Full Title:Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower’s Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again By Brittany Kaiser In this explosive memoir, a political consultant and technology whistleblower reveals the disturbing truth about the multi-billion-dollar data industry, revealing to the public how companies are getting richer using our personal information and exposing how Cambridge Analytica exploited weaknesses in privacy laws to help elect Donald Trump—and how this could easily happen again in the 2020 presidential election.When Brittany Kaiser joined Cambridge Analytica—the UK-based political consulting firm funded by conservative billionaire and Donald Trump patron Robert Mercer—she was an idealistic young professional working on her fourth degree in human rights law and international relations. A veteran of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Kaiser’s goal was to utilise data for humanitarian purposes, most notably to prevent genocide and human rights abuses. But her experience inside Cambridge Analytica opened her eyes to the tremendous risks that this unregulated industry poses to privacy and democracy. Targeted is Kaiser’s eyewitness chronicle of the dramatic and disturbing story of the rise and fall of Cambridge Analytica. She reveals to the public how Facebook’s lax policies and lack of sufficient national laws allowed voters to be manipulated in both Britain and the United States, where personal data was weaponized to spread fake news and racist messaging during the Brexit vote and the 2016 election. But the damage isn’t done Kaiser warns; the 2020 election can be compromised as well if we continue to do nothing. In the aftermath of the U.S. election, as she became aware of the horrifying reality of what Cambridge Analytica had done in support of Donald Trump, Kaiser made the difficult choice to expose the truth. Risking her career, relationships, and personal safety, she told authorities about the […]
What a puzzling place America is. Full of great talent in the arts, music and creative in the world of technology and innovation. And yet, they are run by a man who does not inspire and is rapidly leading his country into disrepair. With an election due it is outrageous that Donald Trump can be re-elected. Will all the people who voted for him last time vote for him again? Can Americans be so disillusioned that this is the man for four more years in office? The world and America does not deserve this result. However, when you consider the Democratic alternative in Joe Biden you really wonder where the Obama, the Kennedy appeal is hiding? When the Democratic Party were choosing, searching for their candidate they had some with genuine potential…and yet they have ended up with a 70 year old, conservative white man without charisma. Maybe it is that America has never been truly and greatly led by only a few…the likes of Obama and Eisenhower. However it goes in November, we may well be experiencing the demise of the land of the free. There are so many complexities in their way of life, that cause inequality and bafflement. The biggest one is the irrational thinking of voters who elected Trump to office. If you are reading this in the USA, it seems that you can only vote for Joe Biden as the best of the two options. Good luck to you all! Next time choose a forty-something, charismatic leader who will inspire and lead with policies for a free and equal society, not one based on priviledge for a few, at the cost of the many.
Free will should be considered a ‘higher-level’ psychological phenomenon. Why Free Will Is Real. Christian List. The universe may very well be deterministic. According to many physicists, there are natural laws that govern the universe. On most specifications, these laws are deterministic, meaning that they pair with the initial conditions set at the Big Bang to determine every future state of the universe. If determinism is true, all physical facts of the universe are decided and unchanging. Determinism poses a substantial problem for free will. Say I am choosing between moving my coffee cup or leaving it be. If determinism is true, the physical states of my body, my brain and the coffee cup are all already decided. How then can I choose to move the cup? It seems instead that the choice has been made for me. My brain and body will move following the natural laws’ current. I will move the cup if the laws of the universe require me to do so. While the movement feels voluntary, instead it may simply be a function of deterministic physics, rather than personal choice or free will. This is a frightening possibility. We may feel that our lives are up to us, that we can choose our profession or outfit or partner. However, this challenge from determinism presents the possibility that none of these seeming choices is ours to make. Instead, they were decided at the Big Bang, before we ever existed. Determinism presents a fundamental challenge to the existence of free will. In Why Free Will Is Real, Christian List argues that free will is real despite the possibility of deterministic physics. In fact, determinism is merely one of three challenges that List confronts against free will. Radical materialism, determinism and epiphenomenalism are the three primary objections in the philosophical literature to the existence of […]
