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GailMay 10, 2018, 7:29:11 PM


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[Gail McGowan Mellor is [email protected] on Minds. Illustration: Minds co-founder and CTO Mark Harding, from Harding's collection.]Hi! I'm Gail Mellor. This is an unauthorized Minds history, yet the Minds team has been unfailingly gracious in interviews. Part I is "Bill Ottman's Minds, Leading the Charge Against the Globals". Part II is "The Minds Who Power Minds". I wrote so many extra chapters in response to questions that I've divided Part III into  Part III-A "Artificial Intelligence Used Against the US, Cambridge Analytica, the Alts and Minds.com" -- below -- and Part III-B, "The Nuts and Bolts of Freedom of Speech"Part IV is "Minds Enters the Cryptocosm  in the 'Summer and Fall of WTF'" Part V is Minds Confronts the Shadow Tyranny and Declares independence. Events are moving fast. Part VI coming up...._____________________________________________________________________



"That’s seriously worrying...These Alexa devices! Why would people want such a thing in their homes? It’s not only spying on you, it’s teaching your kids to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’! You have to be respectful to your AI now?” said Minds.com co-founder and CTO Mark Harding, his English flavored with a Scotsman's Gaelic pronunciation and melody.  

"There’s no reason why everything from Alexa to your toaster should be collecting analytics from your house and sending them back to Amazon, reporting how many toasts the people in your house had this morning and in what colors! All Artificial Intelligence code ought to be open source so that we can know what things the algorithm is telling the machine to do, what data on us the people on the other end have, and what they’re doing with that data....” 

Back in 2012, founder Bill Ottman, a few months after starting Minds with his father John, spotted Mark Harding's work on ELGG, a social networking site which offers the building blocks of open source platforms. Bill offered Mark work over the summer break. Still in his teens, Mark was a freshman French horn player in a musical conservatory. Yet he had already founded his own computer company and was one of the top ELGG programmers. Mark says that he saw the summer Minds gig as “something to keep myself busy”. 

By the time that classes started in fall, he had created the basic structure of Minds. Keeping up with his classes, graduating on time, he coded “in the evenings, on weekends and during summer breaks”, almost singlehandedly writing the lean, complex, powerful, if still patchy Minds platform that entered its Beta stage in 2015. 

The Ottmans and Mark Harding are champions not only of freedom of speech and consumer privacy but of transparency. Forced to recreate Facebook through reverse engineering, they bought some proprietary software as patches while they wrote their own, but they will not create any software, especially Artificial Intelligence software, that is not "open source" -- that is, available to anyone who can read code, an exact record of what the site is doing. Minds moreover provides users with a right to speak and a channel to do it on, and does not use Artificial Intelligence [AI] or anything else to store and analyze personal information -- as its open-source code makes clear. 

Mark Harding can empathize with the thrill of the chase that drives the young programmers working for Big Tech who are solving thorny software problems, creating ever-more sophisticated AIs, though he would never use his own skill that way. He does not blame the AIs. They’re code. 

What Mark does question are the motives of the global corporations, global financiers, and governments that control most of the world’s AI. 

As noted back in Part I, many leading inventors of the industry, for example Elon Musk, creator of Paypal (and creator and owner of Tesla Motors, Space-X, The Boring Company, AI corporation Neuralink, etc.), very publicly share those concerns. AIs could provide us all with a utopian life, a Star Trek replicator existence, give us food and clothes out of the air, and work with us to remember, create or do anything that we could dream. Musk has warned however that advanced AIs in the wrong hands are potentially "more dangerous than nuclear warheads".  

Machine-learning AIs think in ways that humans do not yet comprehend, faster than we can analyze, and do so by continuously wolfing down immense amounts of bulk data, mostly about us. Many well-known AI consumer products and services are designed simply to anesthetize us while tons of data about each of us is extracted and piped to the AIs in global corporate or military hands. Alexa for example can hear not only what you deliberately say to it but every sound for many meters around you, and continuously sends it all back for analysis at Amazon, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, history's richest human, with CIA contracts. 

