1. TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users. Ask a question and give support. Join the community here.
    TechSpot is dedicated to computer enthusiasts and power users.
    Ask a question and give support.
    Join the community here, it only takes a minute.
    Dismiss Notice

The Selfish Ledger: Google's dystopian vision of populace control through 'total data...

By Cal Jeffrey · 25 replies
May 17, 2018
Post New Reply
  1. It is interesting to see how concerned tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have become about user privacy. Of course, we know that the impetus for this drive for confidentiality comes primarily from the fallout surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect May 25.

    Still, the general feel from notices companies have been sending out is that they have always been concerned with our data privacy, but they just want to be more transparent about it now. The big talking point on data collection is that they (Big Tech) only want to use our data to “improve the user experience.” This altruistic point of view sounds good, but we all know that the data is being used to make money.

    But what if there was an ulterior motive to Big Tech’s data collection — something that did not involve improving our experience or making money? What if it was secretly looking to control the world? Well, at least one company was, or at least had put a lot of thought into it.

    According to a short film uncovered by The Verge called “The Selfish Ledger,” Google had been thinking about using “total data collection” and social engineering to modify the behavior of entire populations. The nine-minute video examines the possibilities of using Big Data to guide users into conforming to a predetermined agenda. While the video does take a “for the common good” slant by using thought control techniques to solve problems like poverty and global warming, the mere fact that the video is seriously discussing behavior modification on a massive global scale is scary.

    The film was made in 2016 by Google X (now just X) head of design Nick Foster and fellow researcher David Murphy for internal use at Google. In it, Foster envisions a future where massive amounts of data are collected on users and stored in what he refers to as a “ledger.” The ledger contains a user's “actions, decisions, preferences, movements, and relationships.”

    "We understand if this is disturbing — it is designed to be."

    Artificial intelligence will analyze this data. If the ledger finds a gap in the in the information that it needs to understand the user better, it will search for a device that the target might have that could contain the missing piece. If one is not found, the AI could use historical information on the user to design, propose, and deliver a custom product they might want via 3D printing. While the product will be for the use of the consumer, it will also be capable of supplying the ledger with the information it requires.

    It is an alarming prospect that one would expect from a dystopian novel, but not from real life.

    When asked about the film, an X spokesperson told The Verge, “We understand if this is disturbing — it is designed to be. This is a thought-experiment by the Design team from years ago that uses a technique known as ‘speculative design’ to explore uncomfortable ideas and concepts in order to provoke discussion and debate. It’s not related to any current or future products.”

    I find this explanation somewhat hard to swallow. I know of no company that spends time, resources, and money on research that it has no intention of acting upon. Firms big and small are always looking for a return on investment. If the company knows there is little or no ROI, it abandons the idea. Does X expect us to believe that the ROI for The Selfish Ledger was only an internal philosophical discussion amongst employees over coffee?

    Google has made considerable strides in the field of artificial intelligence. Although I remain skeptical that it was real, its Duplex AI, demoed at I/O, seemed to pass the Turing test by fooling people into thinking they were talking with a human. Having a so-called “ledger” of user data capable of self-analyzation with an agenda of behavior manipulation is not a big stretch.

    Concerns over privacy are at the forefront right now, but once the fervor dies down, I can see Google revisiting the possibilities of The Selfish Ledger in the near future trying to find that ROI.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Takes Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" to a whole new level.
    With capabilities like it has it won't be used by business, it will be used by the government.
    JaredTheDragon and psycros like this.
  3. chrismireya

    chrismireya TS Rookie

    This form of coercion by data is similar to the Orwellian "newspeak" found in 1984. I live and work in the Silicon Valley. If you know anything about the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area elites, it is that they truly believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong.

    Such ideologues also feel that they have a moral imperative to use any means necessary to coerce society toward a particular sociopolitical direction. For them, "the end justifies the means" in their push for the "greater good."

    It is not enough for them to consider themselves "liberal" or "progressive." Rather, they must use the influence of their businesses and positions to coerce or even push society toward the direction that they believe it should go.

    If this means banning speech that they do not deem acceptable (often behind "shadow banning"), then they have no problem with it. Moreover, they will work with friendly politicians, media outlets and fellow power brokers to either ignore such tactics or applaud them in an effort to make it seem "normal" or justified.

    The Silicon Valley is filled with a culture that prides itself on this. It is almost as though a litmus test of ideology is used to ensure that prospective employees "fit" the sociopolitical culture demanded by employers.

    It really is ideological nepotism that determines what is or is not "appropriate" thinking -- but dangerous because those individuals and companies can influence search results, internet "news" and what is or is not spread on social media.

    In an industry that boasts of "diversity," you simply do not find the type of diversity in those companies that reflect the sentiment of the nation as a whole.

    Do you really think that you'll find half of the employees to have voted for Trump? What about 20%? 10%? I doubt that you'll find 5% of the Big Internet companies' employees in the Silicon Valley to have voted for any Republicans -- and they would be shamed into silence if they did. Do you think that you'll find 78-82% of the employees to be Christians?

