Keynote: Richard Thieme
5:55PM Jul 26, 2020
Everyone, I hope you're all having a great hope and I hope that you're staying safe. I just wanted to share a quick story with you a personal story about my first DEF CON. My first DEF CON was DEF CON 10. So we have to rewind back to 2002. There are two events that happen in the background. Two things to consider in the backdrop for this. The first is at DEF CON nine when Dimitri ski lover of was arrested by the FBI, right after his talk, and there was a real fear that at DEF CON, something similar was going to happen. The second big event that happened after DEF CON nine was 911. And let me tell you, that was really scary. And yeah, the mood in the era was quite tense. So I was going to different talks. And I just went to one talk. I can't remember which one it was. And after the talk was winding up and I didn't really have any other plans so like I sometimes do a set and I waited to see what the next speaker was next came up and he starts to go into his talk. And I listened and I found myself becoming quite enchanted and immersed in the talk. And we got to the q&a and questions came up, which I found really, really complex and deep. And I watched with amazement with how the speaker just sliced through them with ease and agility. And as you probably guessed by now, that speaker was Richard theme, and I've been I've attended many of his talks over the intervening years and every talk I go to I come away with something new. And I hope that the I hope that that will be true of all of you today. So it is now my distinct honor and privilege to introduce to you today's keynote, Richard theme.
Thank you, my friend, and I, I appreciate it aesthetics. Rachel Maddow says that Thank you, my friend, and I appreciate it. And I do. You've been a good good pal in this crazy wilderness. We're wandering for a long time. So I will not have any slides, I'm going to talk with you, hopefully not just to you. And I don't have the slides intentionally because they have often functioned like texting and driving. They take 20% of the brain, and they compel you to focus on bullet points, which are the most simplistic way of communicating very little. And I don't want to do that. If you want to write down things, please do. I am available always through the internet, through email, through texting, for any questions you have. But what I really want you to do is think about this, I'm going to be talking about the hacker meritocracy and the methodology it has generated over many years in order to provide a way of dealing with a new challenge, which is not just the pandemic, but all the consequences of the pandemic which accelerate some of the things which the hacker meritocracy and organizations like Non have been trying to combat or FF for some time. So I want you to think about it and ask whatever questions you might have critical thinking. One advantage we have over people who are invincibly ignorant.
And I have learned that life is hard,
but it's a lot harder when you're stupid. So the hacker meritocracy is an object lesson in the evolution of a structure that teaches us how not to be stupid, how to take our essential ignorance into a complex, challenging, ambiguous situation and correct for our ignorance. And that methodology is going to be extraordinarily valuable. So hackers already good hackers and we'll talk about that I know how the word has been bastardized and distorted but you know what I mean, by a hacker, I mean, what it means and the meritocracy is a Collaboratory environment. Which is adequate to the complexity and ambiguity of what we're facing today. And there are best practices, there are best ways to do it. And there are not so good ways. I remember people logging on and saying, teach me how to hack that was not a very good way to learn how it worked better was to do everything you possibly can to learn and know prior to entering into a tentative conversation with the people who are your seniors and worthy of respect. In order to ask a question, which clearly demonstrates that you've done everything you know how to do to solve it, and then you are treated with respect, which you deserve as well and overtime are welcomed into the meritocracy and can move on up.
that was a way of reducing paradigm change. I know that term has been overused, but it's a good term that came into currency mostly when Kuhn wrote his His book on the structure of scientific revolutions, and it is easy to misuse it. And it's easy to discuss paradigm change when you're sitting comfortably in a seminar with a, with a drink. It's much more difficult to deal with in real life and to experience it. Because we all go through the five stages that you probably know of denial and acceptance, from denial to acceptance, including anger, and depression, and negotiation and all of those are evident in how people are dealing with the pandemic. First, it was denied. I don't have to repeat all of the statements that were made from on high that it would go away and not and that didn't even didn't even exist exist. And then people got depressed by it, and still are and angry about it. The anger is misdirected, directed at people who do or do not wear masks, for example, and then you negotiate with it and then of move into acceptance. But I think we're a long way generally from acceptance. These paradigm changes happen the way Hemingway said bankruptcy happens gradually.
