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How Russia’s Election Meddling Revolutionized Propaganda | Jordan Greenhall

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Transcript: All right. So let’s do Russian hacking. And what I want to do is I want to put quotes around “Russian hacking” because we’re actually talking about a question of how we go about making sense of everything all together. So “Russian hacking” is not an event as much as it is a phenomenon that describes a very large number of things that different individuals, depending on the particular location in the social field, interpret differently.

So yes I think this is an excellent example of this new emergent mechanism of how we go about doing social control. And it’s interesting because if you’re looking at “Russian hacking” from the blue church perspective you’re actually thinking about something that isn’t actually how it’s working and you’re going to be making particular mistakes. So you will think I think, I mean certainly I’m defining the blue church so certainly if you are in the blue church modality you will think that there is some kind of hierarchical control structure with a small number of decision-makers, we will call them the Russians, who are principally responsible for the behavior of the system under investigation. So you are looking for an expertise hierarchy, somebody who is in charge and how their expertise hierarchy is percolating downward in its downward causation fashion to generate the results of what you’re seeing.

And that’s actually not an appropriate evaluation of what’s actually going on. Instead “Russian hacking” and the degree to which there is a specific understanding on the part of the Russians, which there certainly is they’re clearly, what is the phrase somebody used—“punching up”?—They’re clearly dramatically more effective right now than one should expect them to be given their actual capacity and power in the world because of the higher quality strategy in this new decentralized environment is I think actually recognizing the obsolescence of that notion of a top down decision-making framework where one of the primary strategies is to find people who are operating in that fashion and throw effectively sand in their eyes, create obfuscation mechanisms that cause top down decision making trees to have a hard time either understanding what’s coming up to them or having their actuation potentials move down while simultaneously being part of a very large decentralized, not centralized but a decentralized collective that is fluid and has an up-regulation behavior.

So modulating things like okay there seems to be an energy and a focus and an ambient interest among some group of decentralized individuals around certain ideas, how do I provide them with an increase in localized energy or capacity to enable them to focus in a certain area and engage in activation. So it’s more of a potentiation strategy and much less of a control strategy.

And then the other side of it, and this is a deep insight that I don’t think anybody is really grasping, including myself, is the distinction between, for example, mimetic warfare and information warfare. And I think many of the blue church folks are particularly missing in on this. Mimetic warfare is in many ways a legacy of the kinds of stuff that television does very well: “Let me tell you a story which is designed to create an effect in you that will move you emotionally and cognitively.” And that, of course, changes and the nature of mimetic warfare changes in the Internet domain and we’ve seen that broadly: Kids on 4chan generating images that flow out very rapidly and are selected for almost ecologically.

But there’s also information warfare, which is the recognition that you can actually use very high-quality statistics and very high-quality precision to modulate subtle causation in the environment. So for example, I’ll give you sort of a hypothetical. Let’s say, for example, my statistics told me that there was a sensitive point in one of the Florida districts where the likelihood of decision making that say there was a 51/49, we don’t know exactly, is open, the possibility space was open on how that would play out. And I could generate some kind of very lightweight intervention that would increase the rate of traffic jams in that environment by say hacking the stop lights so the stop lights are on a different frequency. And thereby decreasing the turnout and by decreasing the turnout could probabilistically affect that particular sensitive decision point.

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