Skilluminati Research

The Irreversible Problem of Dangerous Information

Posted Apr 19, 2008 10 comments

Thanks to my friend Garrett Heaney for the discussion that inspired this one.

With publicly available infomation, self-training and luck, a single human being can have a huge effect on the everyday lives of millions of people. I could be talking about a terrorist attack or I could be talking about a YouTube video.

Is there any safe way to talk about this material? I'm dumbstruck by how much Peter J. Carroll and John Boyd have in common.

Here's the problem: there's a very defined vocabulary of destruction available today. Futurists and policymakers are concerned about "SEI" -- Super-empowered Individuals." Power asymmetry is presented as a bad thing, but for us peasants it's a more level playing field.

As you can imagine, that apparently spooks the shit out of the formerly ruling class.

What I'm doing with Skilluminati is codifying technique for solo warfare. Not only because it's a "manual" but also because it's an accurate model of the problem. Personally, I happen to prefer living in a peaceful community, being healthy and not having to carry weapons around. I would imagine anyone reading this feels the same, even those of you enlisted. I am probably more concerned with defending against these tactics than I am with codifying them.

After all, how precise can I be? I need to be at Esozone this year, so I can't get deported until November at least. Check out the John Robb thinkpiece "The Disruption of Saudi Arabia" -- he can only say so much.

I will probably say way more than that, way too often.

Blogger Types

The military gave humanity the Brevity Code, and thinking in military terms can be clarifying and useful. For instance, the Pentagon is engaged in ongoing "Information Operations" -- spending billions every year on what was formerly termed information warfare.

It's a small detail, but I bring it up because if online communication, information broadcasting and persuasion is being used as a weapon, where is that "common sense" metaphor actually taking us? The battlefield is "hearts and minds" of civilian "non-combatant" populations, as stated in Joint Doctrine. The insurgents are anyone counteracting military propaganda and gathering intelligence on their know, most bloggers, probably including you.

Stakes is High

We approach many problems from many different angles. Only a few of them actually work.

I'm a big advocate of trial and error -- in fact, that's the only way to explain most of my conscious life. But it's mostly error, and most of what intelligent humans devote themselves to is fluff.

I don't think where I'm taking Skilluminati Research is irresponsible. I think this is signifigant information, unlike my stoner fluff at Hump Jones. Warfare is just another skillset that future mutants need to learn, and it's a logical application of time, much like martial arts. I'm actively researching it, putting it into practice, and then codifying it for other people.

Back when Skilluminati was running on the regular, way back in '07, I featured an old Kevin Kelly essay title "Information as a Communicable Disease." He was meditating on how experiments tracking the spread of ideas, when graphed, bear a startling resemblance to maps of how diseases spread. As I've implied in the title, dangerous information is an irreveribile problem, from nuclear weapons to improvised explosive devices to pdf maps of electrical grids.

"Information," much like the "electricity" it's based on, is everywhere at once, interacts with everyone and everything, and yet it's impossible to precisely define. When information gets crystalized, though, it's undeniably dangerous stuff -- like the hotel room full of Ricin in Las Vegas, for instance.

There's a lot of good comments in an earlier discussion, Is Secrecy Ever Justified?, that relates to this. I'm definitely still curious what people think. I welcome opposition but tend to delete long rants.

Filed in: 5GW Project

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  • 1. Eric Patton on Apr 19, 2008 at 11:55 PM permalink

    The problem with communicating this information always goes back to power. We’re afraid it may give others power over ourselves, that we will lose our freewill and our vision of what the world should look like. It’s not a problem with the nature of man, just the nature of power.

    We start worrying about “Operational Security” when we worry that it will effect what we want to change, when it effects our power. This can have the effect of closing our own OODA loop to outside information simply because you become more withdrawn from the situation by hiding things. The truth is, several incredible movements of social change have been announced ahead of times with plans published out in the open, like you’ve documented.

    Instead, the goal is to get the other person to close his loop. For example, make him feel in total control of the situation, get his confidence up and make him think he’s simply too smart and too strong to be beaten. From there he starts ignoring environmental feedback about his weaknesses, charges forward, and overreaches.

    Instead of simply working on the information, you are actually working on the persons mind.

    I love where this is going, keep it up.