And then suddenly, this one
wasn't so gradual by our human standards. It came suddenly. And it is overwhelming. And even though a lot of people have been predicting exactly what would happen to people I knew who worked on terror and bioterror couldn't sleep at night, because they expected something like this to be generated, created and mandated rather than just happening to happen. And it's not unprecedented pandemics have raged before the plague took out a huge percentage of the European population. The Spanish Flu has been in the news a lot is people are looking for analogies, so they can cope. And so we could develop resiliency, and things are bad elsewhere. Syria on the ground did Syria, it's bad in most Americans not that bad, but it's, it's still bad, especially for those of us who have gotten used to privilege, prosperity and have become comfortable in the new digital world where we have dedicated ourselves to evaluating safety, which now includes not only information systems, but actual viruses, which can be transmitted not just through a network. Okay, so what have we become? We want to start with some basics, who we really are right now. A quarter century ago, I've been doing this talking and writing about this kind of stuff for 27 years just about and I wrote a column called Islands and the clickstream and I coined a phrase, real birds in digital cages, and I said that is what we had become. And
nothing illustrates that fact, more
than what you are stating. Right now,
this is a digital cage with its
spatial parameters. But in fact it's a simulation simulation, you might say of a simulation even it's never been more true that we are real flesh and blood birds so to speak. We are a digital cages that some of you might be bots if there are any bots please let me know because I'd like to know how many bots are in the audience at any given time because their questions are usually different. About we're looking at and engaging with this digital construction as if it is quote real. Because it's so familiar. We don't see its bars anymore. Which is one reason is you know, disinformation as well as information is so easy to accelerate today. I so coined the phrase truth and lies are Siamese twins joined into lips. The minute you could tell the truth that is by developing speaking, thousands of years ago, you could lie We know chimpanzees even without speech, do a pretty good job of deceiving one another when there's enough bananas around, they don't want the others to see. So this information is very easy to accelerate. And we are also collected in groups of like minded thinkers, which reinforces groupthink, and gives a semi permeable membrane that keeps out other opposing thoughts or questions. And so those who know how to manipulate us through these digital means, locked us in cages large enough to create the illusion of the freedom of flight. So we feel as if we're free, because we do not see that the large cage is Meanwhile, being slowly turned until we are facing exactly the right direction, the intended direction to see what others want us to see. So we feel as if we can flap our wings and fly. In fact, what Facebook and ads and deep data mining And all the rest are doing, again, as you know, is collecting data, parsing it and collecting it in a way that others know more about us than we know about ourselves is the fundamental revolutionary movement going on in identity. That who we think we are is not who we are those who know who we are on the basis of the patterns of our behavior. Because security or identity is a function not of assertion, but of observation. That's where the hacking mentality comes in. In order to know who someone really is, you have to observe them in action. observe them long enough so that you are not deceived by intentional disinformation in behavior and word which confuses you. Anyway, that's a whole other thing. I want to address how a context or context needs to be seen. In order to turn it into content, on to which you can get your hands so to speak, a metaphor, I call them cognitive artifacts, but they're like building blocks, as new cognitive structures take place in response to the new environment in which we are living. And then when we have them in our hands, we can build shared beliefs and assumptions about the reality. We know we experience because the future that is our action now on behalf of an imagined possibility, is framed by what we believe what we believe to be true. Oh, I want to address some of the many layers of our lives as these contextual systems are nested. A fractal like self similar at all levels, and society and Information Security work are the main levels to which I am going to speak. When I speak of a hacker meritocracy, I speak of a process In which beginners can become experts, beginners need rules. Beginners don't know what they don't know. And when they're learning something in a new domain, they need rules that are free of context. Completely. They need black and white binary rules. And they are told, if you ever taught someone or were taught by someone, and you are a beginner, they are told, just follow the rules. Just do what I say follow the rules. Don't break the rules. Alright, and you do that long enough to achieve a middle level of expertise or competence. somewhere in the middle, you get a level of functionality because you build up your own database of experience.
