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Palantir’s software was used for deportations, documents show (techcrunch.com)
126 points by jmsflknr 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments



So? How is software being used to manage the system of national border enforcement interesting or newsworthy?


Primarily because, as stated in the article, Palantir previously denied any involvement in the process.


How is the software being used to manage the system of national border enforcement NOT interesting?


Why is it interesting?


Why aren't there articles about big bad tech companies providing software which enables the control over the flow of goods at commercial ports?


Because people are more interesting than goods, and software that controls the flow of people has more immediate repercussions...


Only because we pretty long ago agreed that it is important for a government to control the import and export of goods at it's borders.

Pay your tariffs, citizen.


>Pay your tariffs, citizen.

I'm all pro-tariffs, and against rampant global trade.

Domestic production boosts autonomy, keeps working class jobs, is more environment friendly (taking into account the externalities in either way), doesn't lead to a wage race to the global bottom, and makes it more expensive to build some stuff (hence reducing consumerism).

I'm also in favor of the historical notion of "citizen" -- e.g. I believe each person has a duty to his country and community (in the "Don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" sense, and in the more historical ancient Athenian sense). I'm not for people basking in their snowflake individuality while still taking advantage of all that his country and community made possibly to enjoy like cheapskates.


I don't think anyone alive today was at that meeting.


Palantir looks like IBM in the 30s but without the technical excellence and all the sales force.


I'm not sure it's quite the same thing as

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust

but still not great


There are people actively fighting the dehumanization and there are people building tools to dehumanize and defend their work. In a movie or artwork which side do you think are going to be portrayed as the 'good guys' and who are you going to be rooting for? That is cognitive dissonance.

This is just more evidence of how the lack of a moral compass has led the software community to not only sell out and build these creepy tools but worse defend surveillance and police state technologies without a hint of self awareness in these kind of discussions.

Without push back and dissent it's only a matter of time the software community is completely tainted with collusion as a group of opportunists with zero ethics by the general public like those collaborating with authoritarian police states against the people.


> This is just more evidence of how the lack of a moral compass has led the software community to not only sell out and build these creepy tools but worse actually defend surveillance and police state technologies without a hint of self awareness in these kind of discussions.

I'd only add that there's certainly a small part of the community that realizes this, in fact the free software movement is also about ethics, however the kind of developers who are aware are usually not your usual Valley types.


I'm not 100% sure that the ethics of the free software movement have a single solitary thing to do with, say, objecting to the sorts of things Palantir's clients get up to. Speaking from experience, F/OSS provides very little control over end user behavior; you can turn down a 'evil' client if you are proprietary but not if you are F/OSS. Not a dig against F/OSS, just a statement that their ethics don't really address these concerns (I'm sure they would have arguments that a greater good is served, etc.)


Sure, but I'd differentiate somewhat between "open-source software", (i.e. ESR) and "free software" i.e. RMS. Which is why I did not use FOSS, but free-software explicitly. Maybe it's even better to narrow it down to copyleft only.

Open-source is not at all concerned with what's ethical. It's free-software made corporate-friendly. Free software certainly is a bit different, if you for example look at the sort of campaigns the Free Software Foundation advocates for, there's a lot of political campaigning that has to do with ethics.

You cannot reasonably restrict software for 'no evil use' as that definition is subjective and open to abuse, but the FSF is definitely more concerned with software ethics than the OSI.


Yes, but neither group seems to regard "oh geez, my Kalman filter code is being used to build baby-killing rocket drones" as part of the range of ethical questions that software licensing might cover. I'm not saying that either group on the free/open source software spectrum should be engaging with this issue or that it would be helpful if they did ("Apache License Variant Number 57, No Babykilling Plz!") but one of the aspects of free or open source software is that you have pretty much zero ability to stop what some folks might consider highly unethical or immoral uses of one's software.


Also, "no evil use" restrictions are subjective, but so what? You could be quite specific here ("no military use", "no surveillance use"). Choosing not to engage here is itself a decision with moral and ethical components (I'm not sure I disagree with it).


When did deportation become a dirty word?

> an operation in 2017 in which immigrants crossing the border were arrested for deportation

Because it is illegal to enter the United States except for at controlled points of entry. This is true of every nation in the world. The power to control borders is part of the definition of sovereignty.

If you don't think it should be illegal to enter the United States at any location, call your Representative and get the law changed.


They also used software from Google, Microsoft, and every other big company. If there's an issue with the agency and government then that's where the attention should be, not with some corporation.

darawk 5 months ago [flagged]

Are we now against all forms of deportation? This is pretty silly.


What, gives the impression that anyone is saying that? What makes this particularly newsworthy is the company's previous denials that it software was involved.


The spokesperson said that they did not work for ERO. The reporting says that ERO agents used the software. There's no contradiction there.


Then it's still an interesting story because it demonstrates the creep of software like this. When you're vacuuming up all sorts of data there's nothing stopping that data being used for a purpose you never intended.


Ya I guess. I mean, if they didn't have this Palantir thing maybe they'd have used Excel. But we've already sort of grandfathered Excel into the "tools taken for granted by civilization" so maybe that wouldn't have made the news.

pjc50 5 months ago [flagged]

Rather like the War On Drugs, it's worth asking what all this life-ruining use of violence is actually achieving.


There are lots of reasons that open borders might not be a good idea. There are certainly reasonable arguments in favor of them as well. But if you're not going to have open borders, then you have to deport some number of people. So, either you're making the case for completely open borders and all that comes with it, or you're in favor of deportation.


> So, either you're making the case for completely open borders and all that comes with it, or you're in favor of deportation.

It's this type of black and white thinking that is so poisonous to current discourse. There are many people that are okay with deporting illegal immigrants, as long as they are treated with some modicum of respect during the process, families are not separated, asylum laws are upheld, and children brought across the border at a young age that know no other place are allowed to stay.

There are pretty reasonable solutions to these problems. Unfortunately, everyone prefers to see only my side versus your side.


> It's this type of black and white thinking that is so poisonous to current discourse. There are many people that are okay with deporting illegal immigrants, as long as they are treated with some modicum of respect during the process, families are not separated, asylum laws are upheld, and children brought across the border at a young age that know no other place are allowed to stay.

Nothing I said contradicted any of that.


> Nothing I said contradicted any of that.

You made it seem as if the people arguing for decent treatment of illegal migrants are somehow for 'open borders', when nobody on the left is seriously talking about having open borders.


> You made it seem as if the people arguing for decent treatment of illegal migrants are somehow for 'open borders', when nobody on the left is seriously talking about having open borders.

