Image by Mathew Schwartz

THE FAR SIDE OF PATHOLOGY

How to ally with the pathology in a system you build.

Are you serving a group of people as their boss? Founding a new business? Training or teaching a team? Creating a system?

This article may help you with hints on managing a complex system of autonomous individuals - the people you lead. With pathology management, you can make people obey your orders happily and willingly. More importantly, you can transform any disobedience, revolt or ignorance into the tool of your interests. There is no need to fight with resistance by force. Their resistance is your ally, helping you to tune your system to work better and adapt your goals to the real world around you.

Image by Callum Skelton

IN FACT, EVERY SYSTEM NEEDS ITS PATHOLOGY TO OPERATE AND EVOLVE. CREATIVE MANAGEMENT BEFORE THE SYSTEM RELEASE PREDICTS POSSIBLE FUTURE INVALID REACTIONS TO CREATE TOOLS FOR STRONG DIRECTIVE RESPONSES OR INTERVENTIONS AND DESIGN METHODS OF UPDATES IMPLEMENTATION FOR INFINITE TIME. THERE CANNOT BE A HARMONY WITHOUT THE TENSION, REVEALING THE BOUNDARIES OF USER ADAPTATION. THERE CANNOT BE ANY STRAIGHTFORWARD ACTION WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OF POSSIBLE REACTIONS. THOSE REACTIONS DEFINE THE STRAIGHT OR DESIRED DIRECTION ITSELF. THERE CANNOT BE ANY GROWTH WITHOUT OPPOSITE FORCES TO DEAL WITH AND ABSORB THE SPOILS. THERE CANNOT BE AN EXPERIENCE OR EVEN ENJOYMENT WITHOUT PERSONAL EFFORT TO INVENT METHODS OF FINDING, SORTING AND RESPONDING TO OPPOSING FORCES.

​EVEN A SMALL CHILD ENJOYS A SIMPLE PLAY WITH BUILDING BRICKS BECAUSE OF THE GRAVITY, THE FORCE EVER TRYING TO TEAR DOWN THE BRICK TOWER. IT IS NOT THE TOWER ITSELF THAT HELPS THE SMALL BRAIN TO GROW. THE STRUGGLE WITH THE GRAVITY IS THE TEACHER, THE SOURCE OF THE ENJOYMENT AND THE CRUCIAL ELEMENT OF THE BRICK PLAY SYSTEM. GRAVITY IS DYNAMIC, AFFECTING EVERY BRICK IN A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT WAY AND REVEALING THE OBJECTIVE LIMITS OF PHYSICAL LAWS AND SUBJECTIVE LIMITS OF A CHILD'S ABILITIES. TRY TO BUILD THE TOWER FOR THE CHILD TO SPARE THEM OF THIS STRUGGLE, BRINGING THE COMPLETED STRUCTURE YOU EXPECTED SEEING THEM TO ACHIEVE. THERE WILL BE NO INTEREST IN THE ARTIFACT. THE KID MAY EVEN PERCEIVE THE GOOD INTENTION AS INVASIVE, RESTRICTING OR AT LEAST GAME SPOILING. IT'S LIKE CHEATING IN COMPUTER GAMES, WITH THE ULTIMATE LIMIT OF MAKING THE GAME POINTLESS AND USELESS TO PLAY.

THE FEELING YOU HAVE EVERYTHING IN CONTROL COMES FROM THE NEVER-ENDING BUT FINALLY SUCCESSFUL ADAPTATION TO PATHOLOGY, NOT FROM WORKING AND OBEDIENT PARTS OF THE SYSTEM. COOPERATIVE FORCES ARE THE SAME IMPORTANT FOR THE SYSTEM'S ACTION AS THE REACTION TO THE OBSTACLES, BUT - IF THEY ARE IN THE PERFECT WORKING CONDITION - THOSE OBEDIENTLY WORKING PARTS ARE INVISIBLE.