But if you persist, doing that, you can move into genuine expertise. Now, real experts break the rules all the time, but They know when to break the rules made it very difficult when we first began to build expert systems, we thought that with interviews we could get to heuristics or rules of thumb by which human experts made decisions. And then we could codify them in a whole set of if this, then that, not that set of instructions. And then anybody could become a simulation of an expert by following those branching paths. What
we found out
was that real experts
break the rules all the time, but they know when to break the rules. So we learned that for real experts, there's just one rule, which is if you don't know when to break the rules, don't break the rules. If you do on the basis of contextual understanding of the level of expertise you have achieved, then you break the rules, because you don't even know what rules you're following. I remember a nurse a psychiatric nurse saying when she first started, if you wanted to diagnose whether someone with schizophrenia or not, She had a questionnaire for and and they would have to answer all these questions and then she could codify her response. After becoming expert in that, she said, I don't need any questionnaires. I walk into a room, I can smell it. I know if somebody is schizophrenia, I can just tell or a boxer who has to think about how to respond to a jab over time doesn't think anymore, or a martial artist just is present in the moment in response. So where we're headed, and anon is an example of this, and I want to get that on the table right away. My estimation of Huckleberry Finn, remember Huckleberry Finn of the novel? At the end of the book, you may remember that Huckleberry Finn and the slave, Jim, we're going down the river and toward the end of the book, Huckleberry Finn was confronted With the fact that the slave Jim was property, not his friend as he had come to believe, and that he needed to return him to his rightful owner. Now, if he did not two things would happen in that Bible Belt zone of Missouri, which Mark Twain was writing of you, you were told by brimstone and fire preachers that you would be damned to hell forever. If you didn't do the right thing, which was returned a slave to its owner. And legally, you would go to jail because you were aiding and abetting, stolen property, not being returned to its rightful owner and Huck Finn sat
there all night under
a tree, smoking his corncob pipe. And in the morning, he said, Well, dammit, I'll go to hell, then. I'll go to hell them. In other words, he was an expert at discerning the real moral level of his quandary, and he leaped to a metal level in which it looked to others who kept Rules whether religious or legal, as if he was breaking all the rules. He was in fact, accessing a meta level were breaking the former codified rules. Fact was a higher level, following the one great rule, which was do the right thing. And that's why I say anon, or organizations like it, or hacktivism at its heart, and at its best, it's a way of doing what Huckleberry Finn did. Sometimes it might look like you are breaking the rules, that you might be damned or go to jail. And sometimes, I don't know about damned who knows, but you might go to jail or suffer other more indirect consequences for the powers that be but if you have leaped to that level, it seizes you that acting on that level. As if you almost no have no other choice you do you always do. You act on behalf of that which you know, is what you might call the good and the true? Well, while we're talking about rules in the pandemic, people are trying to follow rules from the past. And they don't apply any longer. Because society restructures itself to hunker down for the long term with this thing, and its economic and social consequences, combined with the uproar over other issues, including equality for all of the kinds of dispossessed people that we have gotten away with dispossessing for so long. those rules don't work anymore. You can see this in political discourse. So much of the discussion of political solutions or actions is in 20th
century terms and the 20th century is done in the
21st century, and we have not yet figured out how to think in terms of the new realities which 21st century presents demands that we think well hackers know how to think on the fly, you may be entering the system thinking the system looks one way the old way. And you soon discover that it doesn't. And that in fact, things that were overlooked or misunderstood or forgotten, can be exploited in order to transform your image your imprint of the system. So that you can operate in the system as it actually is. In so doing you create the very nature of the work a new structure, which couplings hump wings do not even see. They don't know. Okay, I use the word hump Wait, I coined that term as short story
some time ago.
