1/ The Link Between Dominic Cummings & Faculty AI
A company owned & controlled by Dominic Cummings paid £260,000 to Faculty, the AI firm that worked on Vote Leave, in 2018/2019.
Faculty was also given am NHS #COVID contract alongside Palantir - Palantir is a shadowy US AI firm owned by far-right billionaire, Peter Thiel.
The Guardian ran a great article on this on Sunday the 12th of July 2020 they went into detail about how Cummings refused to explain the £260,000 payment
Faculty AI was set up by the Warner brothers. They worked on both the Tory election & Leave campaigns. They also attended SAGE meetings. Ben Warner was present in 13 of 34 meetings. Faculty, won a £250m NHS contract in August 2019 and was only publicly announced on 13 March 2020
Faculty AI (formerly known as ASI Datascience) has so far won 13 govt contracts. Faculty reportedly employed several Cambridge Analytica employees to provide the data behind Cummings Vote Leave data team. That data was turned over AIQ for microtargeting.
After Brexit, Cummings boasted on his blog how ‘physicists’ had won it for Leave. What was the role was of Faculty AI / ASI? Since Cummings refused to appear before a parliamentary committee we don’t know. In December 2019, Ben Warner joined No.10.
Government contracts with Faculty & Palantir reveal an “unprecedented” transfer of personal information of millions of NHS users to private tech firms. They were originally granted intellectual property rights & allowed to profit off their access to NHS data
In June it was reported that a £400,000 contract awarded directly to Faculty AI will allow them to analyse social media data, utility bills & credit rating scores. Full details are unknown because the published contract was partly redacted. #COVID19
In April, leaked documents revealed US big data firm Palantir & Faculty are building an unprecedented patient database & that the govt apparently used Palantir’s & NHS patient data to model #HerdImmunity a week after the policy was supposedly dropped.
Faculty claimed they won the contract by competitive tender but NHS England say this wasn’t the case. Faculty & Palantir “didn’t need to bid” because of pre-existing contracts from Aug 2019 (just after Cummings entered No.10) for a £250m NHS contract.
“The shadowy data-mining firm Palantir, whose technology has powered some of the most nefarious immigration abuses, is now collecting troves of health data about all of us.” @AmnestyTech Cambridge Analytica & Palantir collaborated, says @chrisinsilico.
Palantir is named after a device in Lord of the Rings that allows characters to omnisciently see anything. Their contract for a "Covid Data Store" permits processing data including:
- Racial origin
- Political affiliations
- Criminal records
- Mental health info
Last week Palantir was in the news when it was reported it’s filed to go public. It’s unclear if it intends a direct listing or a traditional IPO, but the timing is interesting. So what do we know about Palantir & it’s right-wing founder, Peter Thiel?
“The vast increase in welfare beneficiaries & the extension of the franchise to women have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ an oxymoron.” (Peter Thiel, 2009) White supremacist Curtis Yarvin wrote Peter Thiel is “fully enlightened, just plays it very carefully.”
This 2017 article by @samfbiddle shows the instrumental role Palantir had in facilitating invasive, rights-violating surveillance. Imagine what they could do with sensitive health data or even DNA mapping & genome sequencing for entire populations.
Palantir is building the "Protect Now" #COVID digital platform for the US Dept of Health as well as one for the NHS. Palantir are reportedly only charging the UK govt £1 for the work which begs the question: "What are they getting out of it?" The answer, no doubt, is data.
Big Tech mine & sell our data, but the new frontier - worth billions - lies not in our consumer behaviour, but in our biological selves. As James Watson, who discovered the structure of DNA said: Our fates lie in our genes and not in the stars. But who controls that fate?
INSERT CARL SAGAN VIDEO HERE
The idea of sequencing the genomes of millions of people for medical & scientific use isn't new. In 2012, a US biotech firm paid $415 million for a company to get access to the genetic data of the entire population of Iceland where conditions for genetic research are ideal.
This might sound like the realms of science fiction, but it's not. Today, @amnesty's @TanyaOCarroll reveals how - working with govts - Big Tech firms are using the #COVID19 crisis to obliterate the last frontier of our privacy: Our biological selves.
The @AmnestyTech article warns that #Covid19 presents an unprecedented opportunity for tech companies to get their hands on vast swathes of health data. But once "bio-invasive surveillance" becomes the new norm, our privacy will be entirely lost.
Health data in US & UK is governed by strict data privacy rules but - by partnering with govts - companies can walk away with lucrative AI models. Legally, they cannot retain direct patient records, worth billions. This helps explain why Palantir, are working for just £1.
The article concludes: "It is now clear that continuous high-levels of population-scale testing will be necessary if we are to co-exist with #coronavirus out-of-lockdown. But people need to be able to trust that when they take a #COVID19 test, that their data is protected."
“Population-scale testing” may seem like a distant ambition in UK & US where a functioning #COVID19 test & trace system is still not in place. But, it is not. In April, it was reported that 50 million British-developed anti-body test kits had been ordered by the UK govt.
In April, the PM announced that the govt was setting up a rapid testing consortium (UK-RTC) to provide fast, accurate pregnancy-style home test kits for #Covid19 antibodies. The test would be a "gamechanger" allowing people to test in of 15 minutes in from their own home.
Last week, @campbellclaret who is taking part in the trials posted this picture of the pin-prick, cartridge test. 50 million tests will be enough for every adult in the country. Each test will have a barcode (QR code) that is scanned & uploaded to the NHSX platform.