YOU DON'T THINK OF THE HEADLIGHT OF YOUR CAR UNTIL IT STOPS LIGHTING. YOU ARE FACING THE NECESSITY OF YOUR RESPONSE TO THE SUDDEN DYNAMIC PATHOLOGY. YOU CAN IGNORE IT - THE ENGINE WORKS WITHOUT THE LIGHT, AND YOU CAN KEEP DRIVING. MAYBE YOU EVEN HAVEN'T NOTICED IT FOR THE WHOLE LONG DRIVE BEFORE. BUT NOW YOU KNOW AND MUST CHOOSE HOW TO ACT. POSTPONING THE ACTION OR IGNORING THE PROBLEM IS A RESPONSE, THE KIND OF REACTION, WHICH PUTS YOU IN A VERY DIFFERENT STATE FROM THE SITUATION BEFORE YOU NOTICED THE MALFUNCTION. MAYBE YOU THINK THERE IS ALMOST NO DIFFERENCE, BUT YOU PERFORMED THE AWARE ACT OF MANAGEMENT, EVALUATING RISKS, PLANS, MOODS, DAYTIME, TRAFFIC REGULATIONS ETC. YOU HAVE ALSO GAINED A NEW EXPERIENCE, INITIATED BY YOUR RESPONSE TO THE OCCURRING AND CHANGED CONDITIONS. WHAT IS THE KEY DIFFERENCE FROM THE PREVIOUS SITUATION? YOU ARE THE MASTER OF THE SITUATION AND FREE TO USE YOUR EXPERIENCE AND SKILLS TO DEAL WITH IT. IF YOU ARE LAZY AND NEVER CHECK THE HEADLAMP, UNREVEALED PATHOLOGY GETS A CHANCE TO DOMINATE THE SYSTEM AND TERMINATE IT - LIKE BEING HIT BY ANOTHER DRIVER WHO DIDN'T SEE YOUR CAR IN THE DARK. YOUR AWARENESS OF THE SMALL MALFUNCTION ALLOWS YOU TO ADAPT YOUR DRIVING - THE SYSTEM OF YOUR CAR AND TRAVEL - TO PREVENT ANY UNDESIRED DEVELOPMENT AND MANAGE THE FIX OR UPDATE IN THE MOMENT YOU CHOOSE, NOT BEING CHOSEN TO BE HANDLED IN AN EMERGENCY.

DYNAMIC PATHOLOGY PROVES THE SYSTEM IS ALIVE AND CONTINUOUSLY FORCES IT TO REFLECT THE CHANGES IN THE OPERATING REALM, PREVENTING ITS STAGNATION OR BECOMING OBSOLETE. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU BUILD YOUR SUBSYSTEM OF PLANNED AND EXPECTED WAYS OF SORTING AND DEALING WITH UNDESIRED EVENTS YOU PREDICT TO COME. WITH PATHOLOGY MANAGEMENT, YOU CAN RECOGNIZE SIMILAR GROUPS OF UNDESIRED REACTIONS, DISCOVER PATTERNS IN USER MISUSES OR BUGS AND SET AUTOMATIC RESPONSES, WHICH SAVES YOUR TIME AND RESOURCES. YOU CAN ANALYZE THE IMPACT OF YOUR RESPONSES TO TUNE NOT ONLY YOUR PROTECTION OF THE SYSTEM BUT ALSO THE SYSTEM ITSELF. YOU CAN NEVER FIND OUT THE LEVEL OF YOUR SECURITY WITHOUT TESTING OR DEALING WITH LIVE MALFUNCTIONS, PENETRATIONS AND EXPLOITING OR DESTRUCTIVE INTENTIONS. IF YOU BUILD YOUR SYSTEM TO BE ROBUST ENOUGH, YOU DON'T NEED TO PREDICT EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE WAY OF USER BEHAVIOR (WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE). BUT WATCH, LEARN, ADAPT AND IMPROVE YOUR CREATION RUNNING WITHOUT INTERRUPTIONS, AS LONG AS YOU WISH TO MAINTAIN IT.