In which I defined it was called break memory. You can find it my collection mind games, you can find it free on my website, in which the masters of society the fall How they see things and they defined it as kind of the hump of a bell curve, a hump, big hump, and at the front were the Masters 10% in the hump, the 80% who I call hump wings, and at the tail or the 10%
we call draves. Now the
Masters keep the dregs so the hump links in the hump will be glad they are not regs just like in Brave New World glad I'm not a gamma glad I'm not an epsilon and therefore will do as the Masters require in order to stay in the hub about whole inchworm kind of moves forward slowly the Masters first building and directing and the hump flings inside well all of us are
humbling some of the time but some are humble
things all the time. And you want to be able to understand that the hump blings don't know when they are hump wings that they So, this raises really challenging questions. It's not your behavior as a hacker that causes trouble. It's your perceived allegiance, cause the people I have known. And as you know, and some of you are at NSA and CIA and DEA and so on, you are doing exactly the same things. You will know how AI works, I think, at a particular level. We all know people who have been about to reveal a vulnerability and have gotten a call, telling them not to reveal it. Cause for example, that this or that intelligence agency finds it too useful these days post revelation and post leaking. We'll know a lot more about that than they did but some of you have known about that for a long time. The very same tools And techniques used in excellent expert hacking used in intelligence and counterintelligence differences on whose behalf Are you not doing it? That's a whole other question, but perceived to be doing it. Bones your soul who or someone else if it is someone else who is so simply engaging, simply engaging with the new technologies that are emerging. We become different. We think differently and when we act differently on behalf of what the technologies themselves teach us, we do things that were literally unsinkable before. Well, where is thinking taking place? We still have the illusion that we are individuals that is mon ads isolated cells have brains and Marvin Minsky said decades ago. No, no, no, no, no, the thinking is taking place on the network. It is a collective, a Collaboratory, a hive mind. And anyone who still thinks only independently without being connected to others in the network. They're a brain in a bottle, like a desktop computer on a table disconnected from the network. They are not really capable of being said, to be thinking at all, because thinking requires the Collaboratory. Fast feedback. And I'll get to those other hallmarks that make hacking, edits most potent, so in engaging,
to skip to the next thing with a delightful story, but we'll skip it.
Because I'm going back to when I started all
this, and truthfully, I saw what was coming back in the 80s. And I started writing about it in the 80s and in the era 90s and back then I was clergymen, which I left 27 years ago in order to participate in this revolution, which I realized was being ignored and I would have suffocated had I taken the jobs that were being offered to me. I had to get out. And I wrote things about the transformation of experience and the transformation of religious experience coming down the line. As a result, the digital revolution I perceived to be taking place. And this was before you understand before the quote, internet before the word cyberspace, leaked out of Neuromancer into common parlance. I went to an editors and publishers conference newspaper and magazine publishers and said, You should know what's coming. You're going to be totally upgraded and, and turned over on your heads. And I was told uniformly You're crazy. You don't know what you're talking about. We've been in this industry for 40 50 years, we know the industry and I said that industry is done. It's dead because something new is coming, which is going to transform it. As it happens, I learned that in those situations when you are perceiving correctly to be called crazy, is a sign of wisdom,
wisdom and sanity are contextual.
