France’s Ghosts Of ’68: General Strike Vs. Macron And The Technocrat Elites

Unlike Americans, Europeans are not reticent to openly discuss Technocrats and Technocracy in light of their current struggles. France’s Technocrats are learning a hard lesson about what happens with over-manipulated citizens. ⁃ TN Editor

The Paris elites and their enablers may find that the next general strike won’t immobilize Paris, it will strangle Paris from the periphery.
Eleven months ago, I posited in The Ghosts of 1968 (2/14/18) that the idealistic hope that mass demonstrations could trigger real reform had expired. The mass demonstrations of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in 2018 dramatically reinvigorated the topic.

I don’t see the yellow vest uprising as idealistically fueled; it’s fueled by desperation and what Francis Fukuyama termed the working classes’ “perception of invisibility” in a recent essay (Against Identity Politics (Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct. 2018), a view echoed by French geographer / author Christophe Guilluy who said that “the French people are using the gilets jaunes to say we exist.”

Unstoppable”: Christophe Guilluy on the cultural divide driving the yellow vests (via Arshad A.)

Guilluy: “Not only does peripheral France fare badly in the modern economy, it is also culturally misunderstood by the elite. The yellow-vest movement is a truly 21st-century movement in that it is cultural as well as political. Cultural validation is extremely important in our era.

One illustration of this cultural divide is that most modern, progressive social movements and protests are quickly endorsed by celebrities, actors, the media and the intellectuals. But none of them approve of the gilets jaunes. Their emergence has caused a kind of psychological shock to the cultural establishment. It is exactly the same shock that the British elites experienced with the Brexit vote and that they are still experiencing now, three years later.”

Interviewer: How have the working-classes come to be excluded?

Guilluy: “All the growth and dynamism is in the major cities, but people cannot just move there. The cities are inaccessible, particularly thanks to mounting housing costs. The big cities today are like medieval citadels. It is like we are going back to the city-states of the Middle Ages. Funnily enough, Paris is going to start charging people for entry, just like the excise duties you used to have to pay to enter a town in the Middle Ages.

The cities themselves have become very unequal, too. The Parisian economy needs executives and qualified professionals. It also needs workers, predominantly immigrants, for the construction industry and catering et cetera. Business relies on this very specific demographic mix. The problem is that ‘the people’ outside of this still exist. In fact, ‘Peripheral France’ actually encompasses the majority of French people.”

Interviewer: What role has the liberal metropolitan elite played in this?

Guilluy: We have a new bourgeoisie, but because they are very cool and progressive, it creates the impression that there is no class conflict anymore. It is really difficult to oppose the hipsters when they say they care about the poor and about minorities.

But actually, they are very much complicit in relegating the working classes to the sidelines. Not only do they benefit enormously from the globalised economy, but they have also produced a dominant cultural discourse which ostracises working-class people.

The middle-class reaction to the yellow vests has been telling.

Immediately, the protesters were denounced as xenophobes, anti-Semites and homophobes. The elites present themselves as anti-fascist and anti-racist but this is merely a way of defending their class interests. It is the only argument they can muster to defend their status, but it is not working anymore.

Now the elites are afraid. For the first time, there is a movement which cannot be controlled through the normal political mechanisms. The gilets jaunes didn’t emerge from the trade unions or the political parties. It cannot be stopped. There is no ‘off’ button. Either the intelligentsia will be forced to properly acknowledge the existence of these people, or they will have to opt for a kind of soft totalitarianism.”

Mobilizing 80,000 heavily armed “security forces” is more like hard totalitarianism, justified, of course, by a fatuous claim of defending “the social order,” i.e. the complete domination of elites.

But the French elites are discovering the disconcerting reality that it’s impossible to defend every traffic-speed camera, every bank, etc. from sabotage.

Yellow vests knock out 60% of all speed cameras in France

The class analysis of the current crisis is now coming into focus: a reversal of polarity from the 1968 general strike of elite students and labor unions. Fifty years ago, the students of the elite Paris universities garnered the support of the labor unions and this combined force nearly toppled the government with a general strike.

Now, students of the elite Paris universities are complicit supporters of the technocrat elite, as the most fervent hope of most of these students is to nail down a position in the technocrat elite threatened by the yellow vest dissenters.

The labor unions are also missing in action, as they are now adjuncts of the ruling elites, feeding at the same trough of tax revenues and corporate globalization-financialization profits.

