Wikipedia Search

This is nonsense:

Sicore’s main WMF legacy appears to be the role he played in the Knowledge Engine fiasco that led to executive director Lila Tretikov’s resignation in early 2016. Sicore had been accused of being involved in “top secret” plans to take “a run at Google” and spend $32m of donors’ money to try to turn wikipedia.org into a Google-beating search engine, but we cannot confirm this.

The Register UK

First, to The Register:  You state that you cannot confirm your statement, yet you publish it anyway? You are wrong. You should have confirmed first.  Please practice journalistic integrity.  This affects people’s lives.  Mine and my kids’.

Here are the facts that you missed:

  • I actively avoided and wanted nothing to do with forming any project to take “a run at Google.”  In fact, I pursued the opposite:  I argued it would be almost impossible for Wikimedia Foundation to be successful at building a search engine to rival Google. Too expensive.  Too late.
  • My documents were top secret because I didn’t want anyone to think that we were going to do anything like building a search engine to rival Google.  Any documents containing premature discussions or data showing search engine intermediation were encrypted and shared only with Lila Tretikov, my executive peers, my direct reports and members of WMF that I trusted.  I was instructed by Lila to not share anything with the Board. Those documents were eventually leaked, and they confirm these statements here.
  • It is not true that I proposed to spend $32 million.   That’s the number I made up and used as an estimate to discourage Lila Tretikov and the rest of the executives that attempting to build a search engine would be astronomically expensive for WMF and should not be attempted. 
  • My plan was to charge Google, Apple, and Bing for the direct and unlimited access that they enjoy today.  I do not believe it is fair to the public of the World to ask for donations to fund Wikipedia when Google, Bing, and Apple are making tens of billions of dollars every year using Wikipedia.
  • The “media blitz” that I planned was to work with other open source projects which provide data to/from Wikipedia (Open Street Maps, etc.) in order to build awareness of how Google and Apple are affecting Wikipedia so that we could demand that Google, Apple, and Bing pay for the work of countless humans building Wikipedia in 180 languages.
  • Lila Tretikov hired her personal friend as an executive without my or others’ consent to create what she called a “Moon Shot” search project.  I protested.
  • I asked repeatedly to discuss this with the WMF Board; however, I was instructed by Lila to not discuss anything with anyone, especially someone on the Board.  I believed they should know everything.  So I set up meetings with board members anyway, and before I could meet with them to inform them and ask for help, I was fired.

I’m not here to defend my decisions on technology and the direction. I did those things together with my teams publicly.  I’m confident that my ideas were and are sound. I was not wise in choosing my boss. 

What has been reported about me is not true. Lila used me as a scapegoat after she destroyed WMF’s confidence in her after repeatedly lying about strategy, hiring efforts, and budgets. She acted with impunity against her own employees, destroying everyone who reported to her.

After I left, I watched one public WMF meeting after another, and employees and the community refused to accept her open and blatant dishonesty in the face of direct questions from the audience.  They demanded she resign publicly, and she acted as if the statements weren’t being made. Total denial. I’m guessing that she thought she might be able to get away with things if she could blame the Search/Knowledge Engine fiasco on me.  In reality, I was doing everything I could to stop it.  

I wanted to give the World the truth about who is hurting Wikipedia, and instead, it was my family who has been, and continues to be, hurt.

The US National Intelligence Strategy 2019

Here’s the definition of National Intelligence and Intelligence Related to National Security:

National Intelligence and Intelligence Related to National Security means all intelligence, regardless of the source from which derived and including information gathered within or outside the United States, that pertains, as determined consistent with any guidance issued by the President, or that is determined for the purpose of access to information by the Director to pertain to more than one United States Government agency; and that involves threats to the United States, its people, property, or interests; the development, proliferation, or use of weapons of mass destruction; or any other matter bearing on United States national or homeland security.

— (Executive Order 12333)

In the section that describes the Strategic Environment, there are some interesting summaries describing the perspective of the Director of National Intelligence:

Traditional adversaries will continue attempts to gain and assert influence, taking advantage of changing conditions in the international environment—including the weakening of the post-WWII international order and dominance of Western democratic ideals, increasingly isolationist tendencies in the West, and shifts in the global economy. These adversaries pose challenges within traditional, non-traditional, hybrid, and asymmetric military, economic, and political spheres. Russian efforts to increase its influence and authority are likely to continue and may conflict with U.S. goals and priorities in multiple regions. Chinese military modernization and continued pursuit of economic and territorial predominance in the Pacific region and beyond remain a concern, though opportunities exist to work with Beijing on issues of mutual concern, such as North Korean aggression and continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile technology. Despite its 2015 commitment to a peaceful nuclear program, Iran’s pursuit of more advanced missile and military capabilities and continued support for terrorist groups, militants, and other U.S. opponents will continue to threaten U.S. interests. Multiple adversaries continue to pursue capabilities to inflict potentially catastrophic damage to U.S. interests through the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which includes biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.

In addition to these familiar threats, our adversaries are increasingly leveraging rapid advances in technology to pose new and evolving threats— particularly in the realm of space, cyberspace, computing, and other emerging, disruptive technologies. Technological advances will enable a wider range of actors to acquire sophisticated capabilities that were previously available only to well-resourced states.

