The Internet is Just a Prototype The week in hyperlinks #31

A weekly reading list to stimulate thoughts about the (digitised) world you might (or might not) want to live in.

Here is this week’s collection of articles and ideas that caught my eye, with a focus on ‘digital life’, broadband Internet and personal data. They offer data about the world we presently live in, and hints about the one we might wish to pass on to future generations.

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Special feature: NPC news…

Something rather odd has been happening this last week, and it needs a bit of context. A controversy has flared over the acceptability of dehumanising liberals on social media as mindless media-driven automatons. This is done through the visual device of “Non-Playing Characters” (NPCs). These are, um, mindless automatons who act as the AI-driven “supporting cast” in online game worlds. Characterless blank faces are used to symbolise NPCs in social media memes.

4Chan Sparks Mass Triggering With NPC Meme; Twitter Responds With Ban HammerZero Hedge

“The NPC meme essentially meant to ridicule the post-election perpetual outrage culture in which liberals simply parrot the latest talking points from their favorite pundits, who do their thinking for them. The 4chan version is a simple greyed out, expressionless face known as “NPC Wojak” – which has triggered the left so hard that Twitter conducted a mass-banning campaign for accounts promoting the meme, and the New York Times wrote an entire article trying to figure it out.” — NB “4chan” is an abbreviation for “very politically incorrect”.

What Is NPC, the Pro-Trump Internet’s New Favorite Insult?New York Times

“The NPC meme fits neatly into this narrative and offers Mr. Trump’s online supporters an easy shorthand way to paint liberals as humorless prudes who say “Drumpf” because the HBO host John Oliver told them to, who march in protests and put on pink “pussyhats” because they’re the popular things to do, and whose views can’t withstand scrutiny.”

Massive Censorship Sweep Rolls Over America After Leftists Hide In Terror From (Seriously, You Can’t Make This Up!) Cartoon FaceWhat Does It Mean

“Perched in one of the highest towers in Silicon Valley, this report details, the high tech overlords of Twitter heard the cries from these leftist mobs and began the largest censorship crackdown in American history, that to date has seen them exterminating nearly 2,000 accounts mentioning NPC’s, or even daring to show an NPC cartoon face image…with one being only left to presume that Twitter doesn’t believe that the American people are able to distinguish the difference between real people and cartoon faces before they vote in the upcoming 2018 Midterm Elections.”

New York Times admits memes are “tools of influence” as Twitter drops ban hammerInfowars

“The New York Times admits that political memes are major “tools of influence” in the run up to the mid-term elections as Twitter dropped the ban hammer on over 1500 accounts associated with the ‘NPC’ meme.” — I don’t particularly like Infowars (crude and callous style), but it’s worth noting the reaction to the NYT.

What Is the ‘NPC’ Meme? Liberals Rage at Cartoons Mocking Their Scripted ThoughtsBreitbart

“Twitter has banned dozens of users sharing and retweeting the NPC memes. One such banned user told Breitbart News: “I followed many NPC accounts (some followed me back). I retweeted some of them. I also answered someone’s (one of my followers) question about what the NPC meme is. Some people didn’t understand it right away. I can’t remember if I posted anything else that would be it. I’m pretty certain it was only because I followed and retweeted NPCs and probably ended up on a list or was mass reported by angry leftists who can’t handle what they see in the mirror.”

Censorship corner

Supreme Court agrees to hear a case that could determine whether Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies can censor their usersCNBC

“The case, Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, No. 17-702, centers on whether a private operator of a public access television network is considered a state actor, which can be sued for First Amendment violations. The case could have broader implications for social media and other media outlets. In particular, a broad ruling from the high court could open the country’s largest technology companies up to First Amendment lawsuits.” — See also Supreme Court Takes Case That Could End Internet Censorship, Expand First Amendment.