The gilets jaunes / yellow vests are a working class revolt against the elites and those who identify with the elites: the fake-progressive hipsters, the aspiring technocrats and the comfortably secure state unions, all of whom are now on the elite side of the barricades.

Read full story here…

Judge: Cops Can’t Force You To Unlock iPhone With Finger or Face

Although this is a lower court, it sets a precedent for privacy that is urgently overdue now that fingerprint and facial scanning are commonly used unlock tools on smart phones. Police will now have to secure warrants before searching a suspects phone. ⁃ TN Editor

A California judge has ruled that American cops can’t force people to unlock a mobile phone with their face or finger. The ruling goes further to protect people’s private lives from government searches than any before and is being hailed as a potentially landmark decision.

Previously, U.S. judges had ruled that police were allowed to force unlock devices like Apple’s iPhone with biometrics, such as fingerprints, faces or irises. That was despite the fact feds weren’t permitted to force a suspect to divulge a passcode. But according to a ruling uncovered by Forbes, all logins are equal.

The order came from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in the denial of a search warrant for an unspecified property in Oakland. The warrant was filed as part of an investigation into a Facebook extortion crime, in which a victim was asked to pay up or have an “embarassing” video of them publicly released. The cops had some suspects in mind and wanted to raid their property. In doing so, the feds also wanted to open up any phone on the premises via facial recognition, a fingerprint or an iris.

While the judge agreed that investigators had shown probable cause to search the property, they didn’t have the right to open all devices inside by forcing unlocks with biometric features.

On the one hand, magistrate judge Kandis Westmore ruled the request was “overbroad” as it was “neither limited to a particular person nor a particular device.”

But in a more significant part of the ruling, Judge Westmore declared that the government did not have the right, even with a warrant, to force suspects to incriminate themselves by unlocking their devices with their biological features. Previously, courts had decided biometric features, unlike passcodes, were not “testimonial.” That was because a suspect would have to willingly and verbally give up a passcode, which is not the case with biometrics. A password was therefore deemed testimony, but body parts were not, and so not granted Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

That created a paradox: How could a passcode be treated differently to a finger or face, when any of the three could be used to unlock a device and expose a user’s private life?

And that’s just what Westmore focused on in her ruling. Declaring that “technology is outpacing the law,” the judge wrote that fingerprints and face scans were not the same as “physical evidence” when considered in a context where those body features would be used to unlock a phone.

“If a person cannot be compelled to provide a passcode because it is a testimonial communication, a person cannot be compelled to provide one’s finger, thumb, iris, face, or other biometric feature to unlock that same device,” the judge wrote.

“The undersigned finds that a biometric feature is analogous to the 20 nonverbal, physiological responses elicited during a polygraph test, which are used to determine guilt or innocence, and are considered testimonial.”

There were other ways the government could get access to relevant data in the Facebook extortion case “that do not trample on the Fifth Amendment,” Westmore added. They could, for instance, ask Facebook to provide Messenger communications, she suggested. Facebook has been willing to hand over such messages in a significant number of previous cases Forbes has reviewed.

Read full story here…

UPDATE: AT&T Stops Selling Location Data Amid Calls For Fed Investigation

AT&T was caught red handed and exposed this week by Motherboard. for selling customer location data, an egregious violation of privacy laws. Today, AT&T says they have stopped selling data because they now know a Federal investigation is being ramped up. If history is a guide, AT&T will resume selling after the heat and attention have passed. AT&T is a classic example of Technocracy in action. ⁃ TN Editor

AT&T said Thursday that it will stop selling its customers’ location data to third-party service providers after a report this week said the information was winding up in the wrong hands.

The announcement follows sharp demands by federal lawmakers for an investigation into the alleged misuse of data, which came to light when Motherboard revealed a complex chain of unauthorized information sharing that ended with a bounty hunter successfully tracking down a reporter’s device.

AT&T had already suspended its data-sharing agreements with a number of so-called “location aggregators” last year in light of a congressional probe finding that some of Verizon’s location data was being misused by prison officials to spy on innocent Americans. AT&T also said at the time that it would be maintaining those of its agreements that provided clear consumer benefits, such as location sharing for roadside assistance services.

But AT&T’s announcement Thursday goes much further, pledging to terminate all of the remaining deals it had – even the ones that it said were actively helpful.

