Cass Sunstein, Administrator of the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, recently suggested that the feds should "cognitively infiltrate" conspiracy theorist hang-outs and anti-government groups online. Over at Huffington Post, former BB guestblogger Arthur Goldwag, author of the fantastic book Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies, lays out why the government "shouldn't resort to secret agents and bought-and-paid-for claques and shills and ringers to promote its ideas." From HuffPo:
Sunstein's proposal was not issued under the auspices of the government, but in an academic paper. Co-authored with Harvard Law School Professor Adrian Vermeule and published in The Journal of Political Philosophy in 2008 (it can be downloaded as a PDF file here), "Conspiracy Theory" surveys the existing scholarship on the origins and characteristics of conspiracy theories and contemplates whether or not governments should try to neutralize them. In general, it takes a social sciences approach, arguing that conspiracy theories are neither legitimate political ideas nor symptoms of a psychological disorder, but are rather the inevitable distortions of closed-off, self-reinforcing belief systems. Using government agents to inject "cognitive diversity" into those communities, it suggests, just might provide the body politic with an antidote to the thought contagions they inspire.
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it’s drama you crave, but the Hillary […]
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From self-driving cars to stock market predicting software to the recommendations you get on Amazon and Netflix, machine learning is at the core of modern technology. You could find yourself building technology that is literally changing the world with the skills you’ll learn in The Complete Machine Learning Bundle. This bundle of 10 courses includes 406 lessons that will teach […]