Internet Censorship Just Took An Unprecedented Leap Forward, And Hardly Anyone Noticed — Caitlin Johnstone

“Any time you try to talk about how internet censorship threatens our ability to get the jackboot of oligarchy off our necks you’ll always get some guy in your face who’s read one Ayn Rand book and thinks he knows everything, saying things like “Facebook is a private company! It can do whatever it wants!” Is it now? Has not Facebook been inviting US government-funded groups to help regulate its operations, vowing on the Senate floor to do more to facilitate the interests of the US government, deleting accounts at the direction of the US and Israeli governments, and handing the guidance of its censorship behavior over to the Atlantic Council, which receives funding from the US government, the EU, NATO and Gulf states? How “private” is that?” — See also Top Ten Alternative Media Sites BANNED on Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter Blacklists Popular Conservative ‘Gay Patriot’Breitbart

““If his stuff is how @jack wants to define ‘hateful,’ that’s fine. We just want equal application of the rules,” declared writer Amelia Hamilton. “But it’s kind of hard to forget things like the big ‘meh’ when @DLoesch literally had her kids threatened.”” — Twitter is set to become the new MySpace. If you are a social media platform, you can’t go to war with your users, or persecute specific political outlooks. BTW, Twitter has a new censorship engine.

Facebook to ban misinformation on voting in upcoming U.S. electionsReuters

“The ban on false information about voting methods, set to be announced later on Monday, comes six weeks after Senator Ron Wyden asked Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg how Facebook would counter posts aimed at suppressing votes, such as by telling certain users they could vote by text, a hoax that has been used to reduce turnout in the past.” — Falls into a tricky grey area. Platforms are legitimately allowed to police nuisance speech. So you can’t claim free speech if you have a mobile phone call in the middle of a classical music concert. See also Facebook’s ‘war room’ revealed: Secure office houses dozens of experts battling election interference around the world.

The Day Amazon Murdered History and Banned Books with Capricious AbandonPublic Intelligence Blog

From 2017: “Amazon is the world’s biggest book retailer. … Pursuant to the 1998 declaration of Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos to offer “the good, the bad and the ugly,” customers once could buy every book that was in print and was legal to sell. That changed on March 6, 2017, when Amazon banned more than 100 books with dissenting viewpoints on the Holocaust, after having been pressured by Jewish lobby groups for years to do so.” — As they say, “hard cases make bad law”.

Noteworthy news

BBC issues ‘ally’ badges to heterosexual staff who promote LGBT issues in a bid to tackle its ‘heteronormative culture’Daily Mail

“‘In a recent YouGov survey only 51 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they identified as completely heterosexual. An organisation that appears to have a heteronormative culture is not one that is going to cut ice with them either as a consumer or an employee.’” — This presumes LQBTQ folk are some homogenous block who will welcome special status. Let’s face facts, these badges are about signalling subscription to an ideology, not friendship to sexual minorities (I’m a member!), and there’s bad badge precedent on that front (cf Holocaust above). See also Former Facebook engineer who railed against liberal culture explains why he quit.

Disinformation on Steroids: The Threat of Deep FakesCouncil on Foreign Relations

“The array of potential harms that deep fakes could entail is stunning. A well-timed and thoughtfully scripted deep fake or series of deep fakes could tip an election, spark violence in a city primed for civil unrest, bolster insurgent narratives about an enemy’s supposed atrocities, or exacerbate political divisions in a society. The opportunities for the sabotage of rivals are legion—for example, sinking a trade deal by slipping to a foreign leader a deep fake purporting to reveal the insulting true beliefs or intentions of U.S. officials.” — A lot of senior CFR members are going to have justice for treason in the next 2 years. They are terrified of the evidence the public is about to see. Enjoy the show.

At Facebook, public funds join push to remove Zuckerberg as chairmanReuters

“State treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, co-filed the proposal. They oversee money including pension funds and joined activist and original filer Trillium Asset Management.” — Facebook is in a lot of trouble. Deservedly so. See also ‘Facebook really is finished’: Tech giant hires Nick Clegg as head of global affairs — whose only political achievement was to destroy his own party’s support base.

Google’s CEO says it may never launch that censored search engine it made for ChinaCNet

“The new search project has also drawn criticism from Google’s workforce. A handful of employees have reportedly quit over the initiative. And about 1,000 employees signed an open letter asking the company to be transparent about the project and to create an ethical review process for it that includes rank-and-file employees, not just high-level executives.”

WikiLeaks Releases A Detailed List Of All Amazon Web Services Data Centers Ahead Of DoD DecisionActivist Post

“The goal of the WikiLeaks game was to “encourage people to research these data centers in a fun and intriguing way while highlighting related issues such as contracts with the intelligence community, Amazon’s complex corporate structures, and the physicality of the cloud,” according to the organization.”

