LISA RENEE: “The Military Origins of Facebook”

“Facebook’s growing role in the ever-expanding surveillance and ‘pre-crime’ apparatus of the national security state demands new scrutiny of the company’s origins and its products as they relate to a former, controversial DARPA-run surveillance program that was essentially analogous to what is currently the world’s largest social network.”

~Whitney Webb


Facebook’s growing role in the ever-expanding surveillance and ‘pre-crime’ apparatus of the national security state demands new scrutiny of the company’s origins and its products as they relate to a former, controversial DARPA-run surveillance program that was essentially analogous to what is currently the world’s largest social network.

In mid-February, Daniel Baker, a US veteran described by the media as “anti-Trump, anti-government, anti-white supremacists, and anti-police,” was charged by a Florida grand jury with two counts of “transmitting a communication in interstate commerce containing a threat to kidnap or injure.”

The communication in question had been posted by Baker on Facebook, where he had created an event page to organize an armed counter-rally to one planned by Donald Trump supporters at the Florida capital of Tallahassee on January 6. “If you are afraid to die fighting the enemy, then stay in bed and live. Call all of your friends and Rise Up!,” Baker had written on his Facebook event page.

Baker’s case is notable as it is one of the first “precrime” arrests based entirely on social media posts—the logical conclusion of the Trump administration’s, and now Biden administration’s, push to normalize arresting individuals for online posts to prevent violent acts before they can happen. From the increasing sophistication of US intelligence/military contractor Palantir’s predictive policing programs to the formal announcement of the Justice Department’s Disruption and Early Engagement Program in 2019 to Biden’s first budget, which contains $111 million for pursuing and managing “increasing domestic terrorism caseloads,” the steady advance toward a precrime-centered “war on domestic terror” has been notable under every post-9/11 presidential administration.

This new so-called war on domestic terror has actually resulted in many of these types of posts on Facebook. And, while Facebook has long sought to portray itself as a “town square” that allows people from across the world to connect, a deeper look into its apparently military origins and continual military connections reveals that the world’s largest social network was always intended to act as a surveillance tool to identify and target domestic dissent.

Part 1 of this two-part series on Facebook and the US national-security state explores the social media network’s origins and the timing and nature of its rise as it relates to a controversial military program that was shut down the same day that Facebook launched. The program, known as LifeLog, was one of several controversial post-9/11 surveillance programs pursued by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that threatened to destroy privacy and civil liberties in the United States while also seeking to harvest data for producing “humanized” artificial intelligence (AI). 

As this report will show, Facebook is not the only Silicon Valley giant whose origins coincide closely with this same series of DARPA initiatives and whose current activities are providing both the engine and the fuel for a hi-tech war on domestic dissent.

DARPA’s Data Mining for “National Security” and to “Humanize” AI

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, DARPA, in close collaboration with the US intelligence community (specifically the CIA), began developing a “precrime” approach to combatting terrorism known as Total Information Awareness or TIA. The purpose of TIA was to develop an “all-seeing” military-surveillance apparatus. The official logic behind TIA was that invasive surveillance of the entire US population was necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, bioterrorism events, and even naturally occurring disease outbreaks. 

The architect of TIA, and the man who led it during its relatively brief existence, was John Poindexter, best known for being Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor during the Iran-Contra affair and for being convicted of five felonies in relation to that scandal. A less well-known activity of Iran-Contra figures like Poindexter and Oliver North was their development of the Main Core database to be used in “continuity of government” protocols. Main Core was used to compile a list of US dissidents and “potential troublemakers” to be dealt with if the COG protocols were ever invoked. These protocols could be invoked for a variety of reasons, including widespread public opposition to a US military intervention abroad, widespread internal dissent, or a vaguely defined moment of “national crisis” or “time of panic.” Americans were not informed if their name was placed on the list, and a person could be added to the list for merely having attended a protest in the past, for failing to pay taxes, or for other, “often trivial,” behaviors deemed “unfriendly” by its architects in the Reagan administration. 

In light of this, it was no exaggeration when New York Times columnist William Safire remarked that, with TIA, “Poindexter is now realizing his twenty-year dream: getting the ‘data-mining’ power to snoop on every public and private act of every American.”

The TIA program met with considerable citizen outrage after it was revealed to the public in early 2003. TIA’s critics included the American Civil Liberties Union, which claimed that the surveillance effort would “kill privacy in America” because “every aspect of our lives would be catalogued,” while several mainstream media outlets warned that TIA was “fighting terror by terrifying US citizens.” As a result of the pressure, DARPA changed the program’s name to Terrorist Information Awareness to make it sound less like a national-security panopticon and more like a program aiming specifically at terrorists in the post-9/11 era. 

The TIA projects were not actually closed down, however, with most moved to the classified portfolios of the Pentagon and US intelligence community. Some became intelligence funded and guided private-sector endeavors, such as Peter Thiel’s Palantir, while others resurfaced years later under the guise of combatting the COVID-19 crisis. 

Soon after TIA was initiated, a similar DARPA program was taking shape under the direction of a close friend of Poindexter’s, DARPA program manager Douglas Gage. Gage’s project, LifeLog, sought to “build a database tracking a person’s entire existence” that included an individual’s relationships and communications (phone calls, mail, etc.), their media-consumption habits, their purchases, and much more in order to build a digital record of “everything an individual says, sees, or does.” LifeLog would then take this unstructured data and organize it into “discreet episodes” or snapshots while also “mapping out relationships, memories, events and experiences.”

