Facebook admits Cambridge Analytica hijacked data on up to 87M users


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Facebook will warn these millions of users with a notice atop the News Feed with information about what data of theirs might have been attained, and what they should do now. It will also show its new bulk app permissions removal tool atop the feed.

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Facebook warned that 87 million users, mostly in the U.S, that their data “may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica by apps that they or their friends used,” the company announced. CTO at Facebook, Mike Schroepfer, tells TechCrunch that Facebook will warn these users with a notice atop the News Feed with information about what data of theirs might have been attained, and what they should do now. It will also show its new bulk app permissions removal tool atop the feed.

Schroepfer, says that 87 million is the maximum number of users impacted, up from initial reports from the New York Times of 50 million people effected, as Facebook isn’t positive of how many people had their data misused. It likely doesn’t want to low-ball and have to revise the number upward later, as it did when it initially reported the Russian election interference ads were seen by 10 million users and later had to admit to congress it was actually 126 million when organic posts were included. Mark Zuckerberg plans to take questions from reporters about the changes during a 1:00pm Pacific conference call on the subject.

The changes come as part of a slew of announcements in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal including new restrictions on Facebook API use and the immediate shut down of the old Instagram API that was slated for July, but which started to break developers’ apps this week. Facebook is now undergoing a deep audit of app developers that pulled a lot of data or that look suspicious, and Schroepfer promises Facebook will make further disclosures if it finds any situations similar to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

Facebook is trying to fix its broken data privacy after a developer named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan used the platform to administer a personality test app that collected data about participants and their friends. That data was then passed to Cambridge Analytica where it may have been leveraged to optimize political campaigns including that of 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump and the Brexit vote, allegations which the company itself vehemently denies. Regardless of how the data was employed to political ends, that lax data sharing was enough to ignite a firestorm around Facebook’s privacy practices.

Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, the company’s stock dropped precipitously, wiping more than $60 billion off its market capitalization from its prior period of stable growth. At the time of writing, Facebook was trading at $153.56.

Facebook’s core leadership was slow to respond to the explosion of negative attention, though Zuckerberg and Sandberg broke that silence with a flurry of media appearances, interviews and print ads. The company also came under the scrutiny of Congress once more and that pressure, which came from subcommittees in both the House and Senate and from both political parties, appears to have paid off. Zuckerberg is expected to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, just one of the several powerful committees calling for him, on April 11.

While it’s certainly unfortunate that it took mishandling user data on a large scale to do so, the incident has become the straw that broke the Facebook camel’s back when it comes to privacy — and that appears to be catalyzing change. Schroepfer said Facebook is now lifting every rock to find any other vulnerabilities that could be used to illicitly access or steal people’s information. Now we’re getting changes that should have been in place years ago that could make Facebook a safer place to network for users concerned about how the company handles their private data.

For more on Facebook’s recent scandals and changes:








Cambridge Analytica

The real threat to Facebook | TechCrunch

Zuckerberg is expected to testify


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg | Lisa’s leaks – ‘Madness in the

Cambridge Analytica breach results

Aleksandr Kogan, who mined Facebook data for Cambridge Analytica ..

Man behind Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data mining says he’s …

Zuckerberg’s response to Cambridge scandal omits why …

The Cambridge Analytica Files

Highlights and audio from Zuckerbergs emotional Q&A on scandals ..

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal Is Going Global | Vanity Fair

Collateral damage from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal ..




The Global Story of Tech vs Privacy


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Data Protection Changes for Facebook users? This is the company’s PR strategy to try to convince users to trust it — and thus to keep giving it their data.

 Make no mistake: Fresh battle lines are being drawn in the clash between data-mining tech giants and Internet users over people’s right to control their personal information and protect their privacy.

An update to European Union data protection rules next month — called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)— is the catalyst for this next chapter in the global story of tech vs privacy.

There’s no doubt it will be a battle to get there — requiring legal challenges and fresh case law to be set down — as an old guard of dominant tech platforms marshal their extensive resources to try to hold onto the power and wealth gained through years of riding roughshod over data protection law.

The exciting opportunity for startups — by thinking beyond exploitative legacy business models that amount to embarrassing blackboxes whose CEOs dare not publicly admit what the systems really do — and come up with new ways of operating and monetizing services that don’t rely on selling the lie that people don’t care about privacy.

More than just small print

Right now the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation can take credit for a whole lot of spilt ink as tech industry small print is reworded en masse. Did you just receive a T&C update notification about a company’s digital service? Chances are it’s related to the incoming standard.

The regulation is generally intended to strengthen Internet users’ control over their personal information, as explained before. But its focus on transparency — making sure people know how and why data will flow if they choose to click ‘I agree’ — combined with supersized fines for major data violations represents something of an existential threat to ad tech processes that rely on pervasive background harvesting of users’ personal data to be siphoned biofuel for their vast, proprietary microtargeting engines.

This is why Facebook is not going gentle into a data processing goodnight.

Indeed, it’s seizing on GDPR as a PR opportunity — shamelessly stamping its brand on the regulatory changes it lobbied so hard against, including by taking out full page print ads in newspapers…

This is of course another high gloss plank in the company’s PR strategy to try to convince users to trust it — and thus to keep giving it their data. Because — and only because — GDPR gives consumers more opportunity to lock down access to their information and close the shutters against countless prying eyes.

But the pressing question for Facebook — and one that will also test the mettle of the new data protection standard — is whether or not the company is doing enough to comply with the new rules.

One important point regarding Facebook and GDPR is that the standard applies globally, i.e. for all Facebook users whose data is processed by its international entity, Facebook Ireland (and thus within the EU); but not necessarily universally — with Facebook users in North America not legally falling under the scope of the regulation.

(Update: Reuters has obtained confirmation from Facebook that it will be switching the data controller entity for all its international users to Facebook USA, rather than Facebook Ireland, with the exception of users in Europe — thereby shrinking the legal reach of GDPR across its international user-base.)

Facebook users in North America will only benefit from GDPR’s protections if Facebook chooses to apply the same standard everywhere as it must for EU users. (And on that point the company has stayed exceedingly fuzzy.)

It has claimed it won’t give US and Canadian users second tier status where their privacy is concerned — saying they’re getting the same “settings and controls” — but unless or until US lawmakers spill some ink of their own there’s nothing but an embarrassing PR message to regulate what Facebook chooses to do with Americans’ data. It’s the data protection principles, stupid.

Zuckerberg was asked by US lawmakers last week what kind of regulation he would and wouldn’t like to see laid upon Internet companies — and he made a point of arguing for privacy carve outs to avoid falling behind, of all things, competitors in China.

Which is an incredibly chilling response when you consider how few rights — including human rights — Chinese citizens have. And how data-mining digital technologies are being systematically used to expand Chinese state surveillance and control.

The ugly underlying truth of Facebook’s business is that it also relies on surveillance to function. People’s lives are its product.

That’s why Zuckerberg couldn’t tell US lawmakers to hurry up and draft their own GDPR. He’s the CEO saddled with trying to sell an anti-privacy, anti-transparency position — just as policymakers are waking up to what that really means.


Facebook has announced a series of updates to its policies and platform in recent months, which it’s said are coming to all users (albeit in ‘phases’). The problem is that most of what it’s proposing to achieve GDPR compliance is simply not adequate.

Coincidentally many of these changes have been announced amid a major data mishandling scandal for Facebook, in which it’s been revealed that data on up to 87M users was passed to a political consultancy without their knowledge or consent.

It’s this scandal that led Zuckerberg to be perched on a booster cushion in full public view for two days last week, dodging awkward questions from US lawmakers about how his advertising business functions.

He could not tell Congress there wouldn’t be other such data misuse skeletons in its closet. Indeed the company has said it expects it will uncover additional leaks as it conducts a historical audit of apps on its platform that had access to “a large amount of data”. (How large is large, one wonders… )

But whether Facebook’s business having enabled — in just one example — the clandestine psychological profiling of millions of Americans for political campaign purposes ends up being the final, final straw that catalyzes US lawmakers to agree their own version of GDPR is still tbc.

Any new law will certainly take time to formulate and pass. In the meanwhile GDPR is it.

The most substantive GDPR-related change announced by Facebook to date is the shuttering of a feature called Partner Categories — in which it allowed the linking of its own information holdings on people with data held by external brokers, including (for example) information about people’s offline activities.

Evidently finding a way to close down the legal liabilities and/or engineer consent from users to that degree of murky privacy intrusion — involving pools of aggregated personal data gathered by goodness knows who, how, where or when — was a bridge too far for the company’s army of legal and policy staffers.

Other notable changes it has so far made public include consolidating settings onto a single screen vs the confusing nightmare Facebook has historically required users to navigate just to control what’s going on with their data (remember the company got a 2011 F.T.C. sanction for “deceptive” privacy practices ); rewording its T&Cs to make it more clear what information it’s collecting for what specific purpose; and — most recently — revealing a new consent review process whereby it will be asking all users (starting with EU users) whether they consent to specific uses of their data (such as processing for facial recognition purposes).

As my TC colleague Josh Constine wrote earlier in a critical post dissecting the flaws of Facebook’s approach to consent review, the company is — at very least — not complying with the spirit of GDPR’s law.

Indeed, Facebook appears pathologically incapable of abandoning its long-standing modus operandi of socially engineering consent from users (doubtless fed via its own self-reinforced A/B testing ad expertise). “It feels obviously designed to get users to breeze through it by offering no resistance to continue, but friction if you want to make changes,” was his summary of the process.

However, it’s still up to us to READ the fine print, but as we’ve pointed out before, concealment is not consent.

To get into a few specifics, pre-ticked boxes — which is essentially what Facebook is deploying here, with a big blue “accept and continue” button designed to grab your attention as it’s juxtaposed against an anemic “manage data settings” option (which if you even manage to see it and read it sounds like a lot of tedious hard work) — aren’t going to constitute valid consent under GDPR.

Nor is this what ‘privacy by default’ looks like — another staple principle of the regulation. On the contrary, Facebook is pushing people to do the opposite: Give it more of their personal information — and fuzzing why it’s asking by bundling a range of usage intentions.

The company is risking a lot here.

In simple terms, seeking consent from users in a way that’s not fair because it’s manipulative means consent is not being freely given. Under GDPR, it won’t be consent at all. So Facebook appears to be seeing how close to the wind it can fly to test how regulators will respond.

Safe to say, EU lawmakers and NGOs are watching.

“Yes, they will be taken to court”

“Consent should not be regarded as freely given if the data subject has no genuine or free choice or is unable to refuse or withdraw consent without detriment,” runs one key portion of GDPR.

Now compare that with: “People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want” — which was Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, Rob Sherman’s, paper-thin defense to reporters for the lack of an overall opt out for users to its targeted advertising.

Data protection experts suggest Facebook is failing to comply with, not just the spirit, but the letter of the law here. Some were exceeding blunt on this point.

“I am less impressed,” said law professor Mireille Hildebrandt discussing how Facebook is railroading users into consenting to its targeted advertising. “It seems they have announced that they will still require consent for targeted advertising and refuse the service if one does not agree. This violates [GDPR] art. 7.4 jo recital 43. So, yes, they will be taken to court.”

“Zuckerberg appears to view the combination of signing up to T&Cs and setting privacy options as ‘consent,’” adds cyber security professor Eerke Boiten. “I doubt this is explicit or granular enough for the personal data processing that FB do. The default settings for the privacy settings certainly do not currently provide for ‘privacy by default’ (GDPR Art 25(see below)).

“I also doubt whether Facebook Custom Audience work correctly with consent. FB finds out and retains a small bit of personal info through this process (that an email address they know is known to an advertiser), and they aim to shift the data protection legal justification on that to the advertisers. Do they really then not use this info for future profiling?”

That looming tweak to the legal justification of Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature — a product which lets advertisers upload contact lists in a hashed form to find any matches among its own user-base (so those people can be targeted with ads on Facebook’s platform) — also looks problematical.

Here the company seems to be intending to try to claim a change in the legal basis, pushed out via new terms in which it instructs advertisers to agree they are the data controller (and it is merely a data processor). And thereby seek to foist a greater share of the responsibility for obtaining consent to processing user data onto its customers.

However such legal determinations are simply not a matter of contract terms. They are based on the fact of who is making decisions about how data is processed. And in this case — as other experts have pointed out Facebook would be classed as a joint controller with any advertisers that upload personal data. The company can’t use a T&Cs change to opt out of that.

Wishful thinking is not a reliable approach to legal compliance.

Fear and manipulation of highly sensitive data

Over many years of privacy-hostile operation, Facebook has shown it has a major appetite for even very sensitive data. And GDPR does not appear to have blunted that.

Let’s not forget, facial recognition was a platform feature that got turned off in the EU, thanks to regulatory intervention. Yet here Facebook is now trying to use GDPR as a route to process this sensitive biometric data for international users after all — by pushing individual users to consent to it by dangling a few ‘feature perks’ at the moment of consent.

Veteran data protection and privacy consultant, Pat Walshe, is unimpressed.

“The sensitive data tool appears to be another data grab,” he tells us, reviewing Facebook’s latest clutch of ‘GDPR changes.’ “Note the subtlety. It merges ‘control of sharing’ such data with FB’s use of the data “to personalise features and products.” From the info available that isn’t sufficient to amount to consent for such sensitive data and nor is it clear folks can understand the broader implications of agreeing.

“Does it mean ads will appear in Instagram? WhatsApp etc? The default is also set to ‘accept’ rather than ‘review and consider.’ This is really sensitive data we’re talking about.”

