Sharing Knowledge to Overcome Possible Future Enemies

Buried in chapter 5.2 of the famous 1945 report to the President (“Science The Endless Frontier”) by Vannevar Bush, under the heading “Security Restrictions Should Be Lifted Promptly”, is this sentence:

Our ability to overcome possible future enemies depends upon scientific advances which will proceed more rapidly with diffusion of knowledge than under a policy of continued restriction of knowledge now in our possession.

A similar sentiment is found in chapter 4.5 under the heading “Remove the Barriers”

Higher education in this country is largely for those who have the means. If those who have the means coincided entirely with those persons who have the talent we should not be squandering a part of our higher education on those undeserving of it, nor neglecting great talent among those who fail to attend college for economic reasons. There are talented individuals in every segment of the population, but with few exceptions those without the means of buying higher education go without it. Here is a tremendous waste of the greatest resource of a nation – the intelligence of its citizens.

If ability, and not the circumstance of family fortune, is made to determine who shall receive higher education in science, then we shall be assured of constantly improving quality at every level of scientific activity.

Ability instead of family fortune, diffusion of knowledge instead of restriction. America clearly was in a different, far more logical, place at the end of WWII.

Most Falsehoods “Tend to Promote Conservative Positions”

Here’s an odd paragraph from new scientific research:

Results confirm that conservatives have lower sensitivity than liberals, performing worse at distinguishing truths and falsehoods. This is partially explained by the fact that the most widely shared falsehoods tend to promote conservative positions, while corresponding truths typically favor liberals.

Way back in 2008 I wrote here about this exact problem, perhaps as a kind of foreshadowing?

The people calling themselves conservatives seem to have an amazing “hubris”. They not only stick to their guns in the face of science or even just details (like Lehman’s CEO who refused to believe his company was in trouble) but they actually become more convinced they are in the right when evidence starts to challenge them.

Prove to them the world is round and they might just try to burn you at the stake for discrediting their flatland leader.

This Day in History 1944: Virginia Hall Sets Up “The Farm” in Occupied France

Virginia Hall in 1944 on this day set up a safe house in Le Chambon sur Lignon, south central France on the farm of Maurice and Léa Lebrat. In her own words:

My life in Haute-Loire was different and difficult. I spent my time looking for fields for receptions, bicycling up and down mountains, checking drop zones, visiting various contacts, doing my wireless transmissions and then spending the nights out waiting, for the most part in vain, for the deliveries.

Hall’s heroic and successful field work to defeat Nazism is captured by a famous painting donated to the CIA in a 2006 memorial.

Source: OSS Society

The painting is named for one of her air drop code phrases “Les marguerites fleuriront ce soir” (The daisies bloom tonight). Depicted with Hall is Léa Lebrat’s cousin Edmund, credited with building and operating a easily-disguised hand-crank generator to power wireless signals to London.

March 1944 she sneaked into France by boat (Brittany coast) and began exfiltrating streams of intelligence as well as training three battalions with a Jedburgh Team to fight the Germans until Allied forces (following D-Day 6th of June 1944) were able to join her in August and take over in September. Again, in her own words (allegedly):

In 1943 I joined General Donovan’s Office of Strategic Services for more adventures with the French Resistance. I became proficient in Morse code and radio operation, which made me invaluable. During the day, I appeared to be a milkmaid. However, at night I directed the Resistance Forces under me in many acts of sabotage and guerilla warfare. I relayed important information from haylofts via my radio to London. I was always keeping ahead of the Gestapo, whose leaders knew of me and wanted me captured. I never gave them the opportunity, my spirit and devotion to the cause carried me on.

I said allegedly for the above quote as “made me invaluable” and “always keeping ahead” do not sound at all like Virginia’s voice, and I’ve been unable to source it as authentic.

She passed away in 1982, doing the hard work more than trying to gain recognition, and remained mostly unknown.

Senator Bob Dole in 2016 called out Hall specifically (“only civilian woman to receive the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II”) when he pushed the US Government to give a Congressional Gold Medal to OSS (awarded March 21, 2018).

Or as President Harry Truman put it, when General Donovan in September 1945 awarded her the Cross:

Miss Hall displayed rare courage, perseverance and ingenuity; her efforts contributed materially to the successful operations of the Resistance Forces in support of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in the liberation of France.

The National Archives have a copy of the “Memorandum for the President from William J. Donovan Regarding Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) Award to Virginia Hall, 05/12/1945″

Further reading:

Unconventional Warfare Results that Appear to be Bad Luck

Charles I, King of England 1600-1649 on his way to execution. (Image by Ernest Crofts). Charles is said to have believed his luck ran out because his beloved black cat died, and Cromwell’s troops arrested him the next day. England still has a superstition that black cats bring good luck.

