“Algorithms make decisions based on statistical correlations. If you happen to not be a typical individual, showing unusual characteristics, there is a chance that an algorithm will misinterpret your behavior. It may make a mistake regarding your employment, your loan, or your right to cross the border. As long as those statistical correlations remain true, nobody will care to revise this particular judgement. You’re an anomaly.”
—Katarzyna Szymielewicz, “Protecting your online privacy is tough—but here’s a start.” Quartz. January 25, 2019.
So, algorithms are just like people then?
There is a need to regulate data aggregators. But, you have more technical options to avoid surveillance than this article suggests. Here’s a good start.
For one, instead of trying to control the information you put into social media and limiting your “likes”, opt-out of social media entirely. Data aggregators don’t need many real data points to make an accurate profile, and these will be correlated against real records, such as credit card purchases to complete the picture.
You can also not log into a Google account on your Android device. It still may phone home your location data, but at least it isn’t associated with your account. You also can control whether to share location data with social media apps, which again makes the job harder.
Also, using a VPN or Tor Browser can create some distance between your digital and real identity. It certainly makes the job of creating marketing profiles of individuals harder.
Like security, privacy is a process. The more layers you put between you and the surveillance apparatus, the more difficult you make it to profile and surveil you.
“One pauses, and is suddenly struck with a vision: The Earth opens up and seeps fizzy pop. The carbonated fountains of the great deep break open. End-oriented teleoplexic history reveals that the world was created merely to spew forth Pepsi: everything else was merely a means to this end. They call it the 𝖕𝖊𝖕𝖘𝖎𝖈𝖑𝖎𝖕𝖕𝖊𝖗. Pepsi, as cosmic alchemical baseline or sugary-blackened-Nigredo, is the Alpha and the Omega, and all other conceivable ‘ends’ (human will, desire, values, Promethean ambitions) are merely camouflaged ‘means’ for the shooting forth of Pepsi from the great internal fountains of the Earth. The springs of terrestrial history weep black liquid sugar. Tears of Pepsi trickle from the empty eye-socket of an anorganic God, a cosmic visage pulled back into sugarrush rictus. This time there is no Noah and no ark. Everything drowns in obsidian sluice. Glucose high; glucose crash. John Milton — blind prophet, blind to his own prophecy — announces this, our fate, from Anno Domini 1667.”
An essay in seven parts, Thomas Moyihan’s Cosmic Dyspepsia & Divine Excrement is a schizophrenic juxtaposition of the Arnell Group’s Breathtaking: A Design Document for the Pepsi brand (a document of uncertain origin that could be a modern Protocols of the Elders of Zion aimed at the marketing masters of late-stage capitalism), academic critical theory, and a reimagining of Milton’s Paradise Lost as a prophecy of Pepsi.
Not for everyone, but if the text above appeals to you, then it might be worth taking a look at the whole thing.
h/t 3:AM Magazine
“Bullshit is speech intended to persuade without regard for truth. The liar cares about the truth and attempts to hide it; the bullshitter doesn’t care if what they say is true or false, but rather only cares whether or not their listener is persuaded.”
What is advertising, if not bullshit? Truth is irrelevant. The only thing that is relevant is whether an ad gets the audience to buy the product. “Good” advertising is about creating stories, packaging them into a “brand”, and getting people to identify with that brand.
Advertising is at the center of most of the technology platforms of the feudal internet. Increase your followers, your likes, your comments, and you too could make a living creating “content” that attracts followers, likes and comments. The feudal internet uses your “content” to sell products and to the small degree you aid this endeavor, you can get a kickback on the profits. The variations are infinite: Instagram accounts with product placements, blogs with sponsors, and so forth and so on. But, in the end, it is all the same.
Advertising is an insidious influence. Not only is it bullshit. It pulls people into thinking and living lives that are bullshit. Even reactions to the consumerist vision of our society are steeped in bullshit.
Consider “New Age” religious and spiritual beliefs. They are new beliefs that are sold like a product. I recently came across the website, Ascension Glossary, which has a Where Can I Start? page, that advocates educating yourself about Mind Control:
“Mind Control is used to form socially acceptable belief systems and shape value systems to which are used to control the masses to enslave themselves on planet earth. God, Religious Violence, gender issues, financial and debt enslavement, Consumptive Modeling, Misogyny and sexuality are the most mind controlled and manipulated belief systems promoted by the NAA and their human Power Elite to continue their enslavement and vampirism of humanity and planetary resources.”