Data protection might not feel like a priority in a crisis but with population-wide testing possibly imminent, we should heed @amnesty's @TanyaOCarroll warning: "If we fail to protect our health data, we will be living with the consequences long after the pandemic is over."
As @NafeezAhmed notes, the role of genetics in disease is becoming an ever-greater focus for the govt. The aspiration of the NHS Genomic Medicine Service is that “from 2020 & by 2025, genomic medicine will be an embedded part of routine care”. #COVID
“Cummings is an enthusiast for big tech, AI, ‘evolutionary economists’ & some of the more extreme genetic determinists associated with the ‘Bay Area Rationalists’ – a group of right-wing ‘techno libertarians’ that include Peter Thiel” says @peterjukes
In his Feb 2019 blog, Cummings seems to view the NHS genomics prediction programme as a mechanism to provide Britain with “natural advantages” over other countries. Is this what is being echoed in the PM’s 3/2 “Britain as Superman” #GreenwichSpeech?
The 2014 book Genes, Cells & Brains, talks about "the mushroom-like growth of trans-humanist institutes & research programs, financed by 'visionary philanthropists' dreaming of a positive eugenics for the 21st century. Among the most prominent is SENS funded by Peter Thiel.”
"In March, @BorisJohnson held a meeting with big tech firms & healthcare players. He then granted access to millions of UK health data records to Amazon, Microsoft, Google & Palantir to build a COVID datastore aggregating data, including testing data."
"Bio-invasive surveillance capitalism" (©) Last year, @amnesty warned the “surveillance-based business model” poses an unprecedented threat to human rights, forcing people to give up intimate data in order to access the benefits of the modern world.
UK govt stopped giving out data on numbers tested almost 2 months ago. Palantir run NHS’s digital platform US govt have made much of their #COVID data inaccessible since HHS (health service) took over the CDC data Palantir run HHS’s digital platform
Last week the Trump admin ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC & send key #coronavirus information to a Washington database run by the shadowy surveillance company, Palantir @nytimes said it had alarmed health officials. It should alarm us all!
Just as Cummings is determined bring science closer to govt, the US's National Science Foundation (NSF) is getting a remake Palantir are lobbing on the new Directorate of Tech which will be contained in the new NSF, registering $450k in lobbying yesterday.
In the UK, the NHSX contract that #Palantir was paid £1 for, has leapt to £1 million for a four-month extension! "Who knows what the next round will cost? Is this system really temporary or the start of something more permanent?" asks @cori_crider.
A source close to the NHSX project - being done alongside the AI company that worked on Vote Leave - told @NewStatesman's @oscwilliams that #Palantir would be well placed to continue providing the service after the coronavirus outbreak ends. #COVID19
As well as being central to the #HerdImmunityScandal, the #PalantirScandal also overlaps with the #ContractsScandal. By awarding Palantir the initial contract without competitive tender, would make it easier to grant a £1 million contract extension.
37/. Writing this month, @moiragweigel notes that Palantir's co-founder, Peter Thiel, "donated $1m to the Defeat Crooked Hillary campaign backed by Robert Mercer & overseen by Steve Bannon. Mercer & Bannon are the main kingpins behind Cambridge Analytica.
Last week, @amnesty wrote how “people need to be able to trust that when they take a COVID19 test, that their data is protected." The NHS is perhaps the most trusted institution in the UK. In the US, the HHS commands high levels of respect. Palantir & Faculty, not so much.
In 2019, Palantir was employing 550 staff in its London office: more than in its US headquarters. The name comes from Tolkien’s “palantíri”, magical orbs that allow the possessor to see anything happening in the world...like a "Super Forecaster"
"Data protection might not feel like a priority in a crisis, but we will be living with the consequences long after the pandemic is over if we fail to draw a protective line around our health data now." @AmnestyTech article in @ScotNational today.
The article is an updated version of the one published 10 days ago. Since then, Palantir has been in the news, with its announcement that it had filed to go public & with controversial developments around its multi-million $ #COVID19 work with the NHS in UK & the HHS in US.
Newly seen US procurement records reveal #Palantir was awarded govt contracts worth +$42m on pandemic response. Although the HHS has said the data will remain anonymous, @FaizaPatelBCJ of @BrennanCenter warns said data can be de-anonymized, too.
In a letter, more than 30 members of Congress, including @ewarren & @JulianCastro, called for greater transparency on how Palantir will use HHS data & guarantees that it will be kept anonymised. In 2017/18 Palantir’s data helped aid ICE deportations.
As with the NHS, #Palantir was awarded the HHS contracts without tendering They are rprtdly aiding national COVID responses in over a DOZEN countries, including Greece, Austria, Spain & Canada. They also claim to be in talks with “several dozen” countries around the world.
Palantir is also making its software available for free to govts. This wouldn’t be the 1st time Palantir offered its services for free, e.g. in New Orleans, they deployed a predictive policing system that even city council members didn’t know about.
In January, @Slate published a list of "the most dangerous tech companies in the world". They had polled journalists, academics, advocates etc. & drew up a list of 30 companies. #Palantir came fourth! 1. Amazon 2. Facebook 3. Alphabet 4. Palantir
“We’ve arranged a society based on science & technology, in which nobody understands anything about science & technology. This combustible mixture of ignorance & power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces.” (Carl Sagan,1996) I fear it is blowing up right now.
Here is the $7.5 million contract between #Palantir & US govt to build the platform for the Dept of Health (HHS): "Palantir HHS Protect Platform Services".