HACK 010: HONEYPOT CHECKPOINT
 

Disclaimer: Let's pretend we are kids again and play a game of doctors and police officers for a while. In the text below, I am not describing how their work exactly looks like. There might be factual errors (sting operations are illegal in some countries). I am using it to explain how to differentiate subjects and objects of pathology and create control checkpoints for them.

Have you ever experienced an unpleasant or harmful encounter with crime, you being in the role of a victim? You probably reacted like most members of modern society. You didn't take measures by yourself. Maybe you wished for revenge but didn't perform any. No. Because you know there is a part of the system. Specialists in protecting the complex structure of the whole society, enforcing every component to avoid behaviour or misuse other components to gain advantages or control. Those specialists are also supposed to develop tools to analyze and neutralize all kinds of pathology and scale its significance. They must achieve their knowledge of pathology markers (laws) from other specialists. Otherwise, the acting force would transform the whole system into the corrupted exploitation of power and hijack the entire purpose of the security structure, originally planned to protect but not rule or control the system.

Of course, there are many cases of security forces turning to be pathological as a whole in human history. Those cases are irrelevant for the system you are going to build because I assume you will not play with your private totalitarian regime or plan to perform a plot to take over the power from your legitimate government. If so, don't tell anyone and write me a private message - I am curious to analyze your unique experience. However, this article is not for you, comrade. 

Anyway, you went to the police and expected them to solve your case. To find, catch and neutralize the culprits. Maybe you also expected them to punish the evil beings who harmed you and make their lives miserable. This wish is very understandable but wrong. Law enforcement is not supposed to punish anyone or bring to everyone what they deserve. Not at all. There are other specialists for this - people involved in ongoing legal proceedings. Realizing this complexity, you may feel disappointed in your lost influence to restoring justice for your realm. You expected the policemen to be fully involved in solving your severe case and putting their total effort to protect your citizen integrity. You pay taxes for this, right? Let me be a psychic now and tell you how it was - they didn't act like people in detective or criminal movies at all, with actors presenting detectives who are ready to sacrifice their personal lives to solve a case. In your story, the good policemen probably shocked you because they seemed like they didn't give a shit about you. You felt like an insignificant peon or accused the policemen of being ignorant. But the modern law enforcement is way from this concept. Their role is to enforce the law, not educate visitors in local or global security measures and forensic science. To be effective, they must follow their subsystem rules to fulfil their mission to deal with any pathology on a global scale.

They (probably) DID sympathise with you, but you are not the system they protect. You are a part of the system they defend. For you, your case is personal and painful, but imagine every department being fully involved in solving the case of every incoming victim, one by one in a row. It would be lame, with poor results and the crime quickly spreading across the country, finally taking over the whole system and establishing the anarchy highlighted with the law of the stronger. They will not tell you this when you come to report the criminal behaviour you witnessed. They will thank you and create a new input to their system to process it in the way they are organised.

 

It's like when you visit your dentist - for you, your teeth and the care you want to undertake are very personal and unique. Your dentist will probably do their best for you. Still, from their viewpoint, you are just one of the many patients this day, one from the many personal pains and teeth bugs he must fix today, using the infrastructure and tools in his office for everyone and not only for you, even if you request so. You know the best way is to follow the regular doctor visit schedule and keep care of your teeth every day, not coming with a sudden emergency to the dentist when your pain strikes as hell. Because you know this is the most effective way, you will be happily using your teeth without less unpleasant events like this. Coming to your doctor when you feel the pain is much less effective, even with his capacity fully invested in reversing the situation you are bringing in your mouth. No, you are willingly trying to find a balance in your lifestyle, eating habits, teeth care and scheduled preventive visits (if not, let's consider it to be a signal of your other suspected personal pathologies).

