I am posting this Fresh Air interview of Christopher Wylie and his book about Cambridge Analytica here because I strongly feel that the subject matter is not getting enough attention.
The way the technology Mr Wylie worked with was applied by Cambridge should be viewed as being as dangerous as any weapon humans have devised. I realize some will say I’m being hyperbolic. Have at it.
I remember being taught, even in school, how to understand the goals and effects of advertising including the means by which subliminal messaging works. It’s banned in some places, sort of regulated in the US. I was taught to be aware when watching TV. When we look at the progression of communication, the written word leaves the emotional interpretation to the reader and their personal life experiences as reference for understanding the author’s message. The ability to add a picture opened up a means for the author to be more specific in the message being presented. With the advent of recorded sound, even more specificity could be had via tonal inflections. But, when video came around, there was little room for the recipient of the message to not “get” the message. Jerry Mander wrote about this in his book: 4 Arguments for the Elimination of Television. More relevant today with the consolidation in the industry of broadcast. Watch his 9 minute talk and then read on. Today it’s the internet I believe that has replaced the TV.
Yet, even with the ability of video, the message was broadcast widely hoping to catch the few receptive. Not anymore. Data is the issue. There is the ability to build a digital you. Not the physical image of you, but you the person as lived via you brain. Your mind is digitally catalogued. You could say we have found the fountain of youth. Unless your data is destroyed, you will now live on for all eternity.
Cambridge Analytica is a tail of technology in the hands of “the evil genius”. As you will hear in Mr. Wylie interview, the development of the data processing was for the purpose of finding those who could be “radicalized” and then reach them before that might happen. Along comes Steve Bannon, a big money backer and the machinery gets turned on society. The intention was to target those who could be incited to anger and then incite that anger. Specifically mentioned is the Alt Right type personalities.
This technology is using all we know about how the brain/mind works and turning the knowledge on society for selfish want. Imagine how miserable, hurt, depressed, angry you have to be to want to move the world to be as you are? That’s Bannon. I’ve known people like this first hand. “I hurt and I want you to hurt”. This is consensus building without those targeted even being aware their consensus is manufactured. This is power beyond the threat of nuclear war. The goal is not to mold everyone. The goal is to mold enough such that serenity within society can not exist for the likes of Bannon. For others it is just power for one’s purpose. In the end, it is the ultimate tool of selfishness.
The company no longer exists. The machinery still exists and is still being used as a weapon. Defensive or offensive is a matter of one’s ideal/ideology of life. This goes beyond elections. I touched upon this a bit in my post looking at the phrase “Rat Race” and how it’s not a commonly appreciated concept anymore. The present process of “normalizing” or the idea of moving the Overton Window.
Or, it could be the ultimate tool for selflessness. But, we’er not even thinking about that question are we? Oh well, I guess the “free market” will solve it for us…Don’t ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to.