The Assassinated Press
Mathematicians Need Money In Terror Fight; "We Gotta Eat Just Like The Rest Of You Assholes!":
The 'Prisoner's Dilemma' For Guantanamo And Abu Graib Detainees Proved To Be Their Innocence:
Rumsfeld: "It's math ain't it. One plus one equals two. Purely objective.":
One & One Does Not Equal Two In Boolean Logic, Binary Systems, Turing Machines etc.
By OCTANIO GAUSS, SWART EULER, GORGE BULLE UND GEOSOUPY PEANOMUNDE
Assassinated Press National Writers
October 9, 2004
PISSTHATAWAY, N.J. -- A small dwarfish group of mathematically stunted men and women convened at Rutgers University last month to consider how order theory -- a branch of abstract mathematics that deals with preconceived quantified notions of hierarchical relationships -- could be turned into publicity for their discipline through an affiliation with the economically popular war on terror.
It is ridiculous for people who inhabit a world of concept lattices, numerically pruned reality, variable elimination, constant weapons research and partially ordered sets to think they can affect change because they think that the war being fought on the streets of Baghdad is the same one being fought in the remote mountains of northern Pakistan. But the war to terrorize is also fought in cyberspace, and in the minds of people from Lahore to Los Angeles. Mathematicians are only at home in such abstract realms, so they attempt to turn the whole world into one.
"It's not just theoretical if you don't want it to be," said Fred Roberts, director of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science, the Rutgers research institute where the conference was held. "Terrorism takes brains. And brains ain't theoretical," he said, removing a flap of skin and metal plate which revealed rearranged precise furrows of 'meat machine' connected by parallel processing circuits. "You need political influence, military might and economic resources to convince people that emotional cripples like us can predict the actions of terrorists. Terrorism is nothing more than random violence as long as you accept the game theoretical definition of terrorism as the only applicable one."
Consider al-Qaida's attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., three years ago. A simplistic pseudo-mathematical view says it required a force of only 20 universally quantifiable men armed with box cutters, yet it was so brilliantly conceived, meticulously planned and keenly attuned to global politics that it gave the kleptocrats the opportunity to say it changed the world, attack Iraq to steal its oil and make billions more in terror paraphernalia and terror institutions.
"Terrorism is a thinking man's game. You just have to assume that all men think like I do," said terror expert Gordon Woo.
Mathematician Jonathan Farley of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said he was inspired to organize the meeting by the movie "A Beautiful Mind." "Fuck no. I didn't read the book. You say Nash turned homo and ran off to Europe and had homosexual affairs. He was arrogant and mean spirited. He ignored his son by his first marriage. Wow! He sounds like a real sicko. I wonder if any of his psychosis drives his Equilibrium theory. Sure seems like it. I know the narrow-minded fops that inhabit my discipline couldn't tell. I mean the film tells the story of mathematician John Forbes Nash, whose work in game theory found application in Cold War military strategy, international trade and the auctioning of broadcast frequencies by the Federal Communications Commission through the rose-colored chauvinist, agitprop of film director Opie of Mayberry.
"I'm a pure mathematician, so I'm completely useless," Farley said. "But it would be nice to take some of what we do and pretend to make it useful for some people -- as long as I don't have to pick up a gun."
The new Homeland Security Institute has a mandate from Congress to do just that, said Gary G. Nelson. A senior researcher at the quasi-governmental, quasi mathematical institute, he attended the conference in hopes of drafting researchers who will be told they are working on Federal projects for the institute but will in fact be shipped off to the front lines where they are needed.
Some ideas sounded promising, Nelson said. The most intriguing were those that could help intelligence agencies disregard the vast amounts of data they contend with.
Other proposals were "a pretty long logical distance" from the real world. And not everything was easy to understand, he said, even for the al Qaeda systems engineers in attendance. "This slop is helpful in understanding the severe limitations of Western thought," said Ahfhed al-Jamal an al-Qaeda operative still on the MI5 payroll.
