Before answering what I consider the only 4 questions worth asking on this subject, we should revisit some background.
Fractal (n): A curve or geometric construct, each part of which has the same statistical character (appearance) as the whole when viewed in all scales of magnification.
By example, individual persons behaving as a community as behaving as a nation as behaving as a global population. It is remotely related to the idea of something bigger being the sum of the parts. Observations at a micro level reveal the same characteristics as those at a macro level and vice versa. Dynamics of geophysical processes are another naturally occurring example of fractals. But this is not about establishing the application or prevalence of fractals.
Game theory (n): Game theory is a study of strategic decision making. More formally, it is “the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers”. An alternative term suggested “as a more descriptive name for the discipline is “interactive decision theory”.
Like it or not, everyone plays games that involve measurable outcomes, strategies, decisions and actions. Decision lead to actions, actions have consequence. It is the consequence that is measurable against an objective establishing the strategy. This header topic involves the application of games being played throughout all levels of society, from individuals to communities to corporations to Governments (the fractal). One aspect of the fractal of this gameset is that an individual is both a consumer and a producer, so too is a corporation and so on to Government. This might seem like a delicate issue concerning the NSA acting for the Government involving secret intel collected from individuals, but the games within this tiny cosmos are worth examining. It begins by listing all the agents (players) and the various games they are involved in. These agents and their games reside on various levels of magnification of this single issue from macro to micro. One game that is common throughout every level of this particular issue is known as “Prisoners dilemma” where the commonly accepted solution by all players is already known to cooperate with each other (i.e. deny/stay silent). This is not intended to be a thorough or necessarily complete assessment of the gameset comprising the issue of US national security.
At face value – the US Government plays a primary role at one (or more) levels of the issue, however this issue involves games at many levels reliant on many actors and agents. The US Government actors and agents include the law making process, specifically those laws on which this gameset is established and ‘permitted’. Note, this gameset could (and does) exist without any laws, however the preference within the US is based on some recognised form involving rules of law.
Intrinsically and explicitly connected agents and actors –
- Public listed and private equity contractor corporations having vested financial interests – capital, hardware, software and personnel (collateral) to direct, collect, collate and distribute the objective (the ‘data’)
- Public listed and private equity technical corporations having vested financial interests – providing hardware, software etc Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook etc to facilitate the objective (the ‘data’)
- Producers – others who produce software/hardware/promotion/direction to enable/facilitate the activity related to this issue
- Consumers – those who are not the above, who are users of the network of above software and hardware who are the target objective (the ‘data’). Consumers can be individuals, organisations, corporations, schools, political groups, religious groups etc (Broadly called everyone else).
One (of many) officially stated objective of the Government agencies for engaging in this gameset is that of national safety. Rules (laws) were passed to enable this gameset, and the various agents/actors engaged to build and facilitate the necessary hardware and software to achieve the desired outcome. In short, it should be obvious that the Government has not acted alone on this issue by engaging agents to execute a strategy to achieve an objective. Regardless of the ‘prisoners dilemma’ facing each and every one of the agents and actors identified within this gameset, it is beyond any necessity for asking why such an elaborate collection of laws, contractors, hardware etc would be compiled in the first place.
The objectives of each agent/actor can be easily and comprehensively deduced, and the knowledge base of strategies applied to each. Like any good murder mystery having “means, motive, and opportunity is a popular cultural summation of the three aspects of a crime that must be established before guilt can be determined.” (Refer US criminal law) So who is guilty of what?
I would hazard a guess that the US Government has much more to lose than simply some ‘face’ on closer examination of this issue, and that the financial interests of the various Government subcontractors would be of principle and primary concern. That is, the corporations engaged (in this instance) in delivering the NSA strategy are proudly promoted as serving both military and civil obligations i.e. for private and Government client bases. Concerning is that some (most?) are multinational corporations operating in non-US jurisdictions. It has been repeatedly and consistently reported that the US lawmakers are beholden to financial interests, and that private self interest groups are heavily involved in scribing US laws. Public and private corporations are then engaged by direct execution of these laws to implement that strategy and achieve the objective.
It is beyond obvious that if anything has been compromised by the recent NSA revelations, then it is a good deal more than simply the exposure of the NSA operations in regard to this issue. Do we really need to revisit every previous example of corporate failure that has resulted from compromised managerial behaviour within US (and non-US) corporations before the world learns another painful lesson on trust (or the lack thereof).
To be continued in Part 3. I’ll tackle answering the 4 questions.