Psychographics in military planning and the ethics of surveillance

Spending some time at Annika´s tech intensive home I stumbled upon an old issue of Wired magazine and an article about Montgomery McFate, senior social science adviser for the American military. She´s influenced the military to take cultural antropology serious.

”What you´re trying to do is understand the people´s interest,” she says, ”Because whoever is more effective at meeting the interests of the population will be able to influence it”.

I´ve recently heard from several different people from academia and the tech business that Intelligence Services such as the CIA and the military would probably have an interest in what I do with psychographic analysis of blogs. Well, that makes sense since I´ve had online visitors from both the Pentagon (12 visits, an average of 3,67 page views and 3.19 minutes on the site) and Sweden´s National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA). Of all the american universities that have spent time on the site I have no idea about have many are related to defense research.

I wonder what those guys are thinking when they analyze my blog and the word frequency of the word ”love” in the texts I´ve written when developing the tools for psychographic research. Is this guy some sort of hippie? Wha´s this thing about him living at a Swedish love community? I´d love to be a fly on the wall sometimes. And that´s really what it´s all about in a sense – it´s pretty cool research that can be done by analyzing peoples thoughts and feelings via social media – no matter the purpose. 😉

There have been quite a lot of controversy about surveillance here in Sweden for a while now. I´ve been aware of the issue since I started this project and wrote about my stance on surveillance and integrity. My personal view is that I would like to see the end results of my psychographic research used in as many fields as possible as long as it can be said to ontribute to increased conciousness about self and personality types among people. It´s not guns and battle ships that make war – it´s people. The Wired article highlights how learning about people affects military operations, a development that I personally find positive:

The growing emphasis on social science suggests shifts in how the military does everything from training (less artillery, more Urdu and Pashto) to gathering intelligence (fewer embassy parties, more hanging out with regular folks).

Who knows, putting more research tools in the hands of the military might help creating and maintaining peace, rather than conflicts. NOT understanding the differences and the motivations of other people creates conflicts. Understanding helps in creating better relations and, ultimately, peace.

Peace out, bro´ !