LifeLog, per Gage and supporters of the program, would create a permanent and searchable electronic diary of a person’s entire life, which DARPA argued could be used to create next-generation “digital assistants” and offer users a “near-perfect digital memory.” Gage insisted, even after the program was shut down, that individuals would have had “complete control of their own data-collection efforts” as they could “decide when to turn the sensors on or off and decide who will share the data.” In the years since then, analogous promises of user control have been made by the tech giants of Silicon Valley, only to be broken repeatedly for profit and to feed the government’s domestic-surveillance apparatus.

The information that LifeLog gleaned from an individual’s every interaction with technology would be combined with information obtained from a GPS transmitter that tracked and documented the person’s location, audio-visual sensors that recorded what the person saw and said, as well as biomedical monitors that gauged the person’s health. Like TIA, LifeLog was promoted by DARPA as potentially supporting “medical research and the early detection of an emerging epidemic.”

Critics in mainstream media outlets and elsewhere were quick to point out that the program would inevitably be used to build profiles on dissidents as well as suspected terrorists. Combined with TIA’s surveillance of individuals at multiple levels, LifeLog went farther by “adding physical information (like how we feel) and media data (like what we read) to this transactional data.” One critic, Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, warned at the time that the programs that DARPA was pursuing, including LifeLog, “have obvious, easy paths to Homeland Security deployments.” 

At the time, DARPA publicly insisted that LifeLog and TIA were not connected, despite their obvious parallels, and that LifeLog would not be used for “clandestine surveillance.” However, DARPA’s own documentation on LifeLog noted that the project “will be able . . . to infer the user’s routines, habits and relationships with other people, organizations, places and objects, and to exploit these patterns to ease its task,” which acknowledged its potential use as a tool of mass surveillance.

In addition to the ability to profile potential enemies of the state, LifeLog had another goal that was arguably more important to the national-security state and its academic partners—the “humanization” and advancement of artificial intelligence. In late 2002, just months prior to announcing the existence of LifeLog, DARPA released a strategy document detailing development of artificial intelligence by feeding it with massive floods of data from various sources. 

The post-9/11 military-surveillance projects—LifeLog and TIA being only two of them—offered quantities of data that had previously been unthinkable to obtain and that could potentially hold the key to achieving the hypothesized “technological singularity.” The 2002 DARPA document even discusses DARPA’s effort to create a brain-machine interface that would feed human thoughts directly into machines to advance AI by keeping it constantly awash in freshly mined data. 

One of the projects outlined by DARPA, the Cognitive Computing Initiative, sought to develop sophisticated artificial intelligence through the creation of an “enduring personalized cognitive assistant,” later termed the Perceptive Assistant that Learns, or PAL. PAL, from the very beginning was tied to LifeLog, which was originally intended to result in granting an AI “assistant” human-like decision-making and comprehension abilities by spinning masses of unstructured data into narrative format. 

The would-be main researchers for the LifeLog project also reflect the program’s end goal of creating humanized AI. For instance, Howard Shrobe at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and his team at the time were set to be intimately involved in LifeLog. Shrobe had previously worked for DARPA on the “evolutionary design of complex software” before becoming associate director of the AI Lab at MIT and has devoted his lengthy career to building “cognitive-style AI.” In the years after LifeLog was cancelled, he again worked for DARPA as well as on intelligence community–related AI research projects. In addition, the AI Lab at MIT was intimately connected with the 1980s corporation and DARPA contractor called Thinking Machines, which was founded by and/or employed many of the lab’s luminaries—including Danny Hillis, Marvin Minsky, and Eric Lander—and sought to build AI supercomputers capable of human-like thought. All three of these individuals were later revealed to be close associates of and/or sponsored by the intelligence-linked pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who also generously donated to MIT as an institution and was a leading funder of and advocate for transhumanist-related scientific research.

Soon after the LifeLog program was shuttered, critics worried that, like TIA, it would continue under a different name. For example, Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told VICE at the time of LifeLog’s cancellation, “It would not surprise me to learn that the government continued to fund research that pushed this area forward without calling it LifeLog.”

Along with its critics, one of the would-be researchers working on LifeLog, MIT’s David Karger, was also certain that the DARPA project would continue in a repackaged form. He told Wired that “I am sure such research will continue to be funded under some other title . . . I can’t imagine DARPA ‘dropping out’ of a such a key research area.” 

The answer to these speculations appears to lie with the company that launched the exact same day that LifeLog was shuttered by the Pentagon: Facebook.

Thiel Information Awareness

After considerable controversy and criticism, in late 2003, TIA was shut down and defunded by Congress, just months after it was launched. It was only later revealed that that TIA was never actually shut down, with its various programs having been covertly divided up among the web of military and intelligence agencies that make up the US national-security state. Some of it was privatized.

