Favelas As Digital “Oil” Deposits

This is the final installment of a series I published in January 2022. I’m not sure why I waited so long to upload this final piece. Perhaps it was providence, because I have more context now from my D-Cent map. Today I’ll be reading from this post and discussing the portion of the map having to do with Brazil, digital currency, and impact tokenization.

Map Link

You can read the rest of the series by following the links below: 

On Cyberpunk, Sumer, Synagogues and Vending Machine Government Link

Poverty, Identity, and Child Gamers in Rio’s Favelas Link

Pay For Success Finance: How the Dorseys of the World Could Use Wearables to Profit from Poor Kids’ Prescribed “Wellness Behaviors” Link

How Privately Funded Recreation Centers Could Harm Children – Human Capital Finance In Brazil Link

It’s Time To Talk Social Impact Investing In Brazil Glenn Greenwald Link

The Internet of Bodies and Human Capital Futures Bets In Brazil Link

An Infrastructure Of Faith-Based Data Colonialism In Brazil Link

Fin-tech, Digital Identity and E-Government in Brazil Link

Omidyar Network And National Education Standards in Brazil Link

Brazil’s first national smart city initiative, Cidades Digitais, began in 2012. It was replaced in 2019 by Nacional de Estrategia para Cidades Inteligentes Sustentaveis, advancing adoption of facial recognition infrastructure, connected agriculture, urban mobility, and electronic health records. The 2014 FIFA World Cup provided officials in Rio de Janeiro the excuse they needed to ramp up deployment of “smart” technologies. That effort that was expanded with the 2016 Olympic games.

As preparations were underway for Rio’s World Cup, the Rockefeller Foundation was launching its “100 Resilient Cities” program. Rockefeller officials selected UK-based global consultancy Arup to create a design book for cities of the future. The firm consulted on several Olympic facilities in Rio, is deeply embedded in UN SDG planning efforts, as well as being collaborator with ICLEI. That project resulted in a “framework” for cities where “inclusive’ and “integrated” data would be captured to inform response for future crises.

Arup established permanent offices in Rio and Sao Paulo in 2012 knowing there would be a lot of work coming through the pipeline. One of Arup’s projects was a “child-centered resiliency” report for the favelas of Salvador, funded by the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, a philanthropy backing the creation of early childhood impact investing markets in Brazil. It was one part of Salvador’s larger 200+-page resiliency plan that identified the following “pillars:” cultural identity (social engineering); healthy communities (bio-surveillance); inclusive economy (digital ID + fin-tech); innovative governance (data-driven public-private partnerships); and urban transformation (sustainable panopticon).

Once you understand that engineering poor communities is central to the social impact / AI machine learning enterprise, you can see why venture philanthropists are so interested in Brazil’s favelas.  This moment has been a long time coming as NGOs with international ties, like Theresa Williamson’s Catalytic Communities, have harnessed grassroots organizing and groomed community leaders for their moment to shine as quality human capital on data dashboards set up by B-Lab’s social entrepreneurs and the University of Pennsylvania, the alma mater of both Dr. Williamson and Judith Rodin. Williamson, originally from the UK, has been working in Rio de Janeiro for two decades, bringing her Ivy-League credentials and connections to implement a community solutions database, embed digital organizing, rebrand slums as culturally rich favelas (setting up future markets in creative capital), and install an Asset Based Community Development framework (a Northwestern University developed model that will prop up sustainable finance projections).