The equally troubling problem is thus that people steeped in war and greed are teaching these wondrous new thinkers. Facebook keeps people chattering to each other, trading pics, while it feeds its own AIs and sells up to 50,000 points of information about each of its users to corporate advertisers and the NSA. Negative feelings are easier to spark than positive ones, and repeated "clicks" sell ads. Google's Youtube AIs are therefore programmed to suggest ever-more negative selections, “sending people down rabbit holes.” Knowing about Google's work with the military and for example the Chinese government, Musk calls Google's AI work, "a nightmare...." 

                                                     AI PSYOPS

The arguably worst misuse of this amazing new Artificial Intelligence power however is in AI psyops, where it is used to attack the stability of individual minds by presenting false realities that seem believable because they are woven from the individual's own emotions. It is not ordinary political propaganda aimed at groups, but a ruthless process of discovering and manipulating the private pain and fears of each individual in a group

Unknown to ordinary citizens, the US CIA and British MI-6 for years have used AI psyops to project illusory realities in order to manipulate or destroy developing countries. 
Operatives target a heavily-armed group within each nation, cranking the emotions of individuals, feeding them lies that reinforce their prejudices until the group explodes -- creating a civil war, overthrowing a government, keeping a tyrant in place. The hidden operatives decide which. 

In 2014-2018, for the first time in history, an AI psyops weapon was turned on the developed world, as "Cambridge Analytica" was focused on Britain and the United States. First, Dr. Alexandr Kogan, a lecturer (not a professor) at both Cambridge University in England and St. Petersburg University in Russia,  got Facebook data on 87 million Facebook users and through them data on their 250 million friends and followers -- and sold it. 

Alexandr Kogan, pictured in Varsity, a Cambridge University publication. "Kogan was born in Moldova, and lived in Moscow until he moved the United States at the age of seven. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and in Hong Kong before joining the University of Cambridge as a lecturer in psychology and psychometrics."

Kogan sold or gave the Facebook data to St. Petersburg University in Russia. In St. Petersburg, researchers analyzed the data to identify who in the US exhibited the "dark triad" of simultaneous narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. Kogan meanwhile also sold the data to Cambridge Analtica, of which much more in a minute. Kogan finally acted as an intermediary between Cambridge Analytica and Russia’s second largest oil company, Lukoil.  Although aware that Lukoil had a tight relationship with the FSB, the secret police formerly known as the KGB, Cambridge Analytica then sent Lukoil its psyops work on US individuals and groups, with results and algorithms. In the US itself, Cambridge Anaytica used its harsh tools and that Facebook data against the US Alt Right. Therein hangs an important part of the Minds tale....


All of this AI psyops attack on the US arguably started because the US people have been rising on both the Right and Left. As in most countries they have had every reason to rise. In 2017, a Princeton study showed that for twenty years, the US Congress and president had responded to ALL of the global corporate agenda and to NONE of the priorities of US votersThanks to corrupt election processes, the same crony officials moreover have been in political office throughout these 40 years, since the 1980s global corporate takeover of the US media, economy, legal system and government.

The great danger to corrupt government officials and oligarchs alike is that the activists on both the Left and Right might climb in over their ideological divisions and confront the common foe. As "neo-liberals: and "neo-conservatives" cement the last aspects of global takeover,  people have indeed become increasingly active. Perhaps realizing that torches and pitchforks might be coming up over the hill together, mega-billionaires in the 21st century have grown more aggressive than ever. 

In his seventies, with a PhD in computational linguistics, Robert Mercer is a noted Artificial Intelligence pioneer who became a multi-billionaire by programming his AIs to bet on the world stock and commodity markets.  Founder and Co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies hedge fund, Robert and his mathematically gifted and deeply political middle daughter Rebekkah, 45, like the mega-billionaire Koch brothers, and to a far less expensive extent "merely"-multi-billionaire George Soros, all orchestrate politics behind the scenes. The Mercers wanted more. Diving in, the Mercers at first benignly invested $11 million in Breitbart News,  which was back then a blog for pro-Israeli politics. Andrew Breitbart, a founder with Ariana Huffington of Huffington Post, wanted to make it a HuffPo for the rightwing. When Andrew Breitbart suddenly died the following year at a young 41, however, the Mercers threw support to Steve Bannon as chief editor

