Alexander Nix, the CEO of the controversy-ridden tech firm Cambridge Analytica, is set to release a book detailing the company’s much-debated approach to online campaigning and its roles in major global political events including the US election and Brexit.
Nix says that the book, titled Mad Men To Maths Men, will discuss “our methodology and our approach to communications”. The British firm has come under serious fire since allegations emerged regarding its murky involvement in Trump’s 2016 election campaign, highlighting the firm’s use of ‘psychographic targeting’. This data-lead approach involved information taken from “hundreds of thousands” of American citizens to gain an insight into their personalities, lifestyles and political values. Although Nix does admit to gathering this data “all throughout the 2014 midterms”, in an interview with TechCrunch he assures that “there was no long form quantitative psychographics survey” for Trump’s campaign.
Nix refuses to comment on reports stating that Trump fixer Robert Mercer is a major stakeholder in the company, and says that Cambridge Analytica worked for the Trump campaign because traditional agencies refused to go near the risky Republican candidate. According to Nix, at Cambridge Analytica, unlike the majority of the tech world, which tends to sympathise with the politics of the Left, “we leave our personal ideologies at the door…Because of the dearth of talent, the Republicans were being murdered in the tech arms race. That was the commercial opportunity, that was the one we sought to address.”
As a result of its dealings with major right-wing political movements such as Trump’s campaign and Brexit (which Nix denies influencing), much of the criticism that has been levelled at Cambridge Analytica comes from “the liberal press”, particularly those media outlets who supported Hilary Clinton in the election: “They just cannot accept the fact that Hillary was such an unpopular and divisive candidate…Rather than looking in the mirror, they much prefer to beat up Cambridge Analytica, beat up Trump, beat up anyone else.”
Nix believes that this data-driven style of campaigning is definitely the future of political campaigns, an approach that has been at work in the corporate world and is now being toyed with by political organisations on both ends of the spectrum; the Guardian reported earlier this year that indeed both the Obama and Clinton campaigns employed similar behavioural profiling companies.
Of course, there are many privacy issues at stake in this new era of campaigning, hence the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica, but Nix is confident that in the future it will mostly be “self-regulated through the blockchain…millennials know what’s going on.”
The book will be released in Germany initially but watch out for its international release.