The same month that TIA was pressured to change its name after growing backlash, Peter Thiel incorporated Palantir, which was, incidentally, developing the core panopticon software that TIA had hoped to wield. Soon after Palantir’s incorporation in 2003, Richard Perle, a notorious neoconservative from the Reagan and Bush administrations and an architect of the Iraq War, called TIA’s Poindexter and said he wanted to introduce him to Thiel and his associate Alex Karp, now Palantir’s CEO. According to a report in New York magazine, Poindexter “was precisely the person” whom Thiel and Karp wanted to meet, mainly because “their new company was similar in ambition to what Poindexter had tried to create at the Pentagon,” that is, TIA. During that meeting, Thiel and Karp sought “to pick the brain of the man now widely viewed as the godfather of modern surveillance.”

Soon after Palantir’s incorporation, though the exact timing and details of the investment remain hidden from the public, the CIA’s In-Q-Tel became the company’s first backer, aside from Thiel himself, giving it an estimated $2 million. In-Q-Tel’s stake in Palantir would not be publicly reported until mid-2006

The money was certainly useful. In addition, Alex Karp told the New York Times in October 2020, “the real value of the In-Q-Tel investment was that it gave Palantir access to the CIA analysts who were its intended clients.” A key figure in the making of In-Q-Tel investments during this period, including the investment in Palantir, was the CIA’s chief information officer, Alan Wade, who had been the intelligence community’s point man for Total Information Awareness. Wade had previously cofounded the post-9/11 Homeland Security software contractor Chiliad alongside Christine Maxwell, sister of Ghislaine Maxwell and daughter of Iran-Contra figure, intelligence operative, and media baron Robert Maxwell. 

After the In-Q-Tel investment, the CIA would be Palantir’s only client until 2008. During that period, Palantir’s two top engineers—Aki Jain and Stephen Cohen—traveled to CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia, every two weeks. Jain recalls making at least two hundred trips to CIA headquarters between 2005 and 2009. During those regular visits, CIA analysts “would test [Palantir’s software] out and offer feedback, and then Cohen and Jain would fly back to California to tweak it.” As with In-Q-Tel’s decision to invest in Palantir, the CIA’s chief information officer during this time remained one of TIA’s architects. Alan Wade played a key role in many of these meetings and subsequently in the “tweaking” of Palantir’s products.

Today, Palantir’s products are used for mass surveillance, predictive policing, and other disconcerting policies of the US national-security state. A telling example is Palantir’s sizable involvement in the new Health and Human Services–run wastewater surveillance program that is quietly spreading across the United States. As noted in a previous Unlimited Hangout report, that system is the resurrection of a TIA program called Biosurveillance. It is feeding all its data into the Palantir-managed and secretive HHS Protect data platform. The decision to turn controversial DARPA-led programs into a private ventures, however, was not limited to Thiel’s Palantir.

The Rise of Facebook

The shuttering of TIA at DARPA had an impact on several related programs, which were also dismantled in the wake of public outrage over DARPA’s post-9/11 programs. One of these programs was LifeLog. As news of the program spread through the media, many of the same vocal critics who had attacked TIA went after LifeLog with similar zeal, with Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists telling Wired at the time that “LifeLog has the potential to become something like ‘TIA cubed.’” LifeLog being viewed as something that would prove even worse than the recently cancelled TIA had a clear effect on DARPA, which had just seen both TIA and another related program cancelled after considerable backlash from the public and the press. 

The firestorm of criticism of LifeLog took its program manager, Doug Gage, by surprise, and Gage has continued to assert that the program’s critics “completely mischaracterized” the goals and ambitions of the project. Despite Gage’s protests and those of LifeLog’s would-be researchers and other supporters, the project was publicly nixed on February 4, 2004. DARPA never provided an explanation for its quiet move to shutter LifeLog, with a spokesperson stating only that it was related to “a change in priorities” for the agency. On DARPA director Tony Tether’s decision to kill LifeLog, Gage later told VICE, “I think he had been burnt so badly with TIA that he didn’t want to deal with any further controversy with LifeLog. The death of LifeLog was collateral damage tied to the death of TIA.”

Fortuitously for those supporting the goals and ambitions of LifeLog, a company that turned out to be its private-sector analogue was born on the same day that LifeLog’s cancellation was announced. On February 4, 2004, what is now the world’s largest social network, Facebook, launched its website and quickly rose to the top of the social media roost, leaving other social media companies of the era in the dust. 

A few months into Facebook’s launch, in June 2004, Facebook cofounders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz brought Sean Parker onto Facebook’s executive team. Parker, previously known for cofounding Napster, later connected Facebook with its first outside investor, Peter Thiel. As discussed, Thiel, at that time, in coordination with the CIA, was actively trying to resurrect controversial DARPA programs that had been dismantled the previous year. Notably, Sean Parker, who became Facebook’s first president, also had a history with the CIA, which recruited him at the age of sixteen soon after he had been busted by the FBI for hacking corporate and military databases. Thanks to Parker, in September 2004, Thiel formally acquired $500,000 worth of Facebook shares and was added its board. Parker maintained close ties to Facebook as well as to Thiel, with Parker being hired as a managing partner of Thiel’s Founders Fund in 2006.

Thiel and Facebook cofounder Mosokvitz became involved outside of the social network long after Facebook’s rise to prominence, with Thiel’s Founder Fund becoming a significant investor in Moskovitz’s company Asana in 2012. Thiel’s longstanding symbiotic relationship with Facebook cofounders extends to his company Palantir, as the data that Facebook users make public invariably winds up in Palantir’s databases and helps drive the surveillance engine Palantir runs for a handful of US police departments, the military, and the intelligence community. In the case of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Palantir was also involved in utilizing Facebook data to benefit the 2016 Donald Trump presidential campaign. 