What concerns me is the language use in this document.  The next paragraph reads as follows:  

No longer a solely U.S. domain, the democratization of space poses significant challenges for the United States and the IC.  Adversaries are increasing their presence in this domain with plans to reach or exceed parity in some areas. For example, Russia and China will continue to pursue a full range of anti-satellite weapons as a means to reduce U.S. military effectiveness and overall security. Increasing commercialization of space now provides capabilities that were once limited to global powers to anyone that can afford to buy them. Many aspects of modern society—to include our ability to conduct military operations—rely on our access to and equipment in space.

Beyond the obvious disillusionment our national intelligence agencies are experiencing (i.e., we are just now waking up to the AI and social media threats), we are also showing signs of blaming democracy for our troubles.  What we are really referring to is the capitalization of space not democratization.  Technology becoming cheap enough for commoditization is not the same thing as the enfranchisement of the citizens of a state.

Another example from the Director’s press release: Advances in communications and the democratization of other technologies have also generated an ability to create and share vast and exponentially growing amounts of information farther and faster than ever before.”  

The Director of National Intelligence is responsible for advising the President directly.  The US is confusing democracy and capitalism from the inside out, and as the President has demonstrated on Twitter, he will not refrain from leveraging the threat of democracy in order to increase corporate profits.

As an executive who has operated in several world-changing Silicon Valley companies and participated in board meetings, I know the impact of corporate ideology and its power over the minds of executives.  Money and corporate politics blind primates to the big picture.  This is another example of how corporate ideology has infected our government, and I see no way of slowing this threat.

I worry our future is a corporate planet autocracy.  The US is paving the way for China and Russia to play Global Corporate Warfare against democracy and win.

On Faith

Remember particularly that you cannot be a judge of any one. For no one can judge a criminal, until he recognizes that he is just such a criminal as the man standing before him, and that he perhaps is more than all men to blame for that crime. When he understands that, he will be able to be a judge. Though that sounds absurd, it is true. If I had been righteous myself, perhaps there would have been no criminal standing before me. If you can take upon yourself the crime of the criminal your heart is judging, take it at once, suffer for him yourself, and let him go without reproach. And even if the law itself makes you his judge, act in the same spirit so far as possible, for he will go away and condemn himself more bitterly than you have done. If, after your kiss, he goes away untouched, mocking at you, do not let that be a stumbling-block to you. It shows his time has not yet come, but it will come in due course. And if it come not, no matter; if not he, then another in his place will understand and suffer, and judge and condemn himself, and the truth will be fulfilled. Believe that, believe it without doubt; for in that lies all the hope and faith of the saints.

Work without ceasing. If you remember in the night as you go to sleep, “I have not done what I ought to have done,” rise up at once and do it. If the people around you are spiteful and callous and will not hear you, fall down before them and beg their forgiveness; for in truth you are to blame for their not wanting to hear you. And if you cannot speak to them in their bitterness, serve them in silence and in humility, never losing hope. If all men abandon you and even drive you away by force, then when you are left alone fall on the earth and kiss it, water it with your tears and it will bring forth fruit even though no one has seen or heard you in your solitude. Believe to the end, even if all men went astray and you were left the only one faithful; bring your offering even then and praise God in your loneliness. And if two of you are gathered together—then there is a whole world, a world of living love. Embrace each other tenderly and praise God, for if only in you two His truth has been fulfilled.

If you sin yourself and grieve even unto death for your sins or for your sudden sin, then rejoice for others, rejoice for the righteous man, rejoice that if you have sinned, he is righteous and has not sinned.

If the evil-doing of men moves you to indignation and overwhelming distress, even to a desire for vengeance on the evil-doers, shun above all things that feeling. Go at once and seek suffering for yourself, as though you were yourself guilty of that wrong. Accept that suffering and bear it and your heart will find comfort, and you will understand that you too are guilty, for you might have been a light to the evil-doers, even as the one man sinless, and you were not a light to them. If you had been a light, you would have lightened the path for others too, and the evil-doer might perhaps have been saved by your light from his sin. And even though your light was shining, yet you see men were not saved by it, hold firm and doubt not the power of the heavenly light. Believe that if they were not saved, they will be saved hereafter. And if they are not saved hereafter, then their sons will be saved, for your light will not die even when you are dead. The righteous man departs, but his light remains. Men are always saved after the death of the deliverer. Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those whom they have slain. You are working for the whole, you are acting for the future. Seek no reward, for great is your reward on this earth: the spiritual joy which is only vouchsafed to the righteous man. Fear not the great nor the mighty, but be wise and ever serene. Know the measure, know the times, study that. When you are left alone, pray. Love to throw yourself on the earth and kiss it. Kiss the earth and love it with an unceasing, consuming love. Love all men, love everything. Seek that rapture and ecstasy. Water the earth with the tears of your joy and love those tears. Don’t be ashamed of that ecstasy, prize it, for it is a gift of God and a great one; it is not given to many but only to the elect.

 

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, translated by Constance Garnett, stolen from Markus Triska.