In March 2018 there is a worldwide scandal. Cambridge Analytica, based in London, uses data analysis to develop campaigns for brands and politicians seeking to “change the behaviour” of the audience. This consulting firm fraudulently obtains the profiles of 50,000,000 million Facebook users through a personality test. This data was possibly used in Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. As C.A. consultant Christofer Wilye admits, Brexit could not have happened without C.A.’s intervention. Free will and algorithms are in contention.
Maybe some reader thinks that…well it’s not that bad, they didn’t steal account numbers and passwords, only names, addresses and things like if the user likes pets. And the question that will surely be asked is what does this have to do with the saints of the last days?
I will try in the following two articles to reflect the great threat to free will posed by the biased use of algorithms in this ongoing war of the heavens, version 2.0. But for that it is necessary that we analyze, even if only briefly, the aspects that intervene in this present contest for agency.
What is a network profile?
A profile for these companies is an accumulation in databases of information about the user. The subsequent treatment of these data, details their tastes, personality, political affinities, beliefs, family, friends, training, purchasing level etc.. And that etc. is very long.
In the past some data was collected door to door through surveys. Now, in social networks (Facebook, Twiter, Google, Instagram, etc). This is done automatically. When sharing, likes and their varieties, when uploading information, interact with other users. Authorize geolocation. By associating applications of the same company as Wassap. All this generates an incredible amount of information. In my case a file of 239MB and I am not especially active in networks. The processing of these data is done by algorithms and the result is an extremely complete user profile. But without the user being aware of it.
In an interview with ABC News, Tim Cook. Apple CEO says that “there are companies that know more about you than someone spying on you through the window of your house.
Something like that happened before the battle in the skies over agency.
The profile in the skies
Lucifer profiled those who were going to support his plan. No more than one-third of the heavens can be tracked without first doing so.
We have some clues in the scriptures. “…for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Rev. 12:10) This is the offensive tactic of fake news. To intoxicate, accusing day and night.
In this case, the accuser was expelled not for accusing, but for turning violent against the established authority. An authority that allowed him to express himself freely day and night. Therefore the Father’s protection did not include the banishment of dissent unless it destroyed the inviolable foundations of his kingdom.
On the other hand we see this statement, “…I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it”. (Moses 4:1)
This beautiful lie is not addressed to the Father, but to the hearers. One guesses an audience in need of a leader who can assure results, regardless of what the participants do. In the same sentence it says the same thing in three ways. All of them oriented to security over uncertainty. That shows an audience with fear, without confidence in themselves, surprised by a sudden trip, without the tasks done.
Lucifer had a defined profile to support his plan. He worked a long time in the formation of a unique opinion, with a hastag like #notasingleonewillbelost or “None of you should lose, all of you have the right to triumph and return home in a guaranteed way” If I read it three times, I believe it myself. I imagine what it must have been like to hear it “day and night”.
What are profiles used for?
Andrew Lewis already answered this question in a comment on the Metafilter website, saying “If you don’t pay for something, you’re not the customer, you’re the product”.
In that Lucifer plan, something similar can be applied. “If you don’t risk anything, because you will surely obey, why do you need a redeemer? You will be my slave”.
The profiles, in theory, are to personalize the user experience on a platform and its services. But in reality, our information is more valuable than gold. American writer C. J. Cherryh (ABC, networks) said, “Trade is not about goods, it’s about information. Merchandise sits in the warehouse until the information moves it.”
Actually, our profile is the merchandise that social platforms and their applications sell.
Dragging billions into the fall required a very deep knowledge of the springs of the soul and its fears, knowing how to manipulate clicks, deep within the children of God. And then offer them the summary of a biased and populist rescue plan.
In 2014, Facebook conducted a psychological experiment with 700,000 users, without their knowledge. It was a test of emotional contagion. They found that there is no need for physical or verbal contact, only comments to induce the contagion of emotions. The users’ newsfeed was manipulated in order to be part of an experiment, without prior consent. Facebook had to apologize. “The experiment, coordinated by Facebook scientist Adam Kramer, analyzed three million posts. According to him, the data found on Facebook is the largest field of study for human behavior in human history.” (Algorithms, the power of social control, Eduardo Olier)
“In 2013, a University of Illinois researcher named Karrie Karahalios conducted a survey on the Facebook algorithm, and found that 62% of respondents were unaware that the company is involved in what appears on the wall.” (Cathy O´Neil Weapons of Math Destruction)
We all think that social networks immediately share everything we publish, however everything happens through algorithms. The potential of social networks to control politics is much more than just advertising to promote elections.
Moroni’s plea “Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil…”. (Moroni 7:19) suggests that there are other ways of discerning. We can understand the world in the light of Christ or in the way of algorithms. But there will always be different versions of things before us.
For example the case of Donald Trump mentioned at the beginning. But he is not the only one, look at the announcement of a job offer in Obama’s campaign.
“Analytical experts are hired who want to make a difference. Obama’s re-election campaign needs more analysts on the team dedicated to large-scale, high-impact data mining problems. Experts in statistics, machine learning, data mining, text analysis and predictive analytics are being sought to work with large volumes of data and help guide election strategy. (Weapons of Mathematical Destruction, Cathy O´Neil)
Be sure that this large volume of data includes you and me. And that strategy they seek is to influence and create our opinion. That’s why the ad is more like building something than reporting on something. Be it the voters of the USA, of Spain…or of Nigeria.
