Sunday, December 11, 2016

Psy Ops, Information Warfare, and Cyber: The Weaponization of Social, Internet, and Mass Media

Over the last few decades we have seen the global rise of new forms of psychological and information warfare. The goals of these operations are essentially the same; to make some part of the population of your adversary believe some information and/or doubt/question other information. Information that they receive through an information channel; to influence that population.
Most people in a majority of nations get their information or news from some form of electronic source or channel. Most of these sources are now connected to the internet or a network in some way. These information channels are vulnerable because of these connections. They may be vulnerable to direct manipulation through hacking and consequent leaking and/or directly changing content. Or they may be vulnerable through more subtle indirect manipulation through the introduction of misinformation.
The later type of manipulation would be like an enemy soldier putting on one of your side's uniforms and sneaking into your trenches to spread false rumors (information). Rumors like "Our unit is almost out of ammunition" or "the enemy is much (larger/smaller) than our command is telling us". Except that the misinformation we are talking about here is going out over social media, on fake news sites, through false videos, and by all manner of combinations of these channels. In this context the enemy soldier may not even be a real person but rather a bot or a bot-network program designed to mimic a human being online submitting comments, posting stories, uploading videos or other content as well as links to all of the same.
In addition, spreading ideologies, conspiracy theories, and propaganda explicitly has never been so proliferate. These may pass explicit or implicit operational directives to followers thus literally acting as part of an adversaries command and control.
The most dangerous aspect of all of this information warfare is in its Psy Ops potential to cause a significant part of the adversaries population to doubt the truth or be unsure of what to believe. Even if they don't get a population to wholeheartedly believe what they are pushing through information warfare tactics, if they cause a population to loose the ability to discern truth among information sources or to not believe in their own media's relative objectivity, or their government's legitimate claims then the enemy has won. Also if an adversaries information warfare tactics cause a population, government and/or media to become continual distracted this may be enough to consider the operations a success.
In other cases a government or established media may enable or amplify the effect of an adversary's information warfare tactics by themselves not being authentic, truthful, and/or transparent. Or by reacting to or concentrating on an adversary's misinformation payload instead of exposing and addressing the tactics, the machinations behind the tactics, the strategy and possible aims of the adversary.
We must be able to tell what information is true. This involves trust. Therefore, governments, credible journalistic media organizations, and social media firms must find ways to establish trust frameworks that allow people to verify the veracity of the information that they communicate without violating free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Why Progressive Taxes are Fair

Different taxation approaches as regressive, proportional, and progressive involve different concepts of fairness. What is fair? We all pay the same? We all pay an equal share if we can? We all pay based on the benefit we get from the system?

Progressive schemes often rely partially on a definition of fairness that somehow involves an individual’s benefit from an economy such that those that earn more or benefit more from an economy are to pay more because the economy and the state that protects and supports it, benefits them more and makes their increase possible.

On the other hand, proportional schemes rely on the assumption that equal percentages of income are equal and therefore that the value of money in terms of quantity is linear. In other words $100 is 100 times more valuable than $1 but is this so?

It is not so. The existence of wholesale pricing is evidence that the value of money in terms of quantity is not linear. For example, one can buy 12 cans of soda for $6, 50 cents per can, but if one buys one can alone the price will be roughly $1, $12 for 12 cans individually. Higher quantities of money buy exponentially more goods and/or services than smaller quantities. The value of individual monetary units, dollars whatever, increases exponentially with quantity.

Therefore, leaving out deductions, exemptions, loopholes, and such, progressive taxes are the most fair form of taxation scheme because the higher value of larger quantities of money held or earned by individuals is taxed at a higher rate commensurate with its higher value added.

If I am incorrect, why?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Counter-Intelligence and The Minority Report

Are we expecting the intelligence community, law enforcement, and homeland security to predict the future like the "Pre-Cogs" in "The Minority Report" predicting future-crime?

What other types of crimes would we ever expect the government to be able to foretell? Theft? Assault? I don't expect them to be able to predict any of it. So why do we expect them to be able to read the future and know when some individual is going to go radical and start killing or hurting people?

No automated system or very intelligent system will any time soon be able to predict the future for us no matter how much data it can access. If it was possible right now then people would be using it to make money in the stock market or to make some other financial gain however systems that involve humans do not always behave rationally, sometimes behave chaotically, and therefore cannot be fully predicted. And when systems do get close to being able to predict things with some coarse level of detail then often those involved learn to game that system to their own ends essentially nullifying the conclusions drawn from it.

And if we ever do get a system that can predict the future, won't any actions taken based on it change the future? And if that future is changed such that what was predicted does not come to pass then was the prediction wrong? Temporal paradoxes? What??

I'm not saying that we shouldn't try to catch terrorists and criminals, we most definitely should. However, relying on foreknowledge may not be the right answer. maybe all we can do is try to discourage those that might want to do harm by being prepared and vigilant and by fighting our adversaries ideas and beliefs with the ideas and beliefs we hold true in the free world.