    Of course not. The "diversity" that they promote is highly selective and somewhat self-serving (politically speaking). There is nothing wrong with diversity if it is blind in the sense that it doesn't show favorites or embrace one diversity over another. However, that requires the companies to refrain from taking public stands on political or social issues. One day in these big companies will find that such an environment just doesn't exist.
  4. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,506   +2,207

    "It is an alarming prospect that one would expect from a dystopian novel, but not from real life."

    Only if you've hand your head in the sand for the past three decades. Those of us who've paid attention have been screaming the alarm while society continues to devolve into techno-barbaric fascism. This film is only the latest example of the kind of "progressive" thinking that's been popular with the elites for over half a century.
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
    Theinsanegamer, senketsu and regiq like this.
  5. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 544   +358

    It's not just used by the government, it's created by the government. Google has been the NSA's baby since day one, just like Facebook and Apple have been Langley's children and Microsoft is an offshoot of the NRO, chiefly. All the major tech companies in the US are intelligence arms. The products are useful enough but that is the marketing ploy.
  6. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 3,135   +1,398

    And this is where it goes off the rails... Obama had no problem telling people 'If you like your plan you can keep it' knowing full well it wasn't true because passing his law was more important than being honest to the people who elected him. Hillary had no problem selling her time as secretary of state for donations to her foundation, even if it meant using a private email server and breaking a pile of laws regarding protecting classified information.

    And this week we learned the FBI really did spy on Trump during the 2016 campaign. We already knew the FBI had decided not to recommend charges to Hillary before they even finished their investigation, but they even went so far as to have the FBI spy on them. This really is Watergate + an order of magnitude. In Watergate, it wasn't the government's own law enforcement agency doing the spying.

    They just define diversity different than the rest of us. They believe diversity is people who look different but think the same. They believe your political beliefs should be dictated by your gender/race/sexual orientation etc. This is why conservative minorities and woman are treated so harshly. It's not just a difference of opinion, it's a difference of opinion + a betrayal.

    Oh, and if you really do work in Silicon Valley - you may want to change your name/pic to something more anonymous. :)
  7. Urgelt

    Urgelt TS Enthusiast Posts: 66   +37

    Is the status quo worth defending? Or could a little social engineering do some good things?

    We should strive to keep in mind that we're talking about *influence,* not *control.* People will still be free to make choices. The promise of a better information environment is better choices, aided by AI algorithms, to produce better outcomes.

    Could it be abused? Yep. It already has been. We probably need some rules of the road.

    People were afraid of horseless carriages, too, and imagined all sorts of dystopian results, but rules of the road have forestalled the worst cases, and driving automobiles has come to define our civilization. We could do the same thing with AI and Big Data. Which is exactly what the European Union is attempting to do.

    It won't all be cherries and fudge on vanilla ice cream, but that's par for the course.
  8. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,445   +1,615

    Are you really comparing the invention of the automobile to what amounts to corporate propaganda on a global scale? Because there is several orders of magnitude difference between the two.

    The fact that google even entertained this project is cause for serious concern.
    senketsu and Charles Olson like this.
  9. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    "Selfish ledger", OMG, they have so much power and now they apparently started to play god.
    In the meantime politicians shout louder and louder about getting the power back (populists march through the world) and it looks like there's not much more they can do (even if they wanted to change something, those corporations are too big to fail).

    In this system it's us, customers and voters, who can choose the shape of the future.
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  10. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    The fact is there are less and less choices. Try to find a nice local restaurant without google maps or get to know about a concert without facebook... If we don't support alternative solutions there won't be any choice left. Just GAFA suggestions and this is the true POWER of our century.
  11. Urgelt

    Urgelt TS Enthusiast Posts: 66   +37

    Are you really saying that AI is just a word for corporate propaganda?

    I'd be disappointed if Google did *not* examine the possibilities arising out of AI. Of course I'd like for them to choose an ethical path forward, but is it really obvious to you that the ethical path forward is to stop developing AI entirely?
    wiyosaya likes this.
  12. Michiel

    Michiel TS Enthusiast Posts: 30   +14

    Who decides what outcomes are "better"?
    We already have a system in place called democracy where each individual citizen has a vote that they can use to influence the direction of society in a way. Flawed and corrupted as this system may be in places, it's still worked to give us (western democratic societies) peace and prosperity, and give citizens a form of dignity and responsibility.

    So the issue is when decisions on what is "better" are being taken by unaccountable tech corporations with socio-political views that certainly do not represent a broad cross-section of the population. Even worse when these decisions lead to "influencing" that is designed to go unnoticed, or is disguised in such a way that the people being influenced aren't aware of what's going on. Of course politicians do this as well, but they can be voted out of office.

    There is absolutely zero evidence to suggest that we should trust large corporations to make ethically sound decisions. That doesn't mean that all their decisions are non-ethical per se, it's just that ethics in the end aren't what drives their decisions.

    It sounds like this Google research wasn't about AI in general, but about using AI to control and influence a population. If that isn't dystopian, I don't know what is. Of course that's not to say that we shouldn't explore these areas of thought. AI will keep being developed and it will get more and more influential in our lives. We should all be thinking long and hard about it. We just shouldn't assume that if Google researches this, it's only "for the greater good".
    regiq and senketsu like this.
  13. Urgelt

    Urgelt TS Enthusiast Posts: 66   +37

    "We just shouldn't assume that if Google researches this, it's only "for the greater good".