And if you say the right thing at the wrong time, you are perceived to be nuts, like poor Sam always right. You know, he said, we can eliminate sepsis in surgery, which is killing so many people if doctors would only wash their hands, but they couldn't think why because they didn't have a notion of germs when he said it and the ridicule poured on him for being correct, was so intense that he wound up in a mental institution. He became so angry and so upset by the inability of doctors to learn from what he was trying to tell them and save so many thousands of lives. And paradoxically, he died of sepsis in that mental institution after a surgery, but nobody could hear him. Nobody could hear what he was saying.
winterset again many years ago to invent a new technology requires society to invent the kinds of people who will use it. And all of our new practices relationships and identities will supplant the old case after case the move to computerize and digitize means pre existing cultural forms will go liquid. If I had an ice cube I would hold it up and you could watch it drip through my fingers. Oh liquid losing their former shape. They are retailer for computerized expression, the new patterns solidify. And both useful artifacts including cognitive Oh, and the texture of human relationships around them because it would be completely different from what existed previous. That's a description of paradigm change. That is a description of what computer technology Primarily now bio and other nanotech and material science and so on and space technologies, which is a whole other story I'd like to address. All of that is going to transform who we think we are, already is already did. thing is to wake up and realize that it has already happened. Because what is going to determine how you do in this brave new world, especially if you wield the true weapons of true hacker them is your intention. intentionality matters more than any other thing. And you have to learn to listen on the edges of these days. The center of the next truth, appears first on the edges and then migrates very, very quickly to be the center of a core system of belief. Every time a new one comes from the edges, it displaces the old center And we find ourselves in a new way of framing reality. What ideas should you be listening for? And it turned to one of my favorite heroes, Robert Galvin. He was the head of Motorola back in the day when Motorola was really
Motorola before it became what it is today.
Excuse me, just clicked on this mistakenly.
Okay, so Robert Galvin was asked what ideas made the real difference because he had breakthrough ideas to transform the technologies by which he worked. He said what characterize them is if we came into a meeting to discuss a new challenge, and everyone immediately agreed on what we should do was always wrong. Well, if you think about what I've said about paradigm change, and I think we'll be clear why because it groupthink if mere thinking collective thinking corporate thinking, the way people learn to be assimilated by a culture or corporation, and learn to not violate its vision, because as Timothy Leary said, you never get the truth from a company member, the higher you go, it's like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where someone you thought you knew it suddenly speaking, corporate speak, or culture speak. You were in that paradigm. And if everybody is in that paradigm and agrees right away, and what is required is a new way of thinking about a new challenge, then it has got to be wrong, because it doesn't address the challenge that confronts you. So you need to listen to people on the edges. And it takes a long time to get there. All breakthrough
ideas, he said began as the opinion of one
or a couple of people, the others in the room, could not hear it. Couldn't hear it because they couldn't believe it. And so they laughed at it. They just laughed because it was funny. Here's something so different from what people thought, which is, as I said, the way I was greeted when I started writing about the computer revolution in the 80s and 90s. People laughed, literally, at what I said, and said, That's insane. That's crazy. God forbid was one comment, an article I wrote, but it's all all become true. All breakthrough ideas. Begin that way. It doesn't mean every idea that people laugh at is a breakthrough idea. But the adverse is true. All breakthrough ideas are often or often most are laughed at. I mentioned Sam always said,
on the other hand, because
it was an opinion of one, it had to be introduced carefully and strategically. In order to To seize the imagination and be translated into action in a group. He created a Technology Roadmap for Motorola. He said one thing we encouraged was that there would be a more than adequate number of minority reports. Did once we elected to the support was on the roadmap, made a decision about what to go ahead and do. We would go back and say, Who did we hear? Who had an idea that we missed because we couldn't hear it, or dismissed it out of hand, who got lost in the noise from being identified? That gave us another iteration. Since maybe we had been too short sighted. He had to see to it that all the influential people had a firm voice in what we ought to be doing. We kept encouraging them to look for more and letting them know that we could support them when they're pointing You seem to be at odds, the majority or dominant or well assimilated cultural point of view. One of our senior people he said, who was an engineer said, you know, we're lucky we had you as the head man of this company for decades, because you weren't an engineer. If you were an engineer, you'd probably have known the reasons why we were pretty sure we couldn't do was being tossed out as a speculative notion. You kept believing that we could do it, and then we would have to go off and try to do it, we would discover we could do it. Important