Where did I make it seem like that? I said that if you don't deport people, you have open borders. I don't recall making any statements about their treatment, express or implied.

fche 5 months ago [flagged]

> nobody on the left is seriously talking about having open borders.

This is a blatant lie.


Ok, strong statement, any evidence?


>> It's this type of black and white thinking that is so poisonous to current discourse. ...

> Nothing I said contradicted any of that.

On a purely logical level, you are correct. But presenting a complex problem as a binary choice between two un-nuanced options dismisses other significant considerations that people care about. In this case, presenting immigration as a simple choice between deportation and no deportation disregards all the other interests, such as treating people with dignity, creating a fair system, and many more.

Creating false dichotomies is a classic rhetorical strategy, but it is particularly insidious because it disregards any nuance which will be necessary to make any real-life policy work.


Sure, but it's not really a dichotomy quite like that. You can have border controls but not agree to use massive data sifting programs to enforce them. I'm reminded of the Windrush scandal here in Britain where perfectly legal immigrants' children (adults who were born and had grown up in the UK!) and grandchildren were deported largely because the government shifted the goalposts in terms of burden for proof after having destroyed their own copy of their records under a previous administration. Our current prime minister had said "deport first, ask questions later" with respect to immigration policy.

It's clear how automatic discovery of potential illegal immigrants can become problematic in such a "hostile environment". Some proportion of the accused will be false positives, and you can be double sure that immigration hawks are not massively concerned about this. Palantir and companies like it are partly responsible if their technologies are used in such a context.


>> You can have border controls but not agree to use massive data sifting programs to enforce them.

Why not exactly? I don't understand this argument that government should not use tools to enforce laws effectively.


I'd be a lot happier if the governments of the world willingly gave up the capability to pull stunts like that. Bit of privacy for the people and all that.

That being said, if governments are going to use large data sifting operations, applying it to deportations (pretty much by definition non-citizens) first is the logical way to do it.

I think it would be nice if this was going to trigger a bipartisan call for small government - but that seems unlikely. I bet any organised opposition decides the real problem is the people who currently run the government rather than the capability of the government.


Ahh yes, the old “deport all undocumented residents or have open borders” false dichotomy. As if securing a border is possible. Just make it mildly difficult and that’s gonna be the best bang for your buck. Wow! We already solved it!


If you don't deport any undocumented immigrants, you have open borders. It's not a false dichotomy. It is the actual choice.


That's clearly untrue, since it's entirely possible to consider having perfectly sealed borders while not deporting undocumented immigrants. There is no way such a situation could be described as "open borders".


How would you have sealed borders with illegal immigrants? Where would they have come from? And if the border is sealed, why would they not be removed?


They would have arrived before the border was sealed. If you think anything short of retroactively applying restrictions is "open borders", we should discuss the colonization of America.


Well, it seems we simply disagree about the meaning of basic english words like “border” here, so I’m going to bed.


> There are lots of reasons that open borders might not be a good idea.

I think few on the left are actually for 'open borders'. You generally need borders if you want some from of universal heath coverage for example, that's not disputed. The notion that 'open borders' is actually something a significant part of the left is for is a strawman.

What is however problematic is treating illegal migrants in an inhumane way. You don't need to separate families and to hold children in cages, nor do you need Stasi like surveillance to protect your borders. Most are simple visa overstays entered legally anyway.


Families are separated when citizens commit crime. This is a vastly overblown issue that seems to be overtaken by emotions than any rational discourse.

Also surveillance and other dynamic defenses are needed to keep a safe border. What would be the alternative?


> Families are separated when citizens commit crime.

There have been reports of families being separated right as they cross the border. Is that the criminal act you're talking about? Because it in no way justifies separating families in my book.

Also, deporting migrants who were in the US since they were 5, know no other country but the US and now they're being deported say 30 years later, when they have families here etc. is another example of an inhumane policy.


Yes, crossing the border illegally is a crime. Criminals are detained. If you get arrested for a minor crime as an American citizen, you are also detained and separated from your family. This is neither shocking nor unexpected.

The other issue is far more complex. Obviously there must be a cutoff with some path to citizenship for those allowed to stay but this is why strong border security helps by preventing the issue in the first place.


It's a misdemeanor, though, like speeding or public drunkenness. People are not arrested for speeding unless it's particularly egregious, and are not held for months over public drunkenness.


You're only released or skip arrest if you will show up to court, something that's offered to citizens who have no/minor criminal records, no outstanding warrants, and a reasonable expectation of showing up.

The situation is different with illegal immigrants.


Which part is different?

- Do illegal immigrants with families mostly have significant existing criminal records in the destination jurisdiction? The ones that do should of course be treated more harshly, but most do not.

- Do illegal immigrants with families mostly have outstanding warrants in the destination jurisdiction? The outstanding warrant should of course be honored in that case, but most do not.

- Or are we imprisoning people for sometimes over a year, placing their children in (at best) the care of strangers, purely as a mechanism to ensure that they show up to court? Could you imagine the outcry if we did that for speeding?


They are not citizens so don't have the same rights and don't have a legal residence to be sent to so detainment is the only option, other than immediate deportation and skipping any case processing at all.

And yes, even if you are a citizen and you get arrested, you will be separated from your family. If you have children, they will be placed in protective services. They do not go with you to jail. Whether you are arrested for speeding is explained in my prior post.


The U.S. Constitution grants most of the same rights to non-citizens within its borders that it grants to citizens. Things like due process and legal representation are guaranteed to non-citizens within U.S. jurisdiction. There are of course exceptions, like voting, but none of those exceptions are relevant here.

Homeless people also don't have a legal address, but a homeless person won't be imprisoned for a year pretrial and separated from their kids for speeding in the car they live in.

And no, if you get arrested for most misdemeanor crimes, you will usually not be imprisoned and separated from your family for sometimes over a year with no planned method to ever contact each other again. You are just wrong about this. I'm aware of (and rather outraged by) cases where people convicted of serious felonies (in one case, assault with a deadly weapon) are given sentences that still allow them to live with their children most of the time.


It's not speeding or misdemeanor, it's whether you will show up to court or not. Illegal immigrants are not citizens, don't have the same rights, and don't have anywhere to be released to since they cannot be in the country in the first place.

However they do have due-process and have access to lawyers and communications. Detainment is the only answer if you want their cases to be processed, and detainment may sometimes result in families being separated.

Homeless people can be in the country and have the ability to show up in court but they do often spend time in jail and sometimes even commit crime because it ensures food and housing.


You've mentioned rights accorded to citizens, but not to noncitizens, twice now. I can't see the relevance. Which relevant right is guaranteed to citizens, but not to noncitizens in U.S. jurisdiction?

