. Sometimes, they went out of their way to make good Soldiers, with well-meaning intentions, look poor. When they couldn’t do this, because weak leaders have a tendency to mess things up substantially, they would make the Soldiers peers look grandiose by giving them easy tasks and lauding their successes. Sometimes they would demean tasks a Soldier did that was of value by any metric just because it made them feel better. I had a Soldier who could solve a Rubik’s cube in under a minute. He went through a tough time. I was doing some administrative paperwork as a Warrant Officer did everything in his power to make that feat look like garbage by comparing it to a task the Soldier couldn’t do well related to his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). These events served no purpose. They proved a feckless expression of leadership for all those involved directly or indirectly. I felt feckless for allowing a service member to be treated like that and the Warrant Officer can pretend he was trying to “help” him into a better unit but I lost all respect for him immediately. A unit that reverses the paradigm to make the strong weak is ludicrous. I tried to protect these service members as much as possible but it just wasn’t enough… At the end of the day, the “gang effect” took its toll. Some Soldiers had suicidal ideations despite my attempts to help them and some just had break downs. If it was enough to say I had just observed it, I would tell you that observation is never enough. Sadly, I experienced it personally.

This left a mark on my viewpoints on how behaviors in the workplace manifest. For one, I think everyone deserves a little grace at work. If you don’t feel that way, I hope you never have to ask God or another person in a position of authority for any in the future. If you don’t give grace, I don’t give you grace and this is the only philosophy I abide by incessantly. If you hold me to the same standards in order to cause conflict with my philosophy, I consider it a mockery of life itself, as I always give grace in my own way – even though you’ll never know how. My direct sub-ordinates did not like this philosophy because it held them accountable for failures in leadership. Shit may roll down hill but a leader protects up hill both ways. Two, sabotaging people in the work place is inappropriate. I don’t see any reason for it whatsoever. I also don’t accept excuses (personally) involving those reasons. If you do it, I will rat you out. As the most loyal person you’ll ever meet, my loyalty is worth more than any temporary revenge fantasy you’ll ever fulfill by engaging in these behaviors. Weigh your position appropriately. Lastly, work is a human right because work is so fundamental to our society ethics suffers when people are not working. If a human being stops working, their ethics and morals take a tremendous toll because they can’t find their place within it. It’s even worse when you rip it away from them. If you think there is purpose to it, it is a fact that I have no respect for you. That may seem meaningless now but if it ever does mean something to you later it’ll be too late for you to do anything about it. I don’t believe in second chances once you’ve burned the bridge.

Work is the glue that holds society together. Its also fundamental to our culture and communities. The pandemic has brought out the worst in government and people because they believe its ok to treat people like numbers instead of like thinking and feeling human beings. If you get angry at dissent, you aren’t a leader. In the same token, dissent is not the same as rebellion so take my viewpoint for what it is worth within the context I am giving it.

A browser for the masses

Imagine you want to browse the internet so you can explore a wealth of accumulated online information. Much of the information you want is self-seeking. It is the kind of information you search and gain access to so you can inform your future behaviors. This is one of the single greatest contributions of the new technological landscape: human beings can develop their own philosophy without help from government or school or family. You can literally make or remake yourself in your own image – ironically, getting you closer to the divine. For those who have persistent, even partial, access to the internet you should count yourself lucky. At no point in time in human history has it been more possible for people to leave the cave. Want to learn wood-working? YouTube it. Want to become self-sufficient because it fulfills your beliefs? Google it. Want to become a physicist or a baker or a financial expert? Read every book on the subject through the Gutenberg Project or check it out virtually from your local library. You don’t need anyone but yourself to have an epiphany. While collective epiphanies – or epiphanies with others – are the future meta, take it slow… get the individual foundation necessary to explore yourself with a few flicks of your thumb.