“The Facial recognition suggestions are woeful,” he continues. “The second image — is using an example… to manipulate and stoke fear — “we can’t protect you.”

“Also, the choices and defaults are not compatible with [GDPR] Article 25 on Data protection by design and by default nor Recital 32… If I say no to facial recognition it’s unclear if other users can continue to tag me.”

Of course it goes without saying that Facebook users will keep uploading group photos, not just selfies. What’s less clear is whether Facebook will be processing the faces of other people in those shots who have not given (and/or never even had the opportunity to give) consent to its facial recognition feature.

People who might not even be users of its product.

There are suggestions it will indeed be doing that. But if it does it will be breaking the law.

And Facebook does already profile non-users — despite Zuckerberg’s claims to Congress not to know about its shadow profiles. So the risk is clear.

It can’t give non-users “settings and controls” not to have their data processed. So it’s already compromised their privacy — because it never gained consent in the first place.

New Mexico Representative Ben Lujan made this point to Zuckerberg’s face last week and ended the exchange with a call to action: “So you’re directing people that don’t even have a Facebook page to sign up for a Facebook page to access their data… We’ve got to change that.”

But nothing in the measures Facebook has revealed so far, as its ‘compliance response’ to GDPR, suggest it intends to pro-actively change that.

Walshe also critically flags how — again, at the point of consent — Facebook’s review process deploys examples of the social aspects of its platform (such as how it can use people’s information to “suggest groups or other features or products”) as a tactic for manipulating people to agree to share religious affiliation data, for example.

“The social aspect is not separate to but bound up in advertising,” he notes, adding that the language also suggests Facebook uses the data.

Again, this whiffs a whole lot more than smells like GDPR compliance.

“I don’t believe FB has done enough,” adds Walshe, giving a view on Facebook’s GDPR preparedness ahead of the May 25 deadline for the framework’s application — as Zuckerberg’s Congress briefing notes suggested the company itself believes it has. (Or maybe it just didn’t want to admit to Congress that U.S. Facebook users will get lower privacy standards vs users elsewhere.)

“In fact I know they have not done enough. Their business model is skewed against privacy — privacy gets in the way of advertising and so profit. That’s why Facebook has variously suggested people may have to pay if they want an ad free model & so ‘pay for privacy.’

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“On transparency, there is a long way to go,” adds Boiten. “Friend suggestions, profiling for advertising, use of data gathered from like buttons and web pixels (also completely missing from “all your Facebook data”), and the newsfeed algorithm itself are completely opaque.”

“What matters most is whether FB’s processing decisions will be GDPR compliant, not what exact controls are given to FB members,” he concludes.

US lawmakers also pumped Zuckerberg on how much of the information his company harvests on people who have a Facebook account is revealed to them when they ask for it — via its ‘Download your data’ tool.

His answers on this appeared to intentionally misconstrue what was being asked — presumably in a bid to mask the ugly reality of the true scope and depth of the surveillance apparatus he, and the NSA commands. (and sometimes with a few special ‘CEO privacy privileges’ thrown in — like being able to selectively retract just his own historical Facebook messages from conversations, ahead of bringing the feature to anyone else.)

‘Download your Data’ is clearly partial and self-serving — and thus it also looks very far from being GDPR compliant.

Not even half the story

Facebook is not even complying with the spirit of current EU data protection law on data downloads. Subject Access Request give individuals the right to request not just the information they have voluntarily uploaded to a service, but also personal data the company holds about them; Including giving a description of the personal data; the reasons it is being processed; and whether it will be given to any other organizations or people.

Facebook not only does not include people’s browsing history in the info it provides when you ask to download your data — which, incidentally, its own cookies policy confirms it tracks (via things like social plug-ins and tracking pixels on millions of popular websites etc etc) — it also does not include a complete list of advertisers on its platform that have your information.

Instead, after a wait, it serves up an eight-week snapshot. But even this two month view can still stretch to hundreds of advertisers per individual.

If Facebook gave users a comprehensive list of advertisers’ access to their information the number of third party companies would clearly stretch into the thousands. (In some cases thousands might even be a conservative estimate.)

There’s plenty of other information harvested from users that Facebook also intentionally fails to divulge via ‘Download your data’. And — to be clear — this isn’t a new problem either. The company has a very long history of blocking these type of requests.

In the EU it currently invokes a exception in Irish law to circumvent more fulsome compliance — which, even setting GDPR aside, raises some interesting competition law questions, as Paul-Olivier Dehaye told the UK parliament last month.

“All your Facebook data” isn’t a complete solution,” agrees Boiten. “It misses the info Facebook uses for auto-completing searches; it misses much of the information they use for suggesting friends; and I find it hard to believe that it contains the full profiling information.”

“Ads Topics” looks rather random and undigested, and doesn’t include the clear categories available to advertisers,” he further notes.

Facebook wouldn’t comment publicly about this when asked. But it maintains its approach towards data downloads is GDPR compliant — and says it’s reviewed what it offers via with regulators to get feedback.

Earlier this week it also put out a wordy blog post attempting to diffuse this line of attack by pointing the finger of blame at the rest of the tech industry — saying, essentially, that a whole bunch of other tech giants are at it too.

Which is not much of a moral defense even if the company believes its lawyers can sway judges with it. (Ultimately I wouldn’t fancy its chances; the EU’s top court has a robust record of defending fundamental rights.)

Think of the children…

What its blog post didn’t say — yet again — was anything about how all the non-users it nonetheless tracks around the web are able to have any kind of control over its surveillance of them.

And remember, some Facebook non-users will be children.

So yes, Facebook is inevitably tracking kids’ data without parental consent. Under GDPR that’s a majorly big no-no. But hey, that’s business!

TC’s Constine had a scathing assessment of even the on-platform system that Facebook has devised in response to GDPR’s requirements on parental consent for processing the data of users who are between the ages of 13 and 15.

“Users merely select one of their Facebook friends or enter an email address, and that person is asked to give consent for their ‘child’ to share sensitive info,” he observed. “But Facebook blindly trusts that they’ve actually selected their parent or guardian… [Facebook’s] Sherman says Facebook is “not seeking to collect additional information” to verify parental consent, so it seems Facebook is happy to let teens easily bypass the checkup.”

So again, the company is being shown doing the minimum possible — in what might be construed as a cynical attempt to check another compliance box and carry on its data-sucking business as usual.

Given that intransigence it really will be up to the courts to bring the enforcement stick. Change, as ever, is a process — and hard won.

Hildebrandt is at least hopeful that a genuine reworking of Internet business models is on the way, though — albeit not overnight. And not without a fight.

“In the coming years the landscape of all this silly microtargeting will change, business models will be reinvented and this may benefit both the advertisers, consumers and citizens,” she tells us. “It will hopefully stave off the current market failure and the uprooting of “democratic processes…” Though nobody can predict the future, it will require hard work.”








Personal Data Requests | Facebook

WTF is GDPR? | TechCrunch

Art. 25 GDPR – Data protection by design and by default | General

GDPR Recital 78 (General Data Protection Regulation)

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Facebook collects data on non-Facebook users. If they want to delete ..

Shadow profiles are the biggest flaw in Facebook’s privacy defense ..

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F.T.C. Settles Privacy Issue at Facebook – The New York Times

Facebook May Have Breached a 2011 Consent Agreement, FTC Says

Hearings Show Congress Doesn’t Understand Facebook … – Futurism

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Facebook told advertisers it can identify teens feeling ‘insecure’ and .

Facebook ‘Messenger Kids’ lets under-13s chat with whom parents .






Cambridge Analytica



Eliminating the Human Element


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We are beset by—and immersed in—apps and devices that are quietly reducing the amount of meaningful interaction we have with each other.

Image result for Eliminating the HumanI have a theory that much recent tech development and innovation over the last decade or so has an unspoken overarching agenda. It has been about creating the possibility of a world with less human interaction. This tendency is, I suspect, not a bug—it’s a feature. We might think Amazon was about making books available to us that we couldn’t find locally—and it was, and what a brilliant idea—but maybe it was also just as much about eliminating human contact.

The consumer technology I am talking about doesn’t claim or acknowledge that eliminating the need to deal with humans directly is its primary goal, but it is the outcome in a surprising number of cases. I’m sort of thinking maybe it is the primary goal, even if it was not aimed at consciously. Judging by the evidence, that conclusion seems inescapable.

This then, is the new norm. Most of the tech news we get barraged with is about algorithms, AI, robots, and self-driving cars, all of which fit this pattern. I am not saying that such developments are not efficient and convenient; this is not a judgment. I am simply noticing a pattern and wondering if, in recognizing that pattern, we might realize that it is only one trajectory of many. There are other possible roads we could be going down, and the one we’re on is not inevitable or the only one; it has been (possibly unconsciously) chosen.

Image result for eliminating the human contact through social mediaI’m not saying that many of these tools, apps, and other technologies are not hugely convenient. But in a sense, they run counter to who we are as human beings.

I realize I’m making some wild and crazy assumptions and generalizations with this proposal—but I can claim to be, or to have been, in the camp that would identify with the unacknowledged desire to limit human interaction. I grew up happy but also found some social interactions uncomfortable. I often asked myself if there were rules somewhere that I hadn’t been told, rules that would explain it all to me. I still sometimes have social niceties “explained” to me. I’m often happy going to a restaurant alone and reading. I wouldn’t want to have to do that all the time, but I have no problem with it. So I believe I can claim some insight into where this unspoken urge might come from.

Human interaction is often perceived, from an engineer’s mind-set, as complicated, inefficient, noisy, and slow. Part of making something “frictionless” is getting the human part out of the way.

Image result for eliminating the human contact through social mediaThe point is not that making a world to accommodate this mind-set is bad, but that when one has as much power over the rest of the world as the tech sector does over folks who might not share that worldview, there is the risk of a strange imbalance. The tech world is predominantly male—very much so. Testosterone combined with a drive to eliminate as much interaction with real humans as possible for the sake of “simplicity and efficiency”—do the math, and there’s the future.

The evidence

Here are some examples of fairly ubiquitous consumer technologies that allow for less human interaction.

Online ordering and home delivery: Online ordering is hugely convenient. Amazon, FreshDirect, Instacart, etc. have not just cut out interactions at bookstores and checkout lines; they have eliminated all human interaction from these transactions, barring the (often paid) online recommendations.

Digital music: Downloads and streaming—there is no physical store, of course, so there are no snobby, know-it-all clerks to deal with. Whew, you might say. Some services offer algorithmic recommendations, so you don’t even have to discuss music with your friends to know what they like. The service knows what they like, and you can know, too, without actually talking to them. Is the function of music as a kind of social glue and lubricant also being eliminated?

Ride-hailing apps: There is minimal interaction—one doesn’t have to tell the driver the address or the preferred route, or interact at all if one doesn’t want to.

Driverless cars: In one sense, if you’re out with your friends, not having one of you drive means more time to chat. Or drink. Very nice. But driverless tech is also very much aimed at eliminating taxi drivers, truck drivers, delivery drivers, and many others. There are huge advantages to eliminating humans here—theoretically, machines should drive more safely than humans, so there might be fewer, or more, accidents and fatalities. The disadvantages include massive job loss. But that’s another subject. What I’m seeing here is the consistent “eliminating the human” pattern.

An Automat at NYC’s Grand Central Station, 1948.

Automated checkout: Eatsa is a new version of the Automat, a once-popular “restaurant” with no visible staff. My local CVS has been training staff to help us learn to use the checkout machines that will replace them. At the same time, they are training their customers to do the work of the cashiers.

Amazon has been testing stores—even grocery stores!—with automated shopping. They’re called Amazon Go. The idea is that sensors will know what you’ve picked up. You can simply walk out with purchases that will be charged to your account, without any human contact.

AI: AI is often (though not always) better at decision-making than humans. In some areas, we might expect this. For example, AI will suggest the fastest route on a map, accounting for traffic and distance, while we as humans would be prone to taking our tried-and-true route. But some less-expected areas where AI is better than humans are also opening up, big time! It is getting better at spotting melanomas than many doctors, for example. Much routine legal work will soon be done by computer programs, and financial assessments are now being done by machines.

Robot workforce: Factories increasingly have fewer and fewer human workers, which means no personalities to deal with, no agitating for overtime, and no illnesses. Using robots avoids an employer’s need to think about worker’s comp, health care, Social Security, Medicare taxes, and unemployment benefits.

Personal assistants: With improved speech recognition, one can increasingly talk to a machine like Google Home or Amazon Echo rather than a person. Amusing stories abound as the bugs get worked out. A child says, “Alexa, I want a dollhouse” … and lo and behold, the parents find one in their cart.

Big data: Improvements and innovations in crunching massive amounts of data mean that patterns can be recognized in our behavior where they weren’t seen previously. Data seems objective, so we tend to trust it, and we may very well come to trust the gleanings from data crunching more than we do ourselves and our human colleagues and friends.

Video games (and virtual reality): Yes, some online games are interactive. But most are played in a room by one person jacked into the game. The interaction is virtual.

Automated high-speed stock buying and selling: A machine crunching huge amounts of data can spot trends and patterns quickly and act on them faster than a person can.

MOOCS: Online education with no direct teacher interaction.

“Social” media: This is social interaction that isn’t really social. While Facebook and others frequently claim to offer connection, and do offer the appearance of it, the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real connection.

What are the effects of less interaction?

Minimizing interaction has some knock-on effects—some of them good, some not. The externalities of efficiency, one might say.

