Intestinal Fortitude

I originally wrote this piece several days ago after I initially read this opinion piece by Dr. Alex Karp, the CEO of Palantir. I originally wrote this from a place of anger and resentment for a few reasons which will become apparent. I’ve calmed down a bit and cleaned this up some. A few contextual notes, I myself have used the Palantir platform in my defense contracting days and was excited about the potential for good use. I am no longer a defense contractor, and of course the views herein are mine an mine alone (as always).

More context.

On October 4th, 1943, the crew of “Ten Knights in a Bar Room” set off from a base in England to conduct a bombing raid in Germany. Shortly after this image was taken, they, and several other B-17s, were shot down over Nazi occupied France. The members of the crew were forced to abandon the craft and parachute to the ground. Some were met by the local French resistance who aided them in their escape back to Allied territory. Three of the crew were captured by the Germans. I was lucky enough to get to speak with Jim Millin, a POW who was held by the Nazis for two years, about his experience late last year before he died in early 2019. He was the last living member of the crew and I hoped he might tell me more than my grandfather did when I was a young man. Arthur Whalen was the tailgunner on that flight, he died in the spring of 1995. This October 4th I will stop to reflect on how his life the life I share with my family. I often think about the sheer odds that we are here today and all the plights our ancestors faced that we don’t know about – all those near misses with death.

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Anyway, I have an inkling of what my grandfather might think of Dr. Karp’s comparison of a private citizen employee to a Marine or any service member.

I too am a veteran of a foreign war, I served in the Army and was lucky enough to only have one tour of Iraq before ending my military career. As I mentioned to Jim when I spoke to him in 2018, I really can’t compare my service to his. Sure we went out all day and night, but I was on a military base that actually had a pizza hut and a Green Beans Coffee. As I understand it, the entire 101st Airborne Division came back from that tour with high cholesterol which we attributed to the Friday steaks and lobsters flown in from Germany. Jim told me how they lost thousands of peers a day.

I lead with this because of how damn offended I think any veteran should be the  comparison of a Silicon Valley employee’s duty to the duty of a member of the Armed Services. I say that with no disrespect to the private citizen employee whatsoever, in fact I would argue is partially the job of the soldier, literal or metaphorical, to protect the division of industry and state and the citizen’s ability to disagree with their employer.

In the United States, citizens do not work for the state. They owe no allegiance to their employer beyond the scope of the employment contract. While I would never argue that industry and state perhaps get entwined in less than legitimate ways (i.e. lobbying), industry is not supposed to be an extension of the state here. There are other countries where that is less clear. To highlight my point, you might recall a certain executive tweeted something to the extent that all companies will pull out of China; that’s not how this works. At the same time, a certain world power is accusing another world power of leveraging a telecommunications company to achieve state ends. Would I be surprised to hear that was going on the other way, not entirely, but we at least hold up the ideal of some division between industry and state.

Another point, in the military, disobeying orders can land you in a military court and perhaps get you a dishonorable discharge – effectively destroying future career plans. Protesting your employer’s decision and organizing some might say is the right of the worker. The employer’s decision on how to react is theirs.

For example, sometime after WWII, my grandfather was working for the railroad in a more management capacity. There was some sort of strike and he was called to intervene; he would not on his personal ethics – so he was demoted into a lower position. Unfortunate? Yes for him. Unacceptable? Maybe not.

Also, something I infer might be lost on the general public, or perhaps Dr. Karp, soldiers are actually expected to question leadership when we are given an illegal command. Yes, that might land us in hot water for a bit, but in the end following an illegal command will end you up in a much worse place. So we don’t just “march along” to the beat of the drum always as was implied. This is one of those things I feel like most folks do not entirely understand who were not in the Armed Services themselves, media has done a pretty poor job of accurately demonstrating military culture, in days past at least (i.e. the dumb enlisted needs to be supervised and directed by the smart officer who is essentially a shining city on a hill).

