The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'mind control'
The New York Times has a fascinating article about how retail companies use data mining and carefully targeted coupons to analyse and influence the spending habits of consumers, without the consumers getting wise to what's happening and resisting:
Almost every major retailer, from grocery chains to investment banks to the U.S. Postal Service, has a “predictive analytics” department devoted to understanding not just consumers’ shopping habits but also their personal habits, so as to more efficiently market to them. “But Target has always been one of the smartest at this,” says Eric Siegel, a consultant and the chairman of a conference called Predictive Analytics World. “We’re living through a golden age of behavioral research. It’s amazing how much we can figure out about how people think now.”A specific case the article describes is that of finding new parents-to-be, who will soon be in a position of having to form new spending habits, and doing so before the competition can identify them from public information; which is to say, inferring from statistical information whether a customer is likely to be pregnant, and at which stage, and then subtly manipulating her spending through the various milestones of her child's development:
The only problem is that identifying pregnant customers is harder than it sounds. Target has a baby-shower registry, and Pole started there, observing how shopping habits changed as a woman approached her due date, which women on the registry had willingly disclosed. He ran test after test, analyzing the data, and before long some useful patterns emerged. Lotions, for example. Lots of people buy lotion, but one of Pole’s colleagues noticed that women on the baby registry were buying larger quantities of unscented lotion around the beginning of their second trimester. Another analyst noted that sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women loaded up on supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Many shoppers purchase soap and cotton balls, but when someone suddenly starts buying lots of scent-free soap and extra-big bags of cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizers and washcloths, it signals they could be getting close to their delivery date.
One Target employee I spoke to provided a hypothetical example. Take a fictional Target shopper named Jenny Ward, who is 23, lives in Atlanta and in March bought cocoa-butter lotion, a purse large enough to double as a diaper bag, zinc and magnesium supplements and a bright blue rug. There’s, say, an 87 percent chance that she’s pregnant and that her delivery date is sometime in late August. What’s more, because of the data attached to her Guest ID number, Target knows how to trigger Jenny’s habits. They know that if she receives a coupon via e-mail, it will most likely cue her to buy online. They know that if she receives an ad in the mail on Friday, she frequently uses it on a weekend trip to the store. And they know that if they reward her with a printed receipt that entitles her to a free cup of Starbucks coffee, she’ll use it when she comes back again.The uncanny accuracy of the algorithm is demonstrated by an anecdote about an angry father storming into a Target store demanding why they had sent his teenaged daughter coupons for nappies and prams, and then, some time later, returning to apologise, having discovered that she had, in fact, become pregnant.
Of course, there is the small issue of how to use this wealth of information in a plausibly deniable sense, without being obviously creepy. People, after all, tend to react badly to being surreptitiously watched and manipulated, especially so when deeply personal matters are involved:
“With the pregnancy products, though, we learned that some women react badly,” the executive said. “Then we started mixing in all these ads for things we knew pregnant women would never buy, so the baby ads looked random. We’d put an ad for a lawn mower next to diapers. We’d put a coupon for wineglasses next to infant clothes. That way, it looked like all the products were chosen by chance. And we found out that as long as a pregnant woman thinks she hasn’t been spied on, she’ll use the coupons. She just assumes that everyone else on her block got the same mailer for diapers and cribs. As long as we don’t spook her, it works.”
In 1951, residents of a small French village named Pont-Saint-Esprit were struck by a wave of violent hallucinations. At least five people died, and dozens ended up in mental asylums. The hallucinations were believed to have been caused by bread contaminated with ergot (such incidents had occurred from time to time throughout history, and in the Middle Ages, were known as "Saint Anthony's fire"); but newly revealed information suggests that the hallucinations were the product of a CIA experiment into the use of LSD as a weapon:
One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: "I am a plane", before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.
Mr Albarelli said the real "smoking gun" was a White House document sent to members of the Rockefeller Commission formed in 1975 to investigate CIA abuses. It contained the names of a number of French nationals who had been secretly employed by the CIA and made direct reference to the "Pont St. Esprit incident." In its quest to research LSD as an offensive weapon, Mr Albarelli claims, the US army also drugged over 5,700 unwitting American servicemen between 1953 and 1965.