For us as a society, less contact and interaction—real interaction—would seem to lead to less tolerance and understanding of difference, as well as more envy and antagonism. As has been in evidence recently, social media actually increases divisions by amplifying echo effects and allowing us to live in cognitive bubbles. We are fed what we already like or what our similarly inclined friends like (or, more likely now, what someone has paid for us to see in an ad that mimics content). In this way, we actually become less connected—except to those in our group.

Social networks can also be a source of unhappiness. A study earlier this year by two social scientists, Holly Shakya at UC San Diego and Nicholas ­Christakis at Yale, showed that the more people use Facebook, the worse they feel about their lives. While these technologies claim to connect us, then, the surely unintended effect is that they also might drive us apart and make us sad and envious.

I’m not saying that many of these tools, apps, and other technologies are not hugely convenient, clever, and efficient. I use many of them myself. But in a sense, they run counter to who we are as human beings.

We have evolved as social creatures, and our ability to cooperate is one of the big factors in our success. I would argue that social interaction and cooperation, the kind that makes us who we are, is something our tools can augment but not replace.

When interaction becomes a strange and unfamiliar thing, then we will have changed who and what we are as a species. Often our rational thinking convinces us that much of our interaction can be reduced to a series of logical decisions—but we are not even aware of many of the layers and subtleties of those interactions. As behavioral economists will tell us, we don’t behave rationally, even though we think we do. And Bayesian will tell us that interaction is how we revise our picture of what is going on and what will happen next.

I’d argue there is a danger to democracy as well. Less interaction, even casual interaction, means one can live in a tribal bubble—and we know where that leads.

Is it possible that less human interaction might save us?

– Photo: While the many robots in auto factories typically perform only one function, in the new Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., a robot might do up to four: welding, riveting, bonding and installing a component. Credit Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

Humans are capricious, erratic, emotional, irrational, and biased in what sometimes seem like counterproductive ways. It often seems that our quick-thinking and selfish nature will be our downfall. There are, it would seem, lots of reasons why getting humans out of the equation in many aspects of life might be a good thing.

But I’d argue that while our various irrational tendencies might seem like liabilities, many of those attributes actually work in our favor. Many of our emotional responses have evolved over millennia, and they are based on the probability that they will, more likely than not, offer the best way to deal with a situation.

What are we?

Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at USC wrote about a patient he called Elliot, who had damage to his frontal lobe that made him unemotional. In all other respects he was fine—intelligent, healthy—but emotionally he was Spock. Elliot couldn’t make decisions. He’d waffle endlessly over details. ­Damasio concluded that although we think decision-­making is rational and machine-like, it’s our emotions that enable us to actually decide.

With humans being somewhat unpredictable (well, until an algorithm completely removes that illusion), we get the benefit of surprises, happy accidents, and unexpected connections and intuitions. Interaction, cooperation, and collaboration with others multiplies those ­opportunities.

We’re a social species—we benefit from passing discoveries on, and we benefit from our tendency to cooperate to achieve what we cannot alone. In his book Sapiens, Yuval Harari claims this is what allowed us to be so successful. He also claims that this cooperation was often facilitated by an ability to believe in “fictions” such as nations, money, religions, and legal institutions. Machines don’t believe in fictions—or not yet, anyway. That’s not to say they won’t surpass us, but if machines are designed to be mainly self-interested, they may hit a roadblock. And in the meantime, if less human interaction enables us to forget how to cooperate, then we lose our advantage.

Our random accidents and odd behaviors are fun—they make life enjoyable. I’m wondering what we’re left with when there are fewer and fewer human interactions. Remove humans from the equation, and we are less complete as people and as a society.

“We” do not exist as isolated individuals. We, as individuals, are inhabitants of networks; we are relationships. That is how we prosper and thrive.









MIT Technology

A.I. Versus M.D. – The New Yorker

discussion notes for sb 1188 and 1767 – 5G

How Only Using Logic Destroyed a Man’s Life — Science of Us – The Cut

Automats: The Utopian Future or a Return to a Dystopian Past?

New Wave of Adept Robots Is Changing Global Industry

What the Gender Gap in Tech Could Cost Us – The Experts – WSJ


6 ways social media is changing the w

Reliability and Validity – ppt video onli

“Alexa, Understand Me”

Helping Blog | Ways of getting rid of

deleted my social media apps because they were turning me into an …

Why Social Media Isn’t Social | HuffPost

20th Century Democide

Murder By Government–Democide

Democide (Genocide and Mass Murder)

Democide: The State’s Monopoly on Guns + Violence

Neuropharmacology and Chemical Neuroenhancement


, , , , , , , , , , ,

“Just as we have anti-depressants today to elevate mood, tomorrow we can expect a kind of Botox for the brain to smooth out wrinkled temperaments, to turn shy people into extroverts, or to bestow a sense of humor on a born grouch. But what price will human nature pay for these nonhuman artifices?” 

(William Safire)1

2. Introduction to Neuropharmacology

Neuropharmacology is the study of drugs that interact with neurons in the brain to affect mood, sensation, behavior, and thinking. Some (but not all) of these alterations result from drug induced changes in the actions of the brain’s chemical transmitters (brain neurochemistry). There is great interest in molecular neuroscience in both basic and clinical research, and new findings about topics such as neuropeptides, neurohormones, and neuromodulators, to name a few, are disseminated at an ever-increasing pace.

Many pharmacological substances have an effect on brain function
Source: Ursi’s blog

While this module presents information on some newer drugs used in neurology, it will focus on the use of neuropharmaceuticals to modify brain processes with the aim of enhancing memory, mood, and attention in people who are not otherwise impaired by illness or disorder.2 Enhancement is not, of course, confined to neuroscience, but there is a sense that something is distinct about enhancing mental, cognitive, or behavioral functions and intervening directly in the brain. This sense arises from the cultural understanding of the brain as central to the self, identity, or personhood.3 As we continue to unravel the inner-workings of the mind, the act of manipulating the subjective experience with the use of mind-altering substances, both legal and not, has intrigued many. It is difficult to argue against neuroenhancement because of our lengthy history with substances of abuse, many of which were “discovered” as therapeutics. Many agree that the field of neuroenhancement became a part of mainstream culture with the publishing of Peter Kramer’s book Listening to Prozac in 1993. The book touted Prozac’s success in alleviating serious clinical depression, but also discussed the possibilities of lifting people’s moods who were not clinically depressed. However, it has since become clear that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac are not the”happy pills” they once were heralded to be, and will not benefit those who do not suffer from significant mood disorders.

As many neurologists and neuroethicists deliberate the pros and cons of enhancement, the literature is growing, as are the questions they raise:

  • Are enhanced brains better?
  • Are there clear distinctions between therapy and enhancement, sick and well?
  • If we can improve cognitive systems in disease, can we also do so in health?
  • What is the role of the physician in disease treatment vs. healthy enhancement?
  • Will neurologists become the gatekeepers in the patient’s pursuit of happiness?
  • If you need a drug to be your “self,” do you really have a self at all?
  • Is it not our error-prone, forgetful, emotional, mortal natures that, in fact, make us human? If we alter that, have we undermined our essence as beings?

In this module, we present a brief review of some of the newest psychoactive medications that are available. While acknowledging the undeniable value of these findings for both the ill and the healthy, it is imperative to consider the significant number of ethical implications produced by these discoveries.

2.1. What’s New for Treatment and Enhancement

Can a pill really make you smarter?
Source: USA Today

Neuropharmacology addresses both the treatment of those who are sick (therapy) and those who are well (enhancement). As such, drug therapy and use can be viewed along a spectrum, from drugs that may help a diseased individual, to the latest “smart drugs.” Also known as nootropics, derived from the Greek words noos or “mind” and tropein meaning “to bend/turn,” these “smart drugs” are intended to enhance functioning in the clinically normal individual. This approach to neuroenhancement has recently blossomed within the discipline of neuropharmacology.4 “Smart drugs” function by modulating catecholamine and cholinergic systems, and are emerging and being adapted from medications developed to treat psychiatric disorders and neurological impairments, including depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and spinal cord injury.5 Many believe that if these medications can help people with impaired cognitive skills, they will have similar effects on someone of “normal” functioning, elevating the mental status to super-human levels.

3. Neuropharmaceuticals on the market

As the molecular biology of mood evolves, designer drugs will be tailored to influence behavior, cognition, and the formation of memories. Currently, the focus is on three broad areas:

  1. Enhancing cognition and mood
  2. Enhancing memory storage and retrieval
  3. Blocking or impeding memory formation.

The following sections will detail the types of drugs in each area, their medicinal and therapeutic uses, as well as the potential and actual ways they can be and are abused.

3.1. Enhancing normal cognition and moods

The drugs presented below illustrate a variety of classes of drugs that are used to alter mood, personality, and cognition.

3.1.1. Amphetamines (Adderall, Dexedrine)

Amphetamines are stimulants that increase the amount of dopamine by:

      1. causing the release of dopamine from axon terminals
      2. blocking dopamine reuptake
      3. inhibiting the storage of dopamine in vesicles
      4. inhibiting the destruction of dopamine by enzymes. Various isomers of amphetamines have different effects, and

    trigger the release of distinct combinations of norepinephrine and serotonin. Amphetamine causes release of a number of biogenic amines in the brain, not only dopamine. Release of norepinephrine is very important, as is serotonin.


The best known medicinal use of amphetamines is to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Drugs like Adderall and Dexedrine can improve impulse control, increase concentration, and decrease sensory overstimulation. New evidence demonstrates that amphetamines may improve motor function, language learning, and speech therapy among stroke patients.7 The number of patients studied for these effects, however, is too few as of yet to draw any significant conclusions, and the neurological mechanism for these results remains unclear.

Source: KRCG Online

Amphetamines are also used illegally as recreational club drugs. They have a number of short and long-term effects including increased stamina, alertness, sexual drive, and euphoria. They also cause hallucinations and involuntary movements like teeth grinding and an irregular heart rate. Amphetamines are addictive and symptoms of withdrawal include severe depression and fatigue.

3.1.2. Modafinil (Provigil)

Modafinil (Provigil) is a mood-brightening and memory-enhancing psychostimulant that produces long-lasting wakefulness and mental alertness. The primary sites of modafinil’s CNS activity appear to be in the subregions of the hippocampus, the centrolateral nucleus of the thalamus, and the central nucleus of the amygdala. Limited animal studies demonstrate that modafinil may increase excitatory glutaminergic transmission in the thalamus and hippocampus. In contrast to the amphetamines and other CNS stimulants, the effects of modafinil do not appear to be mediated by dopamine or sympathomimetic systems. In vitro and in vivo studies demonstrate that modafinil does not bind to most of the neurochemical receptors involved in sleep-wake cycles, including norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, GABA, adenosine, histamine, monoamine oxidase B, and benzodiazepines. Modafinil also does not alter hormones associated with sleep regulation (i.e., melatonin, cortisol, or growth hormone). Modafinil-induced wakefulness does not influence nocturnal sleep patterns or the incidence of cataplexy in narcoleptic patients. In the periphery, the actions of modafinil appear to be minimal at normally prescribed doses. Modafinil doses of greater than 800 mg per day have produced symptoms of increased blood pressure and heart rate.8 Therapeutically, Modafinil is generally prescribed to treat sleep disorders, but also has a number of medical off-label uses. It is used to treat fatigue unrelated to sleep deprivation, such as in depression and Parkinson’s disease. Modafinil can also be prescribed as a treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

While the majority of SSRIs have been shown not to be effective in people without medical need for the drugs, modafinil has been demonstrated to have cognitive enhancing effects for healthy, non-sleep-deprived users.9 Modafinil may help recovering cocaine/amphetamine addicts to fight their addiction, and the militaries of several countries have started research into using modafinil to keep jet fighters and helicopter pilots awake during long missions. Similarly, by allowing users to sustain higher cognitive levels on much less sleep, modafinil has become particularly attractive to college students.10

3.1.3. Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is a mild central nervous system stimulant commonly used to treat ADHD in children, daytime drowsiness, narcolepsy, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The pharmacological mechanism is not fully understood, but it is thought to act as both a dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, thus resulting in prolonging the dopamine and adrenergic receptor effects.

Bottle of Ritalin
Source: MSNBC

The most well-known form of methylphenidate is Ritalin. Individuals with ADHD can use this drug to improve attention and concentration. According to most estimates, more than 75 percent of methylphenidate prescriptions are written for children, with boys being about four times as likely to take methylphenidate as girls.

Doctors used to prescribe Ritalin to treat depression, but then it was discovered that for many users, going off of Ritalin can trigger a greater state of depression during the period of withdrawal. Often, parents will report that their children become apathetic to stimuli, and have trouble focusing when they go off the drug. Still, modafinil seems to be effective as a treatment for depression in elderly patients.11

Ritalin is quickly becoming one of the most abused drugs on college campuses, as it is easily obtained on the Internet or on the black market and improves a user’s alertness and concentration. There are risks to its recreational use, as it can increase the heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels. On college campuses, where students are likely to be using other drugs and alcohol as well, the addition of Ritalin to the mix, or using Ritalin to stay awake and party longer, could produce negative effects.

3.1.4. Atomoxetine (Strattera)

Atomoxetine (Strattera) is a non-stimulant drug originally designed to treat depression, but when it failed to show an effect, it was tested and approved for the treatment of ADHD. It is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, and acts by elevating the extracellular level of norepinephrine in the central nervous system. It has less potential for addiction and abuse than stimulants, and is approved for use in children, teenagers, and adults. Side effects include drowsiness, heartburn and other digestive problems. Because a study demonstrated an increased suicidal ideation among children and adolescents taking this drug, the FDA gave it a black box warning.