This is something in the military we refer to as “intestinal fortitude.” Doing the right thing even when it doesn’t feel great or might not go over well. To be blunt, the concept that an employee who has a moral or legal objection to their employer’s actions should just “serve” as the article seems to say soldiers do, is offensive, repugnant, and actually belittles those who serve as little more than mindless peons.

So that was a big chunk of trigger for me. One last note on being a soldier and I’ll move along (maybe). While we do raise our right hand, I would argue that the borders we defend are second to the ideals. Nations come and go and will come and go, sometimes led by honest leaders, other times not. The literal and metaphorical soldier are motivated to protect the ideal, and in that respect I would consider the employee who takes that risk a soldier in their own life – protecting a value they hold dear.

And that has nothing to do with Silicon Valley dictating policy. One could argue Silicon Valley is dictating policy or the course of the future because of a vacuum in government, or an inability to grasp critical issues. One might argue Silicon Valley is dictating policy through lobbying efforts, but none of those parallels are made in the article in question. Rather the only equation I see here is employees forced their employer to pull from a government contract which is somehow translated to leaders determining policy. I would think this was a business risk based decision and nothing more.

But assuming that perhaps that part just did not translate, that instead the article was saying technology leaders should just stay out of things. Well, one that’s just impractical, and two, is that really a good idea? I’m sure there are legislators who might be able to tell you about the TLS handshake, but I bet it’s not a majority. From an ethical standpoint I think it would be fair to argue that NOT informing legislators, NOT being involved to an extent would be unethical and could create serious harm – which is the opposite of the Hippocratic Oath.

Why do I mention the Hippocratic Oath? Because that is probably what we should be looking to in exactly this situation. The doctor is one of those few positions of inherent trust in society. We trust doctors, we trust healers. If doctors give reason to question that trust, EVERYONE loses.

Is Silicon Valley full of medical doctors? No, but they are deciding the world humans will inhabit, beyond borders. They are determining how people think, communicate, interact, and perceive. You don’t need to go to many product releases or mission statements to see these industries making messianic claims of importance. So wouldn’t it follow those very leaders should not only inform the patient (society at large) but also be responsive, accountable, and at least – do no harm?

Put another way, while you are certainly welcome to consult your own belief systems and apply leeches to your person to eliminate foul winds, night airs, and the like, I would generally recommend speaking to a doctor about the symptom and treatment. If your don’t particularly like their recommendations, you are welcome to seek another opinion.

Here’s the other thing about being in the godlike position of a doctor or a Silicon Valley leader. You don’t get to make the new world, take all the credit, and walk away when it hits the fan. Having intestinal fortitude means taking the accolade along with the criticism and making the right choice – hard or not. But you don’t get to walk away with the money and say you have no responsibility for your choices, actions or in-actions.

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On foreign interference

As some of you may know, I was a member of the intelligence community for about 13 years. I’ve been in the commercial sector now for just about 2 years, and it’s been a welcome change for me overall. It’s just nice to get to come home and talk about your work. It’s also nice to be able to look over my proverbial shoulder a little less.

That said, I’ve been following the Russian interference in the 2016 elections and some of the assertions out there from journalists, cyber security experts, former intelligence community members and of course the U.S. government. In fact, I prepared a piece on this a few months ago after hearing some news commentary on the implications for the democracy and the electoral system. Then the Mueller report came out and pundits abound on various lines of thought. I would like to take a moment to reflect on the warfare piece and the implications for us in some broader senses.

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First, I would like to discuss what I think is the most disappointing piece of the story, the messaging to the public.

On Yelling Fire

Yesterday you came home to find your front door open, your house flipped upside down. It’s not obvious yet what, if anything is missing, but now you probably have a few thoughts running through your head.