EBay Sues Amazon for Poaching SellersOzy

“Tipped off by one of its own sellers, the company claims Amazon employees used fake eBay accounts for years to send messages to users promoting Amazon as an alternate platform — a move eBay says is a violation of its user agreement.” — Bitten by a FAANG? Call a lawyer for emergency treatment!

Cool tech

Magic Leap introduces MICA : AI AvatarYouTube

Lots of words and pretty images about the humanised interface to human-based AI. Somehow, presenting computers (which don’t have a conscience) as looking human (who generally do) seems to push on an unfortunate ethical boundary and is open to abuse.

Uncool tech

Secret and Silent Frequency Wars — Preston James

“Under Operation Pandora it was found was that the Soviets were transmitting high powered EMF through the embassy to power bugs built into the walls, and to experiment with remote inductive EMF mind-kontrol against US diplomats and their staffs, in order to stress their mental and physical health while studying the effects. Rather than working to stop this when the CUIA found out, they became an accomplice to these sinister and silent EMF crimes against American diplomats and their staffs in Moscow.” —  History of psychotronic EMF weapons. Another one on (bit woo-ish, but informative nonetheless) is here.

Panasonic’s human blinkers help people concentrate in open-plan officesDezeen

“Panasonic hopes that by using the partition to cut the user’s horizontal field of vision by about 60 per cent, it will encourage them to concentrate on the work in front of them.” — The battery hen office worker, having all their life force extracted… no thanks.

Important ideas

Cognitive Embodiment of Nature “Re-cognized” SystemicallyLaetus in Praesens

So much in this, hard to know what to quote. It’s written in liberal-academese, but thought-provoking nonetheless. For example: “Global civilization, now proudly acclaimed as knowledge-based, is characterized by specialization of every kind. At the same time much is made of the purported “equality” of human beings, as solemnly enshrined in various declarations and religious principles. The problematic conversion between one system of belief and another, whether religious or ideological, confirms the perception of inequality in practice.”

Explaining the CTMU (Cognitive Theoretic Model Of The Universe)lardplanet

“The theory is infamous for being difficult to understand, and this has unrightfully drawn (in place of fair discourse) ad-hominem scorn by the material reductionist culture that permeates our modern time. … If you want a simple one sentence summary of it “Reality is a language that is talking to itself about itself”.”

Data of distinction

The lost art of concentration: being distracted in a digital worldThe Guardian

“In August 2018, research from the UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, reported that people check their smartphones on average every 12 minutes during their waking hours, with 71% saying they never turn their phone off and 40% saying they check them within five minutes of waking. Both Facebook and Instagram announced they were developing new tools designed to limit usage in response to claims that excessive social media use can have a negative impact on mental health.”

Vleppo — HST ReviewYouTube

“Vleppo has been researching a diverse range of cryptocurrencies to determine whether these cryptos (and the company and people that are behind them) are of sufficient quality to lend against. Unsurprisingly we have found plenty of questionable cryptos and characters.”

Uncertainty Avoidance — Clearly Cultural

“For example, in Germany there is a reasonable high uncertainty avoidance (65) compared to countries as Singapore (8) and neighbouring country Denmark (23). Germans are not to keen on uncertainty, by planning everything carefully they try to avoid the uncertainty. In Germany there is a society that relies on rules, laws and regulations. Germany wants to reduce its risks to the minimum and proceed with changes step by step. The United States scores a 46 compared to the 65 of the German culture. Uncertainty avoidance in the US is relatively low, which can clearly be viewed through the national cultures.” — Lots more data on the site.

Your Facebook posts can reveal if you’re depressedWired

“They found that people with depression used more “I” language (i.e. first-person singular pronouns) and words reflecting hostility and loneliness in the months preceding their clinical diagnosis. By training their algorithm to identify these language patterns, the researchers were able to predict future depression diagnoses as much as three months before its appearance in their medical records as a formal condition.”

Interesting views

What Will it Take for Smart Cities to Succeed?IoT For All

“If we continue to see the journey toward smart cities as an arms race, we won’t be advancing society but hindering it from utilizing the experiences of other cities in their path to becoming connected. We must break down silos not only within but also between emerging smart cities. … The only way to continue advancing is by understanding that while every city has unique roots, each is also part of a shared urban mentality and existence.” — The spec for a new kind of grown-up Internet?