A new leak from the Kremlin alleges that America’s “bad luck” in the 2016 election was due to a Russian unconventional warfare plot.

…help secure Moscow’s strategic objectives, among them “social turmoil” in the US and a weakening of the American president’s negotiating position [by occupying the White House with] an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex”.

This topic shows up for further research as a sixth example under section “E1” (Unconventional Warfare) of Special Operations Research Topics 2022, a publication of the Joint Special Operations University:

Examples of methods might include:
• geocaching covert radar beacons to use in a global positioning system-denied environment,
• substitution of contaminated oil or hydraulic fluids into aircraft logistic chains,
• incorrect calibration of aerospace ground equipment and precision measurement equipment laboratory tools for aircraft maintenance,
• “accidental” cutting of fiber optic lines by digging in the wrong location,
• aircraft damaged in training areas unable to be used on front lines,
• creating chain of command “trust” issues via social media or other online activities.

Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars are Totally 1980s Cool

The Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binoculars (or the unpronounceable ENVGB) make the world look so much like a scene from Tron I’m super excited to use them every day, er, night instead of lights.

See the difference? Source: Twitter and The Drive

Totally cool, right? They should have been called the Trusted Receptor Occurrence Night (TRON)

The Drive also posted an image that reminds me very much of US Army “video game” training simulators I played in the 1980s.

Source: The Drive

All that’s missing are the bright red tracer rounds arcing across the screen (as I’ve written about here before)…

Anyway, with this kind of improvement to low visibility clarity and seeing humans down range, vehicles attempting to avoid pedestrians should have no excuses when they crash instead.

Conservative Cancel Culture: The Curious Case of Ward Churchill

An extremely thorough and eye-opening 2011 report by the AAUP exposes how extremist conservative professors manipulated political pressure to censor American voices they disagreed with:

Regents and administration and some faculty of the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) allowed an obvious political vendetta against Ward Churchill to override their honesty, deny due process, violate their own published rules, ignore accepted standards of shared governance and academic freedom, and manipulate the investigative process to produce a predetermined, false conclusion. At few points in recent history have the political machinations to censor opinion been so brazen.

This section in particular stood out as insightful foreshadowing.

In Peoria, Churchill befriended and became roommates with another Peoria area native, Mark Clark. A year later Clark, along with Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, was killed in a raid on Hampton’s apartment, conducted by the Chicago police and the FBI, in what became a seminal event in 1960’s radicalism. While the police claimed that they fired at Clark and Hampton in self-defense, it was later determined that the victims were asleep. A grand jury found that the police fired between 82 and 99 rounds. The Panthers fired a single shot in self-defense, determined by the grand jury to have come from Clark in a reflexive death convulsion as he slept in a chair guarding the door, a shotgun in his lap. Ten years later, the Clark and Hampton families received a $1.85 million wrongful death settlement from the FBI and the City of Chicago.

Of some relevance to Churchill’s later intellectual concerns, as well as the unsparing tenor of much of his scholarship, the police were “tipped off” by an informant who had infiltrated the Black Panthers and provided details about Hampton’s apartment. This infiltration was part of a massive FBI campaign, known as COINTELPRO, to subvert the Panthers and other radical organizations. According to FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act in 1988, Churchill himself was recommended by agents in the FBI’s Peoria office for “neutralization.” The theme of government infiltration is one that Churchill would return to often in his scholarly explorations. The FBI informant, William O’Neal, committed suicide after admitting his role.

Was Haiti Assassination Inspired by American History of Domestic Coups?

A Florida man in bankruptcy, promoting instant wealth from oil exploration as a cure, is alleged to have “masterminded” torture and assassination of Haitian president.

National Police Chief Leon Charles told a news conference on Sunday that the arrested man, 63-year-old Christian Emmanuel Sanon, flew to Haiti accompanied by hired security guards on a private jet in early June, and wanted to take over as president.

If the scheme sounds familiar, it’s because “Moscow’s geopolitical moves are driving murderous private actors.”

Whoops, sorry, I meant to say it sounds a lot like the failed January 6th insurrection (which follows a long line of domestic coups in America, not to mention the 1919 assassination of the Haitian leader by US Marines).

To put it another way, we know from historical documentation that mass political violence in Indonesia was credited by the perpetrators themselves to consuming fraudulent “strong man” narratives in America.

History seems to be repeating.

Does Twitter Management Bias Mean Violation of Law?