(via Boing Boing)
Boing Boing Gadgets' John Brownlee has an interesting account of playing a robot in an evangelical Christian school play as a child. An evangelical Christian robot, of course:
The play centered around Colby, a sentient Christian super-computer who — for some reason — had set up a secret neighborhood enclave for the Christian kids in the neighborhood. It was called Colby's Clubhouse, and inside, it was a Jim Jones phantasmagoria, in which a dancing, singing Christian robot led a gaggle of Bible-thumping kids in elaborate dance numbers, pausing only occasionally to recite scriptures. The main dramatic arc of the play concerned the arrival of new kid Eddie in the neighborhood: he cracked wise about Jesus, never read the Gospel, and was dismissive not only of the Colby Gang's impromptu hymnals but openly professed an admiration and affinity for that year's hot R&B supergroup, the New Kids on the Block. Eventually, Eddie is shown the error of his ways through the tireless proselytizing of the Colby Gang... as well as the direct intervention of Colby himself, who bluntly informs Eddie that he's going to hell if he doesn't mend his ways. Eventually, Eddie breaks down, falls to his knees, and welcomes Jesus into his heart as his Lord and Savior. At that point, Eddie is welcomed into the Colby Gang as an honorary member, presented with his very own pastel-colored, self-identifying t-shirt, and takes part in the exiting performance of the play's title song, "God Uses Kids." Curtain and applause.Of course, in retrospect, the play looks a lot more disturbing:
At the beginning of the play, Eddie moves into a new neighborhood. He's alone, depressed and friendless. Worse, he quickly discovers that none of the kids in the neighborhood like to play video games or watch movies or listen to records or play with action figures or throw the football around — you know, normal kid stuff. All they ever want to do is sing about Jesus. Raised non-secularly, poor Eddie finds himself ostracized from his newfound peers from the very start, and understandably compensates by adapting the defense mechanism of a smart aleck personality. He acts out. He differentiates himself through cynical non-conformity, but is soundly hated for it.
That's all bad enough, right? Poor Eddie. But consider what happens next. Eddie is invited to the neighborhood clubhouse. Hoping for the acceptance and friendship of the neighborhood's unseen but popular alpha dog — the mysterious but charismatic Colby — he goes, but instead of meeting another kid, the door is locked behind him and a giant metal monster lumbers out of the shadows. Its eyes spit sparks; its servos gnash like rusty teeth. It grabs Eddie by the arms and in a shrill falsetto scream that reverberates with metallic soullessness and the sounds of gears grinding, it inexorably begins to paint Eddie a picture of hell straight out of Bosch. Mewling, fleshless bird things with scissors for beaks. Oceans of boiling feces in which billions bob and drown. Bodies crawling with insects and scabs that never heal. Forced sodomy by impossible geometric shapes. The sound of infants screaming forever and ever and ever and ever. Eddie's mind breaks... as, in fact, had the mind of each and every member of the Colby Gang's under the same nightmarish duress. It is the initiation. He's been accepted. One of us. One of us.And then, of course, there is the theological question of whether an evangelical Christian robot would have a soul, which John's teacher couldn't quite satisfactorily answer.
(via Boing Boing)
Italian police are looking for a man who apparently hypnotised supermarket staff into handing over money. The thief's exploits have been captured on CCTV:
In every case, the last thing staff reportedly remember is the thief leaning over and saying: "Look into my eyes", before finding the till empty.
The latest buzzword in marketing is coercive atmospherics; i.e., using subtle scent cues to trigger positive emotional reactions in consumers:
THE AIR in Samsung's flagship electronics store on the upper west side of Manhattan smells like honeydew melon. It is barely perceptible but, together with the soft, constantly morphing light scheme, the scent gives the store a blissfully relaxed, tropical feel. The fragrance I'm sniffing is the company's signature scent and is being pumped out from hidden devices in the ceiling. Consumers roam the showroom unaware that they are being seduced not just via their eyes and ears but also by their noses
Westin and Samsung are not alone in using scent to tap into consumers' psyches. Diamond retailer De Beers scents its sparkling Manhattan and Los Angeles showrooms with an aromatic blend that includes floral, citrus and green tea; cellphone company Verizon Wireless recently used chocolate-scented displays to market the new LG Chocolate phone; and Sony is raising the stakes by not only scenting its Sony Style stores but also sending its signature scent home in scented sachets in shopping bags. Sony is also considering impregnating the hard plastics used in its gadgets with the fragrance, says David Van Epps, CEO of North Carolina-based ScentAir, developer of Sony's signature scent.
(via Architectures of Control)
Among recent proposals for keeping one step ahead of the terrorists is the use of formerly secret Russian mind-control and mind-reading technology, such as testing airline passengers' subconscious responses to scrambled images with terrorist-related themes:
SSRM Tek is presented to a subject as an innocent computer game that flashes subliminal images across the screen -- like pictures of Osama bin Laden or the World Trade Center. The "player" -- a traveler at an airport screening line, for example -- presses a button in response to the images, without consciously registering what he or she is looking at. The terrorist's response to the scrambled image involuntarily differs from the innocent person's, according to the theory.
Despite Smirnov's death, Rusalkina predicts an "arms race" in psychotronic weapons. Such weapons, she asserts, are far more dangerous than nuclear weapons. She pointed, for example, to a spate of Russian news reports about "zombies" -- innocent people whose memories had been allegedly wiped out by mind control weapons.Meanwhile, some are sceptical about whether or not one can actually deduce terrorist intent from such cues.
The problem, he said, is that there is no science he is aware of that can produce the specificity or sensitivity to pick out a terrorist, let alone influence behavior. "We're still working at the level of how rats learn that light predicts food," he explained. "That's the level of modern neuroscience."