Bannon, a persuasive opponent  of the global order, is from a working-class Catholic background, has a BA in urban planning, an MA in foreign services from Georgetown, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. After serving in the US Navy both overseas and in the Pentagon, Bannon became a Goldman Sachs banker and produced 20 Hollywood films. (The Hollywood years left their mark. When the real news isn't flamboyant enough, his Breitbart News crew simply makes it up, anything to keep readers frightened, angry -- and clicking.)  Bannon says, "What turned me against the whole establishment was coming back from running companies in Asia in 2008 and seeing that Bush had fucked up as badly as Carter."                                               

Steve Bannon, Robert Mercer, Rebekkah Mercer, Liberty  Collective

AI psyops specialust Christopher Wylie, formerly CTO of Cambridge Analytica, testifies before the US Congress.


Bannon set out to protect the US markets from the global order, to throw the US into a war with the world's two billion Muslims and to transform the United States into an ethnostate for whites only. That would require extraordinary levels of coercion. Therefore obviously no libertarian, Bannon calls himself a "Leninist". Vladimir Lenin, leader of the "communist" revolution in Russia in 1917,  was less a follower of Marx than the inventor of modern totalitarianism, total state control on a nationwide scale. Like Lenin, Bannon treats his ends as justifying any means.That includes not only laying stories that are whoppers on his Breitbart readers but far worse, siccing an AI psyops campaign on them. 

When Bannon hatched the scheme, he was on the board of directors of Strategic Communications Laboratories [SCL], a British military contractor working with the CIA and its British counterpart, MI-6. 

To avoid the appearance (but not the fact) of a foreign military corporation's meddling in US politics, SCL set up a new AI operation that was aimed at the US and Britain but then incorporated it, treating it as legally separate, although the functions were fused. it had no link to Cambridge University. Naming it Cambridge Analytica Ltd. simply because it sounded impressive, Bannon became its vice president. 

Cambridge Analytica was at first composed of two executives and only one coder, self-taught Artificial Intelligence psyops specialist Christopher Wylie. The Mercers, Wylie says, got around US campaign contribution reporting laws by -- instead of hiring Wylie directly -- buying tiny three-person Cambridge Analytica outright. In the 44 state-level US campaigns in which Cambridge Analytics was involved in 2014, the Mercers contributed $35 million fairly openly. It is impossible to say how much was hidden in Cambridge Analytica itself. Rebekkah moreover got many groups which were receiving money from her family to hire Cambridge Analytica, which was housed in the same building as Breitbart News. 

Wylie explains that in the US, beginning in 2012, Cambridge Analytica meanwhile waged a secret, prolonged psyops attack on tens of millions of individuals identifying as Alt Right, that is, on Bannon's own readers.  

Wylie, a gifted programmer who had dropped out of school at 16, with a later smattering of fashion, psychology and law, has admitted to designing the US project, heading the interview teams, and coding and carrying through the initial attacks on the US Alt Right.  In 2014, 24-year old Wylie resigned, he says because the project was ginning up racial hatred with "disinformation" and was trying to suppress the black vote. You can listen to how that was spun, as Cambridge Analytica pretended  that it had done nothing wrong to the Right, while the Left used the attack to portray  Trump's 2016 electoral victory as illegitimate. Both sides adeptly evaded the main point --- that a foreign psyops attack on the US had been directed by a US online publisher and funded by a US mega-billionaire.

In 2017 Wylie turned whistleblower. As I wrote this in 2018, he was preparing to testify before the US Congress and did not respond to requests for an interview. I have compiled his observations about his Cambridge Analytica work from the numerous YouTube videotapes of him speaking. Wylie emphasizes how completely pioneering AI developer Robert Mercer understands Artificial Intelligence psyops, how easy it was for an AI psyops programmer like Wylie to talk shop to him. He further stresses that Bannon was fully aware of the potential effects of AI psyops on the United States. Wylie says, "To change a nation, you've got to break it first. Bannon and Mercer both understood that...."

Wylie states that the Bannon/Mercer goal as far back as 2012 was winning  the 2016 US election, candidate irrelevant as long as ideologically in synch with them. He adds that Bannon hoped to take federal power in part by screwing with the minds of an armed, adept, but unsuspecting group -- as SCL had done in developing countries. According to Wylie and all available evidence, the only US sector targeted was the Alt Right. Why? 

