This part encompasses Mr. Steele’s view of collective intelligence, hackers’ role in facing information security challenges, and several other relevant matters.
– At The Fifth HOPE in 2004, you predicted an explosion in on-demand tailored intelligence during the following 5 years – to what extent were you right?
– I was completely wrong, underestimating both the idiocy of the public in re-electing George Bush and his nakedly amoral Vice President Dick Cheney, and also underestimating the degree to which Google, Facebook, and Twitter would all refuse to get serious about sense-making. And of course we had a collapse of the economy. As you know, in 2007 I gave the capstone briefing at Amazon, and also spoke at Gnomedex, and had high hopes for Amazon becoming the hub of the world brain, but it was not to be. However, coming back to Crisis Mapping and the pioneering work of Dr. Patrick Meier, while also bringing forward the true costs economics theory and practice that I hope earns a Nobel Prize for Dr. Herman Daly one day, I believe we are getting very close to being able to link all minds in all places with all data at all times – and then do flash mobs and smart swarms on any topic. Put enough eyeballs on it, and no corruption is invisible. CIA had a chance in 1986-1988 to change the world, and chose to blow off its internal iconoclasts. All of the innovation now is on the margins, far from both CIA and Google and IBM – a few exceptions not-withstanding.
– Should hackers go into government to speed up the transition to the new order, or should they perhaps stay who they are so as not to lose positive traits and be more useful to society as they are now?– Hackers tend to be self-taught individuals who lack the educational credentials the government demands. As I and others have found, government tends to grind down or expel the innovators, and is still managed to the lowest common denominator, usually managers whose last bit of education was 20-30 years ago, motel courses not-with-standing. I still believe in government, but I fear that government is not going to change until we abolish it and start over. At this time I believe hackers are best served by inventing new ways for We the People to connect – including an Autonomous Internet that cannot be shut down, see also Freedom Tower and Freedom Box – and to think, meaning raw true cost data as well as tools for analysis and visualization. The secret world has spent over $1.5 trillion in the past 20 years, and it still does not have an all-source desktop analytic tool-kit or a government-wide secure information-sharing and sense-making network, nor has it achieved the >six basic challenges I identified in 1990 (see image above). This is not a technology challenge, this is a cultural and mind-set challenge. Between political bums at the top and bureaucratic followers at the bottom, there is no middle ground where radical change can take place.
– What are your personal goals for 2013-2014 in the context of building collective intelligence?
– First off, I am a pebble on the beach. Collective Intelligence has taken on a life of its own, and the more we can get people to go “all in” on Open Source Everything (OSE), the faster that is going to go. My primary service appears to be as a proponent for a comprehensive architecture, a term coined by Buckminster Fuller. Without analytic models and agreed upon priorities for data collection and data sharing, it will be harder to arrive at collective decisions about anything. This is why I funded the Earth Intelligence Network in 2006, and why I believe the Strategic Analytic Model it developed should be adopted as a starting point for public intelligence from the zip code level on up to global.I am applying for a Yahoo! Fellowship at Georgetown University, and have also applied for a number of jobs in both government and the private sector. On the one hand, having been unemployed for four years while I had no clearances, my first priority is to get a job that helps support my three kids in college and the house – we have been living on savings and my wife’s salary as a government employee. I am globally mobile and have also provided the Microsoft CTO and Sir Richard Branson with some ideas (see right-hand image), I have been blown off by the Microsoft CTO and am told that I should get an answer from Sir Richard sometime in April. The Secretary General of the United Nations and the President of the United States have received proposals from me that I am quite certain they have not seen – the ability of the bureaucracy to block out new ideas is quite strong, in part because today the government – and the UN – operate at the policy level on the basis of who pays to be heard. I continue to believe that we should create a single World Brain Institute that serves as the architect for the World Brain and Global Game as well as the proliferation of Centers for Public Intelligence – hackerspaces for bringing minds and data and tools together – while also championing an Autonomous Internet, open money – I am glad to see BitCoin joining with Expensify, something Richard Falkvinge pointed out to all of us this morning. I tried and failed to get George Washington University to adopt the World-Brain cloud concept and related centers shown here (see left-hand image above) – if there is any university anywhere in the world that would like to do this, I own three of the four URLs and will donate them to a term effort – my briefing to the Washington Academy of Sciences is online.
– Regarding collective intelligence, what criteria will help people evaluate the information they seek? Will security tools for evaluating trustworthiness be essential or will perhaps each individual or community decide on their own, utilizing newly developed skills?
– Long ago, at the Hackers Conference in Silicon Valley, we had this discussion. I vividly remember one of the others saying that the future of information would be closely linked to the reputation of the originator. We are moving into an era where credentials are suspect and the smartest person in the future may be a 15-year-old girl in India that earned her PhD free online… And as David Weinberger has articulated so elegantly in his last two books, Everything is Miscellaneous, and Too Big to Know, not only is all information in the mix, but no one individual can “know” anything. The future of collective intelligence is in the subtitle of my next to last book, INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability.Tools can certainly help – I have been impressed by the advances made in bounded crowdsourcing – trust source can recommend 1-more other trusted sources (e.g. GDACSmobile) as well as redundant crowd-sourcing – 2 or more must agree (e.g. Zooniverse). In the end I believe that individuals will have different levels of trustworthiness across various domains – low on money management, high on hobby specialization, middling on work focus, etcetera. Right now our educational system sucks, employers are decades behind in adapting to changes in everything, and the government is in enemy hands (the two-party corrupt tyranny). For me the bottom line is that human intelligence and human ethics can be augmented and assisted by tools, but as Jim Bamford has put it so ably (see image above), for all its trillions NSA still cannot match a single human brain.