    Naturally not. Which is why transparency and regulations will be important. The more corporations operate in secrecy and without regulations, the worse danger we'll be in.

    With transparency and some reasonable rules constraining abuses, initiatives like the ones Google is internally discussing become efforts at persuasion rather than control. Which is fine. We tolerate persuasion all the time in democratic capitalistic societies. Advertising and salesmanship are right at the center of how we interact.
  14. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,424   +1,821

    It is symptomatic of a God complex.

    A God complex is also found in statements like "I am the only one who can fix America". Sound familiar?

    I've read through every comment on this article. I am sure that those who are familiar with me recognize that I lean liberal and progressive, however, each and every article that Techspot publishes regarding gagme - my favorite term for Google - I rail against them because in my eyes, gagme is an evil parasite pretending to do good that people willingly support just like fakebook and tweeter and crApple.

    How many of you are using Chrome?

    I find it interesting that almost every comment, excluding the ones that seem to imply that this is somehow good (BTW - I do not agree), seems to come from those who think that this is specific to the left.

    A God complex knows no political boundaries. It is exhibited by this kind of thing from gagme and in the quote I referenced above.

    It is also exhibited by those super rich who control media on the right or the left. There are super rich business people on the left and the right, and that they are super rich makes them think that they know better than everyone else, so much so that they think that they can buy and/or control anyone that does not think like them, and force their employees to spout what they want and conform to their views.

    Is that not also Newspeak whether it is uttered by the left or the right?

    As I see it, where society is now is essentially modern feudalism.

    I would love it if we only had to be concerned about this kind of thing coming only from the left because it would be much simpler to contain. Unfortunately, though, it is apolitical. It is a pattern that is common no matter what side of the political spectrum.

    For once, is seems that I agree with those of you to the right of the political spectrum. This effort by gagme is unacceptable to say the least.
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
    captaincranky likes this.
  15. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,424   +1,821

    If this kind of corporate propaganda were prevalent when the automobile was invented, the automobile might never have been invented.
  16. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,842   +193

    Data collection isn't new been around since the early 90s every IT company department I've worked in in the past and present always collected date on individuals. Just today it's more well know that we at the company want to know your business.
  17. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    Because something is common it doesn't make it right.

    Besides it's not about data collection, it's even not about using that data for manipulation, it's about making it all some kind of autonomous, autocatalytic process, for the sake of... For the sake of what, exactly?!
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,699

    Wait, I think I know the answer to this one..(y) It's for the sake of the process of natural selection, favoring one of the uber rich, to leapfrog past others of the top 1% of the wealthy, for the sake of getting to the top 1/10% class of riches accrued or beyond.

    More simply put, it's monetary Darwinism. And as we've all learned from "The Highlander" series, in the end there can be only one.

    The CEO or corporate founder who acquires the most money, puts the most, if not all of his, (or her), competitors out of business, resulting in a worldwide conquest by a single individual, without bloodletting, wins...

    The name of the game is, "global conquest of the global economy".
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
    wiyosaya likes this.
  19. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,699

    OK, I want y'all to listen up. (Please).

    Some people who, (IMHO, are fools),, read the Bible for comfort. After all, isn't, "the meek shall inherit the earth", the best piece of reassuring bullsh!t you've ever been force fed. It excuses all personal failures, justifies your social position, even provides dignity for the art of under achieving,

    It is of course, a fabrication, and a seminal, very primitive form of social control via propaganda.

    As I was saying, (before I sidetracked myself), some people read the bible for comfort. The act of me touching a bible would likely result in my fingertips going up in flames. :eek:

    What I do consistently use as a reference guide for modern living, is this page from "Wikipedia" (Attribution condition met). It illustrates how many ways from Sunday John Q. Public is getting mentally screwed over by Madison Avenue, and its business associates! (Which obviously includes product advertisers, politicians, and anyone else who wants to bend your will to theirs).

    Propaganda techniques
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    See also: Doublespeak, Cult of personality, Spin (politics), Demonization, Factoid, Outline of public relations, and List of cognitive biases
    Anti-capitalist propaganda
    Common media for transmitting propaganda messages include news reports, government reports, historical revision, junk science, books, leaflets, movies, social media, radio, television, and posters. Less common nowadays are letter post envelopes, examples of which have survived from the time of the American Civil War. (Connecticut Historical Society; Civil War Collections; Covers.) In the case of radio and television, propaganda can exist on news, current-affairs or talk-show segments, as advertising or public-service announcement "spots" or as long-running advertorials. Propaganda campaigns often follow a strategic transmission pattern to indoctrinate the target group. This may begin with a simple transmission such as a leaflet dropped from a plane or an advertisement. Generally these messages will contain directions on how to obtain more information, via a web site, hot line, radio program, etc. The strategy intends to initiate the individual from information recipient to information seeker through reinforcement, and then from information seeker to opinion leaderthrough indoctrination.[1]

    A number of techniques based on social psychological research are used to generate propaganda. Many of these same techniques can be found under logical fallacies, since propagandists use arguments that, while sometimes convincing, are not necessarily valid.

