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Big Data, Big Mistake?

Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica

648 words

In the aftermath of Trump’s election, there was nothing worrying about seeing the already infamous pro-establishment mainstream media propping up the Cambridge Analytica narrative, which attributed his victory to his campaign’s use of the predictive models developed by the firm, which was also credited with having helped Brexit to succeed. This line was advanced in order to blame their own failure on such mythical (or at least mythically represented) beings as “meta-data” or “micro-targeting” – making it out to be like some kind of Harry Potter story, which was much more convenient than admitting that many Trump voters made their choice not in spite of the gigantic media bias toward Hillary, but because of the bias. From their schizophrenic, often moronic point of view, the Big Data narrative was, after all, little more than a less paranoid version of the Russian hacking fairy tale.

But there’s a basic fact about Trump which quality hair-dying and attractive trophy wives tend to consign to oblivion, and which I was reminded of by a recent (and otherwise, not totally convincing and all too psychological) piece in The Duran: Trump is seventy. He never writes e-mails, only recently bought his first smartphone, and, though he’s been on Twitter for at least four years, he keeps using it with the rabid zeal of newcomers to the digital dimension. This in itself, of course, means next to nothing. History and literature are full of chaste yet very skilled brothel keepers, and of teetotallers running hugely profitable bootlegging operations.

But what if? What if Trump, even though he clearly understood that his surprise victory was the American equivalent of Brexit, in spite of Bannon’s advice, in spite of all the frenzied tweeting – what if Trump, because of his age, really doesn’t get it? What if he underestimates the Gutenberg-like paradigm shift underlying his victory? What if Trump believes that he owes more to the Cambridge Analytica skulduggery than to Alex Jones, Ramsey Paul, Milo, ZeroHedge, and so on put together? Americans tend to divinize technology and ignore cultural dynamics. The transition from the late (audio-visual) Gutenberg galaxy to the era of bilateral, zero-cost, online information is probably not that impressive to them, as it entails no radically new hard tech (neither did the Gutenberg press, by the way . . .), while the complicated mathematics of psychometric campaigning, well-marketed with the rhetorical spice of “Big Data” (as if big data is essentially more than a lot of small data put together), is a good candidate for the pantheon of worshippers of technique.

In other terms: what if Trump actually is a charlatan who happened to often speak the truth, and knew that it is the truth, but did not actually believe that a majority of the voters would be able to recognize it as such? This would explain, with no added conspiracy theory, the apparent frivolity of his recent Syria U-turn. In that case, you don’t even have to make him out to be a complete idiot for buying the story about Syrian children being murdered by Assad’s forces. Supposing that he does not value his (underestimated) Alt Right, online freedom-fighter constituency more than his neo-con/hawkish supporters, sacrificing the former to satisfy the latter makes perfect sense, since the latter also includes powerful business spheres, the support of which he will badly need to realize his domestic economic policies.

If this hypothesis is right, then the mid-term elections will probably help to sober the God Emperor up out of this Cambridge Ethylica. By then, anyway, he will probably have noticed that there is no good compromise with the hawks: once you start caving in to their blackmail, they just keep asking for more, and more, and more. So there might indeed be further Trump surprises ahead, though not necessarily premeditated ones. Let us just hope that none of those surprises includes a nuclear war.

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  1. Driving Mr. Twitter
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    >”He never writes e-mails, only recently bought his first smartphone, and, though he’s been on Twitter for at least four years, he keeps using it with the rabid zeal of newcomers to the digital dimension”

    The Clintons similarly confessed to being Luddites who rarely used email or digital technology. Later it was revealed, via arrest docs on billionaire pedo Jeffrey Epstein, that Bill had 21 phone numbers. In their 2016 investigation of Hillary, the FBI found she used 13 devices registered to two numbers; this was after Hill told the public in 2015 she “only used one device for calls and email.” And remarked “Like, with a cloth?” about scrubbing her illegal data server.

    Huma and Chelsea juggled her tech for her (which neatly allowed her plausible deniability). But I don’t buy that Bill/Hill are how-do-I-work-the-remote Boomers. That is projection to conserve energy and be relatable. It’s a common to mistake older people at this power level are out-to-lunch; this benefits them, adds more camouflage. No one at the top in any field, politics being most vicious, is not hyper competitive, scarily informed, and equipped with cutting edge tech.

    Trump is so advanced his camouflage would make The Predator blush. This mental image we have — from orchestrated videos/photos of his cluttered, computer-free office desk — that Trump stogily embraces paper communications — the irony is that it’s his digital mass projection. His entire life is a master projection and brand. Even his Barnum persona, the vodka, the steaks, is camouflage.

    “If you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere.” I heard this Trump quote as a kid. There is a reason why elite/media Jews, who are genetically gifted at concealment of motives, beliefs, and money, clearly are in awe of him. Some even gasp. He is better at their game than they are. He is inserting Greater Israel into the American Dream, embodied by Jared and Ivanka, and their children (another “happy accident”).

    Meanwhile, we’ll be debating and speculating about his sanity, tech-savvy, and everything else. I bought a MAGA cap and voted/memed for him. But now I’d bet: We’re the art in his last deal. A 70-year-old golfer was embraced by 4chan, then trolled 4chan. As Jared smirked.

  2. Thorweald
    Posted April 15, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    It could be that his ego is so big that he thinks he knows better than us what we want.

    I hope he understands that running a business is different from being a leader of the most powerful country on earth. It’s always tempting for American presidents to start a war abroad for popularity when things aren’t going too well domestically. The US military is so technologically advanced and so big that it’s easy to fight wars without soldiers actually invading.
    The ramifications of hasty wars can go on for decades though…

  3. Roy Rogers
    Posted April 15, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I disagree that Trump was never on board to begin with. I believe he would have preferred not to go into Syria.

    He invaded Syria as part of a quid pro quo agreement with the neo-cons to get healthcare reform passed. Trump cares more about his “legacy” as president than about his principles. He was loath to be known as a president who “failed” to pass healthcare reform, so he compromised on his foreign policy ideals.

    He bowed to the neo-cons over a stupid healthcare bill that probably isn’t significantly different from Obamacare and still would lump together whites with parasitic blacks and hispanics.

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