Off-label, atomoxetine is used as a short-term treatment for binge eating disorders.12 Additionally, a preliminary trial has demonstrated that atomoxetine may help obese individuals with a minor amount of weight loss.13 Finally, while atomoxetine failed to receive an FDA indication as a treatment for depression, many patients have found it effective when used in conjunction with other antidepressants, although the mechanism is still not understood.

3.1.5. Donepezil (Aricept)

Donepezil (Aricept) is a reversible acetyl cholinesterase inhibitor. It increases acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that allows neurons to communicate with each other by preventing the cholinesterase enzyme from breaking it down. Originally developed for the treatment of dementia, donepezil has also been found to boost the brain function of healthy people. It is an effective drug, with a bioavailability of 100%, and it easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

Donepezil’s main therapeutic use is in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, either alone or with other drugs, but there is no definite proof that it effectively changes the course of the disease. Donepezil has been studied in patients with a number of other cognitive disorders, including Lewy body dementia, schizophrenia, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and Down syndrome, but the results have varied widely and are inconclusive. Side effects are usually less severe than similar drugs in its class, but may include nausea, diarrhea, and vivid dreams. Given that donepezil is intended to stimulate neural connections for people suffering from dementia, it may also help enhance memory functioning in neurologically healthy individuals.

3.1.6. Fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac) and other SSRI’s

Peter Kramer’s 1993 book, Listening to Prozac
Source: The Vaults of Erowid

Fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac) and other SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a class of antidepressants used to relieve symptoms for many conditions: social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depression. As a class, they work by increasing the extracellular level of serotonin available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor.

While SSRIs are effective in clinical situations, they are not simply “happy pills” that shift depressed people to normalcy, and normal people even further to bliss. Rather, SSRIs attenuate the “hassle” factor in life, meaning that they are mostly effective in people with depression, anxiety, and personality disorders. People who take SSRIs in the absence of definite mental illness, and the physicians who observe them, commonly report that negative feelings such as sadness and anger do not disappear but diminish, as does the inclination to brood over them.14

There are a number of adverse physical, sexual, and cardiovascular side effects that come with SSRI use. There is a risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening adverse drug reaction caused by excess serotonin activity at the CNS and peripheral serotonin receptors. Also, while SSRIs are not conventionally addictive, suddenly discontinuing their use can lead to physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that can last from weeks to months.15 Over the years there have been many case studies and reports of SSRIs causing suicidal ideation and aggressive behavior in some patients, but no conclusive link has been proven. There is a required black box warning for suicide risk in children, but not adults. In fact, Prozac is the only SSRI licensed for children in the U.S. and U.K.16

3.1.7. Herbal supplements (St. JohnÕs Wort)

St. John’s Wort
Source: Answers.com

Herbal supplements like St. John’s Wort are used to treat low and mild depression. Clinical trials have established its efficacy, but data remain inconclusive for those with more severe depression. The active constituents in St John’s Wort are hyperforin and hypericin, and they are thought to work by a pharmacological mechanism similar to SSRIs. St. John’s Wort is considered safe, with the most common side effects reported to be gastrointestinal symptoms, dizziness, and confusion. Despite this safety rating, it should be noted that the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory in 1999 to warn users of the herb’s interactions with commonly prescribed medications, including birth control pills, cyclosporine (a transplant anti-rejection drug), indinavir (an HIV treatment), and warfarin (an anticoagulant).17

3.2. Manipulating memory formation and cognition

The drugs presented below are sometimes referred to as “Smart Drugs.” These formulations target the ability to create and retain memories. This kind of brain function impacts many aspects of everyday life, from reactions to stressful situations, to the quality of working memory, which subsequently enhances the performance of cognitive tasks and executive functions such as reasoning and decision making.

3.2.1. Ampakine (Farampator)

Ampakines (a type of stimulant) are a class of drugs that enhance attention span and alertness. They work by binding in the brain to AMPA-type glutamate receptors. This boosts the activity of the neurotransmitter glutamate, which makes it easier to acquire and consolidate new memories.18 There are not many known side effects for ampakines (they do not cause sleeplessness like other stimulants), but one ampakine, Farampator, causes nausea and impaired episodic memory.

Ampakines have been studied as potential treatment for a range of conditions involving mental disability such as seen in Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia, as well as in ADHD. In behavioral tests, ampakines facilitate learning and improve short-term memory.19 In a 2006 study, researchers found that the ampakines’ effects lingered after they left the body, continuing to enhance learning and memory.20 The Pentagon is testing one ampakine as an antidote for sleep deprivation.21 These drugs may be the first of a new generation of cognitive enhancers to be available to the public, as Cortex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is beginning to develop ampakines to be marketed as cognitive enhancers.22

3.2.2. Propranolol (Inderal)

Propranolol (Inderal), a non-selective beta-adrenergic receptor blocking agent used in cardiology, blocks the actions of epinephrine and norepinephrine on the beta-adrenergic receptors, which mediate the “fight or flight” response. When a threat stimulates adrenaline production, this embeds a non-conscious emotional memory of fearful/threatening events for future reference and recall.23 Propranolol use, then, may prevent the embedding of pathological unconscious emotional memories. Adverse effects associated with propranolol include nausea, heart problems, depression, and hallucinations.24,25

Currently, propranolol is used to manage conditions including hypertension, angina, and Tachyarrhythmia, but it is also being used experimentally to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Propranolol, already being used by people suffering from stage fright, could be used Prophylactic by those entering into potentially traumatic situations such as war, natural disasters, police work, etc.,26 to lower the incidence of PTSD. In the event of propranolol’s widespread use, there is the danger that the drug could be abused in the interest of nefarious activities. For instance, people intending to commit horrific crimes (murder, torture, assassination missions) may take the drug to relieve themselves of the pain of remembering. Similarly, these criminals could also give the drug to their victims making them forget the event so they cannot testify accurately. (PTSD and violence by veterans: Increased murder rates related to war)

3.2.3. Herbal supplements (Ginko Biloba)

Gingko Biloba
Source: Answers.com

Herbal Supplements like Gingko Biloba are thought to have neuropharmaceutical properties. Studies on the ability of Ginkgo Biloba to enhance memory (through increasing blood flow in the brain) have been inconclusive. In 2005, a study presented at the U.S.-based Alzheimer’s Association conference showed that a supplement called GETO, which contains ginseng, epimedium herb, thinleaf milkwort root, and two other herbs, could reduce memory damage due to dementia.2

3.3. Future prospects

There are a number of neuropharmaceuticals that are still in development. These are the harbingers of a new generation of drugs that are not adapted for a new indication, but rather are produced with the express purpose of enhancing or manipulating memory, cognition, mood, or personality. Without specific therapeutic targets, it will be interesting to see how the FDA chooses to approach these new compounds, if they will be approved, and under what conditions. A major issue to consider is if these drugs will be available over the counter or by prescription only.

3.3.1. Oxytocin Nasal Spray.

In July 2007, University of Zurich researchers developed a nasal spray containing oxytocin, a mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter.28 The spray is intended to relieve people of shyness and facilitate social interactions.29 As a hormone, oxytocin works on labor and breastfeeding, but as a neurotransmitter, it affects social recognition, trust, and bonding. Oxytocin is thought to be relatively safe when used at recommended doses, but potential side effects include increased heart rate, seizures, and water retention. There are a number of oxytocin nasal sprays available for breast-feeding mothers, but they are targeted to increase the levels of the hormone form of the compound, rather than the neurotransmitter form like this new drug. A pilot study has been conducted with very dramatic results indicating that it is effective, and the researchers are planning larger-scale trials. They estimate that the spray could be on the market within the next five years.

3.3.2. CREB modulators

CREB modulators are designed to enhance memory formation, without the treatment of any particular disease in mind. They are thought to work by inhibiting PDE4, an enzyme which breaks down cAMP, an important neuronal and intracellular signaling molecule. By increasing the levels of cAMP, these drugs upregulate the activity of a transcription factor called the cAMP response element-binding (CREB). CREBs activate a pattern of neural gene expression that results in synaptic growth and strengthening the connections among active neurons. This may augment the acquisition of long-term memory and strengthen memory consolidation.

Once activated, CREB modulators appear to allow brain cells to make the connections vital for memory formation. Tim Tully, a professor of genetics at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York who developed the drug, said: “If it proves safe and effective, it could ultimately be used by people who want to learn a language or a musical instrument or even in schools.”30

Defense Department scientists are pursuing the use of this drug as an enhancement that could offer an advantage to U.S. combat forces. The Pentagon spends $20 million per year exploring ways to “expand available memory” and to build “sleep-resistant circuitry” in the brain.31 As they develop and expand this research, we need to consider if we should be pushing soldiers to the limits of physical exertion through the use of drugs.

A number of pharmaceutical companies are developing marketable CREB modulators. Memory Pharmaceutical’s recently completed Phase I clinical trials proved their drug, MEM 1414, generally well-tolerated.32 As of June 2007, Helicon Therapeutics reported promising signs resulting from their Phase IIa clinical trial.33 It should be noted that these drugs are still in the early phases of development, and until additional trials are completed, we will not fully understand the effectiveness and side effects of these drugs.

4. Ethical Implications

Sometimes it feels as if everyone is taking a neuropharmaceutical
Source: Corante

Many neuropharmacological agents can be used as therapy to treat diseases, or as enhancements to make the healthy user “better than well.” Many agree that the benefits of these neuropharmaceuticals for those who are sick outweigh the potential for abuse and, therefore, development should continue. It is crucial, nonetheless, to consider the ethical and social consequences of potential widespread use and abuse of these neuropharmacological agents as neuroenhancements proliferate and reach increasingly diverse populations of users.

In the following sections, we focus on the use of nootropic agents as enhancements in healthy individuals, and the relevant ethical issues accompanying their wider use.

There are different ways our society, and the legal and medical systems, can attempt to resolve the ethical issues raised here. The future control of these drugs could range from an authoritarian blanket ban against all development and use, to a more lenient and tailored program of dispensation based on individual circumstances, to a complete free-for-all with over-the-counter access for anyone who can afford them. A well- considered resolution to these questions will look at components like safety, individual’s roles and rights in society, distributive justice, and medicalization practices.

4.1. Safety

Source: Discount Drugstore Online

Should there be different standards for safety when a drug is given to people who use it for therapy, as opposed to enhancement? Many drugs with high risk-benefit ratios are given to gravely ill people, as is the case of chemotherapy for cancer patients and strong anti-depressants like lithium for the severely depressed. In these cases, the tolerance for risk is very high because the need and potential for benefit are very great. This is not necessarily true when clinically healthy people use drugs for enhancement. Because these users are healthy and functioning well in society, there should be a very high threshold for allowable risk to healthy users. The medical and pharmaceutical communities need to determine types of clinical studies necessary to demonstrate appropriate safety levels for drugs taken by healthy people as an enhancement. In evaluating the safety of these drugs for recreational use or enhancement,34 we also need to consider hidden costs and risks to using these drugs. We know, for example, they affect both storage and retrieval of memories, but it is unclear whether altering one affects the other.

In the 21st century American model of the doctor-patient relationship, the dominant concept is that of patient autonomy. Here the doctor provides the patient with accurate information about a panoply of options, then the patient is free to weigh and consider the information and decide for him or herself which option to choose. If we embrace this model for the regulation of enhancement drugs, this would argue for the relaxation of safety standards for a drug that provides a benefit to healthy individuals, allowing them to choose just how much risk they are willing to accept. In this case, we would need to find a way to ensure that people are receiving accurate information from reliable sources.

It is important to remember, however, that much of the pharmaceutical industry does not rely on individual patient autonomy. There are strict prescribing rules, including who may write a prescription, for what particular dose, and how many refills. This is true even when prescribing drugs that have a low potential for abuse and mild side-effects. With that in mind, it is unreasonable to believe that distribution of neuroenhancers would be left solely to the individual.

We critically need accurate and current clinical trial data about neuropharmaceuticals available today. Clinical trials frequently last six months or less, while individuals continue taking the pharmaceutical preparations for much longer periods. Therefore, the long-term effects of these drugs are mostly unknown. Scant data are available related to the effect of these drugs when prescribed to children, an important omission since we know that children, adolescents, and adults can have different and unanticipated reactions to a drug. We cannot necessarily expect that clinical data for one age range will apply to any of the others. Clinical trials and their monitoring need to become more in step with current understandings of individual metabolism and prescribing practices.

The need for longer, more comprehensive clinical trials can be illustrated through the example of modafinil, described above. Despite how attractive modafinil appears as a sleep inhibitor with few and moderate side effects, we know sleep is important for neuroplasticity. Thus, pharmacologically eliminating the need for sleep could impair the brain’s ability to adapt to a changing environment or to recover from injury. Additionally, sleep is important in the consolidation of newly acquired memories. We can not help but question whether chronic use of this medication would result in synapse remodeling, alteration of neural circuitry, or permanent changes to the brain. Unfortunately, until we have comprehensive longitudinal studies of usage, the answers to these questions will likely remain unclear.35

4.2. Societal Coercion

Neuropharmaceuticals are routinely prescribed to school children
Source: International Chiropractice Pediatric Association

Many drugs described in this module either are or have the potential for off-label use as performance enhancers. Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is an example of a drug widely used and abused by high school and college students in their attempt to study better and retain more information. Yet Ritalin remains a prescription drug with specific, other indications. So consider what would happen if a nootropic drug such as Ritalin were labeled as a study aid and its use became ubiquitous, easily available without a prescription. Would every student believe it was necessary to take this drug to remain competitive? If the majority of students used it, would it then offer users any competitive advantage? What would happen to students who chose not to take Ritalin in order to study for an exam? Would they be at a significant disadvantage?

