Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Google Reader Data Dump (2)

Rather than microthoughts, as I titled my found weekly links, I picked up the name data dump that Flagg707 of FutureJacked called it (thanks!).

An article on perception, wine and the brain by The Boston Globe (via 3quarksdaily). Key quote:

"The human brain, research suggests, isn't built for objectivity. The brain doesn't passively take in perceptions. Rather, brain regions involved in developing expectations can systematically alter the activity of areas involved in sensation. The cortex is "cooking the books," adjusting its own inputs depending on what it expects."
In the last year I've been reading a lot about deception. Robert Greene, the writer of a number of great books on power, strategy and seduction, writes in the "48 laws of power" that deception is your sword in social situations (and patience and control of your emotions is your shield). The above article reiterates how easy it is to take advantage of a person's expectations in a social setting. If you can build up an expectation, a modus operandi, and keep with it, then you can learn to "cook the books" in other people's brains. Similar to deception methods using the OODA loop. You are taking advantage of the orient part of the loop. Feed the observation what the orient wants to, or has seen, and you can control their decisions and actions.

Also relating to deception and counter-surveillance is this artists collection of photographs that shows people camouflaged in day-to-day situations (via Metafilter). Make sure you check out the Dummy child. Also found via metafilter was a surveillance screensaver, which turns your screensaver into a video montage of surveillance feeds.

On the psychology of lying within children is this article via the NY mag.

Next up a great essay on social contagions in social networks (via 3quarksdaily). It is a must read. One of the key longish quotes covers the trumping of networks over geography:
"A completely different mechanism would be for there to be not a spread of behaviors, but a spread of norms. I look at the people around me and they are gaining weight. This changes my idea, consciously or subconsciously, about what is an acceptable body size. People around me who start gaining weight reset my expectations about what it means to be overweight or thin, and this is what spreads from person to person: a norm. It is a kind of meme (but it is not quite a meme) that goes from person to person.

In our empirical work so far, we have found substantial evidence for the latter mechanism, the spread of norms, more than the spread of behaviors. It is a bit technical, but I will tell you why we have some evidence for norms. In our empirical work on obesity, we found two lines of suggestive evidence for a spread of norms. The first line of evidence caught everyone's attention, and frankly it caught our attention when we noted it. It showed that it did not matter how far away your social contacts were; if they gained weight, it caused you to gain weight. This was the case whether your friend lived next door, ten miles away, 100 miles away, or 1000 miles away. Geographic distance did not mater to the obesity effect, the interpersonal effect."
On the nature of combative atheist networks versus religious extremist networks comes a podcast via radio national on the question "does secularism provoke religious extremism?"

On networks of a different kind ... I recently found a blog documenting Chinese hackers (via Sources and Methods). This is a must read for those interested in computer security, the Chinese groups (as well as the German groups) are the at the cutting edge of hacking. It also has an article on chinese hackers doing simulated attacks against power stations ...

In relation to those wacky Germans ... I found a game based on Clausewitz's writings (via metafilter). It is called Kriegspeil and can be downloaded here. It is brilliant. The about page states:

"In January 1977, the French Situationist Guy Debord founded the Society for Strategic and Historical Games. The Society had an immediate goal: to produce the "Kriegspiel," a "game of war" that Debord had already designed in his head years before. Inspired by the military theory of Carl von Clausewitz and the European campaigns of Napoleon, Debord's game is a chess-variant played by two opposing players on a game board of 500 squares arranged in rows of 20 by 25 squares ... Debord fashioned the game as a tool for learning strategic thought in the face of real antagonists. Hence the computer edition is played online against a single opponent. There is no single-player mode.

In Debord's view the game represents the totality of factors at play in wartime maneuvers, what he called "the dialectic of all conflict."
Via the really great Sources and Methods again (release a reprint of your Warning Solution book Kristin! It's upwards of two hundred dollars secondhand where I am ...) is a post on using cash counting behaviour as geographic and culturally specific body language. Reading people was another foundational skill mentioned by Robert Greene in 48 laws of Power. Body language would be a primary subset of that skill, the opposite would be training social engineering infiltrators in the body language of their targets.

Via O'Reilly Radar is this NYT article on people avoiding DNA tests so as to avoid turning up on the radar of insurance companies. This is immensely interesting stuff. With genetic hacking and biological engineering motoring along will we see the rise of genetic counter-surveillance? Strange loops that are biologically created at the nano-tech level to deceive biological tests?

Via the situationist is the neuro-legal equivalent. Might it be possible in the future to simulate deceptive brain states to bypass increasingly sophisticated lie detection methods through medicine or plain ol' meditation?

Also via O'reilly radar is a post on six influential datasets. He asks "what will be the seventh?" Perhaps roving mobile phone data via reality mining?

On mobile phones ... Wikinomics has a post on colloborative speed trap finding through mobile phones and Google maps. Whilst some are exploiting mobile phones, others are blowing the crap out of their networks.

Via Mind Hacks is Psyblogs series on the "7 sins of Memory". Sin number four will interest those in deception, it is entitled "How Memories are Distorted and Invented: Misattribution".

Swedish Meatballs links to this article on Marc Sagemen who wrote the great 'Understanding Terror Networks' which is great social network view of terrorists (better than Networks and Netwars IMO). Sageman calls the new class of terrorists the third wave. He states:
"It's the third wave of terrorism that is growing, but what is it? By Sageman's account, it's a leaderless hodgepodge of thousands of what he calls "terrorist wannabes." Unlike the first two waves, whose members were well educated and intensely religious, the new jihadists are a weird species of the Internet culture. Outraged by video images of Americans killing Muslims in Iraq, they gather in password-protected chat rooms and dare each other to take action. Like young people across time and religious boundaries, they are bored and looking for thrills."
From an initial body of work at the Intel Wiki (or PIST as others are calling it) it is quite clear that some of the groups are exactly like this. They are very, very amateurish. These guys are nothing like the hardcore guys mentioned in works like 'America's Secret War' by George Friedman. In that body of work Friedman lays out an Al Qaeda who are very crafty and have substantial counterintelligence capabilities, even to the point of testing the US intelligence collection system to time its responsive abilities through bombings in Africa. The guys that are on the Internet, whilst spreading information from the political to the tactical, are nothing like the hardcore originals. They lack counterintelligence capabilities, lack security, their attacks are on the script kiddy level. Their only real strength is their numbers. There are a TON of these groups (a quantitative shift into a qualitative one?). More information is of course needed, and I am generalizing from a handful of ones that I have looked at the for the past week, but I would say Sageman is spot on.

That's it for the weekend reading!


Jay@Soob said...

Kriegspeil sounds interesting. I'll have to check that out.

Third wave, eh? A loose, ideologically driven swarm network. Good news is that, as you say, these guys are amateurs. Bad news, they're potential channels of propaganda and sympathy that can (and are) milked by AQ. Good stuff, Munz.

Ymarsakar said...

Very useful, thanks.