    Information dissemination strategies only become propaganda strategies when coupled with propagandistic messages. Identifying these messages is a necessary prerequisite to study the methods by which those messages are spread.

    "Comrade Lenin Cleanses the Earth of Filth" by Viktor Deni. November 1920
    Propaganda to urge immigrants to move to California, 1876
    Specific techniques[edit]
    Scholars have identified many standard techniques used in propaganda and persuasion.[2][clarification needed]

    Ad hominem
    A Latin phrase that has come to mean attacking one's opponent, as opposed to attacking their arguments.
    Ad nauseam
    This uses tireless repetition of an idea. An idea, especially a simple slogan, that is repeated enough times, may begin to be taken as the truth. This approach is more effective alongside the propagandist limiting or controlling the media.
    Appeal to authority
    Appeals to authority cite prominent figures to support a position, idea, argument, or course of action.
    Appeal to fear
    Appeals to fear seek to build support by instilling anxieties and panic in the general population, for example, Joseph Goebbels exploited Theodore Kaufman's Germany Must Perish! to claim that the Allies sought the extermination of the German people.
    Appeal to prejudice
    Using loaded or emotive terms to attach value or moral goodness to believing the proposition.
    Bandwagon and "inevitable-victory" appeals attempt to persuade the target audience to join in and take the course of action that "everyone else is taking."
    • Inevitable victory: invites those not already on the bandwagon to join those already on the road to certain victory. Those already or at least partially on the bandwagon are reassured that staying aboard is their best course of action. (e.g., "The debate is over. Nearly everyone who matters agrees with me.")
    • Join the crowd: This technique reinforces people's natural desire to be on the winning side. This technique is used to convince the audience that a program is an expression of an irresistible mass movement and that it is in their best interest to join.
    "Getting What He Deserves" American anti-Catholic cartoon from Heroes of the Fiery Cross 1928.
    Beautiful people
    The type of propaganda that deals with famous people or depicts attractive, happy people. This suggests if people buy a product or follow a certain ideology, they too will be happy or successful. (This is used more in advertising for products, instead of political reasons.) Usually for advertising rather than political purposes, sexual arousal may also be used. For example, a message promoting a brand of motorcycles to a male target audience may also include sexually attractive bikini-clad women within the advertisement, to make the product more appealing to the audience by targeting sexual desires. However, some evidence suggests that using sexual appeal to sell a product may not succeed, as the target audience may focus too much on the sexually appealing people in the advertisement rather than the product itself.[3]
    Big Lie
    The repeated articulation of a complex of events that justify subsequent action. The descriptions of these events have elements of truth, and the "big lie" generalizations merge and eventually supplant the public's accurate perception of the underlying events. After World War I the German stab in the back explanation of the cause of their defeat became a justification for Nazi re-militarization and revanchism.
    Black-and-white fallacy
    Presenting only two choices, with the product or idea being propagated as the better choice. (e.g., "You're either with us, or against us....")
    Cherry picking (fallacy) or Selective truth
    Richard Crossman, the British Deputy Director of Psychological Warfare Division (PWD) for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) during the Second World War said "In propaganda truth pays... It is a complete delusion to think of the brilliant propagandist as being a professional liar. The brilliant propagandist is the man who tells the truth, or that selection of the truth which is requisite for his purpose, and tells it in such a way that the recipient does not think he is receiving any propaganda... [...] The art of propaganda is not telling lies, but rather selecting the truth you require and giving it mixed up with some truths the audience wants to hear."[4]
    Classical conditioning
    All vertebrates, including humans, respond to classical conditioning. That is, if A is always present when B is present and B causes a physical reaction (e.g. disgust, pleasure), then when presented with object A in the absence of B, that same reaction will be experienced.
    Cognitive dissonance
    People desire to be consistent. Suppose a pollster finds that a certain group of people hates his candidate for senator but loves actor A. They use actor A's endorsement of their candidate to change people's minds because people cannot tolerate inconsistency. They are forced to either dislike the actor or like the candidate.
    Common man
    The "plain folks" or "common man" approach attempts to convince the audience that the propagandist's positions reflect the common sense of the people. It is designed to win the confidence of the audience by communicating in the common manner and style of the target audience. Propagandists use ordinary language and mannerisms (and clothe their message in face-to-face and audiovisual communications) in attempting to identify their point of view with that of the average person. A common example of this type of propaganda is a political figure, usually running for a placement, in a backyard or shop doing daily routine things. This image appeals to the common person. With the plain folks device, the propagandist can win the confidence of persons who resent or distrust foreign sounding, intellectual speech, words, or mannerisms."[5] For example, a politician speaking to a Southern United States crowd might incorporate words such as "Y'all" and other colloquialisms to create a perception of belonging.
    Cult of personality
    A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. The hero personality then advocates the positions that the propagandist desires to promote. For example, modern propagandists hire popular personalities to promote their ideas and/or products.
    Demonizing the enemy
    Making individuals from the opposing nation, from a different ethnic group, or those who support the opposing viewpoint appear to be subhuman (e.g., the Vietnam War-era term "gooks" for National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam aka Vietcong, or "VC", soldiers), worthless, or immoral, through suggestion or false accusations. Dehumanizing is also a term used synonymously with demonizing, the latter usually serves as an aspect of the former.
    World War I poster by Winsor McCay, urging Americans to buy Liberty Bonds
    Propaganda towards an adversary to erode fighting spirit, and encourage surrender or defection.
    This technique hopes to simplify the decision making process by using images and words to tell the audience exactly what actions to take, eliminating any other possible choices. Authority figures can be used to give the order, overlapping it with the appeal to authority technique, but not necessarily. The Uncle Sam "I want you" image is an example of this technique.
    The creation or deletion of information from public records, in the purpose of making a false record of an event or the actions of a person or organization, including outright forgery of photographs, motion pictures, broadcasts, and sound recordings as well as printed documents.
    Door-in-the-face technique
    Is used to increase a person's latitude of acceptance. For example, if a salesperson wants to sell an item for $100 but the public is only willing to pay $50, the salesperson first offers the item at a higher price (e.g., $200) and subsequently reduces the price to $100 to make it seem like a good deal.
    A euphemism is a generally innocuous word or expression used in place of one that may be found offensive or suggest something unpleasant.
    The use of an event that generates euphoria or happiness, or using an appealing event to boost morale. Euphoria can be created by declaring a holiday, making luxury items available, or mounting a military parade with marching bands and patriotic messages.
    An exaggeration (or hyperbole) occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a certain degree. It is also seen as "stretching the truth" or making something appear more powerful, meaningful, or real than it actually is. Saying that a person ate 20 spring rolls at a party when they actually ate 7 or 8 would be considered an exaggeration.
    False accusations
    False accusations can be in any of the following contexts:

    Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (Internet meme "FUD")
    An attempt to influence public perception by disseminating negative and dubious/false information designed to undermine the credibility of their beliefs.
    An attempt to justify an action on the grounds that doing so will make one more patriotic, or in some way benefit a group, country, or idea. The feeling of patriotism this technique attempts to inspire may not necessarily diminish or entirely omit one's capability for rational examination of the matter in question.
    The Finnish Maiden - personification of Finnish nationalism
    Foot-in-the-door technique
    Often used by recruiters and salesmen. For example, a member of the opposite sex walks up to the victim and pins a flower or gives a small gift to the victim. The victim says thanks and now they have incurred a psychological debt to the perpetrator. The person eventually asks for a larger favor (e.g., a donation or to buy something far more expensive). The unwritten social contract between the victim and perpetrator causes the victim to feel obligated to reciprocate by agreeing to do the larger favor or buy the more expensive gift.
    Framing (social sciences)
    Framing is the social construction of a social phenomenon often by mass mediasources, political or social movements, political leaders, or other actors and organizations. It is an inevitable process of selective influence over the individual's perception of the meanings attributed to words or phrases.
    Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying to sow seeds of doubt in a target individual or group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, sanity, and norms.
    Gish gallop
    Bombarding a political opponent with obnoxiously complex questions in rapid fire during a debate to make the opponent appear to not know what they are talking about.
    Glittering generalities
    Glittering generalities are emotionally appealing words that are applied to a product or idea, but present no concrete argument or analysis. This technique has also been referred to as the PT Barnum effect. (e.g., the advertising campaign slogan "Ford has a better idea!")
    Guilt by association or Reductio ad Hitlerum
    This technique is used to persuade a target audience to disapprove of an action or idea by suggesting that the idea is popular with groups hated, feared, or held in contempt by the target audience. Thus if a group that supports a certain policy is led to believe that undesirable, subversive, or contemptible people support the same policy, then the members of the group may decide to change their original position. This is a form of bad logic, where A is said to include X, and B is said to include X, therefore, A = B.
    A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. It comes in several forms: the statement might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only part of the whole truth, or it may utilize some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double meaning, especially if the intent is to deceive, evade, blame, or misrepresent the truth.
    Intentional vagueness
    Generalities are deliberately vague so that the audience may supply its own interpretations. The intention is to move the audience by use of undefined phrases, without analyzing their validity or attempting to determine their reasonableness or application. The intent is to cause people to draw their own interpretations rather than simply being presented with an explicit idea. In trying to "figure out" the propaganda, the audience forgoes judgment of the ideas presented. Their validity, reasonableness and application may still be considered.
    A euphemism is used when the propagandist attempts to increase the perceived quality, credibility, or credence of a particular ideal. A dysphemism is used when the intent of the propagandist is to discredit, diminish the perceived quality, or hurt the perceived righteousness of the individual. By creating a "label", "category", or "faction" of a population, it is much easier to make an example of these larger bodies, because they can uplift or defame the individual without actually incurring legal-defamation. Labeling can be thought of as a sub-set of guilt by association, another logical fallacy.[6]
    Latitudes of acceptance
    If a person's message is outside the bounds of acceptance for an individual and group, most techniques will engender psychological reactance (simply hearing the argument will make the message even less acceptable). There are two techniques for increasing the bounds of acceptance. First, one can take an even more extreme position that will make more moderate positions seem more acceptable. This is similar to the door-in-the-face technique. Alternatively, one can moderate one's own position to the edge of the latitude of acceptance and then over time slowly move to the position that was previously.[7]
    "The Conquest or Arrival of Hernán Cortés in Veracruz", 1951, National Palace, Mexico City. Diego Rivera's political murals depict a modern interpretation of the Black Legend.
    Loaded language
    Specific words and phrases with strong emotional implications are used to influence the audience, for example, using the word reforms rather than a more neutral word like changes.
    Love bombing
    See also: Milieu control
    Used to recruit members to a cult or ideology by having a group of individuals cut off a person from their existing social support and replace it entirely with members of the group who deliberately bombard the person with affection in an attempt to isolate the person from their prior beliefs and value system.
    Lying and deception
    Lying and deception can be the basis of many propaganda techniques including Ad Homimen arguments, Big-Lie, Defamation, Door-in-the-Face, Half-truth, Name-calling or any other technique that is based on dishonesty or deception. For example, many politicians have been found to frequently stretch or break the truth.
    Managing the news
    According to Adolf Hitler, "The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over."[8][9] This idea is consistent with the principle of classical conditioning as well as the idea of "Staying on Message."
    Anti-Muslim propaganda in Germany produced during the Ottoman wars in Europe, 16th century
    Milieu control
    An attempt to control the social environment and ideas through the use of social pressure
    Minimisation is the opposite of exaggeration. It is a type of deception[10] involving denial coupled with rationalization in situations where complete denial is implausible.
    Propagandists use the name-calling technique to incite fears and arouse prejudices in their hearers in the intent that the bad names will cause hearers to construct a negative opinion about a group or set of beliefs or ideas that the propagandist wants hearers to denounce. The method is intended to provoke conclusions about a matter apart from impartial examinations of facts. Name-calling is thus a substitute for rational, fact-based arguments against an idea or belief on its own merits.
    Non sequitur
    A type of logical fallacy, in which a conclusion is made out of an argument that does not justify it. All invalid arguments can be considered as special cases of non sequitur.
    Obfuscation, intentional vagueness, confusion
    Generalities are deliberately vague so that the audience may supply its own interpretations. The intention is to move the audience by use of undefined phrases, without analyzing their validity or attempting to determine their reasonableness or application. The intent is to cause people to draw their own interpretations rather than simply being presented with an explicit idea. In trying to "figure out" the propaganda, the audience forgoes judgment of the ideas presented. Their validity, reasonableness and application may still be considered.
    Operant conditioning
    Operant conditioning involves learning through imitation. For example, watching an appealing person buy products or endorse positions teaches a person to buy the product or endorse the position. Operant conditioning is the underlying principle behind the ad nauseam, slogan and other repetition public relations campaigns.
    Favorable generalities are used to provide simple answers to complex social, political, economic, or military problems.
    Illustration by Rev. Branford Clarkefrom Heroes of the Fiery Cross by Bishop Alma White published by the Pillar of Fire Church 1928 in Zarephath, NJ
    Pensée unique
    Enforced reduction of discussion by use of overly simplistic phrases or arguments (e.g., "There is no alternative to war.")
    Quotes out of context
    Selective editing of quotes that can change meanings. Political documentaries designed to discredit an opponent or an opposing political viewpoint often use this technique.
    Individuals or groups may use favorable generalities to rationalize questionable acts or beliefs. Vague and pleasant phrases are often used to justify such actions or beliefs.
    Red herring
    Presenting data or issues that, while compelling, are irrelevant to the argument at hand, and then claiming that it validates the argument.[6]
    This is the repeating of a certain symbol or slogan so that the audience remembers it. This could be in the form of a jingle or an image placed on nearly everything in the picture/scene. This also includes using subliminal phrases, images or other content in a piece of propaganda.[6]
    Assigning blame to an individual or group, thus alleviating feelings of guilt from responsible parties and/or distracting attention from the need to fix the problem for which blame is being assigned.
    Nationalist slogan "Brazil, love it or leave it", often used during the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964–1985)
    A slogan is a brief, striking phrase that may include labeling and stereotyping. Although slogans may be enlisted to support reasoned ideas, in practice they tend to act only as emotional appeals. Opponents of the US's invasion and occupation of Iraq use the slogan "blood for oil" to suggest that the invasion and its human losses was done to access Iraq's oil riches. On the other hand, supporters who argue that the US should continue to fight in Iraq use the slogan "cut and run" to suggest withdrawal is cowardly or weak. Similarly, the names of the military campaigns, such as "enduring freedom" or "just cause" can also be considered slogans, devised to influence people.
    A smear is an effort to damage or call into question someone's reputation, by propounding negative propaganda. It can be applied to individuals or groups.

