It is a folly of youth to believe that older generations can’t keep up with technology. They can, but they have to really put in the effort. The state of technology is changing so rapidly that even those completely immersed in it have blindspots. Things keep changing faster and faster. As a consequence of this endless and rapid change, our leaders both elected and appointed continue to founder.
Business as usual in Washington is new laws and policies are written by interest groups, and approved along fairly partisan lines. This isn’t new. However, when it comes to issues such as net neutrality, copyright policy, and Wikileaks it has become clear that our leaders don’t even comprehend the decisions they are making, let alone their impact.
Take for example, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore. This man accidentally put together a perfectly logical argument against his own copyright initiative (Michael Geist). The only way this sort of thing happens is when a leader doesn’t have a freaking clue about the proposed policy. You cannot ethically support a law or policy if you don’t understand what it says; what it impacts; and what’s at stake.
For another example let’s look at Darrell Issa (R), the new chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee. Issa argued that US Attorney General Eric Holder should step down if he can’t stop Wikileaks (Reuters). He went on to state,
He’s hurting this administration. If you’re hurting the administration, either stop hurting the administration, or leave
Issa’s statements demonstrate a total misunderstanding of the Internet, Wikileaks, and international media. Why?
Even if the United States were to assassinate every single person who helped, or was involved with Wikileaks, it wouldn’t stop Wikileaks. Months ago, Wikileaks released a 1.4GB file on bit torrent (Wired). The file is allegedly an encrypted version of all of the Cables that have been leaked, and have yet to be leaked. That file has been downloaded by countless people. If anything happens to Julian Assange, the encryption key will be released, and all of its contents will be revealed. Hell, even if the key isn’t released, odds are someone will eventually crack it.
Issa’s understanding of the Internet and cybersecurity seems to come entirely from an episode of 24. This is real life, and sexy magical hackers who can delete a file from thousands of computers with 15 seconds and a mouse click don’t exist.
Regardless of your opinion on copyright law and Wikileaks, the point remains the same. These men don’t understand what they are talking about, and they aren’t alone. They have tons of coworkers who are just as clueless.
It is terrifying that the architects of the future can’t comprehend the present state of affairs.