My 2007 DEFCON presentation makes reference to "active" vs "passive" devices in data mining and manipulating mental states. That's what Cambridge Analytica did in the 2016 Presidential election. My theory starts at the 32 minute mark of this video:
Just re-watched this. Wow, I really hit this one out of the park. There's more detail than I remembered and prediction of misuse.
Here's a diagram of how an actual hack could work:
Define a target group which have certain concepts (memes) in common. A political action group on Facebook, for instance. Set up a monitor to gauge conversation, then set up an actor (bot) to inject (influence) conversation. The monitor watches for a "diffraction", when an event causes the group to refocus (i.e. re-allocate) their mental bandwidth. Here's an example:
When the pope died, people shifted their mental activity to thoughts about the pope. A diffraction is mental bandwidth temporarily in flux, so it can be captured by other ideas. It indicates a weakened mental immune system which can be infected.
The actor injects gateway keywords and phrases to slow-walk the group towards desired memes. It's like a gateway drug. It's difficult to change a Republican into Democrat by shoving opposing ideas in their face. Memes surround themselves with anti-memes to prevent displacement by competing memes. The trick is an incremental shift of group sentiment so anti-memes aren't triggered.
In 2007 I executed a model like this in Seattle on an alternative lifestyle group of about 500 to 1000 people. I was interested in the velocity and vectors of memes but got more than I expected. If you've read some of my other entries, this is part of the Dominique Mainon story and her coven of witches as well as internet manipulation.
The same strategy is in My Most Audacious Hack, an attempt to shift economic ideology. Smart capitalists would have instituted a 28/32-hour workweek to rebalance incomes but today's capitalists are dumber than the ones in 1934 (who fixed unemployment with a 40-hour workweek and child labor laws).
This process could be automated, hundreds of thousands of instances spun up, each one influencing 100 to 1000 people in a customized manner for that group. The hardest part is deriving the proper gateway phrases, gauging their impact, order of use, etc.
This concept isn't just applicable to elections. It also applies to stochastic terrorism, the deliberate exposure of marginal people to radical ideas to foster terrorist acts like we've been seeing for the past few months.