    Stereotyping, name calling or labeling
    This technique attempts to arouse prejudices in an audience by labeling the object of the propaganda campaign as something the target audience fears, hates, loathes, or finds undesirable. For instance, reporting on a foreign country or social group may focus on the stereotypical traits that the reader expects, even though they are far from being representative of the whole country or group; such reporting often focuses on the anecdotal. In graphic propaganda, including war posters, this might include portraying enemies with stereotyped racial features.
    Straw man
    A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.
    See also: Damaging quotation
    Testimonials are quotations, in or out of context, especially cited to support or reject a given policy, action, program, or personality. The reputation or the role (expert, respected public figure, etc.) of the individual giving the statement is exploited. The testimonial places the official sanction of a respected person or authority on a propaganda message. This is done in an effort to cause the target audience to identify itself with the authority or to accept the authority's opinions and beliefs as its own.
    "The Bulgarian Martyresses", 1877 painting by the Russian painter Konstantin Makovsky depicting the rape of Bulgarian women by Ottomantroops during the suppression of the April Uprising a year earlier, served to mobilize public support for the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878) waged with the proclaimed aim of liberating the Bulgarians.
    Third party technique
    See also: Soft power
    Works on the principle that people are more willing to accept an argument from a seemingly independent source of information than from someone with a stake in the outcome. It is a marketing strategy commonly employed by Public Relations (PR) firms, that involves placing a premeditated message in the "mouth of the media." The third party technique can take many forms, ranging from the hiring of journalists to report the organization in a favorable light, to using scientists within the organization to present their perhaps prejudicial findings to the public. Frequently, astroturf groups or front groups are used to deliver the message.
    Thought-terminating cliché
    A commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to quell cognitive dissonance.
    Also known as association, this is a technique of projecting positive or negative qualities (praise or blame) of a person, entity, object, or value onto another to make the second more acceptable or to discredit it. It evokes an emotional response, which stimulates the target to identify with recognized authorities. Often highly visual, this technique often utilizes symbols (for example, the swastikasused in Nazi Germany, originally a symbol for health and prosperity) superimposed over other visual images.
    Unstated assumption
    This technique is used when the propaganda concept would seem less credible if explicitly stated. The concept is instead repeatedly assumed or implied.
    Virtue words
    See also: Transfer (propaganda)
    These are words in the value system of the target audience that produce a positive image when attached to a person or issue. Peace, hope, happiness, security, wise leadership, freedom, "The Truth", etc. are virtue words. Many see religiosityas a virtue, making associations to this quality effectively beneficial.
    Whataboutism is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument, which is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda. When criticisms were leveled at the Soviet Union, the Soviet response would be "What about..." followed by an event in the Western world.
    Some propaganda techniques can be found in logic books.
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,699

