Watson Bots: Did Mercer Use His Expertise To Enhance ROI From Donations?

By: Righteous Babe

More on the bots. As reported by Adam Edelman “The billionaire GOP patron behind Trump’s social media bot army”

Here’s a bit more research done to give some additional context:

Prior to joining Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer and Peter Brown worked together at IBM. They are named on several patents and appear in many publications/studies under “Brown clustering”. Brown clustering was most notably used in a project named “Watson”.

• When Mercer/Brown failed to get funding from IBM, they secured $ via DARPA.

• Instead of trying to teach a computer linguistic rules, they downloaded enormous quantities of dual language documents and created code hat analyzed the data and detected patterns.
*Note: Similar to approach at RenTech. Loaded historical trade data and
programmed to look for patterns.

• This work became forerunner of AI and things like Siri, etc. A big feature of these is they adapt and learn via patterns. This makes them more effective and beneficial.

If you do a search on “brown clustering ibm Watson”, you get a flavor of the application uses of the algorithms and big data.

Also, a search of “IBM Watson chatbot” brings it full circle. With posts about how to build chatbots and how they are used globally via customer service. Some bits of note:

• Watson can understand all forms of data, interact naturally with people, and learn and reason, at scale.
• With Watson, you can analyze and interpret all of your data, including unstructured text, images, audio and visual.
• With Watson, you can provide personalized recommendations by understanding a user’s personality, tone and emotion.
• With Watson, you can utilize machine learning to grow the subject matter expertise in your apps and systems.
• With Watson, you can create chatbots that engage in dialog.
• Quickly build, test and deploy bots or virtual agents across mobile devices or messaging platforms to create natural conversations between apps and users.

From the IBM Watson site:

I have a bit more that I believe links all of this together with the campaign. As Mercer was huge Cruz then Trump supporter. He gave a sizable sum to Citizens United. And, has long term relationship with Bannon and others that coalesced to maximize impact. Bots, in my opinion, were part of one arm of their tactics.

I haven’t seen anyone directly tie bots to IBM Watson and Mercer/Brown. Granted a lot out there, so I may have missed it.

Following is a more thorough background on tactics:

Much has been reported on with regards to the data and manipulation during the 2016 campaign. I would like to submit a bit of additional information I have found that hasn’t been reported on – at least that I have seen.

With input from many, I have charged down a few rabbit holes. One led me to looking at the Rebuilding American Now PAC. Two of Trump’s senior staffers formed the RAN super PaC almost immediately after leaving the campaign per a FEC filing. When I Googled this, I found some interesting information regarding online messaging. Yes, many have been tracking this target. And, if anyone has put this forth previously, I apologize.

On the homepage for Rebuilding America Now, there are 2 buttons. One is “See the Google Study” and the other is “See the Polling”. Both of these links have quite a bit of information pertinent to the campaign. The polling was done by On Message Inc and Jim McLaughlin & Associates, in key states between 8/29-9/1, 2016. Additionally, Frank Luntz is mentioned for his focus groups in Ohio. The information provides a full picture of the questions from the polling. As for the Google Study, they seem to report a bit about the online campaign targeted in a few states, including the methodology to determine the messaging. It is also interesting to note that there is a RAN Youtube channel where the ads are viewable.

While polling and targeting messages isn’t entirely new in politics, there definitely seemed to be something different during this election cycle. I recalled reading about polling and looked for links between these polling companies.

The most interesting link I found was Patrick Caddell. Caddell is a long-term figure within politics. He made a name for himself along with a couple of others (John W. Gorman and Daniel Porter) with their company Cambridge Survey Research, Inc. Caddell also served on campaigns such as McGovern, Carter, and others. By all reports, he became disillusioned with the Democratic Party. In a piece from The Daily Caller (8/2/2015), Caddell claims his party is the ‘Dictator to the Common Man’. Per his Wikipedia page, according to Slate, Caddell was involved in identifying people willing to participate in the 2012 anti-Obama documentary, ‘The Hope and the Change’ that was produced by Citizens United. Also per Wikipedia, “In the 2016 election cycle, Caddell exerted considerable influence in his capacity as advisor to reclusive contributor Robert Mercer, who has been an increasingly important source of funding for right wing campaigns, including the successful candidacy of Donald Trump.” He has appeared on Breitbart News and Fox News.