Detainment is not the only answer if you want these cases to be processed. I cite as evidence the fact that there was a backlog of these cases to be processed when the zero-tolerance policy was implemented. If cases were not being processed, there would be no backlog.

Homeless people sometimes going to prison is not relevant to whether or not every illegal immigrant should go to prison.


The right to be in the country. Either they are detained and the case is processed or they are deported immediately. You seem to have no answer to where else to put people who cannot be in the country legally.

The backlog is a resource issue. Precisely the kind of thing that can be helped with better software.


Re: "the right to be in the country", there is no such right.

U.S. citizens do have the (pretty sure only legislative) right to obtain a U.S. passport, which may be presented at a port of entry. Entry may not be denied to someone carrying a genuine and current U.S. passport, though they might be immediately imprisoned upon doing so for unrelated crimes. Entry of a U.S. citizen by other means, however, is just as illegal as a noncitizen overstaying their visa.

Re: "no answer", I had been operating under the assumption that we could take the entire history of the United States prior to April 2018 as evidence that there are other ways of doing things. A variety of solutions were employed prior to that date, with only one solution being employed after. This is sufficient evidence that other approaches are indeed possible.

If the argument is that all of these previous solutions were in fact illegal, then I'm not really qualified to have that argument. Most legal scholars seem to disagree, though.

The backlog is indeed a resource issue. Resource issues are evidence of demand for resources. Demand for these resources is driven by the need to process immigration cases. The backlog is therefore evidence that cases were being processed.


We're going in circles.

They are illegal immigrants. They cannot be in this country so you have to detain them while being processed or deport them immediately. There is no middle ground. I'm not sure what you're referring to as before April 2018 because it's the same process, only the enforcement was worse back then was lacking to the detriment of the nation. Laws are now being followed properly with some adjustments to the queue.

The cases are being processed, and will continue to do so. Better software will only help this situation, along with actually knowing where the person is.


You claim that there was no process change in April 2018? That's certainly a new one to me, and frankly I'm not sure how to have a discussion when we disagree on such basic facts. Politifact (sadly the most neutral source on my first search page) quotes:

>Before Trump came into office, families were detained together, sent back immediately or paroled into the country, said Peter Margulies, an immigration law and national security law professor at Roger Williams University School of Law. Now, prosecution is happening across the board and has become the uniform policy.

Were the options to "[detain them] together, [send them] back immediately, or [parole them] into the country" somehow impossible even when this was being done?

https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/jun/06...


Yea, same process. You just repeated what I said. What exactly do you think is different?

1. Are you trying to talk about separation instead? Detaining together is because many people weren't prosecuted, so enforcing the law will lead to possible separation. From your own article: "Prosecutions were rare prior to the Trump administration... The fact that previous administrations did not broadly prosecute all illegal entries..."

2. Parole is not related to illegal immigration. It's for humanitarian emergencies and granted in rare cases where family is dying or other extenuating circumstances. It specifically authorizes the person to enter and therefore they are actually allowed to be in the country. An illegal immigrant may be granted parole the same way they may be granted asylum and will no longer have an illegal status for the duration. https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/humanitarian-or-significa...

So parole is one outcome of processing but while they are waiting to be processed it is again only 2 options: detain or deport. And detainment might lead to separation during prosecution. None of this is new, it's just actually being done as the law states.


It's an up to 6 months imprisonment on the first commission and up to 2 years imprisonment on subsequent ones[1]. Is there a definition of misdemeanor, which allows crimes (that are not called "misdemeanor" in the text of law) with up to 2 years imprisonment to be called as such? If so - I never seen one.

1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1325


> In the United States, misdemeanors are typically crimes with a maximum punishment of 12 months of incarceration, typically in a local jail as contrasted with felons, who are typically incarcerated in a prison. Jurisdictions such as Massachusetts are a notable exception where the maximum punishment of some misdemeanors is up to 2.5 years.[20] People who are convicted of misdemeanors are often punished with probation, community service, short jail term, or part-time incarceration such as a sentence that may be served on the weekends.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misdemeanor#United_States

Public drunkenness can also be punished by 6 months imprisonment in California (not my state, but many HNers live there). Most cases of such are still "punished" by either a reprimand or being kept in a holding cell long enough to sober up.


Since the federal offense in question is not called a misdemeanor in the law and carries up to 2 years penalty I fail to see how it fits the definition you quoted. Also most cases are not punished by reprimand or short arrest either. I understand that left is pushing the idea that it's as serious as parking violation at most but it takes just few seconds to read the actual law and few minutes to research how is it enforced in practice to realize how inappropriate this comparison is.


The first offense carries only up to a six month sentence. I would agree that the second offense should be punished more harshly. In that case, it is less likely to be a legitimate asylum seeker for obvious reasons, and more likely to involve other illegal activity.

I meant most cases of public drunkenness are punished by a reprimand or short arrest, not most cases of unlawful entry. Previously, most unlawful entries were punished by deportation. Obviously unlawful entry is currently being punished by imprisonment for over a year awaiting hearing, followed by deportation and no plan to ever reunite you with your family.

This seems to be technically legal, but the law surely does not require it.


> I meant most cases of public drunkenness are punished by a reprimand or short arrest, not most cases of unlawful entry.

And that's my point. It makes no sense to equate an offense, which is usually punished by reprimand, with an offense which is routinely punished with months of arrest, deportation and a ban on entry.


I guess that's fair. The laws on the books provide similar maximum penalties, but enforcement is obviously wildly different. I'm prepared to retract that comparison, though I would still maintain that the current de-facto penalties are disproportionate to the gravity of a first offense.


> Yes, crossing the border illegally is a crime. Criminals are detained. If you get arrested for a minor crime as an American citizen, you are also detained and separated from your family.

Right. So you think that a child should suffer the trauma of being in an unknown place without their parents just because they dared to try to cross the border, (without committing any other crime). Ok.

However I am sure you're able to see that i.e meddling in Venezuela as the Trump administration is doing is illegal, immoral and WILL produce more migrants. You can't have a policy that is very likely to result in more US-bound migrants, while at the same time being strongly for 'protecting borders'. Certainly not while maintaining any semblance of moral high-ground or legitimacy.


Respond to the argument please, don't assume what I say or think. Should has nothing to do with it.

Yes, children suffer when enduring crime, war, and hunger all over the world. This is unfortunate but detainment happens because laws are enforced, just like when child services separates children from criminal parents.

Sometimes children are used by people who are not actually their family members (common in the illegal drug trade) and sometimes they need medical assistance. In all cases, using software to speed up detainment and case processing would greatly help reunite children who may have been detained separately.

The second part of your argument seems unrelated. Illegal immigration is still illegal and nothing causes as much emigration as a failed state. Venezuela and foreign policy is a separate topic.