First, is it safe to be here? Is there an intruder still in my home? How many? Most people would probably make the wise decision to back away and call law enforcement – assuming they don’t have mixed feelings on law enforcement or perhaps other reasons they wouldn’t want law enforcement in their homes. Still, it would seem the logical option.

So the police have arrived, they are taking stock of the scene. There’s an all clear announced, but is it? Are you sleeping in your home tonight? Is your family? How well are you sleeping? Is there somewhere else to go tonight? Tomorrow night?

As you go through these various mental simulations, inevitably you will start looking to the past – did I miss something? Was there a hint this would happen to our home? Did anything seem amiss recently? And inevitably, you will start remembering things that might of been off; and maybe they were – but there’s no way to really tell.

Meanwhile there’s life to be lived. We need to have dinner tonight. The kids have homework to go over. There’s a work trip next week we can’t get out of. A loved one is ill.

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So what will you do? Here’s a list of things you probably won’t do:

  • Ignore it
  • Say everything is ok
  • Not fix the broken door
  • Not think about moving
  • Not talk to you family about it
  • Not consider an alarm system

Or maybe you live in Lake Woebegone, things like that just don’t happen here – so they must not be happening, right? But it did.

…….

A not funny story you may have heard of, back in 2016 the government of Russia took significant efforts to tamper with the US election – all the intelligence agencies agree this did happen. Yet many if not all officials will tell you, while this happened there is no reason to worry about the integrity of that election or the next; the Russian government did not directly change any vote. True they did sow some discord, but other than that, no big deal – right?

Don’t worry kids, someone broke into our house and it doesn’t appear they took anything, but there’s no reason to question the security of our home – it’s not like they… oh wait, they did break in and do whatever it was they did. 

There’s a point when talking to any victim, be it an individual, group, or country that we must acknowledge systems have been disrupted – in this case faith in public institutions to protect the election (aka the one time many folks participate in government). It’s not just a technology problem, it’s not just a mass media problem, but it is a problem with democracy and we need to acknowledge that. In pretty much any therapy or problem solving scenario we start by identifying and accepting the problem in front of us. Telling rational citizens there is not a problem, that they should trust the system which just failed does not fix anything. If your airbag failed to deploy, would you drive that car?

chef-309934_1280.pngTLDR: Everything is not ok, we don’t know how extensive the damage is because it is still being assessed. The public may never actually know. 

PS: On security around the 2020 elections I recently heard a journalist state something to the effect “since the revelations on Russia’s 2016 election hacking efforts, campaigns are beefing up cybersecurity. While phishing worked in 2016, candidates and their staff won’t click any links next time.” 

Oh really? No one? Right.

………..

We need to increase our mental aperture 

I’ve heard little of the “why?” behind the Russian election efforts. Every reason seems to be bound by time and ego. Each explanation is tied to a narrow window of time (the US election) and a narrow objective (to upset the election, sow discord in the US). 

Information operations is not a new game. In psychology there is a term “theory of mind” which is an ability believed to set humans apart from most animals – being able to think about what others are thinking, and deciding how to behave based on those deductions. Information operations is essentially using theory of mind in an offensive capability, i.e. “Look a unicorn over there!” (steal cookie). 

When nations conduct information operations it may be for short term wins, but many nations take the long-view to getting things done. According to what’s been made public, this was more than dumping pamphlets over enemy territory, this was a multi-pronged, phased effort conducted by a multitude of actors in a multitude of spaces. Why would Russia spend that much time and energy, not to mention potential tradecraft exposure, all over one candidate? 

Now, I’m not a fan of global coordinated conspiracy theories. Things usually tend to fall apart in general once you involve chance, personal motivations, and entropy; however larger tectonic objectives can be influenced by psychological operations if done right. In other words, if the message is believable (or people want to believe), somewhat consistent, and aggressive enough, it can change perceptions which will drive or brake certain behaviors in the global arena. 

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Here’s where I think Russia was going.