Today, as recent arrests such as that of Daniel Baker have indicated, Facebook data is slated to help power the coming “war on domestic terror,” given that information shared on the platform is being used in “precrime” capture of US citizens, domestically. In light of this, it is worth dwelling on the point that Thiel’s exertions to resurrect the main aspects of TIA as his own private company coincided with his becoming the first outside investor in what was essentially the analogue of another DARPA program deeply intertwined with TIA. 

Facebook, a Front

Because of the coincidence that Facebook launched the same day that LifeLog was shut down, there has been recent speculation that Zuckerberg began and launched the project with Moskovitz, Saverin, and others through some sort of behind-the-scenes coordination with DARPA or another organ of the national-security state. While there is no direct evidence for this precise claim, the early involvement of Parker and Thiel in the project, particularly given the timing of Thiel’s other activities, reveals that the national-security state was involved in Facebook’s rise. It is debatable whether Facebook was intended from its inception to be a LifeLog analogue or if it happened to be the social media project that fit the bill after its launch. The latter seems more likely, especially considering that Thiel also invested in another early social media platform, Friendster

An important point linking Facebook and LifeLog is the subsequent identification of Facebook with LifeLog by the latter’s DARPA architect himself. In 2015, Gage told VICE that “Facebook is the real face of pseudo-LifeLog at this point.” He tellingly added, “We have ended up providing the same kind of detailed personal information to advertisers and data brokers and without arousing the kind of opposition that LifeLog provoked.” 

Users of Facebook and other large social media platforms have so far been content to allow these platforms to sell their private data so long as they publicly operate as private enterprises. Backlash only really emerged when such activities were publicly tied to the US government, and especially the US military, even though Facebook and other tech giants routinely share their users’ data with the national-security state. In practice, there is little difference between the public and private entities.

Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, notably warned in 2019 that Facebook is just as untrustworthy as US intelligence, stating that “Facebook’s internal purpose, whether they state it publicly or not, is to compile perfect records of private lives to the maximum extent of their capability, and then exploit that for their own corporate enrichment. And damn the consequences.”

Snowden also stated in the same interview that “the more Google knows about you, the more Facebook knows about you, the more they are able . . . to create permanent records of private lives, the more influence and power they have over us.” This underscores how both Facebook and intelligence-linked Google have accomplished much of what LifeLog had aimed to do, but on a much larger scale than what DARPA had originally envisioned.

The reality is that most of the large Silicon Valley companies of today have been closely linked to the US national-security state establishment since their inception. Notable examples aside from Facebook and Palantir include Google and Oracle. Today these companies are more openly collaborating with the military-intelligence agencies that guided their development and/or provided early funding, as they are used to provide the data needed to fuel the newly announced war on domestic terror and its accompanying algorithms. 

It is hardly a coincidence that someone like Peter Thiel, who built Palantir with the CIA and helped ensure Facebook’s rise, is also heavily involved in Big Data AI-driven “predictive policing” approaches to surveillance and law enforcement, both through Palantir and through his other investments. TIA, LifeLog, and related government and private programs and institutions launched after 9/11, were always intended to be used against the American public in a war against dissent. This was noted by their critics in 2003-4 and by those who have examined the origins of the “homeland security” pivot in the US and its connection to past CIA “counterterror” programs in Vietnam and Latin America. 

Ultimately, the illusion of Facebook and related companies as being independent of the US national-security state has prevented a recognition of the reality of social media platforms and their long-intended, yet covert uses, which we are beginning to see move into the open following the events of January 6. Now, with billions of people conditioned to use Facebook and social media as part of their daily lives, the question becomes: If that illusion were to be irrevocably shattered today, would it make a difference to Facebook’s users? Or has the populace become so conditioned to surrendering their private data in exchange for dopamine-fueled social-validation loops that it no longer matters who ends up holding that data?


Part 2 of this series on Facebook will explore how the social media platform has grown into a behemoth that is much more extensive than what LifeLog’s program managers had originally envisioned. In concert with military contractors and former heads of DARPA, Facebook has spent the last several years doing two key things: (1) preparing to play a much larger role in surveillance and data mining than it currently does; and (2) advancing the development of a “humanized” AI, a major objective of LifeLog.

~via UnlimitedHangout.com

DAVID ICKE: “QAnon is a Psyop — Wake Up People!”

Ascension Avatar note: I’m not completely convinced Q is a psyop, but David Icke does a very good job at connecting the dots here, as usual…

 

WATCH VIDEO HERE @ TRUTH COMES TO LIGHT

 

~via Truth Comes to Light

“OH, YAY!!! PRAISE DONALD TRUMP!!! OPERATION ‘WARP FACE’ IS NOW UP TO SPEED!!!”

“Congratulations, the Moderna vaccine is now available!”

~Donald Trump, 12/19/2020 – Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GARY D. BARNETT: “Please Accept the Fact That Regardless of Outcomes, Elections Change Nothing!”

“Is ours a government of the people, by the people, for the people, or a kakistocracy rather, for the benefit of knaves at the cost of fools?”