“In light of recent reports about the misuse of location services, we have decided to eliminate all location aggregation services – even those with clear consumer benefits,” AT&T said in a statement. “We are immediately eliminating the remaining services and will be done in March.”

In characteristic fashion, T-Mobile CEO John Legere tweeted Tuesday that his firm would be “completely ending location aggregator work” in March. Verizon said in a statement Thursday that it, too, was winding down its four remaining location-sharing agreements, which are all with roadside assistance services – after that, customers would have to give the company permission to share their data with roadside assistance firms. A Sprint spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The announcements reflect a major victory for privacy advocates who have slammed corporate America over its handling of consumers’ personal information, often to their personal and economic expense.

“Carriers are always responsible for who ends up with their customers’ data – it’s not enough to lay the blame for misuse on downstream companies,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) in a statement. “The time for taking these companies at their word is long past. Congress needs to pass strong legislation to protect Americans’ privacy and finally hold corporations accountable when they put your safety at risk by letting stalkers and criminals track your phone on the dark web.”

Other critics said Americans have an “absolute right” to their privacy of their data.

“I’m extraordinarily troubled by reports of this system of repackaging and reselling location data to unregulated third-party services for potentially nefarious purposes,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) said in a statement after the Motherboard report was published. “If true, this practice represents a legitimate threat to our personal and national security.”

Harris called on the Federal Communications Commission to immediately open an investigation.

Motherboard reported that major U.S. wireless carriers T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint have been selling the location data of their customers in an unregulated market in which Americans’ personal information travels through several layers of third-party entities that buy the location data but are not authorized to handle such information.

Read full story here…

Facebook Employees Accuse It Of Being Cult-Like

There are a number of factors, including culture, peer-pressure and job evaluation processes, all of which spin into an internal echo-chamber that produces the Technocrat group-think that so angers outsiders. ⁃ TN Editor

At a company-wide town hall in early October, numerous Facebook employees got in line to speak about their experiences with sexual harassment.

The company called the special town hall after head of policy Joel Kaplan caused an internal uproar for appearing at the congressional hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. A young female employee was among those who got up to speak, addressing her comments directly to COO Sheryl Sandberg.

“I was reticent to speak, Sheryl, because the pressure for us to act as though everything is fine and that we love working here is so great that it hurts,” she said, according to multiple former Facebook employees who witnessed the event.

“There shouldn’t be this pressure to pretend to love something when I don’t feel this way,” said the employee, setting off a wave of applause from her colleagues at the emotional town hall in Menlo Park, California.

The episode speaks to an atmosphere at Facebook in which employees feel pressure to place the company above all else in their lives, fall in line with their manager’s orders and force cordiality with their colleagues so they can advance. Several former employees likened the culture to a “cult.”

This culture has contributed to the company’s well-publicized wave of scandals over the last two years, such as governments spreading misinformation to try to influence elections and the misuse of private user data, according to many people who worked there during this period. They say Facebook might have have caught some of these problems sooner if employees were encouraged to deliver honest feedback. Amid these scandals, Facebook’s share price fell nearly 30 percent in 2018 and nearly 40 percent since a peak in July, resulting in a loss of more than $252 billion in market capitalization.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s reputation as being one of the best places in Silicon Valley to work is starting to show some cracks. According to Glassdoor, which lets employees anonymously review their workplaces, Facebook fell from being the best place to work in the U.S. to No. 7 in the last year.

But employees don’t complain in the workplace.

“There’s a real culture of ‘Even if you are f—ing miserable, you need to act like you love this place,'” said one ex-employee who left in October. “It is not OK to act like this is not the best place to work.”

This account is based on conversations with more than a dozen former Facebook employees who left between late 2016 and the end of 2018. These people requested anonymity in describing Facebook’s work culture, including its “stack ranking” employee performance evaluation system and their experiences with it, because none is authorized by Facebook to talk about their time there. This stack ranking system is similar to the one that was notoriously used by Microsoft before the company abandoned it in 2013, the former Facebook employees said.

Facebook declined to comment on former employees’ characterization of the work place as “cult-like.”

Inside the bubble

Former employees describe a top-down approach where major decisions are made by the company’s leadership, and employees are discouraged from voicing dissent — in direct contradiction to one of Sandberg’s mantras, “authentic self.”

