A new project being developed by Barack Obama’s Defense Department may allow federal agents to monitor you, without your knowledge, and determine whether you have committed thoughtcrime.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a division of the Defense Department, has launched a program entitled “Narrative Networks,” which seeks to measure how beliefs and propaganda affect the human mind and motivate people to oppose the U.S. government’s interests. The Pentagon hopes this will allow the feds to identify those who have accepted enemy propaganda, then target them with opposing messages. At present, the target is those who live in other countries, but it holds great potential dangers if or when it is applied to American citizens.
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The Narrative Networks undertaking will first examine how certain kinds of stories affect the brain’s neurochemistry, then attempt to “detect narrative influence.” Social scientists are tasked with a goal to “take narratives and make them quantitatively analyzable.” For instance, how do civilians react to the news (true or false) that U.S. soldiers bombed a village of civilians? Are terrorist recruits more likely to be swayed by hearing American troops are infidels? Once they measure how a believing, pro-terrorist’s brain works, they seek to determine who has fallen victim to these anti-American narratives — and prepare for action.
Once the project’s researchers discover how “narratives” affect the mind and how to determine those who have accepted such memes, the second phase of the project will create “prototype technologies” to detect a person’s inner beliefs by measuring such physical stimuli as eye dilation, pulse rate, or MRI signals — without the subject ever knowing (s)he was being monitored. “Efforts that rely solely on standoff/non-invasive/non-detectable sensors are highly encouraged,” DARPA notes.
According to the project, analysis by properly trained social scientists will lead to the “prevention of negative behavioral outcomes…and generation of positive behavioral outcomes, such as building trust.”
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Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been busily exploring this theme, holding a workshop in April entitled “Neurobiology of Narratives.” Wired magazine reports DARPA neuroscientists continue to research “how convincing narratives impact identity-related judgments, such as recognizing and trusting the storyteller as part of your cultural or ‘in’ group.” In other words, how can they convince foreigners on the battlefield the Americans are “one of them” and on their side?
The idea of detecting those guilty of thoughtcrime in enemy countries may or may not be worthwhile. But what will happen when the program is turned on American citizens? After all, they, too, are potential terrorists.
A researcher familiar with the experiment said, “The government is already trying to control the message, so why not have the science to do it in a systematic way?”
Why would a reasonable person object to the government employing “non-detectable sensors” to detect a person’s inner beliefs? Why would anyone balk at the Obama administration labeling some of its own citizens, perhaps erroneously, as likely terrorists and targeting them for corrective action, which sounds remarkably like reeduction?
The program’s implementation abroad gives little room for hope. The Pentagon’s attempt to utilize this information on the ground against our enemies — the Human Terrain System, which embeds social scientists in combat units — has been marked by allegations of incompetence. “Thirty to 40 percent of the people were not qualified,” according to its leader for four years, Col. Steve Fondacaro (Ret.). That means hundreds of people paid by your tax dollars.
In the hands of the Obama administration, the technology sounds positively chilling. This administration is obsessed with “conspiracy theories,” building on Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein‘s oddball proposals to tax or prohibit the dissemination of theories of which the government disapproves. Once scientists are able to determine which sectors of the brain signal belief in such theories, the government’s efforts to “cognitively infiltrate” its opposition takes on a more biologically ominous meaning.
Such undetectable software would be an ideal tool for the TSA (motto: “Dominate. Intimidate. Control.”). Its mobile Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR) units could unleash its use at bus stations or public events. Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons justified establishing seven VIPR stations across the Volunteer State by saying, “Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane, more likely on the interstate.”
But according to the Department of Homeland Security, domestic terrorists are most apt to be found in churches, pro-life groups, and VA hospitals.
How long will it be before the federal government decides vigilance against terrorism requires it to monitor its citizens for potential cognitive treason? How long before schoolchildren are monitored to see if they have been exposed to unapproved “narratives” in their homes? How will the government steer its message toward such people?
The potential answers are chilling.