The widespread use of neuropharmaceuticals will likely have a profound effect on what we think of as normal, or accepted, levels of performance, as well as our concepts of substandard performance levels, or of people in need of therapy. How will we evaluate or even value the accomplishments of someone who uses neuropharmaceuticals, as opposed to those who “just say no” to enhancement? Consider if we truly value people for their unique contributions and hard work, even if this effort results in limited success, or if we measure success solely by accomplishments. Would using a medicinal performance enhancer be construed as a way of cheating, of making an end-run around hard work and dedication, and of shifting society’s focus from effort to accomplishment?

Alternatively, we could see nootropic use by individuals as a boon to the greater community. If individuals take these drugs to enhance their performance, and enhanced performance has significant benefits for others in the community (e.g., better doctors, airline pilots, assembly line workers), society as a whole clearly would benefit from the use of neuropharmaceuticals. Still, there remains much potential for abuse on the individual level. The promotion of these social benefits should not eclipse notions of free will and personal choice. We should not create a situation where individuals are compelled to take an enhancement drug because of the benefit it will have to others in society, regardless of the individual’s personal response to the compound or personal beliefs and values regarding drug use and performance enhancement in general.

4.3. Character and Individuality

In his 1993 book Listening to Prozac, author Peter Kramer focuses on the overlooked ability of the drug to transform the user’s self-conception. Prozac (fluoxetine Hcl ) can relieve anxiety, improve confidence and energy, and facilitate social and business skills. He contemplates, rightly, what this means for our ability to define and shape personality through pharmacology.36

Others have recognized additional implications of mood and personality-altering drugs like Prozac. Dr. Martha Farah from the University of Pennsylvania asks what would happen if a man falls in love with a person who takes Prozac, who then stops taking the drug and subsequently develops (or reverts to) a different personality.37 Is this still the same person with whom he fell in love? Or did he only love the person when on Prozac? Questions like these are extraordinarily difficult to answer because we have no cohesive understanding of what personality or the self consists of.38 If people can change their personalities and outlooks through therapy and hard work, is this significantly different from changing them through medication?

4.3.1. Does Memory define personality?

There are many different elements that comprise an individual’s personality.
Source: Just a blip

Memory drugs that enhance or reduce memory capabilities hold great potential to radically change individual personalities and characters. Our memories are integral to how we define and describe ourselves. Given that, what does it mean if we have the power to change our memories? Erasing (or easing) a distressing or embarrassing memory of a mistake could free an individual from stress and anxiety. But in the future, the person might be more inclined to make the same mistake again.

Finally, memory-altering drugs may produce unintended consequences, especially when it comes to enhancing memory in healthy individuals. Before the wholesale adoption of memory enhancement compounds, we should consider how much memory is too much, and how do we manage the parameters of the drugs’ effects.

4.4. Distributive Justice

Many argue that health and educational opportunities are crucial to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness
Source: The White House

Neuroenhancements may exacerbate the existing socioeconomic gap.39 Yet there are some who argue that this aspect of neuroenhancement does not pose a unique challenge to equity, and should not be particularly controversial as there are countless consumer goods available which enhance or improve performance (e.g. caffeine in coffee and nicotine in cigarettes). Since not everyone will be able to afford enhancement drugs, should neuropharmaceutical enhancements be distributed differently? Others add that because we accept grave injustices, such as the fact that millions of people in the U.S. do not have access to even basic nutrition and health care, taking enhancing drugs should not stand out as exceptions. Still others argue that health and educational opportunities are crucial to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, and, hence, the bad luck of genetic and social distribution should not be exacerbated by the differential distribution of pharmacological aids. Is the answer to give enhancement drugs to everyone?

Interestingly enough, neuropharmaceuticals have different effects on different sectors of society. Studies have demonstrated that drugs like Adderall help those who need it most and provide little benefit to those already at a high level of functioning. In some cases, particularly with Bromocriptine, these drugs improve performance on various executive functions tasks for individuals with lower-than-average working memory capacity but lowered the performance of those with the highest working memory capacities.40 The implications of this last study are particularly important. Some “smart drugs” may serve to correct inequities, rather than exacerbate them. In that case, what is the appropriate action to take? Should they be distributed in order to improve the lives of those who were born with a low aptitude for academic and social achievement? In this case, lack of access to neuroenhancement would only continue to widen an already large gap.

4.5. Medicalization of the Human Condition

Should there be a pill for every ill?

We run the risk that, in the face of being able to correct every personal and social defect with pharmaceuticals, the conception of what is a “normal” state of health and well- being may change drastically. As noted in the section on safety and clinical trials, neuropharmaceuticals may affect people in subtle and inexplicably inconsistent ways. Not everyone responds the same way to neuropharmaceuticals, and some may get no result at all. If a person takes an enhancing agent, but does not experience the desired effect, is that person somehow abnormal?

How should we accept or handle natural variation across the population? With personality traits that can fall along a wide spectrum, such as intelligence or social savvy, drawing the line between who is “sick” and who is “normal” is difficult enough. The task is complicated further if we can augment these traits through the use of drugs. A good example of this concern can be found in the rapidly-growing use of anti- depressants. Children and adolescents can receive prescriptions for anti-depressants if they present with a wide and inconsistent range of depression-related symptoms. Many worry that young people receive these drugs needlessly, especially in cases where human emotions like sadness and frustration fall within the normal range of appropriate reactions to stimuli but are misinterpreted as a form of disease. If we set the bar for “normal” happiness too high, we may end up creating a society where children and adolescents are routinely given powerful pharmaceuticals that have known risks because they are not as happy as others think they should be.

4.6. Some Final Considerations

It is clear is that neurological enhancements are here to stay. The potential market is too extensive and the desire too pervasive to be ignored by pharmaceutical companies. Our experience with other drugs has shown that even strictly prohibitive laws and policies make little difference in restricting their use, as people will undoubtedly gain access to such drugs by way of an unregulated free market or even a black market. The attraction of drugs that can boost mental performance, increase mental alertness, or relieve disturbing memories is difficult to deny. If we are to accept the increasing use of enhancement drugs, then as a society we should develop sensible policies and regulations to ensure the widest benefit with the least harm.

5. Neuropharmacology in popular culture and in the popular imagination

Popular culture often serves as commentary on contemporary issues in science and medicine. Though the portrayals of emergent health technologies in literature and film often jump to the wildest extremes, they also stimulate the popular imagination. In particular, depictions of mood and mind altering pharmaceuticals have long been a common subject. It is worthwhile to consider the power they have to shape, and, unfortunately, sometimes misinform, public attitudes.

5.1. Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy

Source: Wikipedia

In the 1996 movie, Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, a failing pharmaceutical company creates the perfect anti-depressant drug called “Gleemonex.” The drug locks users into continuously reliving their happiest memories. Things seem to be going well until it is discovered that the drug renders 5% of users comatose. A race ensues between scientists who want to tell the world the truth and the company’s marketing department who wants to keep secret the negative elements so they may turn a greater profit. Given the attention that anti-depressant drugs (like Prozac) received in the news media at the time of this film’s release, this was an appropriate satire on the state of the neuropharmaceutical industry. The film makes some interesting points about the distinction between clinical depression and run-of-the-mill “sadness,” and the degree to which we are (perhaps) overusing drugs as a long-term solution to the former, and as a way to suppress the latter. Much of the content is politically incorrect and offensive, but it does not deter from the overall message about neuropharmaceuticals.

5.2. Prozac Nation

Elizabeth Wurtzel’s autobiography, Prozac Nation, was published in 1994 as an account of her struggles with clinical atypical depression, a severe, episodic psychological disorder. In 2001, the book was turned into a movie starring Christina Ricci, but was not widely released in theaters in the U.S. Both the book and the movie chronicle Wurtzel’s experience with mental illness, her own character failings, and how she managed to live through particularly difficult periods in college and while working as a writer. After multiple forays in treatment and suicide attempts, she was put on Prozac with relative success. She writes about what it was like to go on anti-depressants. While overall, it eased her disease, she discusses how intimidating it was to leave her familiar state behind and her concerns about the “fakeness” of altering moods, even in severe disorders like her own. While some readers of the book find the author self-indulgent, the story’s real value lies in the fact that it is an honest, detailed, and accessible description of drug use in an often stigmatized and misunderstood illness.


Please click here to go to the interesting cases and challenging questions.

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36 Kramer PD. Listening to Prozac. New York: Penguin; 1997. toparrow

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Hacking your Brain with Smart Drugs – Knowing Neurons

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Neurotechnologies as weapons in national intelligence and defense …

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Socio-Cultural Information from Spoken Interactions – SRI Speech

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ICT | Solutions

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Institute for Creative Technologies

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White Paper on Influence in an Age of Rising Connectedness

Michel Foucault

The Impacts of ICT on Defense Industry


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Defense industry is one of the vital economic units in most nations. It produces weapons and special equipment of war.  Some nations have developed their defense industry to the extend of  exporting the equipment to others. In general, defense industry’s outputs can be categorized into two – hardware and software, just like the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry’s.

Introduction• Defense industry is one of the many industries which are strongly impacted by Information and Communication...Examples of hardware output from defense industry are:

  • Ships such as patrol craft, corvette, frigate, destroyer, multi-purposes support ship, and air craft carrier.
  • Aircraft such as utility and attack helicopter, fighter, interceptor, bomber.
  • Land-based weapon platforms such as heavy battle tank (MBT), infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), tactical vehicle, and etc.
  • Logistic equipment in term of all-terrain vehicle (ATV), lorry, four-wheel drive (4WD) and etc.
  • Arms – small and big caliber guns such as assault rifle, artillery pieces, bombs, and missiles.

Examples of software output from defense industry are:

  • Various types of radar for land, sea, and air usage.
  • Optronic (optical electronics) system.
  • Telecommunication system for all levels (Sections, Platoons, Companies, Regiments, Brigades, Divisions, as well as Corps)
  • Electronic countermeasures equipment.
  • Battlefield Management System (BMS)

Defense industry is one of the many industries which are strongly impacted by Information and Communication Technology. ICT and defense industry have strong correlation. Both have a direct or positive relationship to one another – advancement in ICT brings benefits to the development in defense industry and vice versa.

For example, the Internet – one of the cores of ICT era, was first invented in the late 1950s to be used in defensive manner upon the former Soviet Union aggression. It was built with the objective of providing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and United States of America (USA)’s armed forces generals with unbreakable and hard-to-decipher communication tool in case of a nuclear war broke out.

ICT had transformed the industry from producing dumb bombs to smart weapons, from people-centric to network-centric battlefields management, from aftermath combat review to real-time combat surveillance, from land and sea to air and outer space superiority, and from hardware-based to software-based force multipliers.


In the old ways (before ICT being widely used), the defence industry was synonym with dumb bombs, people-centric battlefields management, aftermath combat review, land and sea superiority, and hardware-based force multipliers.

Dumb Bombs to Smart Weapons• Before ICT era • After ICT era – Inabilities to choose or – highly efficie...DUMB BOMBS. Before the ICT being widely use in weapon production, defence industry produced conventional bombs or famously known as dumb bombs. The bombs were used to destroy important targets such as hydro-electric dams, explosive bunkers, bridges, airport runways, and important facilities like government administrative buildings, and vital industrial complexes. Some were even used on military personnel to create fear and demoralize the opponents.

The bombs are called “dumb” because of their inabilities to choose or select proper targets and to act and react by its own timing. The bombs were unable to differentiate between high-value targets from unimportant ones.

Missing the target was frequently happened and  wrongly destroying unnecessary targets was even more common. Lots of collateral damages occurred when the bombs were used in major conflicts such as World War I and II.

PEOPLE-CENTRIC BATTLEFIELDS MANAGEMENT. Before ICT being widely used in defense industry, equipment and weapons were produced simply to meet the individual personnel requirement in armed forces. To create destructive effects against the enemy, those equipment and weapons were used collectively and concurrently in battlefields. This dependency on huge number of personnel and large number of military equipment and weapons is known as people-centric battlefield management system.

People-centric to Network-centric Battlefields Management• Before ICT era • After ICT era – required la...The supply of people who were ready to joint military services was high. In fact, the strength of armed forces was measured based on the number of military personnel that it has. The bigger the number the better chances to win any conflict because the tactics used required large number of peoples.

To manage a battlefield efficiently and create winning situation, the generals required large number of people, weapons, and equipment to control the front-line and cover their left and right flanks. The generals also required huge number of peoples and equipment to assist their logistic supply lines and clerical tasks in the armed forces’ headquarter as other camps.

AFTERMATH COMBAT REVIEW. Before ICT was introduced in defence industry, there was no dedicated devices being invented to assist the military personnel review their actions in combat. In term of post-mortem or aftermath combat review, everybody depended on their own accounts and memories. It was done by using maps, models of the combat areas, and direct investigation by higher rank officers.

Aftermath Combat Review to Real-time Combat Surveillance• Before ICT era • After ICT era – no devices ...The probability of acquiring 100% reliable information from the aftermath combat review was questionable. This was due to several factors such as the post-combat trauma experienced by injured troopers, the tendency of personnel involved in combat zone giving different accounts by inflating the amount of their contribution (to win gallantry awards), and etc.