~Thomas Love Peacock

 

The first part of the above quote is meant for those misguided and duped citizens that ever once believed that government was of, by, or for the benefit of the people at large. This was propaganda from the beginning, as no such state of being has ever occurred. As to the last half of this statement, it is exactly correct, in that the few controlling evil bastards and their pawns in government, have figured out that fools are more easily controlled, so all that was necessary in order to gain total control over society was to turn once intelligent individuals into a herd of collective fools. That has been fully accomplished, so now the two classes consist of only the rulers and the fools. One only has to go out for a few moments and look at the mass hordes of idiotic mask-wearers to understand this truth.

Considering elections, George Bernard Shaw, although an evil man, told the truth when he said in Caesar and Cleopatra (1901) act 3, “When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.” The government of course, has always promoted voting as a sacred right and a civic duty, but it is neither. There is nothing noble about voting, as voting is simply a way to claim you had a say by choosing a master to lord over and control you. In other words, one is expected to revel in an activity that solidifies his own enslavement, but is at the same time supposed to make him free? This kind of misplaced and ludicrous ‘logic’ belies all manner of intelligence. Could anything be more contradictory or asinine than such a notion as this? The same ‘duty’ argument could apply to any government action. When the ruling class desires a war, they simply tell the voting public that those in other lands should be killed because it is a patriotic duty to do so. So all those that do the actual killing can excuse their murderous behavior by claiming duty and honor. Duty to country (government) is always a sign of ignorance and excuses for tyranny, while duty to self, which requires personal responsibility, compels intelligent thought, caring, reasoning, and courage.

So on to this current election, one that has taken over the minds of the people, mainly because of the purposeful division created by the rulers among the stupefied masses. One side is red, the other blue, and “never the twain shall meet.” This is the mantra of the collective herd of ‘duty’ bound Americans that are awaiting the outcome to find out who will take care of them, and tell them what they are allowed to do. You see the concept of ‘freedom’ in America today relies on rules, and on what is allowed to be normal. Most are clamoring, “Please keep me safe, and I will do whatever I am ordered to do.” Then the new normal becomes just that, a new normal that is everything that is completely abnormal. But this is how tyrants first frighten and then fool the gullible public, a public that now can barely function without instruction.

Will it make any difference which evil trimmer is selected this time around? Of course not, except at the extreme margin. In the long run, and over time, there will be literally no difference whatsoever. I hear screaming from the Trump red camp about the risk of more lockdowns and mandatory vaccines, this coming from the same side that has just gone through lockdowns, threatened vaccines, and threats of military deployment to distribute vaccines as soon as available. Riots, looting, property destruction, assaults, murder, and forced job loss have occurred with no relief in sight during this administration. There have also been billions of dollars allocated to the perpetrators of this entire agenda; multi-trillions spent as well, all that money stolen from the lowly citizens. Yes, the other camp, the blue side, is extreme left wing, and is threatening lockdowns, vaccines, stronger enforcement with possible military involvement, and more spending, which will have to go a long way to match the red camp. Any new looting, riots, and property destruction, as well as extreme job loss will also continue, and spending will be out of control as the ‘Great reset’ continues to go forward. What this exposes is ridiculous hypocrisy, contradiction, and insanity. As I have always said, if no one voted, no one would be elected, and we would all be better off immediately. Once the control of life comes down to one side or the other, all of us lose, every single time. In my lifetime, liberty has diminished every year since I was born, regardless of who won elections, and I fully expect that trend to continue, as it has for most of the entirety of the history of this country. We are not unique in this idiocy, but have always claimed ‘superiority’ while going down the same destructive path over and over again; exposing what has been defined as insanity. Claiming greatness where none exists is no consolation whatsoever.

So long as this country stays divided, filled with hate, and remains completely ignorant of the truth, then nothing will ever change for the better. Freedom will totally disappear, and tyranny will become even more extreme. Continuing this same process over and over again will only result in the destruction of all that has been held dear over our lifetimes, and will cause the enslavement and downfall of future generations. Whatever is necessary to stop this totalitarian push toward a technocratic communist society should be implemented now, and many risks will have to be taken. But before that can happen, the division amongst this population has to be dealt with, so that the many come together to fight against this heinous government and the coming control system instead of fighting each other. With division comes tyranny and slavery, without division, at least we have a chance of survival.

“Nothing so mystical. Human beings hunger for killing, that is all. It only takes a few politicians to stoke division, or a few demagogues encouraging hatred to set your kind upon one another. And then before you know it, you have a whole nation biting on its own tail, going round and round until there is nothing left but the snapping of teeth.”

 

~Paolo Bacigalupi (2012). “The Drowned Cities: Number 2 in series”, p.128, Hachette UK

 

 

Copyright © 2020 GaryDBarnett.com

Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

THE REAL 2020 ‘RUSSIAGATE’? ~ Whitney Webb: “Russian-Backed AI Software ‘Verified’ U.S. Mail-In Ballots In Key Battleground States”

“Though accusations of election fraud in the 2020 US presidential election have been swirling across social media and some news outlets for much of the past week, few have examined the role of a little known Silicon Valley company whose artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm was used to accept or reject ballots in highly contested states such as Nevada. That company, Parascript, has long-standing cozy ties to defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and tech giants including Microsoft, in addition to being a contractor to the US Postal Service. It should be unsurprising that Parascript’s founder and many employees have close ties to prominent Silicon Valley billionaires and are known for their support of the Democratic Party and their rejection of President Trump. Its founder, Stepan Pachikov, is a long-standing and 2020 donor to Democratic presidential candidates. Given this background, one thing that is particularly odd about Parascript’s role in the 2020 election is that there were no complaints from the Democratic National Committee or any prominent ‘Russiagaters’ regarding a company that is founded and staffed largely by Russian citizens.”