An article references that “Drawing from his own long experience, Caddell could see that ‘something profound was happening in the collective consciousness of the the American people” and that “what had been assumed to be the static political system was about to be reconfigured in ways and that we still do not know fully.” The piece goes further to mention Caddell’s insights about the emerging class war across America where he says “the old rules of politics are collapsing”. Following are a few questions that were asked in Caddell’s survey that help to shed light on the pre-election mood of the country:

“Powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions and political interest groups have used campaign and lobbying money to rig the system for them. They are looting the national treasury of billions of dollars at the expense of every man, woman and child. AGREE = 81%; DISAGREE = 13%
The country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists and other powerful money interests for their own gain at the expense of the American people. AGREE = 87%; DISAGREE = 10%
The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but between mainstream American and the ruling political elites. AGREE = 67%; DISAGREE = 24%
Which is closer to your opinion if (Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump) wins: the political elites and special interests win; the political elite and special interests lose.
By 65% to 35% voters said that if Hillary Clinton wins the political elites WIN. And, by an opposite margin, the majority of voters said that by 57% to 43% the elites LOSE if Trump wins.”

Caddell appears to have been looking for proof we had entered a new “historic paradigm”, one that was marked less by party identification than it was by collective hatred for the corrupt political establishment and their deep-state puppet masters.

Enter “We Need Smith”

The above polling sentiments seem to have been massaged over time. Reports that trying to build up support for Cruz, the Mercers constantly referred to CAddell’s discovery of the populist surge. A Bloomberg report states that at a private meeting with Cruz, Mercer and some other donors in Palm Beach, FL, from 2014, Caddell presented his contention that the “country was ready for a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington figure”. According to one participant, the phrase “Trump-like” had been used, meaning that “an outsider candidate should have a good shot in 2016”. Meeting with potential donors later that month in New York, Mercer argued that “mainstream Republicans” like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, would struggle to win the White House, instead “only a true outsider with a sense of voters frustrations could win”. It appeared the Mercers had not identified a particular candidate. They were simply looking for “an outsider to shake things up in Washington” who would “cause political upheaval”. (per Wall STreet Journal, Jan. 8, 2017)

One article from Breitbart (8/16/2016) with the headline “Pat Caddell: ‘This Election Will Change Amazingly’ if Trump Makes the Issue ‘Who Runs America?’”

Caddell has known the Mercers for years, apparently. He is quoted as stating “The Mercers are ‘purists’. They believe Republican elites are too cozy with Wall Street and too soft on immigration, and that American free enterprise and competition are in mortal danger.”

Pat Caddell also gave a speech to Accuracy in Media (Sep. 29, 2012) where he claimed that starting in the 1980s, they stopped holding both sides to the same level of accountability. He focused a bit on Benghazi-gate, but also mentioned a few other things including silence on David Plouffe receiving $100,000 from an Iranian front group for 2 speeches. Additionally, Caddell says the media has now become a danger to America and an enemy of the people.

Per a Buzzfeed article, Caddell is similarly close with Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who invited him a few years ago to write for Breitbart. He also has a fan in Roger Stone, a loyal adviser to Trump. Caddell spoke less about connections and renewed influence and focused on his ideas. “This election was just like 1828: They were gonna take their country back. The country is in revolt, and the media and the establishment are running a real risk because they refuse to recognize, even today, the legitimate dissent of the American people, and that is an outrage.”

Further, Caddell is a longtime friend of Trump and acted as an informal adviser throughout the campaign. Reportedly, Trump routinely called Caddell during the campaign to compliment something Caddell had said on television or dispute any criticisms leveled his way. Caddell also visited Trump Tower during the campaign and took a bag of Trump ties offered by the candidate.

Caddell, along with Scott Miller and Bob Perkins, were principals of Armada Publishing, a New York-based consulting and research consortium. Perkins has held senior positions in the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee. This group reported 10 key findings from their research. For 6 months, they conducted an intense national research project among likely voters of all parties. This study found one issue that united all voters (Dems, Reps, Inds, men, women, young, old, etc.). 74% agreed on one point: Before we can take on any other challenge our nation faces, we must fix our corrupt political system and restore the people’s rightful place as the sovereign rulers of America. A key takeaway was that 92% of voters believe America needs more candidates for office who are ordinary citizens rather than professional politicians. Scott Miller adds “Voters want elected officials whose ideology is good old fashioned American common sense”. To capture this sentiment of common sense and honesty, they dubbed their findings “We Need Smith” to capture the sentiment of common sense and honesty after the famous reform-first candidate, Thomas Jefferson Smith from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. A gathering place was created for Americans who desperately want to reclaim their rights as the true rulers of the American government and for citizens committed to a reform platform and are willing to take on the system. The site was also to mobilize Americans to demand that political candidates running for office sign a pledge of specific reforms for government in DC. Perkins states “While the political elites have purposely divided our nation, We Need Smith aims to unite, showing Americans that they aren’t alone in their frustrations. No single issue has united all voters like this reform platform.” Caddell added “In over forty years of studying public opinion research, we have never seen results so startling or so consistent at such stratospheric levels of agreement. We recognized this hunger for real change needed a way to express itself, which is how the ‘We Need Smith’ movement was born”.