They are talking about bullshit. So, they’ve at least identified the problem.
But, it’s not just the dominate narrative that is riddled with mind control and false beliefs. We must also “Discern False New Age Channeling or Modalities or Presumed Authority that want to take your Power or Manipulate through Lower Emotional States. Avoid New Age Material Hijacked with Vampirism or Cult mentality.”
In other words, don’t replace mainstream bullshit with other bullshit. Pretty sound advice. Of course, the problem here is that it is hard not to review the material of Ascension Glossary and not come to the conclusion that the ideas and techniques recommended are also a form of bullshit. Truth, lies and cockamamy ideas about extra-terrestrial global minds and guardians are not an obvious improvement over the mainstream narrative.
May I suggest, if you feel the need to believe in New Age bullshit, that you randomly generate some beliefs using a computer algorithm using New Age tropes and choose a few ideas that appeal to you.
New Age Bullshit Generator
- The goal of ultra-sentient particles is to plant the seeds of purpose rather than discontinuity.
- This life is nothing short of an unfolding paradigm shift of high-frequency fulfillment. By awakening, we heal.
- The biosphere is approaching a tipping point.
- Who are we? Where on the great story will we be re-energized? We are at a crossroads of potentiality and bondage. Humankind has nothing to lose.
- We must develop ourselves and heal others. We must learn how to lead infinite lives in the face of selfishness. It is in invocation that we are re-energized.
- Curiosity requires exploration. Consciousness consists of sonar energy of quantum energy. “Quantum” means a refining of the karmic. We exist as electromagnetic resonance.
- You and I are travellers of the dreamscape.
- Have you found your journey? If you have never experienced this paradigm shift inherent in nature, it can be difficult to exist. Indigo Child, look within and strengthen yourself.
- Throughout history, humans have been interacting with the quantum matrix via electromagnetic resonance. Reality has always been beaming with adventurers whose auras are opened by intuition. Our conversations with other lifeforms have led to an evolving of ultra-cosmic consciousness.
Quitting social media is an ongoing theme of this blog with posts discussing various aspects:
- Arguing against particular social media services, e.g., Be Seeing You, Facebook.
- Describing new technologies major Internet companies employ for surveillance, e.g., Facebook & Facial Recognition.
- Describing how third parties use these platforms in the service of both advertising product and manipulating public opinion, e.g., Information Operations & Facebook.
There are some people who believe that the solution is a matter of individuals understanding the problem, transforming the design of social platforms, and changing the business incentives. In other words, the solution is either government regulation or a major company of the feudal internet — Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft — redefining the landscape to put user’s interests first.
I think a better solution is to redecentralize the Internet. But, these efforts will need support in their early stages, and they will take time to mature. In the meantime, the best solution is to avoid the feudal Internet as much as possible and seek out other, decentralized options that can serve your needs.
But, decentralized options come with costs. Users pay for the service themselves rather than advertisers paying the cost in exchange for targeted advertising based on information about users.
What options are there? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
- Email: Protonmail.com (easiest, but currently with no export options) Kolabnow.com, Posteo.de, and Lavabit.com. ($0-60 / year)
- Files: Owncloud / Nextcloud, easiest through third party providers. ($0-$60 / year)
- Photos: Keenai, Smugmug.com (~$60 / year)
- Bookmarking: Wallabag, easiest to use their hosting service (€12 / year)
- Publishing: WordPress.com (easiest to use thier hosting service, personal blog, $0, $35.88 / year)
So, people with minimum space requirements can substitute these alternatives for the feudal internet services for less than $100 / year. For $200 / year, most people can get enough space for their needs. Further, alternative services often have additional functionality “free” feudal services do not provide.
By making the choice to get away from feudal internet services, we are investing in an economic and software development environment that puts the user back in control because the user is the client, not the product. It may be that government intervention can fix some of the problems of social media and reign in the power of the feudal internet companies in the public interest. A company like Apple might do the right thing for the people using their services. But, the best option is for more people to seek out alternatives, which will give those options the opportunity to develop into viable competitors to the major Internet players.