  • 2. Themikenesedude on Apr 20, 2008 at 3:40 AM permalink

    Actually I look at it more like this:

    A chess analogy- The board is even but there are still a certain amount of set variables. There is more than one variable move or set of moves but still you can graph them out in an 8x8 perfectly squared form that accepts certain moves that can function in this perfect square by set pieces. And so the game ends after a certain amount of predetermined moves are made to come up with a resolution (or a player knocks over his own king- the timer runs out- one player is forced to forfeit- two kings are remaining in the game only- the game is a stalemate in which it will only evolve into one piece “chasing” after another piece ad nauseum, etc.).
    It’s like this: If information that can help people has been withheld, watered-down, exaggerated, or lied about can be shared and/or spread openly then everyone can have a piece of the pie. There are controlling forces out there in the education system (K-College) that only want to impose some sort of control- All the way from figures in authority being put on a pedestal when all of us were little and being forced to not question authority and their motives all the way to government/C.I.A.-sponsored texts/teachers in colleges.
    The point is that no matter what, your mind is the greatest concealed weapon you have. It even gets down to how exercise, boxing, tai-chi, eating, sleeping all have an impact on how you use certain kinds of untaught “martial arts” with your mind.
    Plus there is the element of HOW you fight just like the element of HOW you read rather than simply what texts you read. In the same way it is true that there is suffering of people’s potential when the focus is on HOW someone learns something just as much as there is if everything that someone learns is seen as “true”. The focus should be on an equal measure of BOTH in the Guerrilla Art of Learning.
    You must exercise your mind (your wits) in order to succeed valuably in life and others as well. Not your brain… Your brain is not your mind, but it is a valuable weapon much greater than your fists or your verbal/situational tactics of offense/defense in existence. It is not unlike how someone with an artificial heart or a weak heart can still choose to love and they are capable of doing exercises that support that love in the day-to-day, like take care of a pet, take their kids to the zoo, sacrifice time for a loved one, help donate material things or certain tasks to the community.
    Also every action you make has a reaction- Even if a boxer knocks one down there are still the questions/variables of reactive situations in the life-force that is the “circle of life” and how that will be effected. If a kick-boxer knocks out a guy in the first match and he cracks a couple of his ribs in the fight how will that effect the fighter once he gets up. Like in chess, which “pieces” of his body will he focus his energy on and how does the other participant in the game and game theory react. You can have a bruiser in a fighting match who will go down before a 90 lb. scrawny fighter if the fighter can use his mind/street-smarts/"chi" to play to win.
    The point is it’s not as pessimistic as “give your opponent false pride”. It’s more a “love your enemy” concept, because you can be capable of using your wits and how they interact with the whole system that is the map of your body and it’s hands, feet, organs in order to concentrate your energy and the other’s energy so that each party can know what to expect and how to handle it.
    There are a lot of people who would honestly rather fail than succeed (This is so true and I still do not understand it.). If the knowledge is liberated then these people can choose to surrender in life. They can commit a slow suicide as they breathe oxygen if they want to. But the people who did not know that it was available or who could benefit from the knowledge will be capable of cooperating more since their opponent has their own tools. Everyone is forced to cooperate. It’s as if every regular guy or girl has their mind in “nuclear” mode because hey if they don’t share the resources one opponent can use the exact same tactics in work, play, etc. to attack the other opponents’ material or mental or conceptual resources. The economy could be opened up and it can truly be a Marxist utopia that previously was thought not to work. A beautiful world where others can share the wealth and their tasks instead of hold back “the knowledge”. Capitalism is not about money- It’s about the knowledge and how some people know how to use their mind with their surroundings and central nervous system and others don’t. The greatest violation of the 2nd Amendment (The right to bear weapons) really is “lobotomy”.

  • 3. Garrett from Wishtank on Apr 20, 2008 at 3:41 AM permalink

    Thanks for the shout out, I’ll be sure and throw a donut and coffee at the full-sized sedan that will be parked outside my house tomorrow morning.

    And thanks for this post, it clarifies some things, but we can do one better… yeah, it’s about that time. I’ll send some questions along.


  • 4. Themikenesedude on Apr 20, 2008 at 3:47 AM permalink

    There is one exception: I think that private, personal information that might as well be Constitutionally protected should not be out there. I believe, provocatively, there should be some “censorship” regarding materials that have to do with actually hurting people directly in some life-altering way. For example, if anti-abortionists list home contact info of abortion doctors as a threat that should be censored. “Bumfights” violates human beings in the most disgusting ways and should be barred or controlled as much as snuff films. actually has a wide variety of blocking potential for personally harmful information that otherwise might run anarchistically through the internet. Writers take note: Chillingeffects DOES handle internet infringement issues.

