• Apophenia - by Edward Snowden — How the Internet Transforms the Individual into a Conspiracy of One

    The easier it becomes to produce information, the harder that information becomes to consume — and the harder we have to work to separate the spurious from the significant.

    Humans are meaning-making machines, seeking order in the chaos. Our pattern recognition capabilities are a key determinant in defining intelligence. But we now live in a dystopian digital landscape purpose-built to undermine these capabilities, training us to mistake planned patterns for convenient and even meaningful coincidences.

    You know the drill: email a colleague about the shit weather and start getting banner ads for cheap flights to Corsica (I hear it’s nice?); google “ordination license” or “city hall hours” and watch your inbox fill with rebates for rings and cribs. For those of us who grew up during the rise of surveillance capitalism, our online experience has been defined by the effort of separating coincidence from cause-and-effect. Today we understand, if not accept, that hyper-consumption of information online comes at the cost of being hyper-consumed, bled by tech companies for the that data our readings secrete: You click, and the Big Five scrape a sample of your “preferences”—to exploit.

    The real cost to this recursive construction of reality from the ephemera of our preferences is that it tailors a separate world for each individual.

    And when you do live at the center of a private world, reverse-engineered from your own search history, you begin to notice patterns that others can’t. Believe me when I say I know what it feels like to be told that you’re the only one who sees the connection—a pattern of injustice, say—and that you’re downright crazy for noticing anything at all. To manufacture meaning from mere coincidence is the essence of paranoia, the gateway to world-building your own private conspiracies—or else to an epiphany that allows you to see the world as it actually is.

    I want to talk about that epiphany, about taking back control of our atomized, pre-conspiracy world.

    #conspirationnisme cf. les écrits d’Hakim Bey aussi sur le sujet. De la Toile au faisceau… #néolibéralisme aussi

  • The Insecurity Industry - by Edward Snowden - Continuing Ed

    In technology as in public health, to protect anyone, we must protect everyone. The first step in this direction—at least the first digital step—must be to ban the commercial trade in intrusion software. We do not permit a market in biological infections-as-a-service, and the same must be true for digital infections. Eliminating the profit motive reduces the risks of proliferation while protecting progress, leaving room for publicly-minded research and inherently governmental work.

    (...) Such a moratorium, however, is mere triage: it only buys us time. Following a ban, the next step is liability.

    (...) Imagine you’re the Washington Post’s Editorial Board (first you’ll have to get rid of your spine). Imagine having your columnist murdered and responding with a whispered appeal to the architects of that murder that next time they should just fill out a bit more paperwork. Frankly, the Post’s response to the NSO scandal is so embarrassingly weak that it is a scandal in itself: how many of their writers need to die for them to be persuaded that process is not a substitute for prohibition?