    You realize of course, that "magical thinking" at this order of magnitude, could possibly be construed as a mental disease or defect, don't you?
    wiyosaya likes this.
  21. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    I thought it sounds naive... But ideals are to be followed, not achieved. Don't be a fatalist.

    I just wish more knew about various alternatives and the importance of their choices (some examples: www.duckduckgo.com, www.openstreetmap.org, www.protonmail.com, www.zom.im, the list could get pretty long).

    PS. I'm having a hard time expressing my thought in english, I hope it's not skewed much...
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,514   +3,699

    Fatalism is my shtick , I really can't help myself.

    That said, America's "two party system", precludes a validity or purpose to an individual's vote. The party in power gets the spoils of the victory, not the voter. At the end of the day, the winning party will be pandering to the will of the same lobbyists, who would have been pandered to the election's losers. The spoils go to the victors, that's true, but either winner will be feasting from the same pot.

    There is no honor among thieves, nor loyalty and cooperation between competing consumers.

    "Black Friday shopping", proves this beyond the shadow of a doubt. People will wait in line all night to beat hundreds of others to the loss leader item(s), whether it be a big screen TV, a laptop, or a child's bicycle.

    America's shopping tactics on the day after Thanksgiving, are a slightly toned down version of the age old question, "if we were the last two people on a deserted island, staring at the last piece of food, would we split it, or kill one another for it..

    As an aside, consumerism falls under the province of "desperate times demand desperate measures"

    For whatever insane reason, the concept of competing over the last available food, (or whatever), triggered this sordid vignette:

    There always have been rumors of cannibalism in an ill fated expedition to the Antarctic by Sir Douglas Mawson:

    "Jarvis should know. Five years ago, he spent 43 days trekking across Antarctica to re-create the saga of Australian Sir Douglas Mawson, the lone survivor of a three-man geological expedition in 1912. Jarvis went so far as to scrape by on starvation rations to test whether Mawson, who was accused of cannibalism, would have been forced to eat one of his fallen colleagues. His conclusion: the explorer could have made it by consuming his packed food and sled dogs".

    Mawson's feat was duplicated by Mr. Jarvis, but it's questionable if all doubt will ever be erased.

    My point being, that the possibility of a full fledged consumer cooperative movement could ever be mounted against a single product, let alone against a multinational corporation, is remote, if not impossible.. A manufacturer's only incentive for keeping prices reasonable, is competition between each other, not in any way for the sake of the public. If competition forces the price of something too low to be profitable, then makers will dial back production to force a "supply and demand" price increase. I suspect manufacturers are much more likely to cooperate with one another, than consumers ever will be. And yes, price fixing is illegal as hell, but to try and prove it, is nigh on impossible

    As an example, why don't you see if you can get gamers and miners to boycott the purchase of video cards,until makers bring the prices down, and there are enough cards to go around. It ain't gonna happen. Both factions would tuck their tails between their legs, bow their heads, and accept any price punishment the manufacturers or suppliers deem appropriate.

    American consumers are far too stupid to be able to differentiate between"want" and "need", and as a result, will always be at the mercy of their own greed, along with being easy prey to whatever new piece of crap advertisers ram down their throats.