Capturing the arts and creative thought within the container of social impact finance is a priority for those in power, lest truly imaginative and revolutionary ideas take hold and break through the veneer of cybernetic control. Program officers have travelled the world proselytizing that the arts must be exploited to maximize their measurable economic contributions. A project financed by the British Council in 2017 laid out a framework for the creative economy in Brazil. The emphasis is always on inclusiveness – to pull those on the margins, including youth and women, into the vortex of social entrepreneurship. Know what we know about the rise of digital economics, NFTs, and the imperative to design the Metaverse, it goes without saying that the impact investors will seek to digitize all forms of creative expression to make it profitable from an impact standpoint, and legible for machine learning. A 2021 paper “The Favela as a Place for Development of Smart Cities in Brazil: Local Needs and New Business Strategies, “states the following:

“Seen by many in a simplistic way, summed up to be geographic spaces of drug circulation dominated by trafficking, Brazilian favelas have been consolidating themselves as storehouses of innovative minds, a creative territory with multiple and complex structures. These places today can produce a positive image with potential for market exploitation. Therefore, the objective was to draw a relationship between the creative economy, branding and favelas, considering the concept of smart cities that include products and services from the slums.”

In the above paragraph, favela residents are seen as resources to be exploited. The challenge for policy makers devising a robust policy structure that sounds equitable whereby these people’s lives can be remade as commodities that can be integrated into digital knowledge, learning, creative, and eco-tourist economic transactions. The built environment in which they live is a maze that makes their resources difficult to access. Thus, numerous mapping and demographic projects are underway by academic institutions working to make the social relations and geography of the favelas more readily understood by outsiders. In the country’s rich tradition of marronage, where enslaved people escaped their captors for distant outposts in jungles or swaps, the favelas had long been as Greenwald notes, beyond the reach or interest of the state.

That, however, is changing as drones, apps, geospatial mapping, and laser scanning, pushed under cover of digital equity and inclusion, have begun to chart the terrain of the favelas with granular detail. Residents’ existence is about to fundamentally change. They will be “included,” the question is included in what?

In the coming era of stakeholder capitalism and circular economies a person’s use of privatized welfare (inputs) will be evaluated against their economic productivity and good citizenship status (outputs) according to ever-changing rules of a game set by corporate governments. With pre-natal monitoring and blockchain electronic health records and birth certificates, it is possible this would start before birth. Add to that geo-spatial atlases augmented with socio-historical data such as that being collected for imagineRio, by Houston-based (and nano-bio-tech research hub) Rice University. The possibilities for factoring intergenerational trauma into predictive profiling for human capital bets are jaw dropping. Rice University has numerous partnerships, including University of Sao Paulo and the army’s Institute of Military Engineering, cultivated through Brasil@Rice and the Houston embassy.

In the United States, and in Scotland tapped to become the first ACEs-aware nation, there has been a huge push to screen for Adverse Childhood Experiences and score the results using a tool created by Kaiser Permanente, a health system that is now a leading voice on social impact investing. You can read my 2019 post about pay for success finance and ACEs scoring here. A quick search for “Adverse Childhood Experiences” + “Screening” + “Brazil” results in numerous research studies carried out in the past five years: here, here, and here. Trauma metrics in the scoring will be used to impose data-driven non-solutions on needy communities.

Scientists have linked childhood trauma to changes in one’s genetic profile. They have carried out research indicating epigenetic trauma carries across and accumulates over generations, which is significant for communities that have faced ongoing physical and economic violence. California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, a lockdown fanatic who’s campaign was funded by Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Pritzker family (JP Pritzker, Illinois governor sponsored creation of James Heckman’s early childhood investment equation), has been a heavy promoter of comprehensive ACEs screenings of anyone on Medicaid and for children. His appointment to Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris to the position of Surgeon General of California signaled this would be a high-profile issue for his administration.

Will legacies of domination be mapped and factored into social impact deals that leverage their cumulative trauma for “pay for success” investor profit?  Check out MIT’s Senseable Lab where favelas are mapped in 4-D with devices that capture 300,000 datapoints a second; Rice University’s historic atlas of social relations in Rio; and disturbingly Google’sRio Beyond The Map in partnership with AfroReggae. The latter is backing the UBI e-sports gaming / training program. I keep saying it seems like the plan is to force the masses to live inside the CIA’s (or the Crown’s) mixed reality video game.

So when I see gaming interests teaming up with Google to map (twin? simulate?) favelas that are literally centerpieces of games like Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (Ubisoft 2016), it feels like that future is already here.

