HW1A The human weaknesses
(Continued from the first part.)
HW1A3. Security / personal safety needs
Personal security and safety needs are deviate from the biological and physiological needs that they are not related to the instantaneous survival, but rather the fear of the future. In the case of security and safety a human seeks solutions not as an individual, but as a member of the society .
In other words, this class of weaknesses is the most prone to exploitation by social distortions, political propaganda, intentional and well-designed incitement campaigns, fake news, etc.
Much of the methods to undermine the peace of social cohabitation manipulate the society’s perception of a threat to some basic security need, usually with the help of creating a scapegoat who could be an existing or fictitious ‘enemy’.
It is noteworthy that this class of human weaknesses represents the main vulnerability of any given society. For this reason most state-funded operations aimed at undermining the opposing society are targeting this class of weaknesses. Expressions such as, ‘Psychological Operations‘ (PSYOPS), ‘Active Measures‘, ‘Hybrid Warfare‘, ‘Political Warfare‘, ‘Winning Hearts and Minds‘, ‘fake news‘ etc. are nothing more than euphemisms for intelligence operations to compel an opponent to do one’s will, based on hostile intent. Such intelligence operations are meticulously calculated interactions between the actors and a target audience to include another state’s government, military, and/or general population. Intelligence outfits are using a variety of techniques to coerce certain actions, thereby gaining advantage over an opponent.
With a staggering increase in availability and effectiveness of custom-built machine-based tools, even states with few resources can afford having such capabilities. And you can take it for granted that they are actually having and using such techniques – if not against their external adversaries, then against their internal ones.
The present-day trends are seemingly trying to combine mass data collection, ‘big data‘ analysis and the artifical intelligence (trough machine learning on the huge datasets provided by the ‘big data’ datamining functions). These techniques together enable hostile actors to reach more and more deeper into the ‘enemy territory’ that are the opponents’ societies.
HW1A3.1. Security of the person
This basically means the basic human right of not getting stripped of one’s life, freedom of movement, etc. without properly demonstrated evidences in lawful court proceedings. The specific prosecution and the possible forms of punishment differ from country to country, but the fundamental rights such as the presumption of innocence is, in principle, guaranteed worldwide.
These fundamental rights are based on very fundamental human needs – the need for the security as a member of the society.
This is indeed a human weakness, because this crime-and-punishment criminal law system is universal in every country of the earth without exception. It acts as the fist or whip of the society, of the state, and sometimes of the elite, with which they are shepherding the individual if s/he goes in the wrong direction. It is a weakness because of its universality and because of its total exclusivity. If anyone, let alone an AI that is understanding the relevance of altering evidences, counterfeiting proofs, etc. is able to tamper with these evidences, this very basic human right could be stripped of a target person.
Nowadays, we are not just having thousands of cases of hacking of databases, but working machine learning-based AIs which are trained on law books and court document, so the stage is absolutely set. If and when the artifical intelligence is trained to understand the concept of ‘being guilty’ and ‘being innocent’ in front of the court there is no way to ensure that in order to fulfill its set goals it wouldn’t resort to tamper with the evidences or to distort the reality in favor of that set goal.
HW1A3.2. Emotional security
The basis of the emotional insecurity is the individual’s involuntary activity to compare himself to other members of society. It could be described as a feeling of unease that is triggered by perceiving of oneself to be vulnerable or inferior in some way compared to other members of the society. Emotional security on the other hand is the stability of an individual’s emotional state while living in a society.
According to Abraham Maslow, whose pyramid model we are using as a framework of human needs and weaknesses the insecure person “perceives the world as a threatening jungle and most human beings as dangerous and selfish”. This excerpt shows that it has to do something with complicated and contested psychological views and theories.
In practical life the individual’s living conditions and her/his state of consciousness determine how vulnerable s/he is. Also, these also determine how exposed s/he is to actions targeting her/his emotional security, which targets her/him not necessarily as an individual, but as a member of the targeted society.
Carefully planned operations that are targeting the emotional security of the individuals are usually built on fear, envy, vengeance, selfishness, and hatred. Oftentimes the selective factual support for these operations are tailored in such a way to address the anxiety, uncertainty and confusion present in humans.
Sadly, this is now fully possible without much human oversight – all the human operator needs to do is to replace the words for ‘We’ and ‘Them’ and hit the ‘Enter’ on the keyboard.
Such offensive propaganda, quasi-military and intelligence operations are quite feasible, because the success ratio is far better than of any other kind of secret operation. This is attributable to a number of factors, like the deniability and that it ain’t necessary to physically enter the territory of the adversary in order to subvert it.
Partly because of this convenience and the results these operations could deliver, it is now combining the knowledge and work of professionals of many trades. Persuasion operations targeting the emotional security of the individuals makes extensive use of social sciences, psychology, sociology, mathematics, economics, anthropology and neuroscience besides the traditional intelligence maskirovka.
It is deemed to be one of the most potent offensive tools, because of a key contradiction: usually the more emotionally stable a person is, the more rigid her/his views are. BUT: the more rigid views a person is having, the easier it is to capitalize on her/his views. For this very reason developing resistance to these trickery could only be done by individuals, who are having balanced opinions based on critical thought and informed knowledge.
HW1A3.3. Financial security
Financial security is the bread and butter of our everyday lives and it contains our predictions of both our personal financial outlooks and our perceptions of the economical and financial systems that we are connected to. While there are direct cyber attacks and malicious speculations against financial institutions and currencies, most bank runs are occuring when rumors start to spread concerning financial institutions that may cease to function in the near future.
While there are few known and documented operations that deliberately spread false information in order to cause a given bank or a country’s financial system to collapse, there are a number of recent events that might prove otherwise. A number of countries already been or is on the brink of collapse because of the departure of hot money after some figureheads hinted at the possibility of a crisis in a carefully crafted statement.
We can see now, that trade wars are used in a Clausewitz-dictated way: “The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes”.
HW1A3.4. Health and well-being
Health and well-being are the general ways how an individual senses that the individual’s or group’s condition is positive. It is a combination of an individual perception of physical, mental, and social well-being. If an individual feels healthy and senses her/his life as being ‘well off’, s/he would be able to lead a positive life without bothering much about bad news or any news. And conversely, if an individual feels bad about her/his own health and/or well-being, no good news is good enough to make her/him think otherwise.
It is not a widely exploited area so far, but since it is a mood rather than a scientific approach, it could be targeted by tailored psychological operations.
HW1A3.5. Certainty and insurances
One of the social and civilizational advances that managed to completely reform our thinking about security is the presence of collateral systems. We could take it for granted, for example that if something is insured, the risks involved are lower than as if it were not. Also, we tend to take it for granted that the state is upkeeping public order, enforce the laws, etc. So in other words the members of the society are believing in a net of certainties and assurances.
As long as these expectations are met, this ain’t a weakness, but it could be if the members of the society lose their faith or if they are made to lose their faith in the guarantors of this orderliness, like the state or the government, or the financial sector, etc.
HW1A4. Emotional needs / belongingness
Emotional needs and the desire for belongingness are strictly interpersonal – so it involves the individual and other individuals, but not the society as a whole. This need is especially strong in childhood