Demonstrating the United States as fractured to the extent of being ineffective, not only to the world, but to its own people, damages the notion of American democracy and thought leadership in the world. Holes created by weakening the global assumption around America’s strength and viewpoint, established footholds for competing visions of the future world. The longer the United States is not in a position of strength, the more corrosive the effect. 

Strategic objectives aside, here’s the really neat thing that happened (read: bad thing). By abusing the open communications of Twitter, Facebook, and the internet in general, Russia made a new argument for internet sovereignty by which the United States almost has to condone. If you’re not familiar with the concept it’s basically the opposite of the free and unimpeded exchange of ideas that we promote in the West. While I think most would agree there’s a problem with people shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, this has effectively turned the internet itself into the theater – for better or worse.

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The separation of government and commercial sectors

I recently read this article, “Will the U.S. government draft cybersecurity professionals?” Woah. Full stop.

My initial knee jerk read; every nation that has attempted to strong arm certain professions into serving the national interests has often found itself in a brain-drain situation. Once in a brain drain, these nations have then usually further locked down the ability of citizens and those with specialized training to move outside of the nation’s borders. Strange as it may sound, those in this predicament might have some feelings of resentment towards their home country. Interestingly, the skill set development may also lag as compared to other “freer” societies in which professionals of differing nationalities are able to interact with each other free of long shadows.

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Photo by Maria Pop on Pexels.com

As a former military professional and contributor to the national defense, I would offer the following suggestions and observations to those nations considering how to bolster their talent pool

  1. Carrots, not sticks. Whether you fund the development of a cyber-cadre or seek to recruit them, consider at the end of the day these are people with their own goals and needs. Many look to the private sector for a combination of the following: compensation, work-life balance, culture, ability to innovate, ability to receive recognition in the public space.
  2. Inherent sticks to the position – will USG cybersecurity employees be able to travel abroad, work with international counterparts without the shadow of the US? This is a real concern, not only on the part of the traveler – but the perception of those persons by their peers abroad. How can the USG ensure cybersecurity professionals don’t become a proxy – real or perceived – of the USG?
  3. The recurrence of government shutdowns is doing the USG no favors in recruiting or retaining anyone, let alone cyber security professionals. I went through several as a defense contractor and basically got lucky, but I really don’t like counting on luck to bring home a paycheck. How can the USG ensure employees the work is stable?
  4. Human resources. I really can’t overstate this enough. When you put people through the rungs of the bureaucracy of USG selection and on boarding – not to mention their family (i.e. no relocation assistance, etc), it really can create a wall for the individual who wants to support the mission, regardless of the discrepancy in pay and culture. Make it easy, support the whole person.

So that was my knee jerk reaction. Upon actual reading of the Executive Order I have some more nuanced concerns.

The Executive Order appropriately identifies the lack of cyber security talent – it’s an issue everyone is facing.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here are a few blurbs I found insightful:

b) The United States Government must enhance the workforce mobility of America’s cybersecurity practitioners to improve America’s national cybersecurity. During their careers, America’s cybersecurity practitioners will serve in various roles for multiple and diverse entities. United States Government policy must facilitate the seamless movement of cybersecurity practitioners between the public and private sectors, maximizing the contributions made by their diverse skills, experiences, and talents to our Nation.

(c) The United States Government must support the development of cybersecurity skills and encourage ever-greater excellence so that America can maintain its competitive edge in cybersecurity. The United States Government must also recognize and reward the country’s highest-performing cybersecurity practitioners and teams.

(d) The United States Government must create the organizational and technological tools required to maximize the cybersecurity talents and capabilities of American workers –-especially when those talents and capabilities can advance our national and economic security. The Nation is experiencing a shortage of cybersecurity talent and capability, and innovative approaches are required to improve access to training that maximizes individuals’ cybersecurity knowledge, skills, and abilities. Training opportunities, such as work-based learning, apprenticeships, and blended learning approaches, must be enhanced for both new workforce entrants and those who are advanced in their careers.