> Sometimes children are used by people who are not actually their family members (common in the illegal drug trade) and sometimes they need medical assistance.

Right, the keyword here is sometimes. Developing oppressive policies that punish a large number of children who are in fact with their legitimate parents is not a great way to structure society. It is generally accepted as being better to let a few guilty parties escape, rather than punishing innocent people.

I am not saying it's an easy thing to solve, but just because something is hard doesn't give you the moral justification to start acting all authoritarian.

> Venezuela and foreign policy is a separate topic.

No, it's not, a lot of U.S. foreign policy has increased the flow of immigrants and thus resulted in the sort of policies we're seeing now. If that wasn't the case, it is unlikely there would have been such a strong push for as draconian policies regarding immigration as there currently is.

That's like saying the US+EU destabilization of Libya, (and now Syria), have no bearing on the refugee flows to Europe from these countries. Of course they do. That in turn is then connected to rising Islamophobia and far-right activism. It's all connected, you can't look at these in isolation.


They are not oppressive policies. They are the exact same policies that apply to citizens already for centuries. This is constantly being overlooked.

Foreign policy increasing immigration does not make illegal immigration ok.


> Foreign policy increasing immigration does not make illegal immigration ok.

No, but it does make you a giant hypocrite when you're complaining about a 'crisis at the border', while perusing policies that make such crisis more likely.


No, you're still attacking my character instead of providing a logical argument.

These are entirely different issues and I want strong border security regardless of foreign policy. Choosing to leave a country, choosing to go to America, and choosing illegal entry are several steps that an illegal immigrant actively takes which are disconnected from border security issues.

Perhaps you should hold the governments and economies of those nations more responsible for their failure. Venezuela was doing fine before the socialist policies that bankrupted the nation.


> No, you're still attacking my character

I was actually talking about Trump and his rhetoric vs actions, which don't support his stated goal, however you apparently agree with him so I guess take it however you want.

> These are entirely different issues and I want strong border security regardless of foreign policy.

You keep saying that they're entirely different issues, but they're absolutely related. It's like if you get a cold because you went out in the winter in just a shirt and then saying that the cold you caught is unrelated to you not being warmly dressed. No, these are absolutely related. Just like the migrant crisis in the EU is related to its foreign policy blunders, so is the US crisis related to decades of meddling in Latin America. If you keep ignoring that, we can't move on.

> Venezuela was doing fine before the socialist policies that bankrupted the nation.

The situation is complex, yes. there's corruption, there's the issue of them having not diversified the economy away from oil, so when the price crashed in 2014, trouble started. Aggravating all this are the crippling U.S. sanctions, which are responsible for 40,000+ civilians not having the medicine etc. they need and dying as a result according to a recent study, the U.N. has also expressed that the sanctions mostly punish civilians and amount to a medieval siege.

The notion that Venezuela was "doing fine" before Chavez/Maduro is laughable. The reason Chavez was elected in a free and fair election, was precisely because Venezuela was not doing fine for large swaths of people. There was widespread poverty and illiteracy, something that was slowly being eradicated before the 2014 crisis. You may want to read "Venezuela Before Chávez: Anatomy of an Economic Collapse", it analyzes the economic situation fairly in detail. "The Shock Doctrine" is excellent for how South America more widely was doing in these times. Not a pretty picture.


Yes I want strong border security. A nation is only as strong as its borders.

Everything in the world is related but can still stay separate topics. Foreign policy may have affected other countries but that doesn't mean it's illegal immigrants are suddenly allowed, which is what we're discussing. Just because traffic lights can increase traffic doesn't mean you illegally run the red lights. Just because health insurance is expensive doesn't mean you can steal supplies from the hospital. All related, all different.

Venezuela wasn't perfect before, but it's a whole lot worse now isn't it? Socialism is attractive as can be seen in the rise of the left because it promises everything to everyone without any sense of reality on how such things are provided. Unfortunately they paid the price and have a long road to recovery now because socialism leads to catastrophe and ruin every single time.


> foreign policy may have affected other countries but that doesn't mean it's illegal immigrants are suddenly allowed

It doesn't mean they're suddenly allowed, but it does mean that you have no (moral) leg to stand on when complaining about how much illegal immigrants are trying to cross the border. Actions have (unintended) consequences. There's blowback. You could have had strong borders, no need for a wall, much fewer agents and no justification for any of the brute tactics deployed, (which there isn't a justification for now either, but would be clear to everybody), if you stopped meddling aboard.

It's not just Venezuela, it's your War On Drugs, it's your financing of the Contras, supporting military takeovers in Chile, Argentina, Syria, Libya etc.

> Venezuela wasn't perfect before, but it's a whole lot worse now isn't it?

No it's not. It's not clear cut like that, however much would you like it to be. As I said before, prior to 2014, poverty & homelessness was decreasing & illiteracy was eliminated under Chavez.

Now Maduro is no Chavez and since 2014 when oil prices crashed, the oil dependent economy collapsed, (they should have diversified when oil prices were high and make themselves a lot less import dependent, they failed to do that), and inflation skyrocketed. Since 2015, when Obama decided Venezuela poses a national security risk to the US, (which it credibly doesn't), the crippling sanctions accelerated the job the oil crash started. Since Trump took office, the sanctions were increased to an even more crippling level, making it hard to import even medial supplies.

> Socialism is attractive as can be seen in the rise of the left because it promises everything to everyone without any sense of reality on how such things are provided

That's not what socialism is, but I don't expect you to know much about it, since you seem to have strong preconceived notions, without being interested in any actual facts.

It's worth noting that Venezuela's economy is actually not socialist, despite what Fox News would tell you. Large swaths of the economy are owned by private capital, who actually play a big role in the currency manipulation responsible for the current hyperinflation as well. Within the broader political debate, it's also worth noting that there's not just economics at play here, but racial politics as well. Notice how the vast majority of the opposition is white, despite that not being representative of the Venezuelan society? Wonder why? Also notice how they're dressed etc. It's a bit of a clue that there's a certain constituency within Venezuela they represent, rather than the population as a whole.

Also, it's interesting how the US is so strongly against any Socialist policy, (still no universal health coverage for example), yet when American financial institutions, car makers etc. are personally irresponsible and fail on the free market, they're being bailed out with public money. Is that succeeding on the free market? And didn't they got themselves into the situation they were in playing the Capitalist game?

You see, no system is perfect, which is why I am personally in favor of a combination of the good aspects of both, simply screaming Socialism == bad is childish, intellectually dishonest and incredibly simplistic way to look at the world.