~Whitney Webb

 

Though accusations of election fraud in the 2020 US presidential election have been swirling across social media and some news outlets for much of the past week, few have examined the role of a little known Silicon Valley company whose artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm was used to accept or reject ballots in highly contested states such as Nevada.

That company, Parascript, has long-standing cozy ties to defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and tech giants including Microsoft, in addition to being a contractor to the US Postal Service. In addition, its founder, Stepan Pachikov, better known for cofounding the app Evernote in 2007, is a long-standing and 2020 donor to Democratic presidential candidates.

Parascript’s AI software was used during this election in at least eight states for matching signatures on ballot envelopes with those in government databases in order to “ease the workload of staff enforcing voter signature rules” resulting from the influx of mail-in ballots. Reuters, which reported on the use of the technology, asked the company to provide a list of counties and states using its software for the 2020 election. Parascript, however, declined to supply the list, replying, instead, that their clients “included 20 of the top 100 counties by registered voters.”

Despite not receiving the official list from Parascript, Reuters was able to compile its own partial list, which revealed that several counties in Florida, Colorado, Washington, and Utah, among others, utilized the AI software to determine the validity of ballots. Reuters also reported that Clark County, Nevada, which is one of the hotspots of litigation between the Trump and Biden campaigns and fraud allegations, was one that used the software. Reuters was able to determine how the software was used in some counties, with many counties allowing the software to approve anywhere from 20 to 75 percent of mail-in ballots as acceptable. For several counties included in the Reuters list,staff reviewed 1 percent or less of the AI software’s acceptances. Figures were not available for Clark County, Nevada.

Prior to the election, concerns were raised regarding the efficacy of AI signature-verification software for use on mail-in ballots. For instance, Kyle Wiggers, a journalist who covers AI for Venture Beat, noted that the accuracy of such systems is believed to vary between 74 and 96 percent. However, he also stated that “we don’t have benchmarks from the systems that are in use to verify signatures on these mail-in ballots. We basically have to go by what the manufacturers of the systems are telling us, which is that the systems are accurate.” Given that states and counties have relied on companies themselves for information on the accuracy of their algorithms, it becomes important to take a deeper look into Parascript, their partners, and their software.

An Untested “Xpert”

This May, Parascript announced a new version of its automated signature-verification software, called SignatureXpert, which the company said was able to “evaluate ballot signatures and compare them with voter record signatures pulled from driver’s licenses,” adding that “with advanced machine learning image perfection, even low-resolution driver’s licenses can be used.”

At the time of the announcement, Parascript’s vice president of marketing and product management, Greg Council, stated:

“We did a lot of research with our partners and found oftentimes the most efficient way for municipalities to create voter signature databases was to pull them from signatures on driver’s licenses. . . . But we found that these images are often stored at lower resolutions. With our new advanced machine learning image processing, we can take lower resolution images and improve them to high levels of quality that enable automated signature verification to be used on more ballots.”

What Council did not state is that most driver’s license signatures are acquired via an electronic tablet or signature pad, which often results in a very different signature than one written on a paper ballot.

Regarding the use of their new SignatureXpert software in the 2020 election, the company stated in a blog post that “ASV [automated signature verification]is used today in the vote-by-mail processes of many states to provide solid assurances that each vote is treated fairly and thoroughly reviewed. For this election, some of the larger cities and counties in America are deploying ASV software from Parascript to assist their verification teams to produce accurate results.”

Parascript’s October 30 blog post on its software also noted that that the algorithm had yet to be verified for use on mail-in ballots, but it attempted to obfuscate this fact. In response to the question “Is this proven technology?” the post responded:

“In the case of Parascript, the answer is yes. The AI that powers SignatureXpert has been field-proven in the banking industry for over a decade and is trusted to produce reliable voting results. States such as Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Utah use it to ensure that every election is efficient, legitimate and secure. Voters can also be assured knowing SignatureXpert is always used to assist, not replace, election officials so there is no worry that the ASV bots will secretly throw the election!”

While the AI that powers SignatureXpert was tested for use in the banking industry, it has not been tested for use on mail-in ballots. Furthermore, the statement that several states use the software “to ensure that every election is efficient, legitimate and secure” omits the fact that the version of SignatureXpert to be used on mail-in ballots was not announced until this May and had yet to be tested for mail-in ballots, having only been previously used in Colorado to verify signatures on petitions. In addition, the claim that SignatureXpert only assists and does not replace election officials varies by county, as each county decides if there is human oversight and to what extent. As previously mentioned, Reuters found that several counties only have humans review 1 percent or less of ballots accepted by Parascript’s software.