Smart Cities – Mixed Reality Gaming Environments

In the game that hedge funds want to play with our lives, smart cities have been set up as social impact game boards with embedded nudges and omnipresent surveillance. I should know; I live in a city of pawns. IBM launched a $50 million three-year project in 2010 to “build a smarter planet.” Twenty-four US cities received pro-bono corporate consulting services. Philadelphia was on-boarded in 2011 with a project that was somewhat surprising to me at the time. The “smarted” up infrastructure ended up being low-income youth placed on regional-workforce career pathways called digital on-ramps. It was the early stages of blockchain badges tied to human capital finance, which has since evolved into learning lockers like Greenlight Credentials based in Dallas that runs on IBM’s Hyperledger. Those “free” consultations were all about market-shaping.

IBM held a “Smarter Cities” global conference in Rio de Janeiro in 2011. The opening presentation featured IBM’s Rio Command Center a centralized data hub built for risk analysis and coordination around natural disasters, security, traffic management, and municipal concerns. The catalyst for its creation was a devastating weather event in April of 2010 that resulted in flooding and mudslides. The story goes that because of the disaster, a decision was made to create an exemplary global surveillance hub – “The Watchful Eyes of the City.”

The unspoken plan was that the IBM model would be used to sell the concept to other cities through strategic media campaigns. Hundreds of visitors a month are brought through the facility, which is largely inaccessible to residents. After its work in Rio, the United Nations tapped IBM, along with AECOM Engineering, to design a template for disaster resilience scorecard. While ostensibly meant to better protect lives and economic activities in vulnerable urban areas, it’s hard to set aside the World Bank’s catastrophe bond product line launched in 2010, the same year as the command center.

By 2015 the program grew to include 30 municipal agencies, 100 47-inch high-definition screens, 1,000 surveillance cameras, 15,000 sensors, a geo-portal system with 250 thematic layers, and LAB.RIO an e-citizen communications network of SMS messaging, social media apps, and digital civic participation. The emphasis on digital communications, noted in a 2016 case study sponsored by the InterAmerican Development Bank with support from the Korean Institute For Human Settlements (note Korea and Seoul being early Metaverse pioneers), caught my eye. Notable was the attention given to social media interactions, specifically Twitter and Twitter alerts (Jack Dorsey, the recreation center donor). It appears the hub was tasked with refining digital twin operations, maximizing sensor data (weather, traffic, etc.) and joining it with layers with signals intelligence drawn an array of electronic communications – OSINT.

Today’s Open-Source Intelligence encompasses vastly more signals gathered from sensors embedded in the environment that interface with Individual Communication Technology (ICT). Research into how to harness those signals and create systems of programmed behavioral nudging has been led by Alex “Sandy” Pentland, professor of social physics and human dynamics at MIT Media Lab. Pentland is a leader in the digital identity space, collaborating on blockchain development with the World Wide Web Consortium.

The Rio Hub project also encompasses DATA.RIO, the Bloomberg “what works” open municipal data protocol that needs to be put in place before the digital twinning can start. The collected metrics legitimize social impact investment deals under a deceptive banner of transparency and accountability. It’s useful to note that Bloomberg Philanthropies has been active in Brazil. Projects include: vision-zero planning for Sao Paulo and Fortaleza and a national Road Safety Plan; the 2014 Sao Paulo Bienal art event; a 2015 greenhouse emissions report prepared by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; 2019 Mayor’s Challenge Award for mapping Rio’s favelas; investments in obesity prevention; and fishery management in Fortaleza.

Perhaps most interesting in terms of timing given that it happened shortly before the pandemic was declared, is a four-year project with Vital Strategies to systematize and establish technologies including apps and AI databases to document causes of death throughout the country. According to Jack Dorsey’s spreadsheet, the foundation made a $20 million contribution to Vital Strategies in June of 2020 and handed over another $18 million in October of 2020 for digital tools to “fight the spread of Covid.”