LAND AND SEA SUPERIORITY. Before ICT was introduced in defence industry, the focus of military activities was towards land and sea superiority. Thus, the industry produced lots of equipment and devices to support the focus. Among the hardware being produced by the industry was main battle tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, and ships (frigates as well as destroyer).

Land and Sea to Air and Outer Space Superiority• Before ICT era • After ICT era – focus of military ac...

One Malaysian army general had mentioned that the decisive battle of any conflict will be on land. And, the best way to block enemy attack is to check them at sea before they reach our soil. However, this situation had totally change with the introduction of ICT in defence industry.

HARDWARE-BASED FORCE MULTIPLIERS. Force multipliers refer to military inputs that could enhance particular armed forces readiness to face any possible conflict and response in significant ways to win a war.  The defence industry, before ICT era, promoted military hardware such as big caliber artillery pieces (mostly 155mm and above, dubbed as the queen of battlefield), main battle tanks ( with 120 or 125mm canon, dubbed as the king of battlefield), as well as heavy “dumb” bomb that could destruct large areas as the force multipliers.

Hardware-based to Software-based Force Multipliers• Before ICT era • After ICT era – spending lo...

Most countries in the world equipped their armed forces with such force multipliers by spending lots of cash to pay for the hardware. One interesting fact to note is that the countries never realized that if they spend the same amount of money to develop human capital and ICT expertise, they could produced better system in the future.


ICT has brought wide ranging changes in the industry in terms of smart weapons, network-centric battlefield management, real-time combat surveillance, air and outer space superiority, and software-based force multipliers.

Baseline Satellite Platform• To maximize payload performance with capacity to support military communication services.• T...

SMART WEAPONS. ICT had transformed defence industry in a grand way. If the industry produced “dumb” bomb previously, now with the helps from ICT, it could produce “smart” weapons. Smart weapons are highly efficient and sharply accurate.  Military personnel could “talk” or communicate with weapons under their command. They can ask the weapon to seek and destroy very specific targets without destructing the surrounding area.

For example, the defense industry of European countries and United States of America have developed and produces air-to-air missiles that could adjust its trajectory while speeding to destroy enemy’s aircraft at a very high speed. Another smart weapon in term of deep sea mine could identify which ship to destroy by analyzing current vibration created by the ship’s hull. Meaning that the mine could identify whether the target is military ship or civilian ship.

Currently, killer robots are being produced to replace human in battlefield. All these are possible due to ICT and advancement in artificial intelligence system develop by defence industry.

Image result for killer robots are being produced to replace human in battlefield

NETWORK-CENTRIC BATTLEFIELDS MANAGEMENT. Network-centric Battlefields Management is a new approach of managing battlefield by utilizing ICT advantages. A military commander could monitor his troops advancement to enemy’s line, their position in the battlefield, the number of casualties, as well as the level of ammunition supply (when to replenish them).

The intra-troops communication is also improved with network-centric devices. A squad leader could identify between friendly troops or hostile enemy troops, the position of his troop’s support elements, and the positions of other combat elements scattered in the battlefield. This ability enable the squad leader to decide correctly at the right time and place during challenging situation – such as to move into enemy garrison or parameters.

All these advantages are possible due to advance electronic devices plus wireless networking facilities between the military personnel in the battlefield are connected to the command center.

Malaysia Military Strenght

REAL-TIME COMBAT SURVEILLANCE. Real-time Combat Surveillance is an extension of the network-centric battlefield management explained above. The details of combat events are fed at real-time from the battlefield to the command center. This is possible because army personnel are equipped not only with assault rifles and armored vest.

They are equipped with advance electronic devices that help them to decide which terrain to follow, enable them to calculate precisely the range between enemy target and their position, measure the time it will take to travel from one point to another accurately, as well as the destruction force required to completely destroyed decided target.

While doing the dangerous mission, the army personnel are able to received immediate instruction from their commander as well. Satellite communication devices help both sides to maintain communication in real-time and increase the chances to win the conflict.

AIR AND OUTER Space Superiority. The ICT has enabled defence industry to produce high-end military equipment to be used by the air forces around the globe. Lots of electronics devices with advance ICT components are offered in the market such as advance stealth devices to be incorporated into long range interceptor jets, unmanned-aerial-vehicle (UAV) that can fly independently to remote areas hundreds kilometers from its launch-base, military satellites that could monitor multiple targets round the clock (24 hours/ 7 days non-stop) and etc. All these new invention help many countries to achieve air and outer space superiority.

For example, satellite technology is vital in defence industry. Most developed countries have located hundreds of these important electronic device in the orbit for many purposes. One of them is for military intelligence. The defence industry uses high-end ICT inputs to create powerful satellite that can be used to survey the land, ocean, and atmosphere, as well as to monitor any significant military installations of rival countries, letting the concerned-parties such as governments to see the realities of the world we previously could only imagine and provide answers on national security.

SOFTWARE-BASED FORCE MULTIPLIERS. Most defence equipment discussed above are nothing if the “brains” that control them and enable them to “think” and “decide” are not exist. The brains are actually the software implanted inside the equipment. Due to these software, armed forces reached its optimum capability. In other word, in ICT era, the focus shifted from hardware-based force multipliers to software-based force multipliers.

Image result for military SCENARIOS IN ICT ERA

Most companies in defence industry have a dedicated department that specialized in military software development. The software are used in many hardware such as long range radar, battlefield management system, global positioning system (GPS), missiles active guide system, and etc.

In fact, if Malaysia wants to enter into global defense industry and sell its products to foreign countries, military software development is the best option. This is because the country has excellent human capitals that specialized in ICT. Their contributions are vital in order to develop military software. Currently, System Consultancy Services Sdn Bhd (SCS) is one of the best company in military software development in Malaysia.


ICT has totally changed the ways defense industry operates and produces military equipment. Instead of focusing on the hardware, the industry has shifted to network-centric warfare and produces advance ICT-based output, which in turn contributed significantly to the development of potent modern military forces around the world.








Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

ICT | Solutions

Institute for Creative Technologies

Military ict

Defence Technology

The Soviet Union and the United States – Revelations from the …

The Invention of the Internet – Inventions – HISTORY

Tactical Generals: Leaders, Technology, and the Perils

Network Centric Operations – Federation of American Scientists

Paradigm shifts in modern ICT era and future trends – IEEE Xplore

Scholarly articles for network-centric warfare

Network Centric Warfare – Command and Control Research Portal

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Warfighting Advantage | SIGNAL …

U.S. Naval Institute

Modern Militaries and a Network Centric Warfare Approach

Significant scenarios introduced in ICT era for defence industry


The New Battlefield: Network-Centric Warfare | Israel Defense

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Creating the Future: Tomorrow’s Worl

Significant scenarios introduced in ICT era for defence industry

Russia Eyes Space Superiority Through Satellite Grouping – iHLS


Preventing Future Conflicts in Outer Space « CSS Blog Network

USAF Must Think About Space Superiority Like It … – Air Force Magazine

Military ict

Significant scenarios introduced in ICT era for defence industry


Asian Defence Journal – SHP Media

Defense Tech – Military.com

Military Space News, Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defense

SHP Media

Syed Hussain Publications – SHP Media

Defense Services | Pacific Aerospace

System Consultancy Services

System Consultancy Services Sdn Bhd

Military Systems-of-Systems Consultancy Services – SyntheSys Defence

Systematic – software and systems provider – CMMI5 certified

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Michel Foucault


Weapons of Perception: Neuroscience and Mind-Controlled Weapons


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Military mind-control weapons and performance enhancement

New insights into the way the brain works and direct brain interfaces enabling weapons to be targeted and fired with just a thought.

Ever since Stone Age men discovered that knapping flint produced sharp stone edges that could be used in combat as well as for cooking and hunting, technological advances of all kinds have been adapted and adopted by the military. The opportunities provided by modern neuroscience are proving no exception, but their application in a military context is accompanied by complex practical and ethical considerations.

Advances in neuroscience offer the military mind-control weapons and performance enhancement

Mind-control weapons and extra-sensory enhanced warfare techniques are definitely not science fiction. With a recent Royal Society report on research in areas such as neuropharmacology, functional neuroimaging and neural interface systems creates a new breed of super soldiers

Military interest in neuroscience has two main goals: performance enhancement, i.e. improving the efficiency of one’s own forces, and performance degradation, i.e.
diminishing the performance of one’s enemy. Advances in neuroscience may
provide a number of applications for enhancement beyond improving the operational performance of military personnel, ranging from improved protocols for selection and training to advances in rehabilitation and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The degradation applications of neuroscience are, for the purposes of this report, focused on the development of new weapons, in particular the development of so-called ‘non-lethal’ weapons such as incapacitating chemical agents. These applications raise key scientific questions of feasibility and significant policy, legal and ethical issues  at the domestic and international level.

Neuroscience, conflict and security

The report published by the Royal Society warns the neuroscience community to be aware of the military ramifications of its research, including mind-controlled weaponry

Image result for Neuroscience, Conflict and Security, Royal Society reportNeuroscience is one of the most rapidly advancing fields in medicine, with highly-detailed imaging offering new insights into the way the brain works and direct brain interfaces enabling weapons to be targeted and fired with just a thought. The technology is not speculative – just last year scientists unveiled an implant called BrainGate that enabled a woman who had lost the use of her limbs after a devastating stroke to control a robot arm using thought processes alone.

The report, “Neuroscience, Conflict and Security,” formed part of a series that examined the impact of neuroscience on society, dealing specifically with the potential application of advances in neuroscience to the armed forces and security personnel.

It was chaired by Professor Roderick Flower FRS, professor of biochemical pharmacology at the The William Harvey Research Institute – Queen Mary University of London, and brought together international experts to discuss new developments in the field and the laws and ethics that apply to their application in a military and civil context. According to Flower, it was the first time the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) had worked with academia in neuroscience.

“The people we were in contact with there were the horizon scanning team whose job it is to look out for potential new applications of research,” Flower said. “We relied on what was publicly available, and while the US is extremely open about what its military does, the UK is not so open, and countries like Russia and China are a complete cipher.”

A key advance in neuroscience has been improvements in real-time neuroimaging, which can indicate in great detail which parts of the brain “light up” when undertaking certain activities. One of its applications could be to screen potential recruits for a specific role, for example to see if they are temperamentally suited to be a commander, pilot or diver.

“At the moment it’s very much a case of taking people on and subjecting them to high-stress exercises and choosing the ones who make it,” says Flower. “If subjected to imaging during assessment you could identify who has good risk-taking behavior, strategy and planning ability, or 3D analytical skills.”

Brain scanning for target identification

Brain scanning can speed up and improve target recognition or identify changes in surveillance satellite images by recognizing subconscious objective identification rather than an operator having to process and actively react.

“It has been discovered that when you show the brain different images, it spots the differences between them even though they may not reach conscious awareness,” says Flower. “Wearing a helmet like a hairnet can pick up a spike in brain activity which you can correlate to differences identified between two images, even if they were flashed up too quickly to process consciously.

That potentially has the ability not only to speed up the process of target selection but also improve accuracy. It also reduces problems associated with fatigue, which is a big issue facing people whose job involves scanning images for a long time, especially in the dark, such as surveillance UAV operators.

Situational awareness solutions allow soldiers to make effective use of varied information in a battlefield context.

Transcranial Electrical Stimulation

Technologies like the BrainGate implant have already shown that machinery can be controlled with the mind alone, and games manufacturers have already brought out low-cost helmet conntrollers than enable wearers to play by mind power alone. The obvious application for the military is mind-controlled weaponry and remotely-piloted aircraft, which could make operation and reactions far faster.

“If you couple that with your subconscious mind being much faster at dealing with information you can see a situation sometime in the future where you’re not thinking about flying the aircraft, but your subconscious is doing it without interfering in any way,” says Flower. “You would probably have a much better appreciation of an incoming threat and fire off a couple of missiles without having to consciously think.”

Another approach that can improve the way the brain works is known as transcranial electrical stimulation where electrodes attached to a 9V battery are clamped to the head. Control studies showed it can improve the rate at which things are learnt, and possibly result in better memory formation.

Drugs to stimulate troops and disable enemies

The report also examines evidence on how drugs improve the performance of certain military tasks. These drugs have shown to greatly increase focus and attention on a specific task. They also increase their ability to tolerate pain, recover from injuries, and remain physically able in challenging environments.

“It could help when flying a long mission where you may become fatigued and your attention begins to drift off,” says Flower. “It could also help you focus when you have a lot of information to process, like being a fighter pilot in a particularly tense situation when you’re trying to get a missile lock on a target while the aircraft and radio are bombarding you with information and you have to communicate back.”

The ethics of neural war

One controversial subject the report touches on is that of neuropsychological-inspired chemical weapons, discussing the fact that although the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) bans the use of chemical weapons on the battlefield, they are allowed for civil law-enforcement purposes.

“One of the problems is as far as anyone in our field can find, it’s not possible to find a totally safe drug that you could use,” says Flower, citing the example of the Moscow theatre siege in which 150 civilians died alongside their Chechen rebel captors.

“If you start spraying it around it affects children, women, men, pregnant women, old men, people taking other drugs, and people with heart disease. It won’t just be the 70kg healthy young men on which these drugs are tested.”

Like automated weaponry and battlefield robotics, these new techniques should require an overhaul of ethical guidelines, especially with regards to civilian casualties. Currently the last person who gave the order to fire is responsible, but if it came from the operator’s subconscious, the line becomes blurred.

With advances in neuroscience holding such great potential for military applications, Flower would like to see the MoD to work closer with academia. One approach would be to have a two-way intern exchange between the MoD and academia.