Wylie is Canadian. Although his British team had initially gone out to do interviews with U.S. Americans in general, he says that they soon noticed that there were “pockets of people who said that they did not dare express their opinions in public." White heterosexuals, overwhelmingly men, they "saw themselves as victims" of the rise of other groups in the US. They described themselves as wrongly blamed for all of history’s faults and were afraid for their children and grandchildren. Wylie described them with terms like "despairing' "sad", "isolated", "lonely", "scared", "suppressed", and "angry". They insisted for example that, if they were "their real selves, they would lose their families, their friends, their jobs."

Many self-identified as Alt Right.

The US Alternative Right is drawn from the remains of the once largely-white, affluent, politically powerful 1940s-1970s US middle class, many from union families which were all but destroyed by the 1980s global corporate takeover.  In the early 1990s Bill Clinton became the first Democratic presidential candidate to reach for global corporate money, certain that the party's working class base, both black and white, had "nowhere else to go". Yet the Republican Party promptly drew off much of the white part of that base by waving flags of "God, guns and abortion" while whispering 'race". Then the Republicans betrayed them too. Most rightwing workers simply want what 90% of the US electorate wants -- an end to war, fiscal responsibility, a return to opportunity. 

Some though moved into the "Alternative Right". The term was coined in 2008 by Paul Gottleib and is now used by a wide range of very different but overlapping groups -- by those who feel that "identity politics" is allowed to everyone but whites, those whose anti-globalism is based on fear that it will bring the "extinction of the white race" or "white genocide", by neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates, "Involuntary Celibates" [InCels] , misogynists; a big chunk of those who are anti-democracy and anti-science, many (not most) Second Amendment absolutists .... and extreme anti-Semites who see Jews the way that Neoliberals see Russians, as hiding behind every rock and tree, running everything.

While almost all Alts are whites, the vast majority of whites are not Alts. Alts are an offshoot of conservatism, but most conservatives are not Alts ether. Overwhelmingly male, computer savvy and heavily armed, Alts are perhaps 6% of the US population. Online though their influence outweighs their numbers, because of their highly-talented meme artists. 

If Wylie could convince the individuals within it that both representative government and democracy were threats to males and to the whites, and deliberately increase their fear and hatred of other groups, Cambridge Analytica could further separate Right and Left populists, and even split up coalitions on the Right, both "breaking the nation in order to change it" and protecting the mega-billionaires.

No matter whether you 1) agree with that, 2) agree with some of that or 3) agree with none of it -- or if you identify as Alt and think my description bears no relationship to your reality -- what Bannon and Mercer proceeded to do to the U.S. Alt Right was unacceptable, and extremely dangerous to everyone. It moreover had an enormous impact on Minds, at that point still in Beta.


US politics are not at all what they seem on the surface to be. Both hero to many in her generation of feminists, rejected by most younger women's rights advocates, and the most unpopular Democratic nominee in US history, Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic primaries through money laundering and fraud, beating the more popular Bernie Sanders (who still has a 60&% approval rating, 80% among Democrats.) 

Clinton had also deployed what she called her “Pied Piper Strategy” in order to manipulate the Republican primaries. According to her emails and those of her campaign manager John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee, DNC Inc. (all released by Wikileaks, and none denied by Clinton, Podesta or the DNC),  Clinton thought that active Alt Right involvement would turn voters off so much that she would win easily in the November 2016 presidential election. Therefore in Hillary Clinton's view, one main key to her winning the presidency was to get the Alt Right engaged in the election.  Donald Trump meanwhile was a golf buddy of Bill Clinton's and called Bill to discuss his own plans to run. Hillary thought that Donald Trump would “bring out the crazies.” By that, she meant the Alt Right, whom she later called called "the Deplorables," just as she called anyone under 50 "kids",  angering people even more.... 


Time-Warner which owns CNN was among Clinton's top five contributors, and she has longstanding ties with many of the other main news corporations. Clinton for example got the CNN debate questions before her CNN debate with Bernie Sanders, as the person who brought her the questions, Donna Brazil, has admitted. Using that clout, Clinton ordered Bernie Sanders' news coverage shut off for eight of the twelve months during the primaries, and ordered free media support pumped into the campaign of Trump, both of which edocts appeared to have been obeyedAlthough certainly not all Trump's coverage was due to Clinton, Trump's free media coverage was worth an estimated two billion dollars.  