Jose Luis Castro, executive director, has a background in public health research having done stints with the World Health Organization and the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. Through his work he has established close relationships with Michael Bloomberg and global aid organizations in the United State and the United Kingdom. The emphasis is on preventative care as a health INVESTMENT. Vital Strategies’ “Resolve to Save Lives” was touted by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania as a “best bet” for high-impact philanthropic investment.

In a “stories from the field” propaganda piece we see the United Nations Information Centres and HABITAT program enmeshing itself in the favelas, spreading their Covid containment narratives with murals, t-shirts, and slick messaging campaigns intended to look homespun and emphasize disingenuous values of “collective” care. A partner in this effort is the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ), started in 1898 to create serums related to the bubonic plague and implement sanitation campaigns. Based in Rio, it now has over 7,500 employees and is one of the largest public health organizations in the world, hardly a disinterested party.

I’ve done extensive research into how preventative health care metrics for chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes, and heart and lung disease (conditions often caused or exacerbated by environmental pollution, endemic violence, and economic stress) are being woven into a data-driven social impact market in the United States. Under the guise of tracking population health, Black and Brown communities are being targeted for intense data surveillance. Communities defined by trauma and dispossession, like the favelas, represent valuable data deposits. These deposits are the foundation on which the Impact Management Project will construct its “sustainable” empire of managed poverty. In the favelas, they’ve struck “social impact” digital gold presuming they get everyone on the blockchain, which is what the health passports are meant to accomplish. I was asked to write about this issue a year ago by Urban Global Health Alliance. Go here for more details.

One paragraph really stood out for me in the UN, “stories from the field” article:

“The Social Territories Program implemented by the Pereira Passos Institute in partnership with the United Nations Programme for Human Settlements, aims to reduce the risk posed to vulnerable families living in Rio’s ten largest slums. The project implemented by the municipality of Rio De Janeiro in partnership with UN-HABITAT, identifies people who are extremely vulnerable in the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro and directs them to public services or cash transfer programs. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the search for these people, previously made in person, is now conducted by telephone. More than 1,600 calls have been made to date.”

It aligns with a push for digital welfare systems. In the US this transition has been advanced by the Zuckerberg-backed Benefits Data Trust. In Philadelphia the effort called BenePhilly, and operates in with community partners, including Project Home, a Catholic supportive housing organization that was the first non-profit in the city to adopt pay for success finance.

Green Finance, Digital Twins, and What Work’s Government

Peter Head, Executive Chairman of Arup, leads the Ecological Sequestration Trust. The organization, which calls itself a “resilience broker,” was a Rockefeller Foundation effort, put together during a series of meetings held at their Bellagio conference center starting in 2015; that’s the same place where the Global Impact Investment Network was formed in 2007. A new financial fiction, environmental green bonds, is required to channel trillion of dollars of concentrated wealth previously poured in toxic real estate deals into projects aligned to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Head tees this all up with a convenient roadmap to drive us into a “New Urban Social Contract.” The preface of EST’s document was written by Jeff Sachs, professor of economics home at Columbia University (home to technocracy) and special advisor to South Korean diplomat and former Secretary of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. Sachs presented at the Vatican’s “Connectivity is a Human Right” in 2017. You can’t have a digital democracy, or social impact investment markets, if your cyber citizens aren’t plugged in. They start the paper with the final goal, Goal 17 “Partnerships.” The climate / sustainability narrative is about remaking society into a fully cybernetic system to run gambling bets on everything from natural disasters, to prescribed behaviors, to health crises and all can be tweaked using digital twin simulations to create desired outcomes good and bad. It’s a totally rigged game created by self-aggrandizing “partners.” To them, humans and the natural world are merely game pieces; and if those in power successfully paint their machinations green, it appears many people are ready to allow the game to continue.