Bearing all that in mind, I'll reiterate: Venezuela is actually not a Socialist economy. It has a large state and a large private sector. There was no revolution like in Cuba, where everything was transferred under state control, (arguably, the Cuban economy is doing considerably better right now, than the Venezuelan one).

As for the sanctions, why? If the system is so bad, let it collapse on its own on the 'free market', no? But that's not the point is it? The point is to get the assets back under U.S. influence ASAP, which sanctions would greatly accelerate. If the administration truly believed the system in Venezuela is completely unsustainable, there's no need for crippling sanctions. It would simply fail on its own, no need to nudge it, (same goes for the Cuban sanctions btw).

Within the U.S., there are more homeless people than there is the entire population of Venezuela, Flint still has poisonous water, there are cities and areas within the U.S. that have 3rd world-grade infrastructure. You just don't hear about that every day on the evening news.

> socialism leads to catastrophe and ruin every single time

Not more so than free market capitalism does, in fact socialism wouldn't exist if capitalism was so perfect. The fact is that you need a mix of both, no one or the other in their purest form works well.

The Nordic countries seem to have figured out the right blend, which is why their model is never seriously discussed by the right in the U.S. For that, they'd had to confront real facts, instead of just strawmaning and that has proven difficult, because the U.S doesn't even have the 'socialist' policies that have been proven in other Western countries, like single payer, paid vacation, maternity leave etc.

Lastly, before you respond with some PR nonsense about human rights etc. take a look at Yemen and the U.S. role there first, OK?


Your comments have devolved into personal attacks on morality and stances I've never made. Since you're contributing to the billions in poverty around the world, you also don't have a moral legal to stand on. See how unproductive that is? We'll leave it there.


It's not overblown for four core reasons.

1. These families are often permanently separated. In the process of separation they do not keep any records or information needed to unite the families back together. I shouldn't need to offer a reason why this is incredibly barbaric.

2. These families are often denied due process of law. In addition to using legal gotchas to ensure even valid applicants violate the law such as moving ports of entry to ensure they have to illegally cross the border.

3. The conditions that these immigrants are held in are barbaric. Children are denied the care they need and are abused, assaulted etc because there is zero oversight on the detention centers.

4. You're literally giving up all of your privacy rights [1] for the sake of potentially catching a non-citizen. You're allowing the government to massively overstep it's authority and the end result is generally a Bad Thing for your own rights.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19815300


> Families are separated when citizens commit crime

You're equivocating civil and criminal law. Illegal (re)-entry is a civil offense, as it's not directed against a person.

Anyway, the controversy is specifically about the recently implemented Family Separation Policy[1] and the fact that the government claims it does not have the desire or ability to reunite families[2]. This is very new and what most people are outraged about.

Especially since its being used as a political cudgel, as illegal immigration has been declining precipitously for well over a decade[3] with existing measures in place.

The whole debate does have a tinge of irony: illegal European immigrants flooded across the Canadian border, to avoid quotas, after immigration reform passed in the early 20th century; their ancestors are now complaining about the same acts.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump_administration_family_se... [2] https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/29/politics/family-separations-r... [3] https://www.pewhispanic.org/2018/11/27/u-s-unauthorized-immi...


That has no impact on the matter. American citizens who are arrested (regardless of civil or criminal cases) are detained.

This administration is enforcing laws that have already been there. They also reprioritized families with children. Perhaps these pieces should explore just how many of these children are actually related to the group of adults they enter with. Detainment procedures are not as simple as you think. How is software that improves case processing time not a good thing in this situation?

How can you know how many illegal immigrants are here? If you know where they are then they would be detained. They are not taking census. These are basically guesses, as stated right in that article.


It is not a civil offense. It has civil penalties in addition to criminal ones.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/8/1325


> You generally need borders if you want some from of universal heath coverage for example, that's not disputed.

Do you mean that the US can't afford to give universal heath coverage to everyone if the entire world migrated in or is there another reason?


> Do you mean that the US can't afford to give universal heath coverage to everyone if the entire world migrated in

Pretty much. I doubt much of Europe, who already do have universal coverage, would migrate, but there would still probably be too much migration at once to handle with an open borders policy if you wanted to give everyone coming in the same quality of care, (which of course you would).


Worth sharpening up what a "border" actually is and what it means to be "open". Entry and residence are two different things, for example. There is also the "interior border" of work permit requirements, proof of social security entitlement, driving license, etc. Simply walking across the border does not make one an American.


Totally agree. I'm even somewhat disposed towards arguments for open borders. I think there's a great deal of logic to the idea. However, I also recognize that there are some serious costs and considerations that would need to be thought through. And I think basically 100% of the people in this thread who are mad at Palantir over this have thought through precisely zero of them.


When the number of people who want to live in your country is more than the number of people in your country, border control becomes a necessity.

I'm an Indian national and have traveled extensively. The amount of border control in every country I visited was directly proportional to its economic status. The poorer a country is, the easier it is to get a visa for it, because everyone wants to live in richer countries


I find it useful to answer questions such as this by turning to reductio ad absurdum. What would happen if absolutely all drugs were legalized? We'd probably see an uptick in addiction as well as an increase in premature deaths. I imagine soon after we'd probably see a call for regulation against more addictive drugs as people end up losing their life following one experience with especially addictive (or otherwise dangerous) substances, but the nation would probably not be changed all that much as a whole.

What would happen if we instead simply just removed all borders and let anybody and everybody in? One question that must be answered, to answer this, is what makes the United States what it is? Is it our geography, our resources? I mean they have to play some role for certain, but I think the overwhelming factor at play is simply us - the people. Our views, our values, our culture.

And of course views, values, and culture are not static. They change and migration can indeed help shape these views and values in ways that can be beneficial for all. But taken to extremes, as probably would happen if we simply did away with border controls, migration could end up not enhancing but instead simply replacing the views, values, and culture of the nation. This could be organic and it could even be carried out by hostile actors. China has a population of 1.4 billion. They'd only need send a small fraction of that over the US to obtain complete political control.

So clearly we need some sort of migration control, and deportation stems directly from this. Absence of deportation would not only reward unlawful migrants, but effectively punish lawful ones. It effectively turns into 'please don't enter unlawfully, but if you do - congratulations on skipping the queue, all paperwork, and costs - welcome to America!' In the process of trying to create a better world for everybody, you very much risk doing the exact opposite.


> What would happen if we instead simply just removed all borders and let anybody and everybody in?

OK, so in a US context (and that of several other colonial countries) this raises the question of how that used to be the case, why and when it was stopped, and at what date in history it became the right answer that the current set of Americans were the "right" ones and future arrivals weren't. For example, the Boston Irish are a distinct and not entirely integrated community who in the past have been sponsors of terrorism in the form of overt IRA fundraising. Should they have been allowed in?