We Need Smith follows the direction of this unprecendented anger and alienation. A hypothetical candidate, Candidate Smith, was created to take on entrenched Washington elites and to drive a platform of fundamental reform. The study reveals voters uniting at historic levels in support for this candidate as a Senator or as President, no matter what party Smith represents. In a head-to-head election against Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, Smith wins in a landslide; getting more votes than Clinton and Christie combined. Smith won by 55% to 24% and 12% respectively. Caddell has stated that to move Hillary voters, you better learn how to talk to Democrats and Independents in a way they understand. Because, there is a vast majority in this country, including Democrats, for change. And, that is the opening that can revolutionize American politics and perhaps save our country.

A bit about Frank Luntz. He wrote a piece on why you should care about the Brexit referendum 12 days from now (June 23). The quote “Brits have become canaries in the coal mine, offering Europe, America and the developed world a glimpse of what is coming in our elections. The Brexit question represents the political conflict rapidly spreading across the globe: Do hardworking, taxpaying citizens fundamentally trust or reject half a century of globalization, integration and innovation? Have the promises of the political and economic elite helped improve their daily lives? Or is it time for a rethinking and redrawing of our political and economic systems from the ground up?” Further, “That’s why the majority of British voters’ heads may be with Remain, but their hearts are with Leave – and those hearts are winning out in these final days. In a nationwide survey my firm completed June 8, Leave had 49% of the vote, Remain 47%, and only a handful of voters (4%) remain truly, totally undecided. It is truly too close to call. That, in itself, is an incredible story – given the range and resources available to the ‘Remain’ campaign.” On April 6, 2016, Frank Luntz tweeted “Paul Manafort is a delegate master who helped Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan at the 1976 contested GOP convention”.

Appearing in a Huffington Post Blog “What Happened in Iowa” (2/4/2016) written by Patrick Caddell, Scott Miller, Bob Perkins. This highlights the Trump Connection – that Caddell had been “speaking regularly” with Steve Bannon about “what Trump could do in the coming weeks to expand his appeal, in particular with Democrats and Independents”. Caddell also said reporters were supposedly making themselves “the enemies of the American people” for exhibiting bias against Trump. In 2010, along with Doug Schoen, Caddell wrote an op-ed calling on President Obama not to seek a second term and argued “The president has largely lost the consent of the governed”.

Both Caddell and John McLaughlin did work for Secure America Now (SAN). In 2016, SAN published videos and accompanying web sites suggesting ISIS would overthrow France and Germany. SAN’s president is Allen Roth. Its board of directors includes several prominent Republicans, including Mike Huckabee and John R. Bolton. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, SAN isn’t required to disclose its donors. In 2014, SAN sponsored a trip by TX Senator, Ted Cruz, to Ukraine and other eastern European countries in which Cruz met with leaders of the protest movement that led to the ousting of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president Viktor Yankovych. Later that year, SAN created “Secure the Border” ads that attacked four Dem Senators and one Dem congressman for their positions on US immigration policy. One of the ads targeted NH senator, Jeanne Shaheen, showed image of slain journalist James Foley. The ad was condemned by both Shaheen and her opponent, Scott Brown, and was pulled a few days later.

Also interesting, Newt Gingrich published “Why the Establishment Was Wrong” on Nov. 9, 2016.  In this piece, he flouts how everyone got it wrong. He references the differences reflected in two very different understandings of reality. Further, he goes on to quote Pat Caddell’s essay on “the uprising of the American people” Most notable is the last lines “These numbers describe a reality the establishment is psychologically incapable of understanding. So they did not realize that the country and the electorate had changed dramatically, in ways that had nothing to do with demographics. On Tuesday, Americans’ version of reality defeated the establishment’s version-in the form of President-elect Donald Trump”.

What does all of this mean? Well, as you can see, there are some dots that are connected. One big one has been reported on in depth in other sources, namely The New Yorker and the Guardian. Detailing the impact of Cambridge Analytics and Robert Mercer in both Brexit and the 2016 US election. Mercer has an extensive background and held patents for the technology that paved the way for things like Siri, based on predictive modeling from patterns from tremendous amounts of data being loaded in computers and analyzed. Many reports have him stating more data is better and even typing a French-English dictionary himself to be loaded as data.

Where I think this leads is to a major attack on individuals. The leveraging of data and information from multiple sources to formulate targeted messages that were not only used in advertising, but also parroted by non-mainstream media outlets and “influencers” and trafficked heavily by bots. All to manipulate the facts and reality of everyday people. They say the best cons have a bit of truth to them. I believe that was the overall driving fact in many of the messages that we were bombarded with along the way. Also noteworthy, is the dusting off of terms like “enemy of the people”, “movement”, “establishment”, etc. Many of these have been utilized by outlets for years. It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear. I submit that much of the information from the RAN PAC above brings all of this together. The simplicity is astounding. They simply listened to what people said and manufactured messages via a candidate to appeal to what people said. Irony is elites and establishment are crafting the narrative.

 

NOTE: This piece was originally published at N2It on June 11, 2017.

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