The Ecological Sequestration Trust devised systems management software, resilience.io, that layers information about a region’s economics, government policies, resources, and development plans to evaluate social benefit on a variety of dashboards. Peter Head’s intent is to usher in a new “ecological age” where gamified platforms could be used to track social relations in “circular economies.” Metrics will be used to construct cost off-sets needed before ESG (Environmental Social Governance) investors can profit from offering band aid fixes for the environmental harm and poverty they had a hand in creating. Building from the initial carbon credit premise of assigning value in non-traditional ways, the door has been thrown open for the creation of Natural Asset Corporations, just starting to be traded on Wall Street. Analysts assign everything on the planet a price associated with its destruction, and thus by not destroying everything right away, those running the machine are able to continue to draw out value as they replace the natural with the synthetic.

Six years later Rockefeller’s “100 Resilient Cities” morphed two complementary groups. The Global Resilient Cities Network and Resilient Cities Catalyst. The first a collective of 200 City Resilience Officers working with global financial interests active in the region such as IDB Innovation Lab, Avina Fundacion, CAF Development Bank of Latin America. EDB (Economic Development Board) Singapore is a core funder, so it seems that is the planned cybernetic city model. Brazil currently has three cities participating in this network: Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre.

Resilient Cities Catalyst on the other hand is tasked with getting policies in place to channel global capital into data-driven “sustainable” social impact markets through lobbying, strategic convenings, and change-agent training. They focus on refining “resiliency tools” and lining up pilot public-private partnerships that will later be brought to scale through their “diverse” community of practitioners.  Judith Rodin, former University of Pennsylvania President and Rockefeller Foundation head who led the creation of the Global Impact Investment Network, is board chair. The founding principal is Michael Berkowitz, coordinator of the initial effort. Prior to that, Berkowitz served as global head of Operational Risk Management for Deutsche Bank after serving as deputy commissioner of the Office of Emergency Response in New York City during Bloomberg’s administration.

So many climate and equity programs emerged after the UN SDGs were adopted in 2015, it’s impossible to keep track of them all. I do want to point out considerable overlap between the above two programs and C40 cities. In the latter, cities earn their membership by documenting emission reductions. The four participating cities in Brazil are: Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Curitiba. What’s important to know about this effort is Bloomberg Philanthropies is a lead funder, which means the “evidence-based” solutions that will be imposed are actually about harvesting impact data so markets to hedge and trade off-sets can be devised– not just carbon off-sets, but offsets related to supposed “equitable futures,” really privatized social welfare. This is euphemistically described as “financing the green transition.”

In addition to Bloomberg, another strategic partner is Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. The organization’s website state’s CIFF’s activities in Brazil include renewables uptake, air quality measures, and preservation of the rainforest, but I’m sure early childhood and home visit programs cannot be far behind. “Child Health and Development,” UN SDG 3 and 4, and “Girl Capital,” UN SDG 5 are both listed as priority areas. We know they are targeting children with a goal of reducing their lives to quantifiable data commodities, ESG portfolio assets, pliable human capital to be molded as dutiful citizens of the Metaverse. You can read more about Bloomberg’s “what works” government approach in a piece I wrote in the summer of 2018.

It is a testament to the mind control exerted by Extinction Rebellion that so many blindly follow “green” leaders not realizing that green is cash in the pockets of defense contractors, tech companies, and financiers profiting from “build back better” nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and spatial web ubiquitous computing that binds the fiction together. Covid provided us a front row seat for what tyranny by dashboard looks like. If they can convince people to live their lives in confined isolated spaces primarily through screens, the psychological warfare campaigns are more readily deployed. The data analysts working for the billionaires want us to believe in a surreality conjured up on digital interfaces more than we trust our own senses, our own instincts.

A global project requires global standards, which brings me to an important article written by Raul Diego of Silicon Icarus,A Permanent State of Exception NIST’s Critical Role in Smart City Development.” Raul highlights the National Institute of Science and Technology’s efforts to launch global pilots and refine open standards for cyber-physical systems, “harmonizing” proprietary devices so they can communicate with one another in a straightforward plug-and-play manner. In the minutes from a 2014 virtual meeting of NIST administrators, Chris Greer, head of cyber-physical systems, provided updates regarding planning for Grid 3.0 with the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel that had representation from Korea, the EU, and Brazil. Testbeds for cyber-physical systems were being set up as that time and they were preparing for the launch of the Global Cities Team Challenge. That program did not involve public funding, but rather it was an opportunity for companies to coordinate with NIST to bring their products to scale.