(This is not my actual opinion of Bostonians, this is just me twisting historical fact to present the most hypothetical negative case)

Australia used to pay people to immigrate ("ten pound poms"). When and why did they stop?


Migration laws started to be enforced shortly following the Civil War as part of an increasing push for human rights. Perhaps in one way yet another embodiment of the never ending trend of unforeseen consequences. For instance one frequent happening in the US of that time, that still happens around the world today, is that foreign workers would be promised free transport to a great stateside job in exchange for a cut of wages over a period of time. What that often translates to, then and now, is labor slavery for men and sex slavery for women upon arrival.

The first migration act, to my knowledge, is the Page Act in 1875 [1]. It prohibited the import of people for labor without their free and voluntary consent, and gave the government the power to restrict "undesirable" migrants. In this case, "undesirable" was effectively determined to mean Chinese women, whom were disproportionately involved in prostitution and concubinage for reasons the Wiki gets into. Shortly thereafter we'd get our first broad immigration law which excluded felons, people with various contagious diseases, convicts, those who did not directly pay for their own passage (to avoid the above issues), polygamists, and so on.

We effectively enacted labor laws to help enforce human rights, and that was not just a pretext. It remains, to this day, difficult to enforce laws against human trafficking and protect the victims of such. Now imagine this back in the 19th century! In modern times we've also changed a lot that's made migration a much more complex issue. Two very big issues:

-----

1) In times past there were negligible to no social programs. If you didn't earn enough money to feed yourself, you'd starve. Today we of course do not let that happen, but that changes one big thing. It creates a social responsibility for each person that comes to the country, which in turn drives a motivation to ensure a certain 'quality' of migrant, which may be unfair. For instance it's trivial to migrate to the US if you have money. On the other hand somebody who genuinely wants to move here and work and be a productive member of society, but has no resources, is going to face difficulties migrating.

2) Transportation used to be extremely expensive. Now it's cheap. Imagine if a place like Finland started a meaningful basic income program available to any resident (and not just citizens), tomorrow. By next week they'd see their population swell with millions of migrants to the point that their nation would be forced into complete insolvency destroying their program (and country) in the process. In times past traveling between continents had absolutely enormous barriers to entry. This meant far fewer people did it which, in turn, kept supply low and demand high. Now there are near 0 barriers to entry (beyond local migration controls) for migration.

-----

Migration, for a mix of reasons - many of them fully well intentioned, has just become much more complex. And anyhow looking back at history, I don't think it's any specific group. The Irish, rolling with your example, were not just openly accepted. There was substantial discrimination and other issues between Protestants (majority of Americans at the time) and Catholics (majority of Irish/German migrants). For instance JFK being a Catholic was a very big deal, and that was in 1960! And there was also of course the stereotype of a drunken, violent, criminally inclined Irishman. 'NINA' = No Irish Need Apply signs were commonplace. There were also things such as the "Know Nothing" movement [2] which was geared largely against Irish and German migrants. But as they rose above the stereotypes entirely of their own volition, and culturally integrated in general, all of this resistance faded over the decades.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Page_Act_of_1875

[2] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_Nothing


It's achieving less illegal immigration which I thought was the whole point


The point is to get rich people elected. Xenophobia is one means to this end, and deportation is one manifestation. I don’t think I’ve met an undocumented resident I wouldn’t fight for; I’d much rather deport citizens who conspire to lower wages, like Eric Schmidt. That’s goddamn unamerican.


We don't arrest criminals because they're bad people. We do so because the behavior they're engaging in is harmful to society. Society has decided that undocumented immigration is harmful to it, it's as simple as that.

You could try to argue that undocumented migration is not harmful - but you'll have to do a whole lot better than "some immigrants I met are nice". Eric Schmidt is probably a pretty nice guy in person too, but that doesn't mean we should tolerate him fixing prices.


> We don't arrest criminals because they're bad people. We do so because the behavior they're engaging in is harmful to society.

This is not right. We don't make arrests just based on harms to society, we also consider ease of enforcement and likelihood of winning in court. Governments generally don't pass laws that are impossible to enforce, as it hurts their credibility as a source of power.

Accordingly, arresting illegal immigrants is relatively easy, you can catch them red-handed crossing the border, and they generally don't have the means to put up a fight.

In contrast, financial crimes, which often cause far more harm to society in both monetary value and trust in institutions, is far more difficult to enforce. The accused do have the means to a full legal defense, and they fight hard.

As a result, some types of crimes that cause far more harm to society go entirely unpunished, where easy targets face the full weight of the law.


> This is not right. We don't make arrests just based on harms to society, we also consider ease of enforcement and likelihood of winning in court. Governments generally don't pass laws that are impossible to enforce, as it hurts their credibility as a source of power.

Government passes laws like that all the time. See: drugs and prostitution for two easy examples.

> In contrast, financial crimes, which often cause far more harm to society in both monetary value and trust in institutions, is far more difficult to enforce. The accused do have the means to a full legal defense, and they fight hard.

Financial crimes are actually much easier to enforce. Our system is designed specifically so that they are difficult to enforce. But that is a question of system design. Immigration is hard to enforce because of the fundamental physics.

But i'm not sure what this has to do with anything.


> drugs and prostitution for two easy examples.

Yes, the other great examples where the amount of violence used might outweigh the actual harm, and the violence gets mostly used against people who might be considered to be the victims ...


>This is not right. We don't make arrests just based on harms to society, we also consider ease of enforcement and likelihood of winning in court. Governments generally don't pass laws that are impossible to enforce, as it hurts their credibility as a source of power.

Which is inconsequential to the parent's argument, as arresting illegal immigrants does not fall into that category.

>As a result, some types of crimes that cause far more harm to society go entirely unpunished, where easy targets face the full weight of the law.

That happens all the time, yes (actually there's an ancient quote about this "Laws are like spider-webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones").


>> We don't make arrests just based on harms to society, we also consider ease of enforcement and likelihood of winning ...

> Which is inconsequential to the parent's argument, as arresting illegal immigrants does not fall into that category.

The parent was saying that we enforce laws that cause social harm, and that's why we arrest immigrants. I am suggesting that social harm is not the only reason we arrest immigrants, we do it because it's easy. If social harm was the primary concern, we would be focusing on far more harmful criminals.


There's also a matter of whether a nation prioritizes its own people over foreigners that e.g. want to be immigrants.

If it doesn't (at least to some degree) then it doesn't make much sense for it to exist as a sovereign nation (in the trivial case, everybody could come in that wants it at anytime).

If it does, some discrimination and sending back of illegal immigrants is inevitable.