Doctors or the police must perform both roles - to respond to emergencies and keep the preventive network of elements, adjusting their professional approach to every input after evaluating gathered data; repressing, observing and analyzing pathology. The best way to keep your body healthy and find justice for you is to let them do their job - to operate their subsystem.

Preventive medical inspections are performed in a doctor's office, which serves as a control checkpoint to filter pathological elements in your body system. You are not the pathology. Your illness is. You are visiting your doctor willingly. It's you who finally decide which pathology is tolerable. Your doctor tells you to lose weight or stop smoking, giving you possible consequences of your pathological behaviour. If you enjoy good food so much, you will probably not give up your gentle gluttony, being just a little over-weighted. Life would suck a lot without tolerable pathologies. But with morbid obesity or lung cancer, there will be a perfect reason to keep a diet or give up smoking.


​When you are not a patient but a criminal, the checkpoints work differently. As a criminal, you are a pathology in the system. You don't want what to be terminated. That's why the control checkpoint built to catch you must be
invisible and tempting. It must be a honeypot.


Sooner or later, your person of interest falls into the security network or a honeypot if one of those two conditions is met:

 

1. Criminal behaviour of the person is insignificant as a single act but performed repetitively. A single small criminal act is not pathological for the system. Usually, it is ignored to spare the capacity to filter the repetitive malicious behaviour, which is more harmful because the repetitive acts need an infrastructure to perform them. They are not a single exploited opportunity or affect but constructed and maintained method to saturate personal pathological need. Imagine a paedophile looking for fresh porn to satisfy his lust. There cannot be "a single act of cyber paedophilia". If so, it's not a paedophile but a person looking for sources to please a curiosity that may be dark but not pathological. The child porn industry creates fresh materials abusing children - this is why this kind of porn is illegal, not the presence of the materials or the horrible taste in porn. Paedophiles didn't choose their burden; there is no evil in being a paedophile but in acting like that. Police officers have automated methods to evaluate it, just maintaining a honeypot constructed to perform the same function as other elements in the criminal realm. The paedophile will never stop looking for new servers and sources because his urge is forcing him to do so. You also cannot expect the SWAT unit to be sent to secure your stolen phone or car, despite how much you are pissed off. More compelling is sorting and responding to people stealing phones or cars by maintaining a thrift shop or a service and then applying forensic tools to investigate severe findings to locate the most pathological root - "the big fish". With this, every observed pathological acting is noted and evaluated by a professional, motivated to be effective in statistics about the crime, not by personal feelings, judging and interests.


2. Criminal behaviour of the person is significant, severe and dangerous as a single act, and immediate responsive action is required to prevent the cumulating damage. If you find yourself as a subject (victim) in a situation like this, this is the state of your emergency, very different from reporting the supposed crime. Your life is in danger. If you aspire to be an object (offender) in this, you must be a real badass or act in a terrific affect to initiate an individual system response for your single input. On both sides, you will experience just a short look at the tip of the iceberg of the robust security system, acting not to fulfil your personal expectations, but serving the whole society, never perfect, but working and constantly developed.

Image by Photoholgic

THE CONCLUSION?

YOU WANT TO KEEP YOUR SYSTEM SECURE AND HEALTHY. THAT'S WHY YOU SOMEHOW ACT AS A DOCTOR AND THE POLICE. IT'S PRETTY COOL TO PROTECT YOUR SYSTEM BY ANALYZING CONTROL POINTS AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE SUBSYSTEMS. THE CRUCIAL IS TO DIFFERENTIATE SUBJECTS (LIKE USERS DEALING WITH BUGS) AND OBJECTS (INDIVIDUALS MISUSING YOUR SYSTEM FOR THEIR PURPOSE) IN PATHOLOGY. CONTROL POINTS SERVE SUBJECTS LOOKING FOR SUPPORT. HONEYPOTS HELP YOU TO IDENTIFY THE MALICIOUS OBJECTS.