    The almost singular benefit to being an American consumer, is by virtue of a reasonably stable monetary system, provided by a strong central government. Our strong dollar, provides a decent pricing structure for many, but certainly not all, goods and services..
    Last edited: May 21, 2018
    wiyosaya likes this.
  23. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,424   +1,821

    I'm speaking for myself, here, but it is a bit difficult, as I see it, to not be a fatalist when, again as I see it, so many fall for all the propaganda techniques so well explained on the Wikipedia page @captaincranky posted. Right now, the US political system is ripe with propaganda. So much so that nothing meaningful has been done in the US government in most cases for at least the last twenty years and likely more years than that. The US citizens have been thrown bones by the US government many times, and when something more substantial comes along, it is far too little far too late that it ends up becoming unpopular to the point where it is walked back instead of moved forward by attempting to improve on the parts that obviously need improvement.

    As far as walking things back, there is that saying "Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results" routinely attributed to Albert Einstein, but depending on who you listen to as the source of that quote, it could also be Narcotics Anonymous.

    Yet people still fall for the propaganda. From my point of view at this moment in time, there is a real possibility that any semblance of democracy in the US will be thrown out the door. So many are wrapped up in the current propaganda that they do not see the signs that are right there in front of them. People on both sides are angry, and the anger is stoked by the propaganda to a point where many are blinded by that anger to what is really going on, and the worst thing about that is that the anger is being stoked by propaganda techniques.

    On top of that, to further what CaptainCranky says about consumerism and people not being able to distinguish want from need, I am constantly amazed by television commercials in the US where the latest phone is made to look sexy and the latest car is promoted as the all powerful vehicle that will get you through the fake obstacle course faster than the guy sitting next to you at the red light. This is not appealing to need, it is appealing to want. The worst thing about this, as I see it, is people buy into the crap. Your car might be fun to drive, but the only place you are going to reasonably drive it like that is at a track unless you are willing to put your self and everyone else on the highway at risk by the kind of crazy-a$$ driving they fill people full of in commercials.

    And, as I see it, Captain is right on the money in pointing out the super rich making efforts at gaining the most wealth. Look at crApple as an example. They are sitting on 100+ Billion US dollars and yet making life hell on Earth for the people who produce their products. I challenge anyone to deny to me that this is nothing other than a modern version of feudalism.

    This is not left of right. It is apolitical. And to give another example of the kind of crazy God complex thinking, some may remember that Bill Gates and a few others ran a competition a few years back that was aimed at producing an effective human waste treatment solution for the poor in India. They came up with a foolish, IMO, very expensive waste treatment plant not unlike the large plants used in many metropolitan areas that would require expensive infrastructure. How on earth would the poor in India afford that? Is King Gates going to pay for it? Hell no! Many did not agree with me at the time because they could not get the brilliant aura that surrounds Gates out of their eyes and minds, but it seemed to me that a far simpler solution would have been a simple composting toilet. To me, another symptom of this God complex is over-engineering solutions to problems when the solution to the problem is inherently simple and then convincing people that it is the only solution.

    Though the modern world will never follow the human sacrifice that the Aztecs had, the Aztecs did have waste treatment that worked well - https://ourworld.unu.edu/en/the-aztecs-of-mexico-a-zero-waste-society However, most modern countries follow the Roman way - flush it into your neighbor's back yard where it becomes their problem.

    And the marketing fools in the US promoted a throw-away society. Well, now, those throw-away products have recently been found in the Mariana Trench - https://www.popularmechanics.com/sc...ic-litters-even-the-very-bottom-of-the-ocean/ and if you think trash everywhere is left or right issue, then I expect you decided that this was TL;DR. In some ways, IMO, at least a few ancient civilizations were far more advanced than modern, western-oriented society.

    I'll say it again - that this kind of god complex thinking is left or right is BS. The world, to me anyway, and you are very welcome to call me bat-sh!t crazy, SJW, left-wing liberal wacko, insert your favorite derogatory term here, is driving itself to a fatalistic end much like the people who find ways to circumvent "Auto Pilot" on Teslas.
  24. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,424   +1,821

  25. regiq

    regiq TS Addict Posts: 203   +80

    @captaincranky @wiyosaya

    You can call me naive but I see some good things going on, e.g. French law against planned obsolence or EU's latest GDPR.
    These things happen thanks to activists who act on behalf of people who care (check out this doc: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5053042/
    - were they naive! And fine lobbyists, one may add)

    Thankfully there are companies trying to find their niche - they couldn't compete directly with the giants - so just enough like-minded people to keep these initiatives afloat makes the difference.

    People just have to get to know about the problem, then they may start to care. Things like CA scandal are a blessing for the case.

    I hope your valuable although fatalistic contributions to the discussion won't be used by many as an excuse to ignore the problem and just go with the flow.

    Yes, times brought us new feudalism, but also tools to defend ourselves - through knowlegde and communication.

    Sometimes the naive achieve something good just because they didn't know it can't be done ;)

    BTW What type of propaganda is this? ;)

    PS. I don't understand why modern road cars are made so powerful either. This could be said about almost any product - people just want more and more, can't discern want from need, as CaptainCranky said.
    wiyosaya likes this.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...