The situation is a little trickier for the US though, because itself is a hodgepodge nation made up of immigrants (were most conventional nations have a larger degree of homogeneity). So it can't in good faith say "no immigrants" (at best it can say, "no more immigrants, there's enough of us already here").

(Of course those immigrants first got to exterminate the natives and get their land, so the origins of the US is not exactly a success story for peaceful immigration...)


Those stoners keep rioting! Throw ‘em in jail and ignore their skin color.


> Society has decided that undocumented immigration is harmful

No, it hasn't. The only reason the Dream Act didn't pass in 2010 was because of the Senate filibuster (despite Democrats controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency). The Senate, a wholly undemocratic institution to begin with, blocked the Dream Act with its effective 60% majority requirement for legislation.

In 2013, the Senate managed to pass a bipartisan immigration bill, but the Speaker of the House blocked it[1]. Despite there being majority support among members of the House. Why was it blocked then? Because of the Hastert Rule[2].

We should also ask: how did the Republicans have a majority in the House in 2013? Democrats received 1.4 million votes in 2012[3]. Yet, Republicans won because of massive gerrymandering[4]. Ugly, undemocratic gerrymandering.

So if the United States were a more representative democracy, most of the undocumented immigrants in this country would have had rights and freedom already. Even that hate-filled orange turd has become President despite losing the popular vote by 3 million.

Current immigration laws are rooted in racism and xenophobia of the ugliest kind. Grover Norquist said it beautifully: "Historically, opposition to immigration in the United States has been racially and religiously motivated in the ugliest, nastiest way possible"[5].

Pew Research studies have shown that the majority of Americans are pro-immigrant, and want to grant legal status to the undocumented[6]. Moreover, some pro-immigrant folk might still vote Republican due to wanting lower taxes, pro-life views, opposition to large government, etc.

The only reason pro-immigrant policy has not become the law is because a minority is allowed to dictate policy thanks to a bunch of highly undemocratic institutions and practices.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Border_Security,_Economic_Oppo...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hastert_Rule

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_United_States_House_of_Re...

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering

[5] https://reason.com/video/grover-norquist-on-open-borders-and...

[6] https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/01/31/majority-of...


> Society has decided that undocumented immigration is harmful to it, it's as simple as that.

(Parts of) society have also decided that climate change isn't real and vaccines don't work. This is the 21st century, we could at least try having evidence of what the harm is supposed to be.


> The point is to get rich people elected. Xenophobia is one means to this end, and deportation is one manifestation.

And... so is the opposite? Easing immigration laws and enforcement = more democratic votes. So clearly these are both _points_, but they aren't the only point; we are having a national immigration debate for many other reasons than votes.


Some people care about others without an end. Parties are free to exploit this.


Interesting side effect of illegal immigration is lower wages for the lower class. Even legal immigration pushes down wages in the upper middle class. Deportation is not xenophobia but upholding the rule of law, even when you disagree.


Illegal immigration depresses wages because capitalists can pay under the minimum wage. Granting citizenship would increase wages for the working class. I’m fine with depressing wages above that.


It doesn't. Migration will never stop.

It's funny how people like to believe what you hypothesize without anyone having some solid proof.

That is just proof how good the populism of Trump and the likes is creeping into your minds and stops your ability to think rationally.


I have no clue what people envision when they considering a secure border. It’s impossible.


Indeed, it's like people completely forget about such attempts in the form of the Berlin-wall or the border between the two Koreas.

Heavily militarized borders with everything technically possible defending them, regardless of inhumane it was/is, yet didn't stop people from attempting to cross and actually crossing.

Even the great wall of China isn't a good example because afaik that wasn't built to stop immigration, it was built to stop raiding parties.


It doesn't need to be perfect. Nobody is arguing for it to be impenetrable, just better secured than it is.


Murder or theft will probably never stop either, I fail to see your point. I think deporting illegals from US soil results in less illegals on US soil, i would have thought that was obvious, but it could be Trump creeping into my mind and making me think such irrational thoughts.

VvR-Ox 5 months ago [flagged]

Migration != Murder OR theft

Even the least intelligent human knows that.

The term "illegals" is misleading because they don't do anything illegal when they try to find a future for their family that is worth living.

The USA is founded by migrants so there is not even a real "US-citizen" by DNA, color or whatever. The same goes for Germany and other countries - they where founded by immigrants which is consistent with the ongoing migration of mankind.

You fail to see my point because you don't want to understand it. So much is obvious.


Entering a country illegally is a crime in every country, not only in the US.


It's not misleading, entering the country without authorization is quite literally against the law.

You are conflating immigrants with illegal entry. There's no problem with legal immigration.


Deportation does not equal violence...


I'd hazard that the lack of nation vs nation wars over the last 70 years has led to a misunderstanding of what a "sovereign government" is primarily supposed to do.

Control it's borders, territory, and exert monopolist force / rule of law in that territory.

drb91 5 months ago [flagged]

The idea of nationality is pretty silly too.


It's worth noting that nationality is a tool that can be used to justify imperialism.

Get enough people waving the flag and you can really take the quality of debate down a few levels.


It's also worth noting that nationality can bring people together in a common cause who would otherwise be divided by personal, family, religious, and local community concerns. The collapse of nations has caused havoc and suffering throughout history.


Yes it is. If we don't solve this somehow in the next decades I think we'll be very sorry for that.


Absolutely.

There are many aspects of our primitive selves we suppress or condition and educate against in order to have a better functioning society.

Tribalism should be next on the list.

darawk 5 months ago [flagged]

That's certainly an opinion. I figure you'd have no trouble integrating into the local culture and customs of the tribes of Papua New Guinea, then?


Not being nationalist or getting rid of all nations borders does not exclusively lead to you being forced to integrate into New Guinean Culture.

Just because we don't do this nationalized small-minded shit we do right now, doesn't automatically mean we get rid of all roots, cultures, ideas, fears, wishes etc. of each "nation", "culture", whatever.

darawk 5 months ago [flagged]

Did you read the comment I was responding to? It sad "the idea of nationality is silly". Your response to me is a non-sequitur.


Culture and nationality are not synonyms. In fact most countries have multiple cultures. Especially the US as a country of immigrants. Saying the idea of nationality is silly, isn't the same as saying culture is silly.

Edit: changed "nationalism" for "nationality".


Especially the US as a country of immigrants

It is a country of immigrants with a diverse array of cultures. But culture and nation are not independent. There is a core set of principles and institutions that make the US a nation: the constitution, the bill of rights, representative democracy, separation of church and state, and so on. They are part of the culture of the US.

However diverse the communities that live in the US are, they have to support the core ideas that make the US a nation. There are people in the world who do not support those ideas. It would be foolish to have too many of them within US borders.