Source: Judas Priest “Breaking the Law

In April of 2021 the FTC published a blog post saying bias in algorithms is against the law:

Section 5 of the FTC Act. The FTC Act prohibits unfair or deceptive practices. That would include the sale or use of – for example – racially biased algorithms.

A month later, Twitter deleted an undeniably biased algorithm that had been exposed by outsiders (discovered while researching Zoom integrity failures).

Twitter then tried to push a PR campaign that their colossal failures of ethics were some kind of success.

In October 2020, we heard feedback from people on Twitter that our image cropping algorithm didn’t serve all people equitably. […] One of our conclusions is that not everything on Twitter is a good candidate for an algorithm… thank you for sharing your open feedback and criticism of this algorithm with us.

In other words, in a formal internal investigation the product was deemed not only undeniably biased and causing harm…

It was unnecessary, on top of being illegal.

That’s a very different tone than Twitter’s 2018 promotion of the algorithm from a research team, which lacked any bias/risk analysis at all.

Twitter’s staff (Lucas Theis, Iryna Korshunova, Alykhan Tejani, Ferenc Huszár) had only this to say:

Speeding up single-image gaze prediction is important for many real-world applications…

Why was speeding up gaze prediction important?

On the face of it this is a tone-deaf thing to say, sort of like saying speeding up hate crimes is important.

Too harsh? What if I said speeding up cars instead? That brings up the issue of slowing cars down to prevent serious injury, right? Who says speeding up cars is inherently good?

Why didn’t a 2018 Twitter team discuss even the most basic risk of harms from their plans? Great question. Who wants to speed something known to cause injury?

To save time, let me just say these team portraits may have a clue.

Time and convenience are very dangerous to chase unless they come with deep analysis of context, not to mention compassion for the potential victims.

Let’s be honest here. Did any of these researchers care about harm? Did the team report to anyone in management responsible or accountable for failure?

The Twitter “fix” report thus reads to me all wrong.

It would be like a bank report that tells us they had been caught stealing money and they didn’t even need it. Are you kidding me? They no longer will steal in that one method, and we’re supposed to be satisfied?

In other words, did Lucas Theis say something like “I made you a land mine to speed things up, I didn’t tell you to bury it in the ground so don’t blame me”? It appears he ran from Twitter’s investigation to work instead at Google (which, very notably, fired its ethics team).

For comparison, here’s a sentence from a bank that is completely lacking from the Twitter report:

…fined a combined total $185 million for fraudulent activity, and CEO John Stumpf resigned. Between 2011 and 2016, approximately 5,300 employees were fired.

Was Twitter fined? Who resigned? Who was fired?

Don’t pop your champagne just yet if nobody is being held responsible for what seems to rise to the level of illegal activity.

On that note, let’s talk about American history for a quick minute.

Twitter management may have just been caught out being yet another willful American white supremacist propaganda platform, such as “How the White Press Wrote Off Black America

The white press in the South dictated how anti-Black atrocities were viewed all over the country by portraying even the most grotesque exercises of violence as necessary to protect a besieged white community. White news organizations elsewhere rubber-stamped this lie. The editors of small, struggling Black publications often risked their lives to refute what they rightly saw as white supremacist propaganda masquerading as news.

Do you know what saves time? Rubber stamping lies. Indeed, fraud is a big time saver if you can ignore the harms.

Was the white press in America breaking the law by peddling fraud? And what if the “rubber-stamped lies” result in a report from management saying they found their own time-saving practices biased and unnecessary? Does this simple admission from management mean they are off the hook?

These questions are far less clear cut than 1830s phase of American “cancel culture” where anyone daring to publish the truths about systemic racism instead would be hunted and killed by angry white nationalist mobs.

I guess we could say at least today we don’t see Twitter murdering anyone criticizing their alleged systemic racism, but that’s an extremely low bar.

The “white-washing” tone of Twitter management in their report makes me wonder if it’s like their HQ is really in a particular suburb of Chicago, if you know what I mean.

“Skokie was chosen as the hub for American Nazis in 1977 and 1978 because of the number of Holocaust survivors who called it home.” ABC News

I’ve been pointing out indicators of systemic racism in Twitter management for nearly a decade now… since there has been ample evidence of facilitating fascism and tyranny, even purposefully coddling white nationalism (e.g. enabling the mobs that would murder their critics).

Don’t take my expert opinion about it however, It has gotten so bad that the SPLC now officially reports it too:

Twitter gave far-right extremists the platform they needed to plan an attack… many Twitter employees are ‘well-meaning,’ and do not necessarily subscribe to the same … ideology as the company’s leadership…

Read that carefully. Well-meaning staff are being described as the powerless exception to documented evil leaders at Twitter facilitating harms.

