An article that went viral last week attributed Trump's Electoral College victory to the dark big data sorcery of Cambridge Analytica, a dirty, dementor-focused big data company that specializes in political campaigns.
But as Cathy "Weapons of Math Destruction" O'Neil writes in Bloomberg, Trump's Cambridge Analytica shenanigans are par for the course; indeed, he did less of this sort of thing than Hillary Clinton's campaign got up to, and was really only following the playbook Obama designed for the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Big data-based election ad targeting is ubiquitous, and all sides use tools from the same toolbox. The "Big 5" personality traits are a mixture of peer-reviewed science and big data hype superstition.
There's plenty to be upset about in this kind of data-mining -- O'Neil's outstanding book offers a devastating critique. But it's not specific to Trump -- it's an infection that has spread from politics into employment recruitment to sentencing and parole hearings to policing.
To be sure, there's plenty to be appalled at in this story. The asymmetry of information represented by this new generation of political ads, tailored to the exact personality type and browsing history of each voter, is scary enough on its face. It's a threat to democracy that directly undermines the notion of an informed citizenry. It's just not specific to Trump.
Granted, in some ways, Trump’s campaign might have taken the practice to a new level. A case in point: its self-described “voter suppression” efforts, which involved nonpublic Facebook "dark posts" (since suppressed by Facebook and the campaign) aimed at discrediting Clinton among specific groups of African American voters.
But when did campaigns ever play nice? Expect big data strategies on both sides to get dirtier in time for the midterm congressional elections. Whatever you may think about the two dominant political parties, neither has a monopoly on voter manipulation.
Trump's 'Secret Sauce' Is Just More Ketchup
Frontier is the bottom-rung of the top-tier of US ISPs, serving customers in 29 states. Despite enjoying monopoly control over its customers' online lives, and despite massive government handouts and a lackadaisical approach to maintenance, and despite out-and-out theft from customers, the company is filing for bankruptcy, having accumulated $16.3b in debt through mismanagement.
Bruce Schneier's Foreign Policy essay in 5G security argues that we're unduly focused on the possibility of Chinese manufacturers inserting backdoors or killswitches in 5G equipment, and not focused enough on intrinsic weakness in a badly defined, badly developed standard wherein "near-term corporate profits prevailed against broader social good."
Long before 4chan and other anything-goes forums existed, every major online community had a similar community: the Well had its "weird" forum, Usenet had alt.syntax.tactical (among others), and Something Awful had the "Fuck You and Die" forum, where people were funny, mean, obscene, and gross, sometimes all at once.
Yoga studios are closed nationwide. The irony is that between the anxieties of the outside world and those popping up inside your very own home with everyone trapped indoors, there’s probably never been a time where yoga’s calming zen was more vital and needed. Rather than just throwing in the yoga mat and subjecting family […]
The workers aren’t inside their physical business space anymore. So why should business technology still be under that roof either? In fact, more and more businesses have been making this migration for a while now, moving all their digital infrastructure to the world’s two largest cloud services platforms, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft’s Azure. […]
Gather round, young and old — and hear tales of bygone days. Back in olden times, citizens would mass at a house of coffee, wherein skilled java alchemists would concoct special blends and apply artisanal wizardry to make each steaming chalice an appointment for the taste buds. Granted, said wizards, once known as baristas, were […]