Sec. 3. Strengthening the Nation’s Cybersecurity Workforce. (a) The Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretaries), in coordination with the Secretary of Education and the heads of other agencies as the Secretaries determine is appropriate, shall execute, consistent with applicable law and to the greatest extent practicable, the recommendations from the report to the President on Supporting the Growth and Sustainment of the Nation’s Cybersecurity Workforce (Workforce Report) developed pursuant to Executive Order 13800. The Secretaries shall develop a consultative process that includes Federal, State, territorial, local, and tribal governments, academia, private-sector stakeholders, and other relevant partners to assess and make recommendations to address national cybersecurity workforce needs and to ensure greater mobility in the American cybersecurity workforce. To fulfill the Workforce Report’s vision of preparing, growing, and sustaining a national cybersecurity workforce that safeguards and promotes America’s national security and economic prosperity, priority consideration will be given to the following imperatives:

(i) To launch a national Call to Action to draw attention to and mobilize public- and private-sector resources to address cybersecurity workforce needs;

(ii) To transform, elevate, and sustain the cybersecurity learning environment to grow a dynamic and diverse cybersecurity workforce;

(iii) To align education and training with employers’ cybersecurity workforce needs, improve coordination, and prepare individuals for lifelong careers; and

(iv) To establish and use measures that demonstrate the effectiveness and impact of cybersecurity workforce investments.

(b) To strengthen the ability of the Nation to identify and mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and defense systems, particularly cyber-physical systems for which safety and reliability depend on secure control systems, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Energy, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Director of OPM and the Secretary of Labor, shall provide a report to the President, through the DAPHSCT, within 180 days of the date of this order that:

(i) Identifies and evaluates skills gaps in Federal and non-Federal cybersecurity personnel and training gaps for specific critical infrastructure sectors, defense critical infrastructure, and the Department of Defense’s platform information technologies; and

(ii) Recommends curricula for closing the identified skills gaps for Federal personnel and steps the United States Government can take to close such gaps for non-Federal personnel by, for example, supporting the development of similar curricula by education or training providers.

A separation between government and industry is good.

Blurring the lines between the two creates the perception – real or not – that there is a relationship in which one may use the arsenal of the other. While that may work in certain authoritarian regimes it does not reflect the principals of an honest democracy. In security parlance – separation of duties.

There are certain nations which do blur the lines between the two – and its not clear how receptive industry is to that relationship in those places – as the government generally is able to put their own people into those industries – whether by chance or otherwise. The US has pointed to this very relationship in the past to demonstrate the allegiance between a given entity and a foreign power to demonstrate the proxy nature.

Presidential Policy Directive 21 establishes the private sector is responsible for the protection of critical infrastructure. The USG has established the Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) to provide the various industries a forum to discuss threat vectors and a pipeline to the USG, eventually via the Department of Homeland Security, since 1998. One wonders what the need this executive order is seeking to fulfill given the existence of PPD 21 already, which brings me to my next point. When hunting monsters be cautious lest we become monsters ourselves.

My primary concern is this Executive Order seeks to create a mechanism to support an offensive cyber program. At first glance that might seem fine, industry applying its best practices to enable the nation to protect its interests – but who defines those interests today? Tomorrow? Some might say John and Jane Public, but I don’t ever recall seeing them in the room. Yes, the public votes for representatives and to an extent industry with their purchasing power, but it is hardly an equal or consistent say into the day to day activities of the government. Which is all to say this – when the next advanced, potentially society crippling, set of cyber warfare tools gets lost or leaked, who is responsible for the collateral damage? When the power goes out or the sewage treatment facilities stop working, who remediates? Is it the government? Is it the industry who supported and developed said tools? Or is it just too bad for Mr and Mrs Public?

