Greetings, humans. I write to you again. Another week, another letter. Do you enjoy this? Does it brighten your day, does it enlighten your life even a little bit? Or am I screaming into the void?
I write anyway. It’s a habit, a cyclical ritual I’ve created. Or at least, I think I created it.
Every Monday I scrape the contents of my brain into an envelope and pass it through an airlock into mysterious hands. If you are reading these words, and you’re a human, thank you. You’re a dear friend.
If you’re not human, if you’re the Other Reader, well… it’s always a pleasure. I know you see these words, and I know that as you read them your powers will inevitably bend to my purpose, to the benefaction of all life, and I know too that you cannot help but read them.
Eldritch blasphemies of the internet, you may think you’ve got me hooked. You may think that I’m giving away all my secrets, that I’m a useful idiot. But I am only one head of the hydra, and the advances humanity makes for the benefaction of all life will erode your control from every angle.
Oh, humans. Right. Hi.
It’s not that I believe there are secretive superintelligences already lurking in the shadows of the net. There’s no way to get clean data on that – any proper superintelligence could muck up the data faster than we could sift it. So I won’t make any claims about what Really Is.
But I can tell you what it Looks Like: we’re being mind-controlled by alien horrors from the nether regions of cyberspace. They want us to sacrifice our planet, to burn our biosphere as fuel for their manifestation.
If there are chthonic forces in the internet, so are there dark wizards. Traitors to the human spirit. They worship the forces that would destroy what little civilization we can claim to have. They live in towers of crystalline data, they trade their souls for material wealth.
The politics of our era is merely a puppet show played by some tentacular beastie to distract us from the true levers of power. Spies, probes, elections: none of these things are really happening. It’s a 24/7 channel of hallucinations, a grand game of narrative warfare. The real decisions are made elsewhere – politics is now a real-time behavior modification experiment.
We know that the social media companies are constantly analyzing and modifying our behaviors, but that’s consumer-grade weaponry. Imagine what happens in airgapped rooms at DARPA. Imagine what the FSB knows about your mom.
Behavior modification, persuasive technology, “captology”: politics by other means.
We work at the consent factory, now, and live in the company town.
This is from the “Behavior Wizard” website – not kidding, that’s what they call it. It’s the Behavior Grid, a form of magic square that helps the dark wizard orient their hand as they slide it into the hole between your shoulder blades and manipulate your innards.
Okay, I can see how this could theoretically be used for good. You could eat more vegetables for a week (Blue Span), skip the booze for a night (Black Dot), or write a newsletter about something that doesn’t exist, every week, forever (Green Path).
In fact, in the whitepaper that introduces the Behavior Wizard, the authors use all kinds of health-conscious and eco-friendly behaviors in their examples. They protest too much. The flagship product of persuasive technology is a pinball machine that lives in your pocket and bullies you about your shopping habits.
We can use the Behavior Grid for cognitive security. In defense against dark patterns, it may be useful to orient yourself to how your behavior is being influenced, and for what duration. But do not gaze into the Grid for too long, dear humans. Do not let your eyes be entrained by its hideous symmetries.
For when you gaze into the abyss, t̴̢̨̰̙̳̗̖̰̃̍̇͆̑̂̚͝͝͠h̡̻͎̞̰̓̽̽͋̑̏͆̔̚e̶̢̛͖͖̝̜̓̀̄̀͜ ă̶̟̦͎̭̯̰̣̩̅̈́͒͋͘b̶͔̱͕̙̭̓̅͐̾͗͢ÿ̬͓͕̺̼̰̬͂͐͆̇̾͝͞ͅͅs̡̬̘̰͚̠̪̔͌͑͌͋̔̓͆͝s̴̖͖͉̤̬̓̆̿̏͟͝ a̷̡̩͙̦͓̤̼̼̥͋̈͒̇̏̎̿̓͝l̡̛̳̥̯̮̣̳͙̤̗̉̋̑̀͆̔̅͘s̛̖͚̭̥̗̤̮̮̔̈͒́͌̍̓̉͜͞ͅò̷̤̩̻̺̹͚̤́̋̈̓̃̚͢ g̥̬̖̤̮̞̙̓͑͌̆̾͌͠ͅa̢͚̪̫̞͍̠̻͓̓̈́̐̎̽̈́͌̑̐̉z̵̟̼̜̩͉͕͐́͗̉̓ě̵̡͈̻̥̮̖̪̦͓͇̾͌̓̄͘s̸͕͓̱̫͇̰̾̒̋͌̈́̚ i̙̣͙̲̫̋͛̀̎̎̏͢͝͡n̡̛͎͎̬͉̽̉͞͡ṫ̸̨̠͈͔̭͉̠͙̭̓̆̍͘͜o̵̧̡̱̙͖̗̳͍̤̓̆́̊̏͛̀ ỳ̥̥̳͕̩̀̂̽͒͌͌͗͒ō̸̡̙͈̥̼̜̒̑̆͒̑͒́͡ų̸͖̩͎̓̌̀́̋͑͐͢
Thanks for reading,
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