point, because it points to the need of cross disciplinary thinking. It points to the fact that any discipline or domain of expertise, including hacking or engineering, or computer science, or information security or call it what you will, is both limiting as well as inclusive. The better you get at it, the harder it is to see The kinds of insights that come from outside when a woman became president of MIT, I think about 15 years ago, first woman, first woman, first president of MIT, not to have a background in engineering. Her background was biology. You probably know that Bill Gates said if he was studying over today, he wouldn't be in computing, which is a mature industry, he would be in by biology. One of her first addresses was the necessity of the student body grasping, that the only way to learn for a lifetime was to become adept in cross disciplinary learning, to have to develop the resilience and the toleration of ambiguity and even discomfort, go into domains that you know you don't understand or know well, in order to learn from them. When you see the results of that cross disciplinary learning, for example, Bucky fuller developing a geodesic dome by looking at the eye of a housefly and Other examples in which go, the creative light goes on, because two things juxtaposed as in a successful metaphor, show you a new way of thinking about something. And then you are capable of being educated, not by someone else, but by your own experience. And you are capable of participating in life long learning. So engineers are great, but I do. Remember I was doing a talk on exos and UFO phenomena. I do several talks on that because I've explored it for, what, 40 years. And that's a whole other subject, but I was taking it seriously enough because the data was so solid, to be invited to address the astronomers in a suburb of Chicago. And I always like to check who's in the audience when I'm going to be doing a speech, like I kind of have a clue as to who might be out there. Imagine those of you to whom I'm speaking. And I asked the guy who invited me to speak, what kind of audience is it? And he said, Well, they're they work at Abbott Labs and Motorola and Baxter labs. I said, Oh, so that so it's educated that he paused and he said, Well, yeah, but they're engineers. Now, that was his jokes, not mine. He wasn't kidding. Really, what he was saying is to be trained as an engineer, to be trained in computer science is to learn a way of thinking, which is terribly good, and absolutely applicable in all sorts of situations. It's not all there is and therefore a different structure of thinking. It's like, guaranteed by the German poet writer saying, anyone who speaks one language speaks no language. Because once
you start writing a second language, you discover that your very framework your way of perceiving and articulating the world is determined by your language. So have to remember to be open. As George Bernard Shaw said to receive all great truths, he said begin as blasphemy build an openness to heresy, because today's heresy is tomorrow's orthodoxy.
Let me give you another
example. I was doing a talk for FBI actually, and
I was talking about how, as you all know, by now, but then it was new boundaries were going out around nation states. Therefore the real sources of power and influence on us on our behavior, we're coming from a different source. That's a good example of how we didn't have the language to think beyond nations or countries. Then we invented words like transplant transnationals. And all that's like driverless car. It's not a car if it's driverless horseless carriage. For example, dropped the horseless You have to invent new language for these new realities so that we can talk about it. And I was doing a talk for the FBI, and talking about how their mission had changed, not because they got an executive order but de facto, by circumstances that compelled them to go abroad. In other words, you couldn't do the work of the FBI anymore without going into other countries. But the FBI was a Police Organization established in this country to work within its borders. CIA, on the other hand, was an intelligence organization powered and instructed to break the laws of every country except this one, but not to operate in this country. Now, of course, as you know, it often operates in this country, and that slippery slope, beginning after 911 in spades meant that the laws of this country are broken. debt forgiveness, not permission is usually granted. That's a whole other conversation. So I was saying that that had happened. And the FBI guy in charge in Chicago office, he said, bingo, he said, That explains what I'm running into. I said, What are you running into? He said, we used to be able to count on patriotism, to mobilize people to be glad to work with us and work with us as a result. But more and more he said, what I'm hearing people say is, we would sure like to help you but that but is the key to the kingdom. The budget means the sources of their own behavior and power and influence directing it or inflecting. It is not what it was, because the organizational structures are transnational. A friend who went to Davos not long ago, she came back shaking her head she said, Do you know I didn't have a conversation with a single person. have any sense of obligation to a country have built their own ad hoc alternative structures to the
in which the humbling is live. They have built legal enclaves and offshore enclaves and way of doing life not just work, but life. Most people don't understand or know about, but it is shorn of the allegiance they might have had once to whatever nation, they thought patriotically inspired their behavior. And that's because the real results of what they do are not determined by their country any longer. They're determined by actors all over the world with whom they collaborate, and work well. The Hacker meritocracy is just a mirror image, darker mirror image of that because without structure without boundaries around identity to determine on whose behalf we act. We can't know not only who we are, but what are the consequences of what we're doing. So many things become a false flag operation in life, as well as in work and espionage. So, current technologies make even speaking of interception obsolete, because our