Neuroscience has ramifications for future warfare, and the scientific community must be more aware of the the dangers.

“It’s not rocket science, the research is all out there, and most of it gets published,” says Flower. “It’s just a question of being aware of it and able to pick up the ideas and exploit them before they read about it in Nature.”







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Mind Control Weapons | secret mind control in sweden and world wide

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Electronic harassment


Wired UK

Thought control of robotic arms using the BrainGate system – YouTube

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BrainGate gives paralysed the power of mind control | Science | The .

Mind Control by Cell Phone – Scientific American

Extremely Low Frequency Mind Control Technologies & The Impact


Military Use of Silent Sound – Mind Control Weapons

The Army’s Totally Serious Mind-Control Project – TIME

Military Mind Control? Psychic Army Division Revealed in CIA Files

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Frontiers | Transcranial Electrical Stimulation and Behavioral Change …

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Transcranial electrical stimulation. – NCBI

A critical weakness in the AugCog effort not addressed by either side …

Pentagon’s Mind-Reading Computers Replicate | WIRED

Fighter jets piloted by mind control using brain-to-machine implant on …

Woman Controls a Fighter Jet Sim Using Only Her Mind | WIRED

DARPA and the Brain Initiative

Creating Supermen: battlefield performance enhancing drugs – Army …

Special Operations super soldiers using performance enhancing drugs

This is Your Military on Drugs

U.S. military: Heavily armed and medicated – Health

DARPA Improving Warfighter Information Intake Under Stress …

Duke Patents Mind-Controlled Weapons | WIRED

Neuroscience: soldiers controlling weapons with minds …

Artificial Telepathy: Hearing Voices:

DARPA’s New Brain Device Increases Learning Speed by 40%

Restoring Active Memory – DARPA – FBO.gov

DARPA Mind Control Project – The Black Vault

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain as a Weapon. – Foreign Policy

Augmented cognition: Science fact or science fiction?

Neuroscience, Ethics, and National Security: The State of the Art – PLOS

Operation Delirium | The New Yorker

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When Psychoanalysis Meets Modern Neuroscience

Oxytocin-Augmented Social Cognitive Skills Training in Schizophrenia

Oxytocin | Psychology Today

The Dark Side of Oxytocin

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Technology Impedances to Augmented Cognition

Augmented Cognition Bringing the Brain on Task

DARPA AugCog – YouTube

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functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)

All Your Brain Are Belong To Us: Neur

Augmenting Human Cognition with Adaptive Augmented Reality …

Foundations of Augmented Cognition. Directing the Future of Adaptive …

NSF Funding Available for Research on Augmenting Human …

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Augmented Cognition: An Overview – Kay M. Stanney, Dylan D …

The Role of Rhetorical Theory in Military Intelligence … – Air University

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Watch the Pentagon’s new hive-mind-controlled drone swarm in action ..

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TRADOC – Mad Scientist Laboratory

Multi-Domain Battle – Mad Scientist Laboratory

Global Surveillance Approval

Effects of Transhumanism on United States…

biologically fit: using biotechnology to create a better soldier

Classification by Object Recognition in Satellite Images by using Data …


Documenting violations of international … – ICRC E-Briefing

DARPA: Creating the Ultimate Super Soldier With Brain Implants on …

Biological Technologies Office

DARPA Launches Biological Technologies Office

DARPA’s Biotech Chief Says 2017 Will “Blow Our Minds” – Scientific …

CHIPS Articles: DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office Lays …

DARPA Developing New Biotech Unit – Giant Freakin Robot

Persecution and the Personality – Teachinghearts

A Top Secret Program Hidden in Plain Sight – StopTheCrime.net

LibraryAware February 2018

Top 10 Weapons So Powerful They’re Illegal & Prohibited Worldwide

Psychic Warfare and Shocking Paranormal Military Experiments

Mind-Bending Black Operations, Weapons Systems and Experiments by ..

DARPA Sees US Fighter Jets as First Thought-controlled Weapon …

Assistive technology and robotic control using motor cortex ensemble …

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Ethics and the Enhanced Soldier of the Near Future – Army University …

Future wars may be waged with mind-controlled weaponry, Royal …

Weaponizing the Brain: Neuroscience Advancements Spark Debate

Augmented cognition:


Putting Your Digital Twin to Work with Artificial Intelligence


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Virtual avatars that can help you be in two places at the same time

What if you had a twin that knew everything you knew? What if you could send that twin out and trust that it will do exactly what you would do? What if you could use it to try on new clothes for you, go on dates halfway around the world—even help you live forever?

That’s what artificial intelligence company ObEN aims to do—and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

More and more companies are taking artificial intelligence (AI) seriously and seeing its potential to disrupt the world. McKinsey & Company reported that, in 2016, companies spent between $26-39 billion on AI research, development and acquisitions, with tech giants such as Google and Baidu making up the bulk of the spending. Earlier this year, ObEN, which creates personal AI assistants, raised $5 million from China-based tech company Tencent to develop AI celebrities for use in augmented reality platforms, where users can directly interact with celebrity avatars.

“Two years ago when I talked about [ObEN’s] platform, I told people that every phone will become AR-ready, but they didn’t believe it,” shares Adam Zheng, cofounder and chief operating officer of ObEN, an East West Bank client. “Right now…all the major smartphones in the world will become AR-ready next year.”

Disrupting the social experience

At first glance, having an AI assistant who looks exactly like you seems more like a fun niche product than something that could revolutionize the way people behave. However, Zheng and ObEN have big plans to disrupt the social experience and change the future of tech.

“The old way of interaction is all messaging or video calling,” says Zheng. “I think new technology makes people more isolated, but people have a true fundamental need of being connected. Eventually, technology and human need will converge into a new face.” And ObEN plans on being that face.

With the creation of virtual avatars that look and sound just like you (“digital twins,” as Zheng calls them), ObEN hopes to make people’s lives more efficient by essentially allowing them to do two things at once. In order to host these twins, ObEN plans to build its own AR-based mobile app, so that people can bring their personal AIs everywhere, use them to “teleport” to different countries, and interact with other AIs in the real world, à la Pokémon Go. “Even [if] people are busy, their digital twin can do lots of things for them to make their lives more efficient,” he says. And since these digital twins don’t exist in a world encumbered with normal physical constraints, these avatars open up “lots of opportunities to engage more people in any kind of culture or location.”

“The human body may pass away, but the brain will not. It’s like a time machine for everyone. “

– Adam Zheng

Companies with intellectual property can also use ObEN’s technology to create completely new—and completely virtual—celebrities from scratch. It can be a humanlike avatar, or a virtual 3D recreation of a popular comic book character that fans can interact with, one that has its own personality, background history, and can hold a conversation with users, says Zheng.

The digital twins, along with helping you date and fan-girl over your favorite celebrity, can even let you live forever. ObEN’s AI is capable of storing all data and information from your entire life, and, once you have this twin, you can use it to dial back to any moment in your life, and even use that information to generate entirely new content and interactions. “In the longer term, the more we work on this, we realize that people’s minds can actually live forever and still interact with people using augmented reality—and can still evolve,” shares Zheng. “The human body may pass away, but the brain will not. It’s like a time machine for everyone.”

Decentralizing data with blockchain

ObEN’s most ambitious plan is to create a decentralized data network—which is also the crux on which the company rests. Whenever people use the internet or a mobile app, they leave behind data, but it’s controlled (“centralized”) by each individual platform. In order for ObEN to create its AI avatars, they need to aggregate each user’s individual data, across all platforms, and convert it into the avatar—they just need to get people to contribute that data.

“AI needs a lot of data—but why would anyone contribute data?” asks Zheng. The answer: blockchain technology.

“We are deploying our AI technology on blockchain because blockchain is a decentralized ledger that allows people to verify if the ID is true, if the transaction is true—and it’s also immutable,” he explains. Zheng believes that blockchain is “the next sharing economy” that will connect and make available even more data. “Because of blockchain, we can have an incentive system to allow people to share their data, computer resources, and their spare storage to the entire community,” he says. “At the same time, their identity and data is protected, and they can be compensated with virtual currency.”

“If everyone had this kind of personal AI, we can restructure the entire economy by building applications on top of everyone’s AI.”

AI adoption in Asia versus the U.S.

Many sources say that China will soon beat the U.S. in the artificial intelligence race, and the Chinese government has made plans to become a world leader in the industry by 2030. China’s big three tech companies, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (collectively known as “BAT”), have all established AI labs to push forward their own initiatives. Considering that China and other East Asian countries also implement and adopt new technologies, such as facial recognition, at a much faster rate, the region seems ready to rapidly embrace artificial intelligence.


“The best technology and the most innovative business models are still created in the U.S.,” Zheng concedes. “But adoption in Asia is dramatic. For example, lots of Chinese people don’t have cable TV; they totally rely on mobile phones, everywhere they go. Because they don’t have legacy (mature technology), they can completely see the benefit of new technology.”

There is also more legal red tape in the U.S. than in Asia. For instance, developing celebrity AIs is much more complex in the U.S. because each star’s “rights [are] split between many different kinds of agencies,” according to Zheng. Even though he says that these celebrities want to create their own digital twins, ObEN is entering uncharted territory with no legal precedent. “Digital copyright is usually a replica of the photo, video, MP3,” he explains. “In our case, it’s not a replica. It’s a learning of that data that then creates a new model for that person, and that model can generate new content. It’s a completely new space.” However, in Asian countries like South Korea, the process is much simpler because entertainment agencies like SM Entertainment, which ObEN is working with, own the complete rights to all their stars.

However, that doesn’t mean that ObEN isn’t interested in the U.S. or that American investors aren’t interested in them; one of their angel investors was Allen DeBevoise, the CEO of Machinima, which is one of the largest YouTube gaming networks. It’s just a matter of targeting the right demographic.

“We focus more on teenagers,” shares Zheng, when talking about their U.S. strategy. “They like new ideas and new technology—and they grew up on mobile.”

Getting the right strategic partnerships in Asia

ObEN selects investors very carefully. They make it a point to choose investors who have a clear understanding of the future of artificial intelligence, long-term vision, and the resources to carry them there.

When ObEN sought investment from South Korea’s Softbank Ventures, Zheng emphasizes that they weren’t driven purely by SoftBank’s coffers. The SoftBank Next Media Innovation Fund, which funded ObEN, was jointly created with Naver, a South Korean web company that also owns popular apps like Line, the largest social messenger in South Korea, Japan and Taiwan; Snow (which is similar to Snapchat); and WEBTOON, the largest online comic book platform in Asia.

“These kinds of resources actually help us a lot,” says Zheng. “Right now, we’re working with Naver to turn their comic character into a 3D artificial intelligence avatar…we’re also talking with Snow to try to do some integration, as well.” With Tencent, their most recent funder, ObEN is working on developing a personalized AI version of Apple’s Siri, but also hopes to utilize Tencent’s connections to celebrity agencies to further their development of celebrity artificial intelligence.

In order to attract investors (Asian or not), Zheng recommends understanding exactly how your company will contribute to humankind—the biggest of the big pictures. “When I first started my company, I met with one cofounder of Twitter,” he shares. “He wanted me to think deeper and come up with [an answer] that I could easily explain in a way that investors could appreciate. That way they can put in money—not just for a financial return—but so they could do something good.”








ObEN Artificial Intelligence

Scholarly articles for ObEN Artificial Intelligence

ObEN Personal Artificial Intelligence – Demo on ARKit

Artificial Intelligence Startup Oben Raises $10 Million | Hollywood

Project PAI

Introducing Project PAI- Personal Artificial Intelligence Avatars …

PAIcoin Personal Artificial Intelligence Blockchain?

Tech and Innovation

Naver Ahead in AI Recognition Technology Battle

A brave new world of digital humans, made to do our bidding

Human-like avatar gives glimpse of the future – NZ Herald

AI and avatar company Soul Machines raises Series A investment led ..

Realistic Avatars …


5 Things to Know About Tencent, the Chinese Internet Giant That’s ..

McKinsey & Company | Global management consulting

(and you) become cartoon avatars in Facebook virtual … – USA Today

Leading with inner agility | McKinsey & Company

LINE WEBTOON – Global Digital Free Comics Service Platform

Naver & Softbank Ventures’ SB Next Media Innovation Fund raises …

Naver to launch $43M fund to seek out investments for its Snow and …

SB Next Media Innovation Fund, a Naver – Softbank Ventures

Your friends (and you) become cartoon avatars in Facebook virtual .

Avatar Technology – virtual worlds, Bruce Damer, commercial ..

Choosing My Avatar & the Psychology of Virtual Worlds – UKnowledge

Virtual Avatars May Impact Real-World Behavior – Association for .

How Second Life Affects Real Life

Give Someone a Virtual Avatar and They Adopt Stereotype Behavior ..

How The Virtual World Affects Our Real Life – Entrepreneur

Your friends (and you) become cartoon avatars in Facebook virtual ..

ObEN’s Personal AI Enters Hospitality Space

This Pasadena tech company can create a virtual you

World AI Show


Google Is Quietly Providing AI Technology for Drone Strike …

Trescon’s World AI Show to make its debut in Dubai

Beyond Data Literacy: Reinventing Community … – Data-Pop Alliance

Netanyahu shows he’s not in charge, caves to coalition on migrants


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Israel’s unwanted African migrants and the UN’s Statement on the cancellation of Israel-UNHCR agreement

jewish-protesters – This is what Israel has been contending with for years. Some of these migrant activists are already coming to the US!