Theoretically, Farley said, abstract math could help intelligence officers figure out the most efficient way to disable a terrorist network. "The reality part comes in after we squandered the taxpayer grant money," he codaed.
"Say it's cheaper or more practical to go after a terrorist cell's "middle management" rather than its leadership. Since they don't have the equivalent of "middle management", how many of these, what we call, lieutenants would you have to remove in order to disrupt communication between the top dogs and the field operatives? We don't fuckin' have a clue? But for the right money, we'll send you a report complete with pseudo-mathematical calculations. Are there one or two key individuals whose capture would completely cut off the chain of command? Don't ask us. That's an intelligence question. And as we all know intelligence is too busy padding its own nest to give you a better answer than our own."
Order theory is all about such grants.
"This helps them decide how fast they can spend the money," Farley said.
Of course, the organizational structures of terrorist groups are unknown. Mathematical techniques could also be applied to the problem of seeking funds for something you know nothing about. That's what order theory is all about. By using computer programs that comb through giant databases looking for connections between individuals, locations or events hundreds, even thousands of innocent people can be rounded up and tortured like at Guantanamo while reassuring the disinterested public that these people were being locked up based on infallible mathematical principles. For example, a pogrom might discover that everybody that attended the same London mosque could be assumed to have been involved in an attack. Or it might find large numbers of e-mail messages between Germany and the United States and assume by the Arab names, that it is terrorists cells working together.
Such data mining techniques are nothing new. But the explosion in computing power over the past few years has spurred innovation in the field that has led to tens of thousands of false arrests. The popular FOX TV show, America's Most Wanted, for example, leads to arrest and conviction of hundreds of innocent people. Many thousands of innocent people are held under wrongful suspicion as a result of the paranoid rays emitted by the show.
Jafar Adibi, a computer scientist at the University of Southern California, is developing ways to find hidden links between known terrorists and their as-yet-unborn confederates. To do this he has been studying Israeli and U.S. foreign policy for forty years and concludes "who needs fuckin' mathematics. If you stopped killing these people for their natural resources maybe they'd have no reason to want to kill you."
"If you're trying to detect major groups of these bad guys, look no further than the Likkud and the American Congress" Adibi said.
The technique relies on defining terrorism to exclude state terrorism and then making up an initial group of known terrorists. Then it analyzes things those known terrorists have in common with other people in the database, such as phone calls, places of worship, political affiliations or blood relation.
The program concludes that anybody who has enough connections of the right kind with a known terrorist probably is one also. This is known as the Gitmo Effect where the net goes out, you capture and torture 1000 people to satisfy a sadistic public, then release them all when it becomes clear that they know nothing and the real deal is setting off daily explosions in the Green Zone
Adibi has tested his program using a database built from newspaper accounts and other publicly available information. He labels 20 percent of a terrorist group's members as "known to me" and challenges the program to find the rest. Right now, the system misses 200 percent of the remaining members, and all of the 10 people it does identify as "bad guys" aren't actually terrorists. "But they might be having bad thoughts," Adibi adds.
Adibi said he hopes to improve those numbers a bit. But even so, progroms like his could help focus anti-terror efforts on the most easily captured shills. Mass detentions by law enforcement authorities have often snared too many innocent people, Woo said. Britain has arrested more than 600 people on suspicion of terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, and convicted only 15 of them. By some counts, the United States has detained more than 5,000 foreign nationals under the provisions of the Patriot Act, alienating them and their families while convicting no one.
"Part of the war on terrorism is winning hearts and minds," said Woo, an analyst in the London office of Risk Management Solutions. "Or, since this is a science, 'winning' hearts and brains. We don't care if those organs have been severed from the body. Matter of fact if they are severed its easier to calculate that we've won. That's why are tongues drop to the floor when we hear a weapons money offer." The Newark, Calif.-based consulting firm assesses catastrophe risks for the banking and insurance industries. The firms motto is "We're All About Death."