YOUR SYSTEM WILL GROW AND DEVELOP NICELY, WITH YOU BEING IN CONTROL, SURPRISINGLY FINDING HOW MASSIVE VOLUME OF PATHOLOGY YOU CAN HANDLE LIKE THIS. YOU CANNOT HUNT TWO RABBITS IN THE SAME MOMENT, BUT YOU CAN WAIT FOR THEM TO COME TO YOUR VERY RABBIT PARADISE, FULL OF CARROTS, SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS AND HIDDEN CAGES FOR SAVAGE FURIOUS RABBITS TO DRAW THEM QUICKLY WHEN YOU NEED.

DON'T PUT YOURSELF IN A DANGEROUS SITUATION WHEN YOU ARE SEEKING THE BIG BAD RABBIT VILLAIN WITH A CAGE IN ONE HAND AND CARROT IN THE OTHER, BUT OVERLOOK YOUR DEAD HEADLAMP AND BEING HIT IN THE DARK. I BET YOU GOT THE POINT ABOUT SYSTEM SOLUTIONS NOW.

YOU CAN BE ALSO INSPIRED BY THIS METHOD TO DEAL WITH UNDESIRABLE EVENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE, OBSERVE REPETITIVE PATHOLOGICAL PATTERNS AND PREPARE NICELY TUNED CHECKPOINTS TO PREVENT THEM NEXT TIME.


NO UGLY BUG OR RABBIT WILL CROSS YOUR PLANS ANYMORE.


HACK 011: LET NAUGHTY ONES BE INVENTIVE
 

​I am happy if you enjoyed our game of doctors and police officers. You have successfully identified the pathological elements in your system. That was the more accessible part, but there is another game to be played now. We must sort those elements to find the proper response to each of them. Let's label three specific groups of pathological users and call them THE BAD, THE WEIRD and THE UGLY. You can create any sorting to fit your needs; this is not a recipe, just an example.

Anyway, you need to study and analyze all malicious groups you identify. You also desperately need them to keep your system alive. There would definitely be no value in system actions without any pathological reaction. Without any development in your responses, there would be no innovation.

We should follow two vectors in dealing with pathological behaviour in system elements, according to the position of the elements in the system structure. The first vector we evaluate is THE ACCURACY. The second vector is THE PERSONALITY. For some elements, only accuracy is desirable in their task performance, with pathological creativity if the personality vector is developed too much. Prevailliance of this vector is typical for social roles like bank clerks, accountants, military privates, industry workers, commercial flights pilots etc. Look for this pattern in the elements you examine in your system. Do you need to be individually variable from them? For the second group of elements, their personality is crucial to satisfy the nuances in demand for their output or due to the competitive nature of their mission. Domination of the personality vector is typical for managers of any king, marketing experts, scientists, actors, artists, many craftsmen professions, politicians, journalists, athletes etc. There can be even pathological to perform too much accuracy for some elements. We should require them to be a little "fuzzy". Imagine a journalist writing correct articles but using the very same structure in every one of them. You even expect to misbehave a bit from a good racing horse.

The accuracy doesn't mean lacking flexibility. This is pathological in all cases. The personality doesn't mean injecting someone else's will into your system. This is also pathological in all cases.

Image by Drew Dau

THE BAD

THE ACCURACY VECTOR AND THE PERSONALITY VECTOR ARE IN THE HARMONY IN THE SUBJECT'S ACTING BUT FULLY IN DISHARMONY WITH THE PURPOSE OF YOUR SYSTEM OR THE SUBJECT. THE BAD TRIES TO EXPLOIT THE SYSTEM IN A PRIMITIVE AND ACUTE WAY, USING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE BRUTE FORCE. THE BAD IS YOUR SALES REPRESENTATIVE STEALING YOUR PURSE DURING A MEETING WHEN YOU LEAVE THE OFFICE FOR A MOMENT. OR A USER TRYING TO MISUSE YOUR APP FOR SCAMMING. THE PROPER RESPONSE IS THE REPRESSION, MAYBE WITH A SMALL TOLERABLE BUFFER FOR YOUR SECRETARY STEALING OFFICE PRINTER PAPERS OR YOUR ACCOUNTANT TAKING A SHOWER IN THE OFFICE EVERY DAY TO SAVE WATER AT HOME.