UNHCR’s Statement on the cancellation of Israel agreement

It is with regret that UNHCR notes today’s cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israel-UNHCR Agreement of 2nd April on solutions for Eritreans and Sudanese currently in Israel. The Agreement was the result of discussions over an extended period of time, and reflected a shared effort to find a solution that gave international protection to people arriving in Israel fleeing war or persecution while also meeting the concerns of Israeli host communities.

UNHCR continues to believe that a win-win agreement that would both benefit Israel and people needing asylum is in everyone’s best interests. And we encourage the Government of Israel to consider the matter further, while standing ready to be of help.

Promoting common answers and a sharing of responsibilities among countries on matters of asylum has for decades been part of UNHCR’s work and advocacy. With more than 65 million people forcibly displaced, a third of whom are refugees, the need for this has never been greater.

Several hours after Netanyahu’s dramatic press conference, he went from what Bennett called “surrendering” to surrendering to Bennett.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a point of keeping his agreement with the United Nations, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, and countries around the world about Israel’s migrant workers a secret.

He did not seek its approval in the cabinet, the security cabinet, or the forum of coalition party leaders before announcing it in a hastily called press conference.

He double-checked the agreement’s legality with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit but left Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in the dark.

There was a reason for not informing Shaked. She is the political partner of   Netanyahu’s puppet master and rival, Naftali Bennett, who knew that once Bennett heard about the agreement, he would get the Right to rise up in anger.

But Netanyahu apparently did not know how much the Right would be impacted by Bennett’s pronouncement that the agreement was a “surrender” and would make Israel a‘paradise for infiltrators.’

 – Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett spoke during a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem in August as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listened.
It led to criticism from Kulanu head Moshe Kahlon, top activists in the Likud Party central committee, and ministers who are loyal to Netanyahu in the Likud, such as Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev.

Even Netanyahu’s former No. 2 in the Likud, former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar, who had made a point of not criticizing the prime minister since he began his political comeback exactly a year ago – even when encouraged to do so by journalists – called the plan a severe mistake.

Several hours after Netanyahu’s dramatic press conference, he went from what Bennett called surrendering to surrendering to Bennett.

This was not the first time the former King Bibi gave into his political protégé and former chief of staff, who will be speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on April 29.

Just last month, Bennett succeeded in rallying other coalition partners to oppose the prime minister’s plan to advance the next election. If Netanyahu wanted the election in June, when it could suit him best politically and legally, Bennett obtained a majority for holding it in October, by which time Mandelblit could decide on an indictment of the prime minister.

Netanyahu also changed his tune on the so-called “Hebron shooter” Elor Azaria after he was outflanked by Bennett on the Right.

So now Netanyahu has already met with south Tel Aviv residents about the migrants, and he might have to meet with his cabinet as well.

He will do that in his capacity as prime minister, but Bennett has proven he may have a share in that title as well.

Some politicians cast aside humanity in favour of short-term political gains

It seems that Israeli Prime Minister nixed his own deal with the UN before the ink was dry on the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)‘s crowing e-mail to its followers.

I received Mark Hetfield’s e-mail at 3:28 p.m. yesterday, but sometime later yesterday the New York Times reported that the deal was off.

I was planning to post on the Hetfield e-mail anyway this morning, but now the story gets even juicier.  My focus would have been on the outrageous idea that 16,000 Africans who broke in to Israel over the years would be resettled as refugees in WESTERN COUNTRIES. Which countries? The US!  Surely Europe can’t handle one more needy African!

(Readers need to know that we (the US) are already bringing rejected asylum seekers from Israel to be placed in Anytown, USA.  71 arrived between Oct. 1, 2017 and February, 28, 2018. Hundreds more have come in recent years probably all resettled by HIAS.)

Below is Mark Hetfield, CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society yesterday. We previously questioned why HIAS, one of nine major federal resettlement contractors, was mucking around in Israel’s business in the first place.

Screenshot (349)

Then here is the New York Times sometime after that e-mail went out.

By the way, after the original flood of illegal aliens entering Israel, the Israelis built a very successful wall.

JERUSALEM — In a head-spinning turnaround, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel announced on Monday that he had reached an extraordinary deal with the United Nations refugee agency to resettle thousands of African asylum seekers in Western countries. Within hours Mr. Netanyahu suspended the deal after coming under heavy criticism from his coalition partners.

The flip-flop appeared to reflect Mr. Netanyahu’s fear of losing support from those partners or from his right-wing constituency, who call the asylum seekers infiltrators and want them gone. His opponents on the left described the prime minister’s behavior as an embarrassing and cowardly surrender under pressure.

Netanyahu, who is battling for his political future under the cloud of multiple corruption scandals and faces possible charges of bribery, had apparently failed to consult with most of his own conservative Likud Party colleagues or coalition allies before announcing the migrant deal.


 The agreement with the United Nations was meant to replace a contentious Israeli plan that had offered the migrants a stark choice: forced deportation to Africa or prison. That plan fell through after Rwanda, the African country meant to receive the deportees, announced that it would accept only those who left Israel voluntarily.

In the afternoon, in a televised news conference, Mr. Netanyahu triumphantly announced the new deal, under which the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) committed to persuading countries in the West to take at least 16,250 migrants over five years, while Israel would grant official status as temporary residents to most who remained.

Image result for Netanyahu triumphantly announced the new deal, under which the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) committed to persuading countries in the West to take at least 16,250 migrants over five yearsEstimates of the population of African asylum seekers in Israel, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, range from 35,000 to 39,000.

But the agreement to let many stay in Israel drew harsh criticism from some of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition allies, who were taken by surprise. Naftali Bennett, the education minister and leader of the far-right Jewish Home Political Party, said the deal would “turn Israel into an ‘paradise for infiltrators.’

Mr. Netanyahu backtracked.


The plan was to be carried out in three phases, with the first 6,000 migrants expected to leave over the next 18 months.

William Spindler, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency in Geneva, said there was no agreement in place with other countries to take any of them. He said that the agency would need countries to come forward with offers, but that “we are confident we will be able to find places for these 16,000 people.”

More here.

The UN is confident! I’m not!  A major part of the deal requires WESTERN COUNTRIES to take 16,000 —- which countries?

And, why should Israel’s, or Malta’s, or Australia’s illegal aliens be our problem!

Refugees, asylum seekers, migrants are the problem of the country they have escaped to—-they are not the US’s problem—and if the President is serious about reforming the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program, simply disallowing resettlement from first world countries is something he can do at the State Department level!

September 30, 2017: Donald Trump had set the new ceiling for the year (FY17) at 50,000, but ultimately went over the cap for a total of 53,716 admitted.  23,594 entered the US since Trump was inaugurated in January 2017.

Image result for September 30, 2017: Donald Trump had set the new ceiling for the year (FY17) at 50,000, but went over the cap for a total of 53,716 admitted.October 1, 2017: The President set the cap for FY18 at 45,000, and federal contractors wailed.

March 1, 2018:

8,583 refugees have been admitted in 5 months.  

That means that, if the present rate continues, arrivals will be around 20,500 for the full year.


Two articles I read today mentioned Canada, Germany and Italy as the Western Countries to send to. Problem was, spokesman for two European countries said their countries had never agreed to any such deal. I doubt if even PM Trudeau would agree to this transfer if he was even informed of this “agreement.”

***Update*** Canada in the cross hairs, see here.









UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Following coalition uprising, Netanyahu freezes migrant deal

Jewish leaders caught off-guard by Netanyahu’s switch on migrant deal


agreement with the United Nations

Naftali Bennett

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Elifelet – IsraelGives – Donate online to any charity in Israel.


Abandoned in south Tel Aviv – Ynetnews

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Reforms needed

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See category, ‘Israel and refugees’ with 169 previous posts archived here.

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diversity’s dark side

Facebook—even as it apologizes for scandal—funds campaign to block a California data-privacy measure


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Just a few weeks before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized for the “breach of trust” that allowed Cambridge Analytica to access the private social media activity of 50 million people, Facebook plunked down $200,000 to fight a data privacy initiative in California.

Image result for Facebook—even as it apologizes for scandal—funds campaign to block a California data-privacy measureThe social media giant’s donation matched others from Google, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon—a million-dollar sign that the issue of how companies collect and share personal information is likely to grow into an expensive fight as election season unfolds in California.

The businesses are fighting an initiative proposed by San Francisco real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart, who’s already spent $1.7 million on a measure that would allow Californians to prohibit companies from selling or sharing their personal data. His campaign is gathering signatures with the goal of landing the California Consumer Privacy Act on the November ballot.

“What we are proposing is some very basic rights: Let people find out what information companies are collecting, and let them have the ability to say, ‘Don’t sell my information,’” said Mactaggart, who was inspired to draft the initiative after chatting at a party with a Google engineer who told him that people would freak out if they knew how much companies track, compile and sell their personal information.

Ever used Evite to invite friends to a religious celebration or a child’s birthday party? Your religion or the age of your child may be for sale. Use a fitness or fertility app? 

They collect loads of personal information that can be shared—and a study by the Future of Privacy Forum found that some don’t have privacy policies telling users what happens to their data. Use a discount card at the grocery or drug store?

Everything you buy is a piece of data about you. Marketing companies compile these billions of bits of data to build profiles of the kind of consumer or voter they think you are.

The measure would give Californians the ability to opt out of having their personal data sold or shared by requiring businesses to display a button on their websites that says, “Do Not Sell My Personal Information.” Clicking the link would take users to an opt-out form.

Mactaggart and his supporters seized on the recent controversy over Cambridge Analytica accessing the data of millions of Facebook users to benefit clients such as the Trump campaign, publicly calling on the company to stop opposing his ballot measure. There’s little reason to think it will.

Though Zuckerberg said on national television that Facebook has a “basic responsibility to protect people’s data,” his company has worked with other internet giants to beat back numerous efforts to increase consumer privacy. They lobbied against federal legislation last year that would have required tech companies to obtain customers’ permission before selling their data to advertisers. And they lobbied against a bill in the California legislature that would have required internet service providers to get permission from customers before selling or sharing information about their browsing history.

the companies who collect the data are not using reasonable security measures to keep your data safe.

California Consumer Privacy Act

Now they’re fighting Mactaggart’s measure by warning that it would fundamentally disrupt the 21st century economy, not only impacting the business of digital advertising but also hampering many services people have come to rely on. Mapping apps, ride-hailing apps and email subscription services all rely on sharing users’ data. The initiative treats “sharing” data and “selling” data the same, and opponents say such services wouldn’t work if consumers were allowed to opt out of sharing the data. The measure says the opt-out wouldn’t apply when the consumer intentionally discloses personal information (for example, revealing their location when hailing a ride), but opponents maintain the distinction is unworkable.

“Just about every sector of business in the state will oppose this because it’s a direct threat to their vitality,” said Steve Maviglio, spokesman for the tech-funded political committee opposing the privacy initiative, called the Coalition to Protect California Jobs. The committee has backing from the California Chamber of Commerce, TechNet and the Internet Association—a trio of powerful and deep-pocketed interests.

Facebook didn’t respond to request for comment, but it’s a member of TechNet and the Internet Association, which argue that changing the internet’s rules in one state is impractical because it’s a global network.

“This measure will stifle innovation and send companies to competing states and countries that do not have such job-crushing regulations,” said a statement from TechNet vice president Andrea Deveau.

The initiative also would allow Californians to sue companies that violate their request not to share personal information—another point of contention for business groups, which almost always oppose policies making it easier for them to be sued.

Consumer groups have been assessing whether the initiative as drafted does what it aims to do. Several now support it, although others including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which litigates civil liberties issues in technology, have not yet taken a position.

Leading the campaign with Mactaggart is Mary Ross, a former CIA analyst who moved to California two years ago. As a counterintelligence analyst, Ross said she helped monitor foreign governments’ efforts to spy on America. So when Mactaggart asked her to join his campaign, Ross said she had “an insider’s perspective” on the power of big data.

“Information is powerful whether it’s a government using it or a business,” Ross said.

“Information is being used to manipulate people and you don’t even know when you’re being manipulated… Maybe it’s being done to make you buy something or maybe it’s being done to get you to go vote a certain way. But if there is no transparency or accountability, it’s going to continue.”

For a complete list of the firms funding the effort visit: fppc.ca.gov







FPF Mobile Apps Study – Future of Privacy Forum

California Consumer Personal Information Disclosure

Privacy Compliance and Litigation in California

California Consumer Privacy Act

California data-privacy measure

Proposed California ballot initiative would give consumers more .

California Privacy Advocates Ask Facebook Why It’s Opposing …

Tech Giants Involved in Data War

November 2018 General Election – California Fair Political Practices .

California Consumer Privacy Act Archives – Advocacy – California

Consumer Watchdog Challenges Facebook

Privacy Enforcement and Protection | State of California – Department

Your Financial Privacy Rights | State of California

17-0093A1 Consumer Privacy Act V2 – California Department of Justice

Privacy Laws | State of California

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Blue Book Little – BlueKai

Data Directory – Oracle

Zuckerberg apologizes for Facebook mistakes with user data …

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Cambridge Analytica

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California Alliance for Jobs – Helping to Rebuild California

Coalitions – Advocacy – California Chamber of Commerce

The New York Stock Exchange in talks to buy the Chicago Stock Exchange — Voice Of People Today

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) – The New York Stock Exchange is in talks to buy the Chicago bourse a month and a half after US regulators refused to sell the Chicago bourse to an alliance of Chinese investors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The New York Stock Exchange could pay about $ 70…

via The New York Stock Exchange in talks to buy the Chicago Stock Exchange — Voice Of People Today