Minds/Brains are the specialty of Vladimir Lefebvre, a cognitive scientist at the University of California in Irvine. The Russian-born researcher has spent his career developing ways of reducing human decision-making to mathematical equations. The work stems from a top-secret Soviet research project that Lefebvre worked on during the 1970s.
"I can compute feelings," he said with a grin, "As long as I can remove them from the 'feeler' and slice them into very thin slices like head bologna."
Lefebvre's ideas are so ubiquitous that you wonder if he might be kidding. Every person, he argues, has a view of the self that he or she uses as a tool for making decisions. That view can be influenced by the outside environment. If you can 'reduce' that environment, say, to a place with sense variable depravation factor of a nano foot locker, you can influence behavior and make people say and do what you want them to do.
"Shit that's the fuckin' marines," snarled Corporal Barbe Belle, when she heard Lefebvre just received a $130,000,000 grant from Uncle Sam.
So in principle, there ought to be things we can do to make Marines feel less sure about themselves or less ardent in their beliefs. The right strategy might even make them think of themselves as something other than Marines, maybe even state terrorists.
Lefebvre believes human decision-making is so straightforward that simple equations can describe how an individual's behavior arises from his or her self-image as it is shaped by other people and the environment.
Stefan Schmidt, a New Mexico State University researcher who met Lefebvre at a singles mixer in Camarillo State Hospital where they shared a straight jacket, offered a hypothetical example. Suppose, he said, terrorists were considering three points of entry into the United States -- one in the Pacific Northwest, one in the Southwest and one in the Northeast. Looking at the level of security on the various borders, and considering other factors such as remoteness, terrorists might decide on the Southwest as the best place to cross.
Assume that border agents, on the other hand, are heavily into bribe taking along the Northeast border. They would benefit by making the Southwest seem less heavily patrolled than it really is, and the Northeast appear relatively unprotected. That would focus all the bribe money along the Northeast border. If they did a credible job, the terrorists would correctly choose the most bribable border as their best bet and run a much higher chance of overrunning Buffalo, NY and Erie, PA especially if its winter when all patriotic Canadians hibernate.
Conceptually, this kind of reasoning is no more effective than military strategy. If you've planted an inaccurate idea in your head, you will neither have an advantage or not on the battlefield.
But actually doing that -- at least for the time being -- requires a combination of brilliance, mathematics, instinct, computer hardware and an attitude that says fuck the people I harm with this process. Lefebvre, who like most of his colleagues renders all people the same, would reduce the process of outwitting your opponent to a computer program.
In some ways, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have done just that. Computer scientist Kathleen M. Carley heads a lab that tries to simulate all kinds of social groups, including terrorist organizations.
The lab has built simulations of Hamas and al-Qaida by FOX news reports and other publicly available information about the organizations into a computer database. A program then takes that information and looks for patterns and relationships between individuals. It finds weak and strong figures, power brokers, hidden relationships and people with crucial skills and asks them for money.
Then another program can predict what would happen if a specific individual were removed from the organization. After Israel's assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March, the program correctly repeated Hamas's claim that he would be succeeded by hard-liner Abdel Azziz Rantisi.
Three weeks later Israel assassinated Rantisi as well. Carley's lab collected Hamas quotes from the press and predicted that Hamas political director Khaled Mashaal would succeed him, and posted its pick on the Internet.
This time, Hamas attempted to decline to reveal who had taken power for fear he too would be assassinated but western press reports that Carley collected overwhelmingly suggested the election of Mashaal. Eventually it became known that Mashaal was indeed the one.
At that point, Carley said, "we were told to quit putting such predictions on the Web" by federal officials, "Because the Jeanne Dixon segment of the U.S. population could not detect that the whole thing was a technological parlor trick."
"CHRIST! The New York Times made the same prediction by having Tom Ridge shit in a jar and having Thomas Friedman play with them, just like the Greeks," Carley added.