The cloud world has no borders, neither does capital flowing into disruptive technologies. To facilitate markets and bring the Metaverse online, digital infrastructure must be carefully orchestrated. Picture the transcontinental railroad’s construction forcing the standardization of railroad gauges. In 2017 the National Coordination Office for Networking and Information Technology Research and Development presented a federal strategic plan for “smart” communities for public comment. A detailed response was provided by IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) regarding their efforts to transition governments around the world into smart infrastructures that center, Internet of Things sensors and AI data analytics. IEEE has affiliated cities in Brazil – Londrina and Natal, where they hosted their first smart cities summer school for a week in 2017. There is also a “Smart City Natal,” developed by Planet Smart City, based in London with Italian founders, whose brand promise is new construction planned communities built around affordable housing. They have multiple projects in Brazil, India, and Italy. Stefano Buono, chair, is an investor and physicist who happened to make his fortune in a radiopharmaceutical company he sold to Novartis.

Reading between the lines of IEEE’s comments, the technocratic foundations for social impact investing can be seen in this excerpt “…it is also valuable to map and bind civic issues and progress against these issues with general metrics and indicator systems. This will allow a clear understanding of how elected government is performing in and around “the classic way of working” while allowing digital efforts and requirements, with an initial goal of seeing how these can improve, enhance, or replace classic government methods.”

“…replace classic government methods” sounds a bit like MIT’s Media Lab’s, Cesar Hidalgo, idea that we outsource voting rights to AI digital twins to achieve radical direct democracy.

Underpinning what they term “real-time digital democracy” is IEEE P1451-99, IoT harmonization that bridges devices to different protocols pulsing our personal data through the Metaverse. If you read the description for P1451-99 it speaks of global authenticated identities, authorizations, life-cycle management, interoperable communication, IoT discovery, and use of meta-data to dynamically react to changing environments. It’s vital that we understand that on the Internet of Everything life is just another thing, whether a human life, or a tagged bird or tree, or soil tracked through quantum dots.

With the steady hand of NIST on the wheel, there is considerable money to be made on “smart” infrastructure, the data it generates, and “pay for success” financial deals, fictions built on top of that data. In a sense, market logic compels us to break down our previous mode of living to “build back better,” since this process creates opportunities for capital flows that would not be possible if we simply repaired our existing infrastructure. Last year a piece in Bloomberg by Grand View Research estimated that five years from now the smart cities market, which encompasses transit, construction, energy, healthcare, security, water and assisted living, would be worth over $460 billion. As with post-war reconstruction – destroy civilizations and those with capital can pick up assets on the cheap, holding them until the subsidized rebuild is firmly underway to flip and sell on the upside. Now “the war” is the climate narrative, the Covid narrative, and quiet weapons of frequency and particles existing beyond the average person’s ability to perceive or even entertain if truth be told.

Once we agree to run the world on dashboards, the algorithms will digitally twin the planet – that “smarter” planet IBM was after. Dassault recently created a twin for the City-State of Singapore, the ultimate technocracy. Such a massive program of world-wide digital surveillance would never fly if the technocrats carrying out R&D and policy work acknowledged what it was, a permanent digital enclosure branded as a tokenized commons. Instead, for a decade the efforts of Global Cities Team Challenge participants have been spun as an ambitious program designed to improve lives, especially the lives of the poor and disenfranchised, by making us more “connected.” We are fast approaching an Internet of Everything age in which the natural energetics of an interconnected universe are being overtaken by a militarized web. The engagement we are in is about energy flows; and consciousness, too, but global players in the energy sector are driving a transition to decentralized power, which is anything but “just” or “green.”

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