For instance, at an all-hands meeting in early 2017, one employee asked Facebook Vice President David Fischer a tough question about a company program. Fischer took the question and answered, but within hours, the employee and his managers received angry calls from the team running that program, this person said.

“I never felt it was an environment that truly encouraged ‘authentic self’ and encouraged real dissent because the times I personally did it, I always got calls,” said the former manager, who left the company in early 2018.

The sentiment was echoed by another employee who left in 2017.

“What comes with scale and larger operations is you can’t afford to have too much individual voice,” said this person. “If you have an army, the larger the army is, the less individuals have voice. They have to follow the leader.”

In this employee’s two years at Facebook, his team grew from a few people to more than 50. He said “it was very much implied” to him and his teammates that they trust their leaders, follow orders and avoid having hard conversations.

The company’s culture of no-dissent prevented employees from speaking up about the impact that News Feed had on influencing the 2016 U.S. election, this person added.

Read full story here…

REJECT: Over 40 Percent Of Americans Refuse Flu Vaccinations

Citizens are waking up to the dangers of vaccines, even in the face of the biggest propaganda push by Big Pharma in modern times.  Technocrats invent stuff and expect everyone to use their inventions just because they say so. No more. ⁃ TN Editor

Have you gotten your flu shot this year?

If the answer is no – and I’m not getting one! – you’re not alone. A new study finds more than 40 percent of Americans have not been vaccinated and, in fact, don’t plan on it either.

This is despite the warnings, potential dangers, and last year’s record-number of flu deaths. The survey was done by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago

The top three reasons why they didn’t want the shot were: bad side effects; thinking they’ll get the flu from the shot; or thinking it doesn’t work.

Some think the side effects are worse than the flu itself, but that’s just a myth. Usually the only side effect is a sore arm.

It’s also a myth that getting the vaccine gives you the flu. The flu vaccine is inactive and cannot cause the infection. If you do get sick after getting the vaccine, it’s just a coincidence.

And while it is true that the vaccine doesn’t work 100 percent of the time, the benefit is that it lessens the severity. If you do still get the flu you’re 60 percent less likely to need treatment.

Last year’s flu season, keep in mind, was particularly severe. More than 900,000 people were hospitalized and more than 80,000 people died. Many were adults older than 65, but also 180 children died from the flu.

Read full story here…

France Protestors Are Part Of Global Backlash Against Globalization

French protestors are ripping France’s oppressive carbon-based tax, and intend to topple the French president altogether. This is evidence of a world-wide movement that is totally fed up with global warming fraud and political chicanery. ⁃ TN Editor

The single most effective weapon in the fight against climate change is the tax code – imposing costs on those who emit greenhouse gases, economists say. But as French President Emmanuel Macron learned over the past three weeks, implementing such taxes can be politically explosive.

On Tuesday, France delayed for six months a plan to raise already steep taxes on diesel fuel by 24 cents a gallon and gasoline by about 12 cents a gallon. Macron argued that the taxes were needed to curb climate change by weaning motorists off petroleum products, but violent demonstrations in the streets of Paris and other French cities forced him to backtrack – at least for now.

“No tax is worth putting in danger the unity of the nation,” said Prime Minister Édouard Philippe, who was trotted out to announce the concession.

It was a setback for the French president, who has been trying to carry the torch of climate action in the wake of the Paris accords of December 2015. “When we talk about the actions of the nation in response to the challenges of climate change, we have to say that we have done little,” he said last week.

Macron is hardly alone in his frustration. Leaders in the United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere have found their carbon pricing efforts running into fierce opposition. But the French reversal was particularly disheartening for climate-policy experts, because it came just as delegates from around the world were gathering in Katowice, Poland, for a major conference designed to advance climate measures.

“Like everywhere else, the question in France is how to find a way of combining ecology and equality,” said Bruno Cautrès, a researcher at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. “Citizens mostly see punitive public policies when it comes to the environment: taxes, more taxes and more taxes after that. No one has the solution, and we can only see the disaster that’s just occurred in France on this question.”

“Higher taxes on energy have always been a hard sell, politically,” said Gregory Mankiw, an economics professor at Harvard University and advocate of carbon taxes. “The members of the American Economic Association are convinced of their virtue. But the median citizen is not.”

In the United States – where energy-related taxes are among the lowest in the developed world – politicians, their constituents and their donors have repeatedly made that clear.