The Death of GoogleLauren Weinstein

“For at its core, Google is suffering a complex and multifaceted ethical dilemma that not only threatens to decimate the firm from the inside over time, but has opened up vast gaping wounds that legions of politically-motivated Google haters are using to further evil agendas.” See also A Reasonable Assertion: Google Is Dying and When The Google Dream Died.

Telcos are on a demoralising merry-go-roundCMS digitalbytes

“Telcos are on a demoralising merry-go-round. They are hindered by price wars and price caps resulting in reduced returns, those reduced returns undermine the telcos’ abilities to invest in next generation networks and technology deployment, and the limited performance of that infrastructure ends up damaging the consumer relationship.” — Other industries gave up on throwing raw resources on quality problems and instead learnt to manage flow. Maybe telecoms would like to consider a lean revolution?

The Isolation of Being Deaf in PrisonThe Marshall Project

“My communication problems in prison caused a lot of issues with guards, too. One time, I was sleeping, and I didn’t see it was time to go to chow. I went to the guard and said, “Hey man, you never told me it was chow time.” I was writing back and forth to the guard, and he said he can’t write because it’s considered personal communication, and it was against prison policy for guards to have a personal relationship with inmates. That happened several times.” — The edge cases of prisoners and the disabled tell us a lot about the kind of world we inhabit.

Provocative perspectives

Loneliness – The dilemma of the awakening mindWaking Times

“The awakening mind —now that’s a different story. The higher vibration of this mind-body state allows a more commanding view. Like stepping up a ladder, you can look down and see (though not really live) the dynamics of the lower vibrations. Each step up the ladder requires tremendous courage, an open and curious mind and a high degree of “functional” intelligence. Those steps command effort -much more effort than what most are willing to exert. Sleepers may go so far as to observe or even stumble over this hypothetical “ladder” and still not recognize what it is or how they may benefit from it.”

Media of Merit

From Web:

From Twitter:

From YouTube:

From Wikisource:

Enticing events

Beyond Surveillance Capitalism: Reclaiming Digital Sovereignty

Has just finished, but captures the zeitgeist: “DECODE is a multidisciplinary EU project that aims to emphasize the centrality of data sovereignty to a fully democratic digital society while bootstrapping a privacy-enhancing, decentralised and rights-preserving data ecosystem.”

Learning To Listen – emotion in communication & active listening skills22 Nov, Bristol

Alastair Somerville’s work has always impressed me.

Buyable books

The Origins of War in Child Abuse — Lloyd DeMause

From reviews: “Whether or not the author convinces the reader that the origins of war come from people being treated violently in childhood, it is useful to realize that childhood throughout the ages has been a horrible experience for many and it really does affect how people behave as adults.”

The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and BrainwashingJoost Meerloo

“In 1933 Meerloo began to study the methods by which systematic mental pressure brings people to abject submission, and by which totalitarians imprint their subjective “truth” on their victims’ minds. In “The Rape of the Mind” he goes far beyond the direct military implications of mental torture to describing how our own culture unobtrusively shows symptoms of pressurizing people’s minds. He presents a systematic analysis of the methods of brainwashing and mental torture and coercion, and shows how totalitarian strategy, with its use of mass psychology, leads to systematized “rape of the mind.””

PAINE: How We Dismantled the FBI In Our Pajamas — Mike Moore and Thomas Paine

“While the mainstream media ignored a corrupt FBI & DOJ, Paine and cohorts hammered away and knocked the FBI off its trusted public mantle. Revered FBI leaders were fired. Others quit. FBI officials, targeted by True Pundit’s hard-hitting reporting, are now targets of numerous federal investigations.” — The rule of law is coming back into fashion. Gangster government is over.

The Screwtape LettersC.S. Lewis

From reviews of this classic: “The point of the book is that Satan acts in subtle ways in human lives. Don’t think he is likely to knock you over the head with a manifestation of his power and contrariness. He is much more subtle, and thus much more successful. And that is where the danger lies. If we are aware of and sensitive to spiritual things, we no doubt have seen this. At least that is my experience.”


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