technologies constitute the physical framework
the whole informational context in which we live have a pan global society, to the boundaries are arbitrary, and porous and as often as not used, as I said, in 20th century political discourse ways to speak to people where they think they live, but where they do not live any longer. We do literally live in a world without walls, and foreign and domestic have ceased to have meaning Or the meaning they used to have here and their distinctions in the information a world without a difference. So, I wrote this I'm going to read something I wrote because I like to quote me, cuz I say, Oh, you, you were smart information security as one task both offensive and defensive in the intelligence community, sanctions breaking foreign laws, while prohibiting similar activities on American soil, but simple distinctions of foreign and domestic don't hold convergence of enabling technologies, intrusion, perception and panoptic reach, combined with a sense of urgency about the counter terror imperative and a clear mandate from leadership to do everything possible. Defeat and amorphous non state entity defined by behaviors rather than boundaries, orders or even a clear ideological allegiance. It's created an anomalous, ominous, invisible set of conditions that undermine the previous chords, cornerstones of law, ethics, international law, and even religious traditions. Really, there's only one threat to insider threat. Because no one is outside. Everyone is inside some configuration of the network. However, you build the image of the network in your mind and mounted into your brain.
Everyone's an insider.
There's no outside threat, ultimately, because there's nothing but as you know, bays and inlets, and coves along the endless coastline of life today. So how do we give with this? How do we help with this? We need three things. I coined this module some time ago, and I haven't seen a good reason for getting rid of it yet. We need mutuality Accurate meritocracy gives you that you can't do it alone. You need to work with others, you need feedback. The complexity of the systems determines how frequently and how much feedback we need going into and out of the system. And we need to be accountable on clear goals and intentions and,
aesthetics is back on screen and he's doing this with his finger, which either means there's a fly in the room or he wants me to wind up. But there's more to say about that. I've written a lot about it. mutuality, feedback, accountability, check my website. A lot of it is free. All it is free email or text. Any questions that come up subsequently, that you want to discuss? Always out of out of time before I'm out of words. Just be in touch. Thank you. so so much for the privilege of being a participant in this extraordinary event.
Look, if apparently you have another six to eight minutes if you would like it. Oh,
well, hell, you know there is a
question that would you like the question or do you want to continue it? So sure, give me the question. Okay, there's a question come in from vortex org. So is the next stage learning to have collective belief systems at scale? Is this what is happening with the Facebook and Cabret, Cambridge Analytica or internet research agency etc, pushing conspiracy theories and alternate realities? And how do we counter this and help people survive? a
great question it putting your finger on exactly the existential dilemma we all face. And
if I feel like it's a retreating, we're firing it over our shoulders as retreating from the reality that you described. It has become the norm for anybody with appropriate resources, money and intention to build those kinds of systems and create belief systems. You know how people I said digital birds and digital cages, you know how people are being collected into thoughtless aggregations, which are reinforced by repetition. And even professors at good schools tell me they have students who cannot distinguish between the popularity of an idea and its accuracy, because repetition of it through social media has given a currency in their brains. And a conspiracy theory is a conspiracy theorist is a term often applied to me by people who want to disparage and ridicule what I'm saying, but as I said, my track record bears out that I've been right about the big issues. And so it's not a conspiracy for people to decide what to do. Look at their resources, go into a room, plan, execute, come out, do it. That's not a conspiracy. That's how people operate, and the political groundswell of favoring these kinds of lies disinformation. And destruction of the very possibility of civil discourse require a push back. And this is where when I say a nod, I'm really not kidding. But let me tell you a cautionary tale. Gary Webb was the friend of mine. He wrote this incredible series on crack cocaine, the CIA and the conference. And he was destroyed for writing it more accurately than not. And deprived of his career, which was a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. And I called him one night when I was following something that was scaring me. I was high anxiety and I said, Gary, you lost your career by telling the truth was it worth it? And he gave me an impassioned, idealistic speech. If we don't do this, Richard, then they win. We have to do this. Because I know who I was up against. He said they lie they they destroy reputations, they kill people, for a living with impunity. But we have to do it to tell the truth. Well, they so undermined His ability to function that he wound
up killing himself.