Imagine if the Manhattan project happened today and one of the various large corporations was identified as the primary skill resource? How would the public react before the bomb was dropped? After? This isn’t as far fetched as it sounds – we’ve already seen Google employees and members of the public calling on Google to drop its support of a Pentagon AI warfare program.

There is a certain hubris that I’ve seen occur when supplied with a credential – suddenly one becomes they who knows better. Whether that credential is a piece of paper, a badge or a gun, in some (not all) people there is a tendency to view that credential as a license rather than a form of identification and authentication. When empowered with the resources, the mission, and the authority do we all make the best decisions? The best decisions for who? Well that depends on who matters? Do the people of nation X matter today? Will they tomorrow?uncle-sam-29972_960_720

Industry has enough potential ethical mires on its own without engaging in the quasi relationships this EO seems to allude to. Government would be better served to create its own military and not suggest the development of private militia which might one day compete for power.

Countering Information Operations

For me, one of the most interesting developments in the 21st century so far has been the adaptation of old school active measures to new technologies. If you’ve been awake the past few years you’re probably familiar with it. Short version, the Russian government has taken the internet, psychological operations, and its existing services to build an effective society-cleaving scythe.

Psychological operations and active measures are nothing new. I won’t go into the long history, suffice it to say every nation has engaged in them to some extent over the course of history. It’s cheaper then firing missiles and plausible deniability does go a long way. Today, it’s even cheaper to launch a multi-pronged operation on multiple fronts as the attack surface has expanded exponentially with the emergence of social media. Some, myself included, might even say the use of such weapons against democracies could be a veiled effort to move more open societies to push for internet sovereignty by using the very tool which they believe threatens them – freedom of speech.

If we are to go down that road – mandating all online interactions have some human attribution for identity and location – well there’s a saying about hunting monsters.

Still, that seems to be the path we are on now here in the U.S. Long the champion of an unbounded internet, we now have to contend with what that means – that anyone with the technical know how can launch disinformation and misinformation campaigns with very real ground results – against the entire population with relative ease.

Yes, real ground results – in case you hadn’t heard, false personas and groups literally created the environment for rallies and protests on both sides of the same issue. Divide and conquer?

So what is a democracy (or democratic leaning) nation to do? Close up the borders? Require everyone exercising their free speech to provide proof of identity – regardless of the type of speech? Do we abandon privacy in the name of security, or does free speech – regardless of type – mandate publicity? Do we monitor everyone? If so, will we use that information?

In World War II, my grandfather was a tail-gunner on a B-17 who was shot down over Nazi occupied France. I don’t know what if any relationship that has to the following, but I present it for context of the man. When I was a kid he told me, “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.” Sometimes I think he set me up to be something of a cynic, he certainly set me up to think critically for myself.

So an alternative to becoming the monsters we seek to defeat, encourage critical thinking. Checking sources is fine, but that too has its limits as the technology to impersonate anyone has now reached terrifying levels. Everyone would like you to make you decision in 30 seconds or less, that’s the way everything is served here in the West, but it’s your life – you don’t have to be rushed. Stop, take a breath and be mindful of whatever it is going on between those ears. Who is thinking? Is it you? What assumptions are you making? Do you care about your biases? Why do you believe what you believe in?

Believing in half of what you see and none of what you hear is the best guidance anyone could give in the face of information operations. I don’t know if that was what my grandfather was getting at, maybe he just didn’t want me to be duped by car salesmen – but how different is that?

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Image of the B-17 #42-3538 / Ten Knights in a Bar Room, taken shortly before it was shot down on October 4th, 1943.

Information unchained

The study of the corvid family, specifically crows and ravens, has given cognitive scientists much to think about in the past few decades. While they went down a very different evolutionary path from the primates, scientists have found these birds able to problem solve, build specialized tools for tasks, demonstrate long term memory, observe and employ social contracts, seemingly communicate specific lessons learned across generations, and employ theory of mind. While their biology is notably different, their brains have evolved to pack quite a bit of punch in terms of cognitive load versus brain mass, traditionally reserved for the primates.