Also notable is Parascript’s concluding statement regarding its promotion of the use of its AI software for mail-in ballots in the presidential election. The company states that “no matter which candidate wins the 2020 election, the voting process will have changed forever. AI such as that provided by Parascript will become more commonplace in the never-ending battle to keep our elections safe and secure from fraud.”

Parascript Post

Today, Parascript boasts clients in numerous sectors, including finance, health care, logistics, and the public sphere, with one of their most prominent clients being the US Postal Service. Since 2011, Parascript has provided the USPS with automated and bundled mail-sorting equipment that utilizes the company’s optical character recognition (OCR) technology.

In addition to their multimillion-dollar contracts with the USPS, Parascript is partnered with another major USPS contractor, Lockheed Martin. While best known as a weapons manufacturer and a key fixture of the military-industrial complex, Lockheed Martin has also long been the contractor for the USPS’s remote-computer-reader system, which utilizes Parascript’s software. Through its partnership with Lockheed, Parascript’s software has been a component of USPS’ automated mail sorting process since at least 2003.

A Parascript press release stated the following regarding the Lockheed Martin–Parascript relationship as it relates to this USPS system:

“Parascript was recognized [by Lockheed Martin], in particular, for providing highly advanced and reliable Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software for handwritten address recognition and interpretation on letter mail pieces with its AddressScript technology. The primary purpose of the AddressScript OCR system is to work closely with Lockheed Martin’s advanced mail processing technology to meet and exceed requirements of the USPS.”

Since 2017 Lockheed Martin has also provided the USPS with its “next generation” processing systems for packages and mail. These processing machines “are capable of automatically separating mail pieces, reading printed and handwritten addresses, and sorting packages, priority and bundled mail,” according to a Lockheed Martin press release. Parascript’s AI software automatically identifies and sorts the addresses.

Notably, Lockheed Martin is one of the leading investors in the intelligence-linked cybersecurity firm Cybereason, which, for well over a year, has simulated various chaotic scenarios for the 2020 US election. Cybereason’s various simulations ended with Americans’ faith in the electoral process being utterly destroyed and subsequent declarations of martial law. Despite Cybereason’s clear and enduring ties to the intelligence apparatus of a foreign power (Israel) with a history of using backdoors in software to spy on the US government, Lockheed Martin has served as the key conduit that allowed Cybereason’s cybersecurity software to gain access to some of the United States’ most classified systems. This election cycle, Lockheed Martin affiliates donated heavily to both candidates but gave nearly $27,000 more to Biden than to Trump.

In addition, Parascript is also partnered with Pitney Bowes, a private “work-share partner” that sorts and processes an estimated 15 billion pieces of mail annually on behalf of the USPS. Pitney Bowes is also one of the leading companies that has pushed for the privatization of the USPS, even funding a report authored by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) that laid out a roadmap for transforming the USPS into a “public-private hybrid” in which all retail and processing components of the USPS would be privatized. Pitney Bowes “Exemplar Mail Sorting Solution” utilizes Parascript’s software, according to the company’s promotional material. More recently, Pitney Bowes has become heavily focused on e-commerce, developing a very close relationship with eBay, which is owned by Silicon Valley billionaire and Democratic Party donor Pierre Omidyar.

Pitney Bowes has long offered an automated mail-in balloting system for elections, called Relia-Vote, which was used to sort mail-in ballots during the 2020 presidential election. However, Relia-Vote is now owned by Bluecrest, a spin-off of Pitney Bowes that has operated independently of its parent company since 2018. Bluecrest is currently owned by Platinum Equity, an investment firm founded and headed by Tom Gores. Gores donated $100,000 to Hillary Clinton in her unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2016. It is unclear if the latest version of Relia-Vote, which was used in the 2020 presidential election, employs Parascript’s AI software.

Given the use of Parascript’s unproven AI software for the verification of signatures on mail-in ballots during this year’s highly contested election, the near ubiquitous presence of this company’s software on automated mail-sorting machines and its long-standing ties to the USPS and other prominent USPS contractors is worth noting.

Parascript’s Powerful Partners

In addition to Lockheed Martin, Parascript enjoys partnerships with other prominent companies with long-standing ties to US intelligence. For instance, Parascript is a partner of Hewlett-Packard, a company whose close ties to the CIA and its venture capital arm In-Q-Tel, particularly under the leadership of Carly Fiorina, is an open secret.

Parascript is also partnered with IBM. Just last year, the CIA hired IBM Federal vice president Juliane Gallina to serve as the intelligence agency’s chief information officer. In that position, Gallina oversees “the CIA’s modernization efforts as well as making better use of the massive amount of data it possesses.” In addition, IBM is a major corporation driving the push to create “smart cities” in the United States and globally, but to date they have focused much of their smart city efforts on China and have long-standing ties to China’s political and economic elites. In addition, IBM is one of the four sponsors of the Center for Presidential Transition, which issued a statement on Sunday (November 8) urging President Trump to concede to his rival Joe Biden. IBM had previously sponsored Biden’s cancer initiative for the Department of Veterans Affairs when he was vice president and, this election cycle, donated $640,801 to Biden, compared to $139,373 to Trump.

In addition to its partnerships with HP and IBM, Parascript is also a “gold” application development partner of Microsoft and has a long-standing relationship with the tech giant. Parascript’s previous iteration as a company, Paragraph International, developed the first handwriting-recognition technology employed by Microsoft in the 1990s. When Paragraph International transformed into Parascript the partnership continued through application development, with Microsoft fully integrating Parascript’s image-recognition technology into its SharePoint software in 2014.