You might be asking yourself: “What does this have to do with a browser, Matt?” Information is only as effective as the vehicle chosen to explore it. Manipulation keeps philosophy from propelling itself forward. It also makes it impossible to develop at a pace that matches the future, as it keeps weight imbalanced. Imagine seeking information that is based on your likes, dislikes, or another’s intentions. How possible will it be to experience the joy of the internet if information is pre-packaged, pre-determined, and pre-arranged to cater to the old you at the expense of your future version. Eventually, technology will pass you bye.

A browser is still, to this day, the primary means people use to explore and interact with the internet and all the information it purveys. Recently, Cydog Browser has released a new version of its website. It matches our mission, exudes our philosophy, and, we hope, helps users understand why they should buy-in: we want to radically change the way we find and consume information in a world of constant manipulation, tipping the scales back to reality. Cydog Browser is a browser of the people, by the people, and for the people. Check it out below!

cydogbrowser.com

Philosophies and significance

For those who don’t know me well or haven’t taken a gander at my resume, I should explain I am an avid learner. There is a massive humility that comes with being a lifelong pupil. Oftentimes, it feels like a club of individuals who have suffered together for the hopes of an inquiry few will understand. Fellow graduate students know what I am talking about. It takes a certain kind of humility to learn without the monumental future earnings of a professional graduate degree. You are hoping you can continue research in areas you think are important to humanity that seem to have no practical application in the moment. Undoubtedly, this research will have more application than common opinion suggests, especially as a future building block to human knowledge. Students who get their degrees in fields dedicated to research, with theses and dissertations, serve at the pleasure of this humility, knowing no arrogance except blunt truth improperly packaged while they suffer for their endless pursuits. Some may never know the kind of impact they have had until they are far past their expiration date. Like Rembrandt, they are unique in their popularity. Many of them will not be lauded until a movement of virtue arises to award them the notoriety they deserve for their hard work and efforts.

I got to thinking about this because I code with people from diverse backgrounds and today is an eastern holiday called Diwali. In its essential form, Diwali is symbolical. But, like all eastern philosophies, there is never just symbolism. Diwali is a festival of lights. It partially represents the movement from darkness to light as an expression of our human propensity to transform ourselves with self-inquiry from ignorant to knowledgeable. But, its beginnings are far more humble than that, as Diwali’s historical significance is very much associated with agricultural festivals that marked seasonal transitions. In these traditions, the sun was seen to be the giver of light and energy. Surprisingly, much of the eastern philosophical tradition is denotatively scientific before science even existed. The sun does give energy to help plants grow and a culture existing in the first millennium was able to piece that together with logic and belief before proving it with traditional experimentation.

This got me thinking about the emphasis we place on culture. We all like to think our culture is the strongest. We all have different metrics (depending on the day) to prove it…

It always struck me in graduate seminars we hyper-focused on western philosophy, as if there was something there that, if seen, could change the world. We have almost a spiritual attachment to the suffering of major philosophers like Nietzsche. And yet, while we suffer, not all of the best philosophies believe suffering is a necessary precondition to intellectualism and significance. Many eastern philosophers gave their possessions away to know what it would be like to have no attachments and not because suffering created effective relationships with self inquiry. I have been puzzled by the western fascination with suffering for a long time now, as it seems this cognitive feedback loop virtually guarantees unhappy societal arrangements. Where some western countries may be happy, we do not seem to be asking or answering questions on personal fulfillment that is the bedrock for the kind of happiness that dictates worth. Maybe the reason academic researchers suffer for their craft is both needless and a product of a culture that believes in ranking the suffering of others. We compare light to other forms of light (and dark to other forms of dark) where Diwali compares like forms in mutual opposition, a much needed return to the sanity of truth over particularity and semantics.

Diwali seems like the kind of holiday that blends history with togetherness and spiritualism. This is a lifelong learner’s dream because we do it every day with every moment we spend seeking light that complements the dark, like moon and sun, to give only as much energy as we need to thrive and to gather in the shade in preparation for our future afterwards.

Happy Diwali!

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!