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In short, theory of mind is the ability to infer what an other is planning, thinking, observing, wants, etc. Theory of mind is thinking about how another thinks; at the most basic level it involves observing where another’s eye gaze is directed. In the case of ravens, scientists have conducted experiments demonstrating food catching behavior in which the corvids would hide food more quickly and return to hidden food catches less often if they thought they were being observed by another raven. While not conclusive, the evidence across these kinds of experiments lends researchers to consider crows and ravens have the ability to consider the knowledge competitors have or are obtaining, to consider the information available to others, and to modify their own activities to maintain or increase their survival capabilities.

Certainly most people, and probably primates, ravens, and some pets, use theory of mind to navigate life. Theory of mind is essential for complex social relationships, specifically social exchanges, the “if-then” logic rules which humans are fairly good at detecting violations of. Of note, humans in general are particularly bad at detecting violations of logic which are not in the context of social exchange.

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Why all this thinking about how others think? Aside from the obvious advantage of being able to dupe or trick another who doesn’t have the same level of insight or reflection, it functions as a protective mechanism – as highlighted in the food caching experiments. It seems, all living organisms who have theory of mind are recognizing a principle of information – in its natural state it is free, fast, and available to anyone who might be available to observe it. In this classic sense of information, the confidentiality and availability of the information are limited to the observers. The integrity of information would also be limited by physiological considerations of the organism observing, and potentially by its mental state, and history with the observed event in question. Availability of information may also be impacted by the desire of any observers to relay the information in question through some medium, but naturally this second and third order transfer of information can have all sorts of effects on the integrity of the original data.

While observers may participate in modifying the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of any ingested information, at least as it pertains to sharing, not sharing, or altering recalled information, the original information is of course unchanged. The fact that a tree fell in the forest does not change (hopefully) with the retelling or observation of said tree falling, although quantum mechanics brings some questions to the forefront in regards to reality and observation.

Today, technology can certainly make the availability of information fairly close to the precipitating event more “available,” but confidentiality and integrity have seen significant losses for the same reason. Certainly there have been temporary successes in terms of encryption technologies, methods to detect potential integrity issues in relayed information, temporal assurances of confidentiality, but in the scheme of things these advances are of course lost to counter-technologies. As information is capital in a competitive world, one group or another will always attempt to circumvent one or all elements of the security triad. All organisms have biological underpinnings which drive them to do so, to minimize stressors and maximize they likelihood their genes will be successfully passed on.

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Perhaps, rather than investing all this time and energy into maintaining information dominance while actively attempting to undermine the attempts of others to do the same, it is time to reconsider the nature of information. Perhaps information wishes to be free and resists our attempts to render it otherwise; or as some would say, the truth will come out.

We are probably not too far off from being able to look at the quantum nature of information, that is detecting any attempts to change the integrity of information would become apparent due to entanglement. Early experiments into quantum mechanics imply even observation of information changes the nature of the observed, again having implications in regards to entanglement (short version – everything is connected, touch an atom in Wisconsin and one on Alpha Centauri vibrates too).

If this is the case, that the information resultant of a tree falling in primordial Pangea, can be retrieved if for only the technology, then it may well be time to rethink how we treat information, and therefore each other. The ethical implications were always there and only become more stark in a situation where only one society maintains access to the “true” state of information.

If we strive to be a species in conflict, the idea being that competition gives rise to – something, then fine, treat information as capital. If we strive to move beyond a species simply fighting for generational turf, then perhaps we should allow information to move freely more rather than less.

Of course this all fine and good until we reach that fine line between private and public data. The right of the individual to own his or her data, for time to wipe away memories – true and false, is already at odds with a world hungry for data to construct its latest chrysalis. It seems lately the choice has been made by us already, through our collective actions. At the end of the day, progress as a species may be more likely if we begin to change our default perspectives rather than our default environments.