Notably, the two former Parascript software leads for developing USPS mail sorting now hold prominent positions at Microsoft. The development lead for Parascript’s automated address-reading software, Mikhail Parakhin, is now Microsoft’s corporate vice president of technology. Max Lepikhin, who worked directly under Parakhin in overseeing the development of Parascript’s mail-sorting–related software, currently works at Microsoft as a principal software engineer.

Stepan Pachikov, Parascript’s founder, with Bill Gates in 1990

Microsoft executives have shown obvious support for Biden during this election cycle, with nearly $2 million donated to him in his bid to oust Trump. In addition, the wife of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer donated the maximum amount for an individual to the Biden campaign, while Microsoft’s current president, Brad Smith, hosted fundraisers for Biden. Microsoft chief technology officer, Kevin Scott, also donated over $50,000 to support Biden’s election efforts, and Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn founder who sits on Microsoft’s board, was one of Biden’s largest donors in this campaign cycle, funneling over half a million to Biden, the DNC, and related PACs. Microsoft affiliates have donated to the RNC during this election cycle, but those donations are dwarfed by contributions to the DNC and Biden.

Currently, US election infrastructure is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), headed by Chris Krebs, who was a top Microsoft executive before taking on his current role. Under Krebs’s leadership, CISA’s 2020 election operations center includes representatives from major Silicon Valley companies, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as unspecified “election technology” companies. The center also works with the Center for Internet Security, which is funded by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund and has several members of the Obama administration’s cybersecurity team and/or National Security Council on its board. Microsoft directly partnered with the Center for Internet Security’s efforts related to the 2020 election this past June and IBM is also partnered with the center.

Krebs, in his capacity as CISA director, has advocated for the implementation of Microsoft’s controversial ElectionGuard software nationwide. ElectionGuard was co-developed by Microsoft and Galois, a cybersecurity contractor for the national security state whose only investors are the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research. Over the past two years, Microsoft has finalized agreements or is in the process of drafting agreements with the main voting-machine manufacturers in the United States. Microsoft has publicly stated on several occasions in just the past week that it expects ElectionGuard to be widely adopted nationwide for the 2024 presidential election and ostensibly all subsequent presidential elections. ElectionGuard recently received a glowing review from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute.

Stepan Pachikov and the DNC’s “Russian Interference” Double Standard

Given its partners, it should be unsurprising that Parascript’s founder and many employees have close ties to prominent Silicon Valley billionaires and are known for their support of the Democratic Party and their rejection of President Trump.

Paragraph International, it should be noted, was founded by a team of immigrants from the Soviet Union led by Stepan Pachikov and funded by American venture capitalists. As Paragraph International, it made several big deals with Apple and Microsoft in the 1990s before becoming Parascript in 1996. Most of Parascript’s top executives are Russian citizens who have been with the company for decades, starting when it was Paragraph International.

Pachikov, as mentioned, is better known as a co-founder of Evernote. Evernote’s founding CEO and current chairman, Phil Libin, has developed close ties to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman. Pachikov, like many in Silicon Valley, is an avid transhumanist who continues to promote the use and development of brain implants to “improve memory” and “dreams of immortality by uploading all memories to artificial intelligence.” In fact, Pachikov’s original vision for Evernote was of a brain-machine interface that would allow a user to “remember everything.” In a piece for Evernote’s blog written by Pamela Rosen, Pachikov denotes his belief that “future technology [will exist] as a literal physical extension of the human brain, perhaps as an embedded chip,” with Pachikov adding that “we have no choice” when it comes to merging the human body with machines. “It’s just another type of integration,” he asserts.

In addition to his embrace of transhumanism, Pachikov is a long-time donor to Democratic Party candidates, having contributed to Obama in his presidential campaigns, Hillary Clinton in her unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign and previous senatorial campaigns, and to the Democratic Party in this election cycle. Pachikov’s distaste for Donald Trump was the subject of his 2016 Bloomberg op-ed entitled “Russian-Americans Don’t All Back Trump.”

Given this background, one thing that is particularly odd about Parascript’s role in the 2020 election is that there were no complaints from the Democratic National Committee or any prominent “Russiagaters” regarding a company that is founded and staffed largely by Russian citizens. Russians having such intimate involvement in the verification of mail-in ballots in a highly contested presidential election, especially when such technology has been accused of being biased against ethnic minorities and immigrants for whom English is a second language, is something one would think would evoke distress from those espousing concern about foreign interference in our electoral process.

The DNC and many prominent Democrats have put forward claims (discredited) of Russian election interference on behalf of Donald Trump (and against Hillary Clinton) during the 2016 election, with many warning in recent months that “Russians” would seek to meddle in the 2020 contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Indeed, highly contested parts of the country, including Clark County, Nevada, used Parascript’s software and were subsequently accused of election fraud, something that would presumably spark the ire of Russiagaters everywhere. Yet, since proponents of Russiagate are by and large supporters of Biden and critical of Trump, it appears that prime opportunities to breathe new life into the discredited Russiagate narrative are readily cast aside when it benefits their preferred candidate.

 

~via UnlimitedHangout.com