this is the approach to empowering a global artificial intelligence

US and UK announce AI partnership
Ashley Gold, Axios, Sep 26 2020

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Trump administration is set to announce that the US and the UK have signed a new agreement to cooperate on research and development of artificial intelligence, in news shared first with Axios. The US and its allies fear China is going to surpass them in AI. The partnership shows the US and UK think they have a better chance at beating China by linking up. The partnership will include the two countries working together on research and development of AI, including on issues of explainability and fairness, an administration official told Axios. In May 2020, the US and other allies launched the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, for “like-minded nations together to encourage the development of AI in line with our shared values.” Rep Will Hurd, a Texas Republican who’s leaving Congress at the end of this term, has argued that the US should spend more on AI to better compete with China. Michael Kratsios, US chief technology officer said:

America and our allies must lead the world in shaping the development of cutting-edge AI technologies and protecting against authoritarianism and repression. We are proud to join our special partner and ally, the UK, to advance AI innovation for the well-being of our citizens, in line with shared democratic values.

Dominic Cummings’ data law shake-up a danger to trade, says EU. Proposed
rewriting of data protection rules said to put vital cooperation in doubt

Daniel Boffey, Groan, Sep 27 2020

Cummings describes the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation
(GDPR) as ‘horrific’ and ‘idiotic’. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

BRUSSELS – A radical “pro-tech” plan championed by Dominic Cummings to rewrite Britain’s data protection laws is endangering future cooperation with the EU worth billions to the British economy, Brussels has warned. The government’s newly published national data strategy, promising a “transformation” long sought by Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser and the former Vote Leave director, has sparked concern at a sensitive time with the continued flow of data between the UK and EU member states in question. The European commission is currently examining whether the UK’s data laws will be in line with the EU’s general data protection regulation (GDPR) and law enforcement directive after Jan 1 2021, allowing the movement of data vital to the law enforcement agencies but also the banking, health, entertainment, insurance and tech sectors.

Downing Street hopes that positive “adequacy” decisions can be made by Brussels before the end of the year when the transition period ends. The government estimates that EU exports to the UK of data-enabled services were worth approximately £31b in 2017 while UK exports of data-enabled services to the EU were worth around £80b in 2017. But EU sources said the government’s consultation paper published on the same day as the controversial internal market bill had exacerbated existing concerns over the UK’s approach at the end of the transition period. Amid the uncertainty, on Friday British officials were due to explain the intentions behind the government’s stated pledge in its strategy paper to remove “legal barriers (real and perceived)” to data use, encourage international sharing and deliver a “radical transformation of how the government understands and unlocks the value of its own data.”

EU officials said the two key issues standing in the way of a positive decision were the use of data by the UK intelligence services and the potential “onward flow” to countries such as the US. An EU official said:

While the UK applies EU data protection rules during the transition period, certain aspects of its system may change in the future or be implemented in a manner that differs from the approach of the EU such as rules on international transfers. These aspects therefore raise questions that need to be addressed.

The official added that there was particular concern over the future rules “governing access to data by UK national security authorities” in the light of a recent ruling by the European court of justice. In July, the Luxembourg court made the transfer of personal data to the US from the EU almost legally impossible due to the intrusive nature of surveillance programmes undertaken by the US intelligence agencies and the lack of redress for EU citizens. Brussels is expected to seek assurances that the UK will recognise the implications of the ruling on its own treatment of European citizens’ personal information. Legal challenges to an adequacy decision would be expected in Brussels should the British government fail to offer failsafe safeguards, EU sources said. Ross McKenzie, a partner at the Addleshaw Goddard law firm, said the government was “walking a tightrope” by indicating the desire to make a major move away from the EU’s “gold standard” GDPR while also seeking to illustrate that it was in line with its regulatory intentions. He said:

It is a surprise to me that the government has been so bold in the strategy paper. The European commission will be thinking: ‘What on earth do you want to change?’ But the UK cannot be a world-beating data economy unless we have ‘adequacy.’

Two years ago, Cummings, who championed vast data collection by the Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum campaign, described the EU’s GDPR as “horrific.” Cummings wrote:

One of the many advantages of Brexit is we will soon be able to bin such idiotic laws. We will be able to navigate between America’s poor protection of privacy and the EU’s hostility to technology and entrepreneurs.

One diplomatic source said:

Those comments haven’t gone unnoticed.

Without a GDPR adequacy decision, businesses will be forced to organise individual agreements, known as standard contractual clauses. Industry insiders say the extra costs will be crippling for many small and medium-sized enterprises. A government spokesman said:

We are a global leader, committed to high data protection standards. Protecting the privacy of individuals will continue to be a UK priority. The EU’s adequacy assessment ascertains whether UK data protection standards are ‘essentially equivalent’ to the EU’s.

Johnson & Cummings Wage War On The British State
James Wallbank, Byline Times, Jul 30 2020

James Wallbank explores how Systems Thinking can help the public to understand the methods
of the Prime Minister and his chief advisor, and why they must not be mistaken for buffoons

A placard of Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson by Mike Baldwin.

Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are using military methodology to wage an information war, one which we must learn to fight back against. The regime of the Prime Minister and his controversial chief advisor is a complex, hybrid, shape-changing network, only part of which is visible. Defeating it will require ceaseless, full-spectrum opposition, learning and adaptation. It isn’t a conspiracy, nor is it a structure like dominoes, or snow before an avalanche, vulnerable to one intervention that will topple the lot. It is indicative of a global tendency with many drivers. To prevail against this sort of diffuse opponent demands a Systems Thinking approach. This type of complex conflict is a developed methodology originating in Russia. Read Cummings’ blog and it is clear that he understands ‘operational art’. That doesn’t mean he knows exactly what is going on; it means that he acknowledges that he doesn’t know what is going on, and operates a system to learn, adapt, reorientate and respond. He has used terminology such as the “OODA Loop”: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. This is an operational method developed for aircraft combat. However, ‘operational art’ has a much wider application. It was developed by the Russian military following the revolution, when the country was weak and under-developed, and had a strong, hostile, militarised neighbour: Germany.

How do you win when you’re weak? ‘Operational art’ makes use of complexity and confusion, mixes up information flows in the battlespace, and prevents a more powerful opponent from bringing its forces to bear. It suggests continuous experimentation, learning and repositioning. It can use the strength of an opponent against itself and doesn’t have spatial, temporal or conceptual boundaries. First adopted by Soviet forces for warfare, it has also been implemented by the KGB, which incidentally trained Russian President Vladimir Putin. ‘Operational art’ is particularly relevant because governance is becoming more complex. Digital and transport technologies are linking citizens, businesses and trading partners ever more quickly and cheaply, and capital is concentrating in ever fewer hands. These links aren’t all visible or predictable. Increasing complexity means the right policy responses to emerging issues aren’t obvious. Voters aren’t experts, so we use gut instinct and rules of thumb to decide how to vote. This situation is vulnerable to exploitation.

Johnson and Cummings see the British public as targets. They are engaging us with operational methods, with objectives in mind that are not in our best interests. The objective is to identify the regime’s critical components and disrupt its centre of gravity. Frequently, in dealing with complex systems, transformation emerges from changes at different levels. The Coronavirus is microscopic, but it has disrupted global travel and trade. Global warming may have even more disruptive consequences. Fast events cannot always be mitigated against. Slow events may be imperceptible. Individual efforts at a local scale can end up making a difference at a much larger scale.

The war being waged can also be understood as a battle of information. Johnson and Cummings seem to have a preoccupation with surveillance technologies and data analysis. Their Vote Leave campaign group allegedly had connections to Cambridge Analytica, and the development of “digital transformation” bodies such as NHSX, which has been involved in the Government’s test and trace Coronavirus app, isn’t coincidental. The plutocratic right, for whom money seems to be an important enabler, is currently much better at engaging in this type of conflict than the traditional left, which values stasis, structure, clarity and consistency. In such a conflict, an ‘operational idea’ should be: quick to execute; deceptive; ambiguous; unpredictable and not stereotypical; creative and novel; one with multiple options.

With Johnson and Cummings, sometimes it is incompetence. Sometimes they are caught out. Sometimes their buffoonery is deliberately provocative. While their visible actions are chaotic, their intended actions are camouflaged. It can be useful to mix up deceptions, provocations and stochastic obfuscations with undisguised actions and accurate disclosures. By making genuine intentions public, it becomes all the more difficult for an opponent to perceive what is real and what is not. Once deployed, should an idea’s initial intent fail, or circumstances change, it can be recast as something else. But it is possible that Johnson and Cummings are more peripheral than they seem. Even if they are removed, their programme may be continued, undisrupted, by another leader. Their modus operandi appears to be to deliver ineffectual governance, perhaps to break down any notion of logic or good sense in the relationship between government and people.

Many political impulses on the left and right seem to be driven by an urge to simplify, to provide the comfort and clarity of understanding. On the right, simple answers are used to manipulate foot soldiers through meaningless slogans and racism. On the left, simplification takes the form of doctrine, texts that serve as holy writ. Here are some useful operational methods:

  • Surveillance: watch and learn. Don’t forget to record and report your discoveries.
  • Demonstration: do something just because you can. It doesn’t have to be useful. You will learn about your own capacities as you go.
  • Deception: Say you’re going to do something, then don’t. Seem as if you’re doing one thing, but do something else. Say you care about something that doesn’t matter, or that you don’t care about something that does.

You may be someone who is uncomfortable with conflict analogies. If so, re-interpret these methods without military trappings, and look into Systems Thinking, the science of how to deal with confounding complexity. But, while you may be uncomfortable with the idea of an information war, be under absolutely no illusion: the Johnson-Cummings regime is at war with democracy; with notions of transparency, honesty and accountability. In short, it’s at war with you. Good luck.

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