Seeing like a State

From our friends at the International Monetary Fund comes this innovation.

“Credit scoring using so-called hard information (income, employment time, assets and debts) is nothing new. Typically, the more data is available, the more accurate is the assessment. But this method has two problems. First, hard information tends to be “procyclical”: it boosts credit expansion in good times but exacerbates contraction during downturns.

The second and most complex problem is that certain kinds of people, like new entrepreneurs, innovators and many informal workers might not have enough hard data available…

Fintech resolves the dilemma by tapping various nonfinancial data: the type of browser and hardware used to access the internet, the history of online searches and purchases. Recent research documents that, once powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, these alternative data sources are often superior than [sic] traditional credit assessment methods, and can advance financial inclusion, by, for example, enabling more credit to informal workers and households and firms in rural areas.”

“[C]an advance financial inclusion…” By definition, then, it can advance credit exclusion.

Websites, Twitter accounts, YouTube videos, hosting platforms, and credit card processing are all already being cancelled, shadowbanned, disappeared and denied for political reasons. Now they propose to use your computer model, search history, and the sites you visit to determine your credit score.

If you visit the Southern Poverty Law Center too often, or QAnon more frequently than you “should” according to some algorithm; if you search for “All Lives Matter” or “Green Nude Eel;” if you use a Chromebook or an obscure brand tablet – then your credit score may suffer. That could turn out to be the least of your problems.

I can’t count the number of times people have told me they aren’t worried about such corporate espionage when I point out what Facebook really is, or tell them why to use Duck-Duck-Go instead of Google search. “I’m not doing anything wrong and have nothing to hide.” The problem, I explain, is that they aren’t the ones who decide that.

“The old cliché is often mocked though basically true: there’s no reason to worry about surveillance if you have nothing to hide. That mindset creates the incentive to be as compliant and inconspicuous as possible: those who think that way decide it’s in their best interests to provide authorities with as little reason as possible to care about them. That’s accomplished by never stepping out of line. Those willing to live their lives that way will be indifferent to the loss of privacy because they feel that they lose nothing from it. Above all else, that’s what a Surveillance State does: it breeds fear of doing anything out of the ordinary by creating a class of meek citizens who know they are being constantly watched.”

~ Glenn Greenwald

Mau-mauing the swamp dwellers

Facebook and YouTube continue to bury, or outright ban, well founded commentary on CCP virus public policy and the myriad election irregularities of which the Uniparty disapproves.

They aren’t alone. Amazon has banned books. Twitter banned all mention of Hunter Biden’s laptop, including suspending the New York Post‘s account.

That ban arguably lasted long enough to affect the election, and now that we know Hunter Biden has been under Federal criminal investigation since 2019 for his foreign business dealings, it seems like Twitter, et. al., should have some accountability.

The article slice below is behind a paywall. I think Glenn Greenwald is worth the less than a buck a week as an honest liberal entrepreneur. You pay as much for the CNN/MSNBC/CBS/PBS/ABC/NBC channels on your cable.

Some of what he writes is public. A link appears in TOC’s blogroll under Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald left The Intercept (he was a founder) because they spiked an article he wrote about Hunter Biden before the election. That’s when I checked out his independent gig on Substack.

Greenwald (this one is paywalled) provides a gimlet eyed view:

The revelation that Hunter Biden is being criminally investigated for his business activities in China came on Monday from the investigative target himself, and he predictably and self-servingly depicted it as just a narrow probe about his “tax affairs” by the U.S. Attorney for Delaware. As I wrote last night, that by itself would be significant enough — the documents published in the weeks before the election by The New York Post contained ample information about exactly that matter, yet were widely repressed by a union of mainstream news outlets, the intelligence community and Silicon Valley based on propaganda and lies. But new reporting suggest the investigation has been far broader.

“The federal investigation into President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been more extensive than a statement from Hunter Biden indicates,” Politico reported Monday night. Specifically, “the securities fraud unit in the Southern District of New York also scrutinized Hunter Biden’s finances”; “investigators in Delaware and Washington were also probing potential money laundering and Hunter Biden’s foreign ties”; and “federal authorities in the Western District of Pennsylvania are conducting a criminal investigation of a hospital business in which Joe Biden’s brother James was involved.” CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz added that “at least one of the matters investigators have examined is a 2017 gift of a 2.8-carat diamond that Hunter Biden received from CEFC [China Energy’]’s founder and former chairman Ye Jianming after a Miami business meeting.”