  • 5. Garrett from Wishtank on Apr 20, 2008 at 5:06 PM permalink

    “Once we have explored the possibilities open to conscious­ness and personality, and the knowledge of them has become Common property, a new source of unrest will have emerged, will realize and believe that if proper measures are taken, no one need be starved of true satisfaction, or con­demned to sub-standard fulfillment. This process too will begin by being unpleasant, and end by being beneficent. It will begin by destroying the ideas and the institutions that stand in the way of our realizing our possibilities (or even deny that the possibilities are there to be realized), and will go on by at least making a start with the actual construction of true human destiny.”

    - Julian Huxley “Transhumanism” (1957)

  • 6. Thirtyseven on Apr 20, 2008 at 7:49 PM permalink

    I’m always wary of making rules or passing laws—then you’re faced with the problem of enforcement.  Equal enforcement of the law is something few cultures have ever perfected.  For the most part, rich people do whatever they please, powerful people do even more, and the rest of us wind up on an episode of COPS...if we’re lucky.

    I’m also under the impression privacy isn’t mentioned anywhere in the constitution.  I’ll check on that, though.

  • 7. Themikenesedude on Apr 21, 2008 at 12:40 AM permalink

    You may be right. I was mostly thinking about the spirit of the Constitution so I got carried away with the privacy thing. To be more specific look at the trials of “Naked Lunch”: They concluded with the thought that a work should be censored if it cannot engage debate or benefit society. Like look at that concept about anti-abortionists listing all the abortion doctors and then acting like they want to go al qaeda on their buttocks’. That I believe should be censored. I believe that, yes, snuff and kiddie porn should be censored and has no place in society. Of course on the other hand I feel there is very much controversial information that is beneficial to be made available. Yes, I believe that survivalist materials which otherwise would be looked down on as odd or extreme should be available to all. Then law enforcement knows how to make preventative measures and have better judgment about what to do if it hits the fan and people in general know their way around better. For example, a book on a meth lab does not directly scar someone for life but if someone goes in there they know what it smells like and that the smell and stuff in there can kill them and run the hell out of there. It’s like this: I believe if anything DIRECTLY is created in the spirit of harming others (and screwing up the audience’s psyche) then there should be censorship for that information. For example: I believe that a material promoting rape and saying “This is how you rape a woman and get away with it” has no place because it hurts everyone. It’s like that book on how to contract a hitman. I write noir fiction so a book like that for me is a godsend for writing something believable to my audiences and other people can use it constructively and analytically. But the guy who wrote it had hell to pay because he forgot that one silver bullet you need if you’ll publish something controversial: The magical protective disclaimer on the very first library info page w/ the ISBN etc. I even agree with how some people in the service reacted to learning that some of the reports on the ops they were using in the present war were made readily available for the enemy of theirs to learn from. Why was the government releasing them so soon and making them available to the other side? What really was the point of that at all? Really the beauty of how anti-censorship or censorship works is that it encourages debate and critical thinking, because everyone who is like “Uncensor everything at all!” are hypocrites and don’t realize that that’s encouraging some pretty ugly stuff to sneak through the cracks.

  • 8. Thirtyseven on Apr 21, 2008 at 11:20 AM permalink

    Censorship doesn’t stop that flow, though.

    What authority has the power to actually stop the spread of information?  Who can really “censor” anything?

  • 9. Eric Patton on Apr 21, 2008 at 12:04 PM permalink

    The problem with giving a Government power over the freedom of press, to allow it to censor, is the same as nationalizing a religion. You run the risk of it using it support war and to silence criticism.

    The problem of operational security during war is different, but is being blurred by the lines of Information Warfare. The Front Line is everywhere, expressing or showing characteristics of certain beliefs or ideas are enough to get you noticed by authorities. I’m not talking about the wife who goes to work every week with a black eye, those are obvious patterns. People, and the information that they create and hold, are being put into categories depending entirely on how they support the Government’s ideas and policies.

    Military Op-Sec is different, but then we could restructure the military so it wouldn’t have as much top-down control we could prevent leaks of important information; most critical info isn’t leaked from the blogs soldiers but from Officers.

    If the Government doesn’t do it, then it would be left to the authors themselves and their peers.

  • 10. g on May 08, 2008 at 6:01 PM permalink

    As a skilluminati browser here and there, i understand where you want to take your program of documentation of violence.  There is a serious Researcher of Violence that has documented cases, facts, ideas, and has been a detective down in Texas with hands on experience dealing with violent and not so violent criminals.  You should read and understand his stuff, because above all, i’d say he’s an expert, in a world of few experts in this department.  Check him out at

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