In conclusion, if someone like the FTC isn’t holding leaders more accountable — making it illegal to be so evil — than who will? Internal Twitter investigations that acknowledge alleged criminal behavior and stop a single instance of it… appear to cover up a much deeper problem and delay real accountability.

ConvNets Patent by AT&T Bell Labs

Kosta Derpanis posed this question on Twitter:

Did you know ConvNets were initially patented by AT&T Bell Labs? Source.

Then Yann LeCun, following up a 2019 podcast, replies in an awkward nine part Twitter thread about intentionally violating IP restrictions. Since this thread could disappear any minute, and in the spirit of LeCun’s own violation mindset, I’ve posted it here for analysis/archival sake):

There were two patents on ConvNets: one for ConvNets with strided convolution, and one for ConvNets with separate pooling layers. They were filed in 1989 and 1990 and allowed in 1990 and 1991.

We started working with a development group that built OCR systems from it. Shortly thereafter, AT&T acquired NCR, which was building check imagers/sorters for banks. Images were sent to humans for transcription of the amount. Obviously, they wanted to automate that.

A complete check reading system was eventually built that was reliable enough to be deployed. Commercial deployment in banks started in 1995. The system could read about half the checks (machine printed or handwritten) and sent the other half to human operators.

The first deployment actually took place a year before that in ATM machines for amount verification (first deployed by the Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne in France). Then in 1996, catastrophe strikes: AT&T split itself up into AT&T (services), Lucent (telecom equipment), and NCR.

Our research group stayed with AT&T (wih AT&T Labs-Research), the engineering group went with Lucent, and the product group went with NCR. The lawyers, in their infinite wisdom, assigned the ConvNet patents to NCR, since they were selling products based on them

But no one at NCR had any idea what a ConvNet was! I became a bit depressed: it was essentially forbidden for me to work on my own intellectual production (Loudly crying face). I was promoted to Dept Head had to decide what to do next. This was 1996, when the Internet was taking off.

So I stopped working on ML. Neural nets were becoming unpopular anyways. I started a project on image compression for the Web called DjVu with Léon Bottou. And we wrote papers on all the stuff we did in the early 1990s.

It wasn’t until I left AT&T in early 2002 that I restarted work on ConvNets. I was hoping that no one at NCR would realize they owned the patent on what I was doing. No one did. I popped the champagne when the patents expired in 2007! (Bottle with popping cork Clinking glasses)

Moral of the story: the patent system can be very counterproductive when patents are separated from the people best positioned to build on them.

Patents make sense for certain things, mostly physical things. But almost never make sense for “software”, broadly speaking.

Something sounds very wrong. When AT&T in 1996 spun out NCR as its computer division (and Lucent as its equipment and systems), patents on computer technology were separated from the people best positioned to build on them? Product sounds like exactly the right place for product. And then popping champagne for not being caught when illegally taking IP from a former employer?

Is it 1944 Again? Police Capture Anti-American Militia Stranded on Road

In November of 1944, two Nazi German soldiers were detected while… standing on the side of a road in Maine.

The two men, German Erich Gimpel and American defector William Colepaugh, had slipped ashore from a German U-boat that had entered Maine waters. “They just weren’t like normal Mainers in November,” Forni said in 2001. “You just never saw anybody walking without boots when it was snowy like that. It’s a wonder I didn’t stop and offer them a ride.”

That’s the story that comes to mind when I read the news today of anti-American soldiers standing conspicuously on the side of a road in Massachusetts.

The standoff began around 2 a.m. when police noticed two cars pulled over on I-95 with hazard lights on after they had apparently run out of fuel, authorities said at a Saturday press briefing. A group of men were clad in military-style gear with long guns and pistols, Mass State Police Col. Christopher Mason said. He added that they were headed to Maine from Rhode Island for “training.” The men refused to put down their weapons or comply with authorities’ orders, claiming to be from a group “that does not recognize our laws” before taking off into a wooded area, police said. Police said they used negotiators to interact with the other suspects. Mason said the “self-professed leader” of the group wanted it to be known that they are not antigovernment.

Ok, first. How stupid is someone to stand on the side of the Interstate with their long guns out?

I mean obviously stupider than running out of fuel, but how can they not know that will draw attention like walking without boots in the Maine snow?

These men whine that they don’t “recognize our laws”, which reads to me like an “American defector” in November 1944 saying he doesn’t recognize frostbite.

And then they go on to say while they reject American laws (passed by the government), they are not “anti” the American government? All that’s missing from this new story is a U-Boat.

No wonder they ran out of gas.

the poetry of information security