We’re slipping into fascism backwards. One normally thinks of the formal government (Mussolini comes to mind) as the instigator of fascism*, but in the current case it’s most certainly rent-seeking large corporations leading the charge. And that goes far beyond our cybernetic overlords. It’s also Maim Scream Media™, academiots, and corporate whores mau-mauing the swamp dwellers.

Of course, Antifa and the present cadre of BLM have raised mau-mauing to an actually dangerous level with arson, looting, assault, and murder. They would be the brownshirts.

Then, there’s this:
Hunter Biden Email Reportedly Names Kamala Harris, Others as Key Contacts for ‘Joint Venture’ With China Energy Co

Perhaps Eric Swalwell could do with a serious “debriefing.”

*That definition is fatally flawed because it includes a mention of capitalism, but the misunderstanding is pervasive. Free markets are required under capitalism. Fascism precludes free markets.

2021 Twitter – trending

What with pandemics and riots it’s easy to lose track of other Leftwing panics. Like net neutrality; psychologically engineered to please large corporations who oppose free speech.

I’m old enough to remember when we were all going to die if the misnamed ‘net neutrality’ protocols weren’t invoked immediately.

The Left doesn’t forget. When they get over their paroxysm over opening the economy, and tire of insisting opposition to arson and looting is racist, they’ll go back to this.

With the full throated support of Silly-Putty Valley lobbyists petitioning the General Government under the provisions of the First Amendment they despise.

The Censoring Left: ‘Net Neutrality’ for Thee – Not for Me

“Net neutrality” is not unlike “defund the police.”

Fifth column

Zuckerberg address takes on free speech, China

“The ability to speak freely has been central to the fight for democracy worldwide,” Zuckerberg says. And social media forms a sort of “fifth estate”…

He misspelled “column.”

“So this is one of the reasons that we don’t operate Facebook, Instagram or our other services in China.”

That, and the fact they’re banned in China.

Philosopher ‘pretenders to the throne’

This is a nice, short (7 min) introduction to Friedrich Hayek’s insights on emergent order. If you haven’t read Road to Serfdom (free downloads at the link), maybe this will nudge you to do so.

Order without intent: How spontaneous order built our world. from The IHS on Vimeo.

Allowing order without intent to flourish is how we might avoid the tyranny of good intentions.

Related, from Edward Snowden:

“The most unflattering thing is to realize just how naïve and credulous I was and how that could make me into a tool of systems that would use my skills for an act of global harm. The class of which I am a part of, the global technological community, was for the longest time apolitical. We have this history of thinking: “We’re going to make the world better.””

The idea that “making the world better” is apolitical shows Snowden is still naive and credulous. The toolmakers of the global technological community may have good intentions. They may be motivated by thoughts of the benefits they are bringing to humanity. They may also be motivated by profit and ideology.

How a better world is constituted, in any case, is an ethical and moral question beyond the ken of their meta-data, and in direct conflict with the ethical ‘principles’ demonstrated by their business models.

Who defines “better?” We have ample evidence Google/Facebook/Twitter aren’t up to the task.

“Making the world better” can be apolitical only in terms of each individual’s actions. It cannot be apolitical for giant corporations whose tools are designed to deceive users into acts of self harm: A system of fools.

Politics is the very essence of social media and the control of access to information.

Politics, noun. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
-Ambrose Bierce

And, in ways Bierce couldn’t imagine – conducting private affairs for public advantage. Affecting elections for example.

Snowdon’s NSA is simply the government instantiation of the Facebook/Google/Twitter business models. They are all dedicated to making their subjects “better.”

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
-H. L. Mencken

Order with intent is the model practiced by authoritarians for “your own good,” public or private, from de Blasio to Google.

So, I’ll close with some relevant Friedrich Hayek quotations on good intentions, control of information, collectivist ethics, and the limits of knowledge: All of which apply to government and to the massive private enterprises whose control of information and manipulation of public opinion Hayek couldn’t imagine:

“Everything which might cause doubt about the wisdom of the government or create discontent will be kept from the people. The basis of unfavorable comparisons with elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course actually taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions–all will be suppressed. There is consequently no field where the systematic control of information will not be practiced and uniformity of views not enforced.”

“Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his absolute mercy. And an authority directing the whole economic system of the country would be the most powerful monopolist conceivable…it would have complete power to decide what we are to be given and on what terms. It would not only decide what commodities and services were to be available and in what quantities; it would be able to direct their distributions between persons to any degree it liked.”

“All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest. Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant.”

“To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behaviour as individuals within the group.”

“The idea of social justice is that the state should treat different people unequally in order to make them equal.”