President Bill Clinton proposed a tax on the heat content of fuels as part of his first budget in 1993. Known as the BTU tax, for British thermal unit, it would have raised $70 billion over five years while increasing gasoline prices no more than 7.5 cents a gallon.

But Clinton was forced to retreat in the face of a rebellion in his own party. “I’m not going to vote for a BTU tax in committee or on the floor, ever, anywhere. Period. Exclamation point,” said then-Sen. David Boren, D-Okla.

The state of Washington has also tried – and failed twice – to win support for a carbon tax or carbon “fee.” In 2016, the state’s voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have balanced a carbon tax with other tax cuts. In 2018, a wider coalition sought backing for an initiative that would have poured fee revenue into clean energy projects, job retraining and early retirement plans for affected workers. The fee would have started at $15 a ton and gone up $2 a ton for 10 years. It, too, failed.

To be sure, some climate-conscious countries have adopted carbon taxes, including Chile, Spain, Ukraine, Ireland and nations in Scandinavia. Others have adopted cap-and-trade programs that effectively put prices on carbon emissions.

Only around 12 percent of global emissions are covered by pricing programs such as taxes on the carbon content of fossil fuels or permit trading programs that put a price on emissions, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Policy experts say that to some extent the prospects of carbon taxes may depend on what happens to the money raised.

Using the revenue for deficit reduction, as was planned in France, is a no-no.

“Even in the best of times, carbon taxes must be carefully crafted to avoid political pitfalls,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former Senate Finance Committee staffer and Clinton White House climate adviser. “In particular, much of the revenue raised must be recycled back to middle-income workers. Macron’s approach put the money toward deficit reduction, stoking already simmering class grievances.”

Last year, a group of economists and policy experts – including former treasury secretaries James Baker III and Lawrence Summers and former secretary of state George Shultz – advocated a tax-and-dividend approach. It would feature a carbon tax of $40 a ton, affecting coal, oil and natural gas. The revenue would be used to pay dividends to households. Progressive tax rates would mean more money for lower- and middle-income earners.

“Because the revenue is rebated equally to everyone, most people will get more back than they pay in carbon taxes,” said Mankiw, who is part of the group. “So if people understood the plan, and believed it would be carried out as written, it should be politically popular.”

So far the group, called the Climate Leadership Council, has not been able to generate much support from members of Congress.

But Canada is about to offer a test case.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has unveiled a “backstop” carbon tax of $20 a ton, to take effect in January, for the four Canadian provinces that do not already have one.

Trudeau was elected partly on a promise of this sort of measure, but it’s costing him more political capital than expected. Conservative premiers oppose the plan, which looks set to become an election issue.

Trudeau’s policy, however, is designed to withstand criticism. About 90 percent of the revenue from the backstop tax will be paid back to Canadians in the form of annual “climate action incentive” payments. Because of the progressive tax rates, about 70 percent of Canadians will get back more than they paid. If they choose to be more energy efficient, they could save even more money.

The first checks will arrive shortly before Canadian elections.

Climate policy doesn’t only suffer from lack of enthusiasm. It also arouses the ire of right-wing populist movements.

Many of the people most angry at Macron’s tax come from right-wing rural areas. The German right-wing opposition party Alternative for Germany has called climate change a hoax. And in Brazil, a new populist president had indicated he will develop, not preserve, the Amazon forests that pull CO2 out of the air and pump out oxygen.

President Donald Trump, who has said he does not believe climate science, also took to Twitter to say Macron’s setback showed Trump was right to spurn the Paris climate agreement.

“I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world,” he wrote. “American taxpayers – and American workers – shouldn’t pay to clean up others countries’ pollution.”

Fuel taxes, however, generate revenue that stays inside home countries without going to pay for others’ pollution. And the Paris agreement placed much greater responsibilities on developing countries than ever before.

A member of Trump’s beachhead transition team at the Energy Department also took to Twitter to celebrate the collapse of Macron’s fuel tax plan.

Read full story here…

Zuckerberg Under Fire: World Leaders Demand Answers From Facebook On Fake News

The whole world is pursuing answers from Mark Zuckerberg over fake news, censorship and protection of user’s personal information. So far, Zuckerberg has thumbed his nose at them, but there will come a day of reckoning. Generally speaking, Technocrats have no use for politicians. ⁃ TN Editor

Parliamentarians from Australia, Ireland and Argentina joined the call after Facebook refused a request from senior MPs in the UK and Canada.

Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, accused Facebook of dodging its responsibilities.

The company said Mr Zuckerberg could not accept the invitation from Mr Collins and his Canadian counterpart to appear before an “international grand committee” in London on November 27.

Facebook has been embroiled in scandals about systems that let outside organisations harvest users’ personal data for their own purposes, including allegedly to target voters in the 2016 US poll that elected Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, UK data protection chief Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, told Mr Collins’ committee that Facebook had shown users a “disturbing level of disrespect”.

She also found evidence that data on the platform was accessed by addresses linked to previous cyber attacks and Russian locations.

In July she fined Facebook the maximum possible £500,000 for failing to protect data.

Declining Mr Collins’ initial request for Mr Zuckerberg to present himself, Facebook UK’s public policy chief Rebecca Stimson said he could not be available to all parliaments.

But the company would “continue to cooperate fully with relevant regulators (and) fully recognise the seriousness of these issues and remain committed to working with you to provide any additional relevant information you require”.

Conservative MP Mr Collins said: “By dismissing our request, Facebook is failing to acknowledge its line of accountability not only to legislators, but to its users worldwide.

“There remain serious questions to be answered about what measures Facebook is taking now to halt the spread of disinformation on its platform and protection for user data.

“His response is not good enough for my committee nor for the parliamentarians from around the world who also consider that Mark Zuckerberg has questions to answer in person. That’s why we’re inviting him once more. It’s a call that’s growing, not diminishing.”

The five parliamentary committee chiefs – whose countries between them are home to an estimated 170 million Facebook users – have given Mr Zuckerberg until Monday NOV 12 to respond to their latest challenge.

Read full story here…

iBorderCtrl Fail: The EU’s Border Control ‘Lie Detector’ AI Is Hogwash

Overzealous Technocrats over-hyped iBorderCrtl in order to impress clients and the public. It is, however, able to collect massive amounts of data about you and add it to your permanent file. It is not a lie-detector machine. ⁃ TN Editor

Calling the EU’s new border control AI a “lie detector” is like calling Brexit a minor disagreement among friends.

The low-down is that the EU is testing a pilot program for international airports featuring a machine learning-based “lie detector.” CNN broke the story last week in its article “Passengers to face AI lie detector tests at EU airports.”

According to the report (and the project’s website) the EU is testing a pilot program involving AI that uses an avatar to ask people questions. Supposedly this AI-powered construct knows if a person is being truthful when they answer, and it flags those it determines aren’t. Once someone is labeled a liar, human agents are summoned to investigate further.

Depending on your views on privacy and immigration, this is either music to your ears or the beginning of a dystopian future straight out of an Orwellian nightmare. You’re wrong either way.

For example, if you’re thinking “we could just have it ask everyone “are you a terrorist?” and make the EU safer for everyone” then you’re probably assuming there’s such a thing as an AI lie detector. There isn’t. Don’t worry, that’s a common mistake.

Like all lie detectors, AI-based solutions rely on hit-or-miss guesses with whatever the government considers a tolerable level error. A polygraph, for example, is alleged to have between a 75 and 90 percent accuracy rating. It doesn’t detect lies, it detects the subtle cues associated with lying. Just like this, AI doesn’t detect lies either. It detects biometric indicators associated with lying — at around 76 percent success, allegedly.

But, on the other hand, if you’re thinking that this is the most egregious violation of human rights in an airport since the days when TSA agents in the US were instructed to profile Muslims, you’re wrong too. Mostly, anyway: it goes far beyond just hassling foreigners at airports.

The “lie detector,” is just the tip of the iceberg. What you need to know is that, in this case, “lie detection” is short hand for “data collection.”

The EU’s new airport project isn’t called “operation lie detector.” It’s called “iBorderCtrl.” And “lie detection” is just a portion of what it does. Here’s an image from the project’s website:

Credit: iBorderCtrl

First, let’s start with the lie detection module: Automatic Deception Detection System (ADDS)*. The asterix is from the iBorderCtrl website, TNW didn’t add that. Before you read about what ADDS does, the people building it are compelled to point out the following:

*ADDS is based on previous developments, so-called Silent Talker [1][2]. The project has adopted this technology and is well aware about the controversy around it. This tool has undergone the following steps: A scientific foundation is achieved when a research starts from a position of ignorance and follows the scientific method to dispel that ignorance. As scientists of AI, one particular research question is “Are there non-verbal behavioural indicators of deception” and the experiments carried out collect data to support or refute the relevant hypotheses.