His words echo in my mind in the light of that event, it wasn't a CIA plot to kill him. You don't have to kill someone if you take away their motive power and reason for living is the most effective way of undermining somebody. And the fact that 10 years later, the CIA admitted that some of which they had said couldn't possibly be true, was true, because a distance in time means no accountability. People just wait it out, and then acknowledge Well, yeah, we did that. And I can give you a million examples of what's happening all over the political landscape. We have no choice but to learn how to find and trust
partners are worthy of
collaboration on behalf of shared values to protest what will otherwise become the inevitable capturing all of us as in Hungary, as in Poland. As in Russia, and I daresay
some would have here
in order to eliminate civil discourse, critical thinking, meaningful addressing of reality itself facts, we have to call it out whenever we see it, and we have to undermine it whenever we can. If you know a better way to do it, then a non. You write to me and let me know.
There's another question that I think that you would really like. What is your take on all the public UFO Footage being released? Is the government stretched so thin that nobody is monitoring this? Or is everyone so apathetic and less compliant? that they can just dump this footage and not worry?
Well, here as I said, I've dealt with that for 40 years ever since. I said I was a clergyman, and a major fighter pilot heavily decorated told me alone in the church basement. I was his clergyman. He said we chased them away. We can't catch up. I said, Oh, you mean this is real this shit is really said, Oh, it's real. All right. I spent 40 years again, in the template I raised trying to escalate my game to engage with the best and the brightest in a field full of disinformation. And the result was a book in which I collaborated, to which I contributed called UFOs. Government, a historical inquiry, which documents how the government's several responded to UFO phenomena from the 40s to the 80s, in light of genuine national security concerns. So this is a very big question, a big issue, those particular videos, those particular events, which have come out of the Navy, this time, the Tic Tac videos and the like. We've known about those for a long, long time. Unless you're there you don't know if it's an intentional disclosure or an accidental disclosure, but there are people and there has been a to and fro inside various agencies. It's not just one it's all of them. But what do we say about what we know? And what we show in our book and others have shown, demonstrably, we have known from the beginning. We didn't need antilla to say she saw a lighted object come
down behind the
barn and scare cattle to death. Because we knew we had radar. We had sensors. We've been monitoring this, talk to people, Nora, DIY, CIA, NSA, etc, etc, etc. The fact that you know, doesn't mean anything, what you can do is be ignored. I've given over 50 talks on that book, including astronomical societies in the FBI. And people say, Well, how does the government respond? And my response is to stand in silence until they get the quake Quasar joke, it's just ignore it. Don't even counter it. Let it go away, or if necessary, flood the airwaves with disinformation confusion. It requires the things I've been saying mutuality feedback and accountability with the very best minds, looking at the real facts and data of that subject for decades. That's what we tried to do. But I can address those questions more specifically, off line. Thank you so
much for your keynote, Richard, on behalf of hope. Thank you.
Thank you very much for the opportunity. What a great group