(via Boing Boing)
Bad news for victims of US Government mind control: a MIT study has shown that, whilst wrapping your head in aluminium foil attenuates some radio frequencies, it amplifies others, including some reserved for government use:
The helmets amplify frequency bands that coincide with those allocated to the US government between 1.2 Ghz and 1.4 Ghz. According to the FCC, These bands are supposedly reserved for ''radio location'' (ie, GPS), and other communications with satellites (see, for example, ). The 2.6 Ghz band coincides with mobile phone technology. Though not affiliated by government, these bands are at the hands of multinational corporations.
It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC. We hope this report will encourage the paranoid community to develop improved helmet designs to avoid falling prey to these shortcomings.
(via Mind Hacks)
An ingenious con artist managed to persuade French banks to hand over €5m, by pretending to be a secret service agent fighting against terrorist money laundering:
Gilbert then demanded all the cash at the bank so he could mark the notes with microchips and keep track of the terrorist. A total of €358,000 was to be put in an briefcase and slipped under the door of a brasserie lavatory. The manager did as she was told. The money disappeared.
Gilbert's next fraud was even more audacious, police say. He acquired information about important financial transactions and telephoned France's biggest banks. Again posing as a DGSE agent, he said that some of the transactions were terrorist money-laundering operations and that the secret services needed to follow the money. But they could do so only if it were transferred to accounts abroad, he said.Meanwhile in Moldova, a conman is hypnotising bank clerks into handing over cash:
One victim told police that Kozak's technique was to start a friendly conversation, establish eye contact, and then put her in a hypnotic state. The teller then agreed to hand over all the cash in her till.
(via Schneier, Odd Spot)
The latest criminal fashion in Russia, a country with more than the usual share of clever people in need of money: street hypnotism, in which thieves adept in hypnotic techniques (said to range from ancient Gypsy mind tricks to cutting-edge neuro-linguistic programming techniques), manage to persuade victims to give up vast sums of money, and forget what happened: (via bOING bOING)
"The essence of the technique is, form replaces content. Our brain is built so it can process only so much information over a certain period of time. ... In cases where the flow of information is either too powerful and fast, or on the other hand, too slow ... the brain slows down, and the person's level of vigilance drops," he said.
Psychalking is a hobo-language for paranoids to communicate with each other about dangerous mind control hot spots. Interesting start, but they could do with some signs for the different alien races and thought-stealing TV celebrities. (via psychoceramics)
"We have control of the mind." While research into human cloning and anything to do with embryos is watched with suspicion, and laws are debated to ban it, neuroscience is slipping under the radar, when in fact, such research without scrutiny might pose more of a threat to humanity than cloning, resulting in technologies such as electronic brain control. Computer God Frankenstein Controls may soon be a reality.
Here comes the remote electronically controlled around corners trajection of frankenstein cyborg rats. What would Francis E. Dec have thought? Quite ingenious. Of course, the ethical question of running electrodes into an animal's brain and training it by stimulating its pleasure centres comes up. Though is that any more inhumane than training an animal to perform an artificial task by conventional means? (And it could be argued that the implanted rats have more fun than their regular cousins.)
The US Government is looking at the possibility of using mind-control nanotechnology against terrorism.
Yonas said he has talked with military officials developing mind-control nanotechnologies that would give war leaders a choice to "either blow up that building, or do something to the people inside, so the people inside lose the desire to continue with combat."
(That opens up a lot of possibilities. If you can use it to defend national security, you can use it for economic security. Make anti-corporate protesters into contently apathetic McWorld consumers, break down those pesky third-world peasants' resistance to buying Monsanto seeds and so on. (Just think: if Shell had this in the 90s, they wouldn't have had to have those Ogoni massacred; they could have just love-bombed them into compliance.) Or even use it on a broader population, making everybody more docile and more inclined to spend even more of their money on shiny crap, to the exclusion of everything else. I believe K. W. Jeter had a similar idea; he called it the "turd on a wire", one step better than the corporate-capitalist holy grail of the "turd in a can".) (ta, Mitch!)
We Have Control of the Mind: Given that the USA is about to harness its advertising industry to the Middle Eastern war effort, and some months ago, some pundit suggested that developing behaviour-modifying nanobots may be the most effective way to get rid of the Middle East's resentment of America, I have been thinking about how such schemes could possibly work, and have come up with some ideas for possible nanotechnological solutions to anti-American sentiment.
Various pundits and experts are contemplating novel stragegies against terrorism, from reducing anti-American resentment in the third world to memetic warfare:
The goal of U.S. policy, he said, should be to "re-engineer the perceptions of our enemies." Suicide bombers have to be convinced "they get nothing for dying for Allah," and the people who support terrorists -- leaders or commoners -- have to be persuaded such violence is an insult to Islam and counterproductive. So Baxter proposed a Manhattan Project of "perception engineering," which would explore and develop a variety of means: psychological warfare, propaganda campaigns designed by advertising executives ("these guys were selling Chevrolets when they were crap with the 'heartbeat of America'"); nanomachines that can invade the circulatory system and effect the brain and thought patterns of the target; cultural products that can engender warm feelings toward the United States.
Nanomachines that make you love America? Loyalty plagues and love bombing? Or as Kennedy said, "we have control of the mind". (via Rebecca's Pocket)