Basically the project acknowledges, but doesn’t care about, controversy surrounding the use of AI for “lie detection.”

The rest of the explanation for ADDS is full of the old “non-verbal cues” argument. It’s academically interesting, but certainly not the insane breakthrough we’d need for AI to become a bonafide lie detector. As such, shame on any government for considering it at this point.

But ADDS is the silly unimportant part of iBorderCTRL. It’s the fake monster distracting you from the cold, calculated data collection that’s really occurring. Basically, ADDS is low-hanging fruit for pundits to point at and stoke conversations on what capabilities AI really has. Meanwhile, if I can paraphrase The Ragin’ Cajun: “It’s the data, stupid.”

In reality, the rest of the iBorderCtrl suite is what’s scary. ADDS is much like the “personality profile” that Cambridge Analytica used to convince people to give up their data. After all, why wouldn’t you agree to take a lie detector if you have nothing to hide?

The answer is that you have plenty to hide, whether you’re lying or not.

Here’s what else iBorderCtrl does:

  • Compiles a full facial profile using video and photographs
  • Scrapes and scours all of your social media accounts
  • Document and signature analysis
  • Creates and stores your digital voice print
  • Risk assessment based on aggregate data
  • Searches for hidden humans

Let’s grab the last one for examination real quick. Searches for hidden humans? At an airport? Unlikely. This, according to the project’s literature, does look for people hiding. But it’s painfully obvious this is designed for border crossings where mobile agents are tracking or searching for people in outside surroundings, not airports. Still, it’s part of the airport “lie detector” you’re hearing so much about.

Read full story here…

Googled: Employees Stage Massive Global Walkout Protesting Toxic Culture

The protest was over sexual misconduct of top Google leadership but the pent up angst waiting for a spark to explode was caused by many other issues of discontent. Leadership has created an elite Technocrat culture workers are fed up with. Google can expect more turmoil in the future. ⁃ TN Editor

Google employees around the globe are taking part in a mass walkout on Thursday to protest the company’s protection of a former executive who has been accused of sexual misconduct.

The Google protest, which has been dubbed the ‘Walkout For Real Change,’ is scheduled for Thursday at 11.10am local time across the globe, one week after sexual assault allegations against creator of its Android software, Andy Rubin, were first reported by the New York Times.

Rubin denied the allegations in a tweet, saying the article contained ‘numerous inaccuracies’ and ‘wild exaggerations’.

But Rubin is believed to have received a considerable exit package in 2014, valued at approximately $90 million, and was also loaned $14 million in 2012 to buy a seaside villa in Japan.
People briefed on the transaction said the loan was offered at an interest rate of less than one percent.

Google X director Richard DeVaul and former senior vice president Amit Singhal were also named in the Times report, as alleged perpetrators of sexual misconduct.

‘It’s been a difficult time,’ Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai said on Thursday during his scheduled time to talk at the New York Times DealBook conference.

‘There’s been anger and frustration within the company. We all feel it. I feel it too. At Google, we set a very high bar, and we clearly didn’t live up to our expectations.’

The demonstration on Thursday is the latest expression of a year-long backlash against exploitation of subordinates across all industries.

As the mass protest moved to the west coast, Google employees gathered in the San Francisco Bay area where the main headquarters is located in Mountain View, and Los Angeles to protest the company culture.

Shortly before noon in Los Angeles at Google’s Venice Beach location, there were about 150 people standing in the blaring heat, as temperatures felt warmer than reported in direct sunlight.

The protesters there were gathered in a courtyard area at the Google office behind a big fence.

A female employee on a microphone was speaking to the crowd, encouraging those who wished to have a turn to talk to speak up.

The woman said the company has a lot of women in it and the group would look out for them.

Thursday’s workout could signal that a significant number of the 94,000 employees working for Google and its corporate parent Alphabet Inc. remained unconvinced the company is doing enough to adhere to Alphabet’s own mantra, urging all employees to ‘do the right thing.’

A Silicon Valley congresswoman tweeted her support of the Google walkout using the hashtag ‘#MeToo’ that is now synonymous with a global movement for fighting sexual misconduct.