Image by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen

THE WEIRD

THE WEIRD HAS THE ACCURACY VECTOR AND THE PERSONALITY VECTOR IN DISHARMONY. THE SUBJECT'S ACCURACY VECTOR IS IN HARMONY WITH THE PURPOSE OF YOUR SYSTEM, BUT THE SUBJECT'S NEIGHBOURS SUFFER FROM HIS PERSONALITY. PATHOLOGY IN HIS BEHAVIOUR IS GIVEN BY HIS URGE TO INJECT HIS PERSONAL MEMES (CHARACTER VALUES) INTO THE SYSTEM. A SUBJECT LIKE THIS IS OFTEN THE CASUALTY OF UNNECESSARY REPRESSION, ESPECIALLY WHEN HIS ACTING IS NOT REALLY MALICIOUS, JUST ANNOYING. THIS ACTOR IS ALSO THE LEAST USEFUL FOR YOUR "PENETRATION TESTING". YOUR RESPONSE DEPENDS PURELY ON YOUR BENEVOLENCE AND YOUR EVALUATION OF THE PERSONALITY FACTOR RELEVANCY IN THE SUBJECT'S PERFORMANCE. A KEEN VEGAN MISSIONARY WITH A COMPLETELY TATTOOED BODY MAY SERVE YOU WELL AS A CODER, BUT A HOSTESS LIKE THIS IS UNDESIRABLE (UNLESS YOU NEED HER FOR YOUR TATTOO SALOON PRESENTATION).

Image by Emily Schultz

THE UGLY

THE UGLY MAY LOOK VERY ATTRACTIVE AT THE FIRST SIGHT. THIS CATEGORY IS REPRESENTED BY PSYCHOPATHS AND SOCIOPATHS, HIDING THEIR TRUE ATTITUDES AND MOTIVES SUCCESSFULLY. IT WOULD BE BEST IF YOU REVEALED THEIR ACCURACY AND PERSONALITY VECTORS VALIDITY; USE THE CHECKPOINTS DESCRIBED ABOVE. THE BEST RESPONSE HERE IS TO OUTSMART THE UGLY. LET HIM THINK HE IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOU OR YOUR SYSTEM, BUT USE HIM AS A CONTROLLED TOOL TO EXPLORE NEW BOUNDARIES. THE UGLIES ARE OFTEN SO SUPER FLEXIBLE THEY MAY INVENT FOR YOU SOMETHING VERY USEFUL, WITH THEM THINKING THEY DISCOVERED A COOL WAY TO EXPLOIT YOU. IF YOUR SYSTEM IS ROBUST ENOUGH AND ABLE TO WITHSTAND THIS, WATCH THE UGLIES AND LEARN. WHEN YOU HAVE LEARNT ENOUGH, PROMOTE THEM OR KILL THEM WITH FIRE. 


If you identify pathological elements and the situation doesn't require your immediate emergency response, try to gather more evidence and observe the subject first. Let the naughty one be inventive, trying to go deeper. It's useful for you because it saves your resources. The pathological element provides you with real-life penetration testing, revealing more hidden bugs, limits, back doors, behaviour patterns, other maliciously cooperating or abused subjects (knowingly or not), and other clues. Sometimes something exciting may happen: Finally, you find out the suspected pathological behaviour being innovative, bringing you new ideas or even discovering new solutions you can adjust and adapt. Remember, many widely adapted innovations or today's standard beneficial features were considered pathological once.