Trump won the Republican primaries in June. Assuming that her ploy had worked, Clinton ordered Trump's free coverage ended, intending to circle back around for the kill in November general election. By July, a month later, Trump’s campaign was indeed floundering. During the primaries, Trump had repeatedly told his small donors that he was self-funding. In fact, his money was all coming from those small donors. He had in fact lent his campaign $1.8 million, repayable from the small donations. Meanwhile he was charging the campaign for use of his helicopters, hotels, etc., that repayable from the small donations too. His campaign coming out of the 2016 primaries was cash-strapped, unprepared for the general election ahead. 

However Trump got an infusion of $80 million. The Mercers, AI-pioneer Robert and his daughter Rebekkah, who had been the main backers of Ted Cruz, suddenly stepped in behind Trump. Their  conditions for their gathering the money were 1) that Trump had to at least lend his campaign much more money of his own,  2) had to hire Cambridge Analytica, and 3) had to allow two of the Mercers' people, Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, to both run his campaign and be in his administration....

Christopher Wylie in 2012-2014 had repeatedly heard people during interviews saying that Washington “was gross, disgusting, dirty” and that “you should Drain that Swamp”, “the Deep State is the problem”, “the vote is rigged”, “Make America Great Again”. These were the people's own slogans. Wylie had tested them in 2014 through polls, finding them  winners. Although Wylie had left Cambridge Analytica before the 2016 elections, Cambridge Analytica put those winning words in the mouth of the Mercers' newest chosen candidate. Unlike Ted Cruz, though, Donald Trump won. In November, thanks to a number of factors, Trump took the general election with 36 electoral votes to spare, carrying the Mercers  -- and their Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon and Cambridge Analytica -- into power with him. 


Secretly during this time, the AI programs in many global corporations -- Google, Facebook -- had been targeting all of us online. On top of that, though, Cambridge Analytica had in 2012-2016 chosen Alts as individual targets in 44 state campaigns, many Mercer nonprofits and political organizations, and now in a Mercer-funded 2016 presidential campaign. Posing as social networking friends or political ads, Cambridge Analytica's algorithms hooked into each contacted person's psyche like a bush full of burrs. Wylie explains that the team presented "a fake world that was believable to that person" because it was "woven out of that individual's own pain, hopes, hatreds and fears". 

Whether those individuals had for four years instinctively and successfully struggled to resist or gotten swept up by it, what does being the target of an AI psyops campaign do to people? 

No studies have been made public. In the United States, Cambridge Analytica however had attacked the Alt Right with its AI psyops campaign for four years, beginning in 2012. It is therefore perhaps significant that in 2016 although Trump, who had heavy Alt Right support, had won the presidency, many people who identified as Alt Right as a group were furious. Alts who had been described in 2014 as “miserable and isolated” were described by 2016 as “continuously apoplectic”, in a nonstop tailspin of rage increasingly aimed at individuals, threatening "execution" and "civil war".

Yet they had just won! Why were they so angry? 

Looking back from 2019, moreover many of those people, although their views have not changed, are back to stating them calmly and eloquently (well okay with hilarious memes). What had happened to them in between? Almost no one outside the Alt Right seemed to care. As 2016 reports of inchoate rage from previously eloquent people poured in from all sides, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter and Youtube had simply gone into convulsions of banning them. 

Minds did not follow suit. 

Still in Beta, the Minds crew in late 2016 was only five men. Just two of them were developers, Mark Harding and Emilio Balbuena -- and Mark was based in Scotland while "Emi" lived in Argentina. Minds' founder, CEO  Bill Ottman back in the United States however unhesitatingly welcomed the banned  people on the Alt Right, because "like anyone else, they have a right to speak". 

That simple, that complex. 

Free speech is messy. Other Minds users at that point were hackers, hikers, photographers, writers, poets, scientists and philosophers with diverse views and not politically correct -- but deep in  discussions where everyone listened. Concerned with social issues like protecting fresh water at Standing Rock, they were a decidedly laid back group. The Alts appeared on Minds in an avalanche of fury.... 

How was Minds going to work that out?