‘Why do they think it’s OK to reward perpetrators & further violate victims?’ asked Representative Jackie Speier, who represents an affluent district where many of Google’s employees live.

Rubin said he had no knowledge of any investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct that was being conducted at the time of his departure from Google.

Read full story here…

Backlash Against War On Cash Reaches The Bank Of Canada

Cashless society is a Technocrat initiative to force people into the digital world. Even if forced cash withdrawal is meeting with resistance, it doesn’t mean that people will not be voluntarily abandoning cash over time. ⁃ TN Editor

In recent months, a slew of political and financial institutions have raised concerns about the march toward a cashless economy. They include:

  • The ECB warned that a phase-out of cash could pose a serious risk to the financial system. Depending too heavily on electronic payment systems could expose financial systems to catastrophic failures in the event of power outages or cyber attacks. The European Commission has also backed off is war on cash.
  • The People’s Bank of China announced that all businesses in China that are not e-commerce must resume accepting cash or risk being investigated, and cautioned businesses against hyping the “cashless” idea when promoting non-cash payments.
  • In Sweden, one of the most cashless societies, the central bank and parliament have spoken out in support of cash.
  • Cities too have spoken out, including Washington D.C., whose City Council introduced a bill that sought to ban restaurants and retailers from not accepting cash or charging a different price to customers depending on the method of payment they use.

Now, it’s the Bank of Canada’s turn to sound the alarm. In a paper — “Is a Cashless Society Problematic?” — it outlines a number of risks that could arise if the country went fully cashless.

The premise underpinning the analysis is that at some point in the future individuals and firms decide, of their own volition, to cease using cash altogether. In response, the central bank stops printing physical money because of the large fixed costs inherent in supplying bank notes.

In such a scenario, even though most individuals and firms freely choose to abandon cash, there could be “adverse collective outcomes,” the study warns. For example, “a small segment of the population” may still prefer to go on using physical money rather than electronic payments, whether out of “a continuous desire for anonymous transactions” or because of “the self-imposed spending constraints afforded by cash.”

In a cashless economy, this “minority of people” would be worse off since “their choice set would be smaller without cash”. Plus, they would have zero anonymity and less control over their finances.

Meanwhile, retail payment services would be provided entirely by private sector networks. In other words, banks and credit card companies would have even greater monopoly control over the payments system. In Canada, there is already only one domestic debit card scheme, provided by Interac, and three major credit card networks, operated by Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

For people with no choice but to use cash, such as those living in geographically remote areas or who do not have bank accounts, this would be a huge problem. In Canada the number of “unbanked” is relatively small, representing just 2% of the population, but in many other countries it is much larger. In a cashless society those people would struggle to participate in the economy at all.

The problem is not just one of economic exclusion. There’s also the heightened security risk to consider. Cash, as a transaction medium, “is robust to electronic network failures, cyber attacks and power outages”. In a cashless economy, there would be even greater dependence on the operational reliability of electronic retail payment networks and associated power systems, both of which are prone to go down. A massive outage of visa services in Western Europe this June gave a foretaste of the sort of chaos that could ensue.

Cash also serves as a vital store of value in economic crises. For example, during the worst period of Iceland’s economic crisis, between 2008-09, when all three of its major banks collapsed, cash in circulation more than doubled. The increase in demand for banknotes was concentrated in the largest denominations, suggesting that it was driven largely by store-of-value motivations.

Even for central banks themselves, an entirely cashless economy could cause headaches:

  1. Loss of Seigniorage. This is the profit a government earns by issuing currency, as represented by the difference between the face value of coins and notes and their production costs. As the report points out, the disappearance of cash would lead to a severe contraction of the central bank’s balance sheet, since bank notes represent around three-quarters of the Bank of Canada’s liabilities.
  2. Reduced Interventionary PowersOne of the ways central banks have to provide liquidity in a financial crisis is to sell their holdings of government securities and purchase other (illiquid) assets with the proceeds. An unmitigated contraction of the central bank’s balance sheet could compromise its ability to use this tool.

The authors suggest this problem could be offset if the central bank chose to charge more for the services it provides to the financial industry. It could also expand its balance sheet “by buying government bills and bonds with reserves,” much as certain central banks have done through their quantitative easing programs.

Read full story here…