University, justice, credits, insurance…
University, justice, credits, insurance…The list where profiles are handled is growing. Big data is the technology that manages the largest and most complex datasets, especially from new data sources (us). Data mining is the set of techniques for extracting useful information. Seeing only the etymology of these two words, places us all in one “ecosystem”, the mineral. It nullifies human diversity and thus simplifies the management of large masses of population.
Lucifer did so, summarized the problem to a single hastag, #notasingleonewillbelost and in that simplification turned the third part of a kingdom into a global nation, with a single cause with a single profile. That of the damned.
Most of that data is generated by people like you or me when we interact on the internet, with our smartphone or with the arrival of new peripherals called the internet of things, which generate more data.
Free will and algorithms
An algorithm is a set of instructions that determines the content and sequence of a series of actions capable of transforming some initial data (ours) into a desired result (yours). They can be used to find a suitable job for a specific profile. However it is more common that they are oriented to the elimination of candidates. According to Eduardo Olier “Algorithms use our data as a prediction object. Anyone can be used for an interested manipulation of their will. In perverted democracies, political power nullifies free will.”
They try to predict if we are going to pay a mortgage, if there is a risk of recidivism in the crime, if we are going to remain in that university or if we move after good grades in the preliminaries. Or if we will vote for the candidate in question.
The results of the algorithms are a number. But what happens inside is opaque. There is no appeal or clarification. You are not eligible for the mortgage loan. Or you are not accepted for this scholarship. Don’t ask for explanations, a selection algorithm has been applied to you. And in that algorithm, the “mathematical ideology” calculates whether you are a contribution to the university’s promotion on US News.
The mathematical constitution of the algorithms arouses admiration and medieval reverence. We trust in the impartiality of their design. However, the intention is embedded inside it.
A whisper in the ear
Before the emergence of social networks, there was also an attempt to direct public opinion and consciences. The press, television and other media were used. However, the generated debate was observable and each one could discern according to his conscience. It was something like talking with a megaphone in the town square.
Just as Amalickia “…he began to inspire the hearts of the Lamanites against the people of Nephi; yea, he did appoint men to speak unto the Lamanites from their towers, against the Nephites.” (Alma 48:1) The general public heard the message, whether it was true or not. Groups of sympathizers and others who did not, were visibly formed. Amalickía with that primitive system, in one year acquired “power by fraud and deceit” (7)
But now with the treatment of Big data and algorithms, you can send a personalized message to the attention of a single individual, manipulating their emotions. Depending on their interests with the intention of building their opinion. It is not the elimination of free will but its annulment. It is the same method of the adversary “and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.” (2 Nephi 28:22)
This power of whispering in the ear, worries many. In a declaration of the European Council, they are particularly attentive to this aspect: “Levels of algorithmic precision of fine grain, subconscious and personalized, can have a significant effect on the cognitive autonomy of individuals and their right to form opinions and make independent decisions”.
Never a technology in the hands of power groups has had the same capacity as that of the adversary. That of whispering in the ear of each of the billions under its influence.
Weapons of Math Destruction
With this title from his book, Cathy O´Neil shows us algorithms as weapons of mathematical destruction (WMD). “…the developing WMD (algorithms) in the sectors of human resources, health and banking, to name but a few, are rapidly establishing general norms that exert on us a force very similar to the power of the law”.
This transparent guile, which evades the laws without our being aware of it, recalls the fall of the Nephite government in 38 B.C. “…and they saw that their laws had become corrupted, and that they had become a wicked people” (Helaman 4:22). The difference between that situation and ours is that they were able to observe a change in their laws as a cause of their decay. We cannot observe it, because it is an activity transparent to legislation. That is why the elements that make up algorithms like WMD are their opacity, they work on a large scale and the damage is generalized.
Cathy O´Neil reflects on the guarantee foundation of justice in the presumption of innocence. This guarantee is a limitation that results in some culprits being set free. We think this is better than jailing an innocent person. The algorithms applied in justice go in another direction… “They tend to prioritize efficiency. By their very nature, they feed on measurable and quantifiable data.” Therefore human aspects, non-measurable circumstances, are out of their calculation.
In fact, in Lucifer’s plan to say “and surely I will do it“, he indicates that the human factor, the unpredictable, is discarded. However, the Savior, in hastening to the feces of the bitter cup, provides a margin of mercy for the unexpected.
The entangled orbits of asteroids
I really appreciate your company, dear reader. Why all this introduction? To answer this question, I will do so with a contemporary apocalypse scripture with restoration.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Rev. 13:16-17)
I’m not one to believe in global human conspiracies. However, reading the scriptures and meditating on them give us clues as to whether there is a pattern, a pattern or a model in a world as tangled as the asteroid orbits.
I cannot fail to see a reflection of our world in this scripture. Today, nothing is so common “to little and to great, to rich and to poor, to free and to slaves” as “the mark, the name of the beast, or the number of his name. This writing has never had as much meaning as it does now, in our time. Because in the past there has not been a world so global as to express such a broad level of influence.
Your number on the forehead
In what we have read so far, I have had the opportunity to present the brand, the name and its number. They are on the forehead of billions. That number of the beast is a way of counting things, a way of asking questions, a way of thinking, of learning, of choosing, of living and dying. Its number on the forehead tells us that we think of the way its number explains and presents the world to us.
So much for an introduction into the battle of agency in these last days. Now the adversary is very subtle in his strategy. But we saints must search for the good and safety of our own, of those under refuge in Zion.
In the second part of this article, we will delve into a strategy against the brand, the name and the number. Will you accompany us, dear reader?