Kristy Hess Associate Professor (Communication), Deakin University With swift and savage force, the COVID-19 pandemic has inadvertently attacked Australia’s local news media ecology, which was already battling a weakened immune system. As a researcher working on Australia’s largest academic study into the future of local newspapers, the phones have been running hot in recent weeks. We’ve had calls from everyday people, journalists made redundant, cadets surviving on JobKeeper, and independent news proprietors, all navigating their way through the crisis. News Corp has announced plans to close or suspend printing operations of more than 100 suburban and small community titles. Its more successful publications, such as the Geelong Advertiser, Gold Coast Bulletin, Hobart Mercury and the iconic Northern Territory News, will remain with print and digital editions. Other independently-owned newspapers across rural and regional Australia are still breathing: they are gasping for air, but they are breathing. They’ve either temporarily suspended operations, cut back the number of print editions or shifted to a digital-only model to “see how it goes”. Since the COVID-19 crisis emerged, there have been two key funding schemes introduced (or re-introduced) to support news providers – the government’s $50 million Public Interest News Gathering Program and a $5 million Regional and Small Publishers Innovation Fund. The federal government has also announced plans to force Google and Facebook to share advertising revenue with producers of quality journalism in Australia. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is now seeking views on its new draft mandatory code that will address bargaining power imbalances between Australia’s news media businesses, and Google and Facebook. This has been met with some initial concern from the Country Press Association of Australia amid fears the modelling may only benefit big companies and not the little players that serve small towns and cities. The Victorian government has waded in to provide more than $4 million in additional advertising […]
Since the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, disaster recovery plans are almost always framed with aspirational plans to “build back better”. It’s a fine sentiment – we all want to build better societies and economies. But, as the Cheshire Cat tells Alice when she is lost, where we ought to go depends very much on where we want to get to. The ambition to build back better therefore needs to be made explicit and transparent as countries slowly re-emerge from their COVID-19 cocoons. The Asian Development Bank attempted last year to define build-back-better aspirations more precisely and concretely. The bank described four criteria: build back safer, build back faster, build back potential and build back fairer. The first three are obvious. We clearly want our economies to recover fast, be safer and be more sustainable into the future. It’s the last objective – fairness – that will inevitably be the most challenging long-term goal at both the national and international level. Economic fallout from the pandemic is already being experienced disproportionately among poorer households, in poorer regions within countries, and in poorer countries in general. Some governments are aware of this and are trying to ameliorate this brewing inequality. At the same time, it is seen as politically unpalatable to engage in redistribution during a global crisis. Most governments are opting for broad-brush policies aimed at everyone, lest they appear to be encouraging class warfare and division or, in the case of New Zealand, electioneering. In fact, politicians’ typical focus on the next election aligns well with the public appetite for a fast recovery. We know that speedier recoveries are more complete, as delays dampen investment and people move away from economically depressed places. Speed is also linked to safety. As we know from other disasters, this recovery cannot be completed as long as the […]
Meng XiaPhD candidate on Literature, memory and trauma, UNSW Starting on January 25 2020, novelist and poet Fang Fang has posted 60 daily diary entries about life and death in her home town of Wuhan to WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform. Born in 1955, Fang has a long and respected career as a writer of poems, novels and novellas. She won the prestigious Lu Xun Literary Prize in 2010, and was elected president of the government-funded Writers Association of Hubei Province in 2007. But her work has rarely been translated into English. Her diaries were read widely in China, and but their reception was mixed. Some readers celebrated Fang for voicing people’s struggles in lockdown, others criticised her viewpoints. In her diary, Fang wrote* about her persistence: “I’m never too old to lose the strength of criticising.” News of publication of her translated diaries in English and German only the inflamed debate in China. But in any language, Fang Fang’s unfolding recording of the pandemic will be valuable for the globe’s understanding of our shared memories of this time. Fang Fang and her dairies Before becoming a writer, Fang worked as a dockworker at the Port of Wuhan, on the Yangtze and Hanjiang rivers. Her stories mostly depict struggling social underdogs in Wuhan. Fang’s diaries (which I read in the original Mandarin) chronicle the situation in Wuhan throughout the lockdown. She describes her daily life in quarantine: food shopping, online communication with families and friends, and responding to readers. She touches on sensitive topics: the investigation of China’s belated reporting on coronavirus, overcrowded hospitals, and those dying at home unattended. There are heartbreaking snapshots: scattered, unclaimed cell phones at a mortuary; sweet moments when volunteers help with the old and the weak. She reflects on the dilemma of media workers in a […]
For truly modern agriculture, we need to look to the skies. Because that’s where drone technology will work its magic. Drones will have a particularly powerful impact in the developing world, whose mostly smallholder farmers face enormous challenges producing quality food and selling it for a decent price. The green shoots of this transformation are already sprouting. In the People’s Republic of China, farmers are using drones for crop-dusting. Affordable, locally manufactured drones can spray pesticides across huge areas, helping to cut labour and equipment maintenance costs. They also get the job done fast – over 500 acres per day. Developing countries in Asia should try to anticipate the future uses of drone technology. Drones make precision farming a reality. They can carry out surveys like infrared mapping to gather crucial information like crop condition, costing farmers as little as $5 per acre. With the survey data in hand, the farmer might be able to boost crop yields by 20%. The time spent doing the surveys is reduced from a couple of days to a couple of hours. Image: Nesta Drones are reshaping agriculture in developing countries. The farm sectoremploys most people in developing countries but is arguably the most difficult to transform. In these countries, agriculture doesn’t contribute as much as it should to gross domestic product because it’s typically not competitive. Most farms are small and unproductive. Young people are leaving in search of city jobs that provide higher salaries. Farms are being abandoned or left to the elderly who toil alone in the fields. Drones could make farming easier and more profitable for those who still work the land, and even attract youth back from the city. They can also be part of the solution to possible food shortages as more nimble, profitable smallholder farms produce more affordable […]
