Stick that in Your Knowledge Box

When the Taliban drove lorry-loads of dynamite from Kabul to the Bamiyan Valley in the Hindu Kush, they were (in their warped heads) doing Gods will. The world’s two largest standing Buddha’s were blown to pieces, having stood for nearly 1,700 years. The Taliban, proud of their achievement, videoed the destruction and put it on YouTube….as we do these days.

The deplorable ISIS has obliterated the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, the Venice of the sands; smashing away the memory of Syria’s glorious history, in the name of God, apparently. Again, lovingly preserving the carnage on social media.

I wonder how many of the “Jundallah” (soldiers of God) are aware of how their current ideology is not only reprehensible today, but would have been equally as condemned in the previous Caliphate, that of the Umayyad Caliphate of al-Andalus.

In 711ce, less than one hundred years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the Umayyad’s landed in Gibraltar, and by the end of the campaign most of the Iberian Peninsula was under Islamic rule. Yet, unlike today’s “caliphate”, they didn’t rush to destroy all the art and history of the land.

No, the Umayyad’s actually developed it. They had thriving communities in art, science, medicine and a buoyant economy. No better example existed than the Library of Al-Hakam II in Cordoba. It was said to be the largest collection of books anywhere in the world. At over 400,000; the catalogue of books “alone consisted of forty-four volumes”.

Imagine it; al-Andalus (modern Andalucía) was the cultural centre of the world. Whisper it, they even had Jewish Stonemasons work in the construction of the Great Mosque. What would the modern “caliphate” make of such sacrilege?

The current malignant vision has devolved from an 8th Century Caliphate of 400,000 books to a modern “caliphate” of one vile interpretation of just one book!

In the battle of ideas; the war for hearts and minds, whoever has the better propagandist wins. Whoever knows which buttons to push, what hooks to use and which clickbait works best, holds all the aces. Sadly, I don’t see the enlightened past used to counter the current propaganda! The moderators are asleep at the wheel.

And don’t think you’re not affected. We are all at the mercy of the manipulation of Data. In his Ted Talk, Ricardo Sabatini explains Big Data in human form. In terms of you and me, the (DNA Coding) data that goes into creating our bodies would fill ten thousand Titanic’s with hard-drives of data. Not only are you a giant Data set; you are an active participant, a player on the pitch.

As you read this, your phone is tracking your location, various apps are monitoring your behaviours and your search engine is placing ads on this very screen that are tailored to you, based on previous searches.

The Google Algorithm is whirring away, not just bringing up the search results you asked for, but actually bringing up the one it thinks you are looking for. No, you didn’t misread that. That little round Chrome logo is already in your head and is manipulating the search results in a way that it knows you like!

Big Data is Big Business. And Big Business has all your Data. It’s no wonder Google keep their algorithm so secret. Knowledge is power and that level of knowledge of us is a commodity. Commodities can be monetised. Speaking of commodities and monetisation…

Think of (the defunct) Irish Water, I mean, has there ever been a bigger Data Protection breach in this country than Irish Water? How many of us never registered with Irish Water, yet the bill arrived in your name? What right had the Revenue Commissioners to share our Data? Did they sell it? Seriously, this is outrageous. When Banks breach these Data Protection laws they get fined. Why was this okay? And let’s not linger on the ridiculous original requirement to provide PPSN numbers for “customers”.

We had an ill-formed and untested utility company spring up, illegally issued with a customer base that others would pay millions for. We have a Eurostat letter saying “privatisation is ultimately envisaged” and the Government of “Free Market” Fine Gael. How on earth were the establishment surprised that the plebeians didn’t go along with them in the further ruination of the public sphere? Honestly, WTF?

It gets worse. Not only are Political Parties spending millions of our money to gather our data, they then have a largely docile media that goes along for the ride.

When recently New Fianna Fail told us their New, New position on the abolition of New water charges, as part of New Politics, the Irish Independent published a headline proclaiming: “FF joined by Sinn Fein, AAA/PBP in call to abolish water charges”

Honestly,  this happened. An news paper decided to manipulate reality to credit New Fianna Fail with suddenly coming up with the idea of abolishing water charges. It would be funny if this particular publication hadn’t already spent months smearing anyone with legitimate concerns about the Lame Duck Utility, Irish Water.

If you want to read real Data on how bad the Irish (fair and balanced?) media actually is, I recommend this article from Padraig O’Mara, it’s a real eyeopener.

I’m not suggesting all the Data is being used for nefarious purposes, the vast majority is used to improve life. The biggest leaps we will make in the coming years will be because we can gather information like never before and make (hopefully) better decisions/discoveries.

I am however, suggesting that you look at what you read (including this) with a healthy dose of scepticism. I am arguing that you should ALWAYS question those in charge.I’m not saying not to click on the fluff piece that catches your eye. I’m one of those who never liked Clickbait articles, but then I clicked the link…

…and you won’t believe what happened next.

Tony Groves September 2016 ethics

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