How, exactly, do Native American reservations and tribal sovereignty fit into your argument? Should they be 'deported' because they don't adhere to all of the core principles of the US?


It seems perverse to think of Native Americans as immigrants and a little prejudiced to assume they are opposed to representative democracy.


To break things down step by step: You said and I will quote:

> However diverse the communities that live in the US are, they have to support the core ideas that make the US a nation. There are people in the world who do not support those ideas. It would be foolish to have too many of them within US borders.

I pointed out that many Native American tribes do not adhere or support many of the core ideals that make the US a nation, particularly considering the US as a nation was founded upon their bodies. You said it was foolish to have too many of those kind of people within the US border. Your argument essentially advocates for their removal.

So should they be 'deported'?


I too will break this down into little chunks.

1) The context of this discussion is immigration. 2) Native Americans are not non-citizen immigrants. They are US citizens. 3) Native Americans should not be deported for failing to support the core ideals of the US.

This seems to me entirely obvious, but I'm happy to make it explicit. You have already alluded to the solution to Native American populations who do not support the US's core ideals: sovereign reservations.


That's not how I interpreted his post. Not sure why you did.


I'll explain why I interpreted it that way. The conversation is about the deportation of immigrants. What I said was said in that context. The reply to my comment was therefore either about immigration or irrelevant to the topic at hand. Grice's Maxim of Relevance tells us to interpret contributions to conversations as attempts at relevance, so I did.

(In reality, I realized that bringing Native Americans into a discussion about immigration and deportation was an attempt to confuse the issues. That annoyed me so I decided to reply as if the commenter wasn't deliberately missing the point).


Though the discussion had long shifted to nationality and culture and was only slightly related to immigration at that point.


[flagged]


Substitute nationalism for nationality and my statement remains valid. The difference between the status of belonging to a nation and ones self-identification with ones nation is not relevant, if my point is that culture is not necessarily related to nations. No reason to become personal. Especially if you are wrong yourself.

drb91 5 months ago [flagged]

Wtf did forced integration come from? There’s cultural variation everywhere and it rarely corresponds with political borders (or happens as a consequence of it I suppose).


Who said anything about forced integration? You suggested the idea of nationality was silly. If the idea of nationality has no salience, then there is no meaning to national identity and therefore integrating yourself into any other human civilization should be completely seamless.


If we use the reverse of your logic, then being a national of X country means you should be able to integrate within any subcultures within that nation entirely seamlessly.

For example, you should be able to walk into any Native American tribe and be able to seamlessly integrate yourself into their culture despite having zero background.


>therefore

Not really. In a whole number of ways. I actually have no idea how you can say this with any honesty.

I mean, are you really arguing that national identity is the major stumbling block in integrating to a tribe in Papua New Guinea.... Here's a hint: Other :tribes: would have difficulty integrating, and they've likely never been introduced to the concept.

Please explain to me how you're so confident while simultaneously so widely and clearly wrong.


I think you had a good point with your first sentence.

It's always good to be aware that people have different opinions and views on certain things.


And I suppose any American should have no trouble integrating into the religious deep south culture?


How does Palantir actually make their money? I know probably a lot though government contracts, but I've never heard of them out side of the comp sci field until now.


Short answer is that they don't - not a profit anyway.

Palantir was one of the very early Silicon Valley firms that were going around selling businesses the idea that "machine learning" and "artificial intelligence" would transform the way they work. A lot of them did buy it, and Palantir ended up with lots of funding (over $2 billion) and a ridiculous valuation ($41 billion at its peak, somewhere around $11 billion now - depending on who you ask).

They tried to build several iterations of one-size-fits-all software to ingest and process data and come up with visualizations and other analysis that they could sell to businesses, but they all failed.

Now, like 15 years later, they are just one of the hundreds of consulting companies that build custom solutions for businesses and other organizations to crunch their data. Their only differentiator is the fat government contracts they get because of Peter Thiel's connections.


Same as other consultancies and software companies. They get hired by other companies for ridiculously high daily wages and sell their platform for recurring fees. E.g. in a recruiting event they demonstrated how they setup their data analytics platform for a chemical plant to optimize production. Most of the work is transforming and structuring the data.


- high pressure sales tactics convince management its cheaper to "buy off the shelf" than build your own

- but we aren't selling you a finished product (didn't we mention that?), just a base framework that needs customization. Cue fly-in-fly-out consultants for exorbitant daily rates.

- to lower costs, why not send your own staff to our "university" for thousands of dollars for a 5 day class?

- hire said staff to become consultants after customer pays for their training. They don't appear out of thin air!

- when customer finally ditches product, blame them for lack of investment and use contacts to complain at highest levels of bureaucracy.

- rinse and repeat.

A tried and tested formula.


Palantir combines those techniques with one extra thing... Government.

Government is far less concerned about money-efficiency, and nobody working in government has a direct interest in profitability (like being a shareholder would). Hence those tactics work all-the-better.


Combine that with the fact that government can't go bankrupt. If some department blows through way more money than it should either it just doesn't get it's job done or it gets more money. Pretty painless compared to what happens to a company that blows through a bunch of money without delivering results.


I wonder what would happen if government departments were allowed to go bankrupt?

Simply say "this is your budget for the year, if you spend more, we'll fire every one of you and sell the office".

And then hire an entirely new team of non-overlapping staff next year.


Buying (a product) off the shelf is the right answer in many situations.

But not when you are not actually buying a product.


I would be interested on how they do that - do they drill down into the processes mixing efficiency, temperatures pressures etc


Yes, they gather data from all possible sensors. This data is aready there though. Their product just visualizes it and their consultants/forward deployed engineers (or w/e they are called) basically create pipelines and transformations to feed it into their visualization service.

I don't remember exactly, but one example improvement was that they detected temperature fluctuations inside the reaction tank (e.g. upper side hotter than bottom) during bad production batches.

This was detected by visualizing the temperature across the reaction time on good vs bad batches.

It's an interesting find, but personally I think the work they have to do to get there is super boring.


Cool at my first job I worked on some experiments that looked at mixing efficiency.


How about Excel? Is anyone using Excel for something bad and immoral? Watch out, Microsoft. Social justice might be coming after you soon.


This is custom software built for these use cases, not something generic like Excel. They're worlds apart


I don't think Palantir has a purpose-built app for immigrant children separation and deportation. As far as I can understand (from the product videos that I've seen), Palantir is rather general-purpose software for data mining and analysis. If it's less generic than Excel then only by a small margin.


Important to highlight because Palantir initially lied about what they're building and what it's supporting. Makes you think about what else they have their hands in


This stupid article should be simply flagged. There is no good discussion can come out of it.




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