The economic heart attack induced by COVID-19 has revealed an ugly truth – many very large companies have too little cash to ride out sharp downturns. Cash flow variability, and the inability to retain earnings to buffer that variability, is one of the most common reasons small businesses fail. Because large companies have raised large amounts of cash through public offers, and take in large amounts of cash in their ordinary operations, they ought to be more resilient. Yet even though the pandemic-inspired shutdowns are mere weeks old, many big companies such as Virgin Australia and listed childcare providers are already pleading for or receiving public guarantees and bailouts. Other companies such as Flight Centre and Cochlear are rushing to raise extra funds though discounted share placements. Bond and debt markets are experiencing severe problems, making it difficult for these companies to borrow. Why are big companies so vulnerable? Catastrophic declines in cash flow are only half the story. The other half is the three-decade focus on maximising shareholder returns. Companies have used four strategies to keep their share prices high and push them higher. First, they have paid out profits to shareholders in the form of dividends, leaving them with less to build cash buffers, pay higher wages and reinvest in the business. Reserve Bank research shows that over the past three decades dividend payouts have trended up over time to more than 80 cents of every dollar of corporate profits. In some companies dividends payouts exceed 100% of profits. Second, the same Reserve Bank research points to the increased use of share buy-backs and dividend reinvestment plans. The former boosts share prices by shrinking the stock of shares. The latter boosts demand for that stock. Third, to lock in these historically high dividend payout ratios, shareholders, including institutional shareholders such as superannuation funds, have demanded boards agree to dividend guarantees. […]
The Issue We are now in the acute economic phase of a crisis that is unprecedented in modern times — a health crisis from the coronavirus pandemic that has sparked a follow-on economic crisis. The virus represents both a supply shock (as people are forced not to work and supply chains are disrupted by the need for social distancing) and a demand shock (as incomes plunge, people are unable to go out, and economic uncertainty surges). Moreover, these shocks have put severe strains on the financial system. Against this backdrop, the economic outlook has darkened considerably since the pandemic burst into public view, and many macro forecasters now expect a deep and painful recession as economic activity is abruptly curtailed. While much remains unknown about the spread and severity of the coronavirus crisis, and even though there are clear differences from the current situation, we can look at two past economic crises — the Financial Crisis and the Great Depression — to draw lessons. History suggests that two ingredients are needed to stanch the acute phase of an economic crisis; a transparent resolution of the underlying cause of the crisis and a dramatic economic policy response that both mitigates the economic damage and causes a shift in business and consumer sentiment. History suggests two ingredients are needed to stanch the acute phase of an economic crisis; a resolution of the underlying cause and a dramatic economic policy response that mitigates the economic damage and causes a shift in sentiment. The Facts: The Great Depression began with a financial panic that was ignited by the stock market collapse in October 1929. That panic quickly led to a run on banks and many bank failures. Indeed, the number of banks operating in the United States at the end of 1933 was down by almost half from its […]
It was always Rupert. The focus was on the father who has been so active over the past 60 years to create a media empire the world had never seen before. Through this time of triumph and turmoil the father kept his children close by. As heir apparents they had a vital role to play in the future of News Corp. But things changed. Thanks to the News of the World scandal, James dropped away and Elizabeth just isn’t around much anymore. Lachlan is the one, he is standing upfront and running things. He is the public face And the history of this family in media means that what he does will be watched closely. And company results will be watched closely. When will there be another book by Michael Wolff, when will the next crises at Fox raise its head. And why does it seem that it is this media company and this media empire that gets most of the attention when things go wrong, just as when things go right? Because the founder put his neck on the line so many times to creative a business so strong and powerful and significant that the rest of the world watched him do it. He made enemies, he made friends. Sure, there are other large and famous family media businesses. They mainly are quieter, less controversial and not so much watched for their every move. And because this family of media people – the Murdochs – somehow draw the attention, how will Lachlan handle it? He is 46 and by the time he reaches his father’s age, we may well be looking at a whole new ball game.