21st Century Threat Appraisal Part2

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Appraisal of types of information flows and how they might affect national security

Appraisal of types of information flows and how they might affect national security

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  • 1. Part Two: Underdeveloped Strengths Civilization should be robust enough to survive, endure and thrive… … even if we miss something. When… not if… anticipation fails. by David Brin © June 2006 Dangerous Horizons Note: this document is a draft in progress, not for general distribution.
  • 2. Dangerous Horizons Part Two: Grasping Our Underdeveloped Strengths
    • In Part One we saw that most potential foes share one weakness:
    • a near-mortal allergy to accountability and light.
    • Information and accountability can be inconvenient to our side, too!
    • But only tactically or politically, almost never across strategic time scales.
    • We often benefit from short-term victories in secrecy-wars (spying, subterfuge, disinformation etc.)
      • But almost never from any long-term secular trend toward a more cryptic world order.
    • Any secular rise in secrecy can only harm us and benefit foes. Such trends are morbid threats.
    • The great irony: our own cryptic tactics can and should work toward creating a more open world…
    • … not because it is “nice”… but because only in such a world do we ultimately win.
    • Four basic types of information flow affect three different levels of society.
    • - worst case: our levels - (or castes) - grow adversarial, limiting information/cooperation.
    • - best case: all levels of society become more robust/energetic/knowing. Adversaries cannot keep up.
    We must develop and augment inherent strengths of a complex civilization that is built upon synergies of accountability and trust.
  • 3. Pause for perspective --
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  • 5. Four general types of information flow affect three levels of society in different ways…
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  • 14. Formal/hierarchical Institutions Protective agencies: e.g. FBI, CIA Arena-Markets for creative competition: Democracy, science, enterprise & courts. The People: chaotic and flighty, but ultimate source of creativity, resiliency, accountability and sovereignty. How does information flow among society’s three levels? And within each level. Trap of human nature: We see those distant from us needing accountability most. Foreign rivals, other social levels, other institutions within our level… Yet we feel we have excellent reasons for secrecy! To refuse information. Evade accountability. Some reasons may be valid! And yet… … yet we all know what comes of that logic, if unchecked. Each part of this civil bargain - every vital trait, e.g. freedom - relies on information flowing like blood. Like oxygen. The true test of maturity? “ Light must shine, even on me. Let’s find a way to do that… while still letting me do my job.” POTUS FBI CIA Congress Courts
  • 15. Dangerous Horizons: Analysis and Conclusion 1. It’s natural for professional anticipators and protectors to emphasize anticipation and protection. Standing close to the problem, we list/prioritize anticipated dangers to throw money at. But these are assumptions. And assumptions are the enemy of good anticipation! 2. The sheer number of potential failure modes guarantees that harm-doers (some even well-intentioned) will hit from a myriad other directions. Especially less-guarded ones. 3. Despite these limits, anticipatory protection is worthwhile! Critical vulnerabilities must be found and guarded. Professionals must do their jobs. 4. But equal effort should bolster systemic strengths that make society robust and resilient. Strengths found “lower” than the professional protector caste. In markets, science, and citizens no less brave or capable than their ancestors. 5. Our plausible foes (e.g. today’s fashionable “terrorists”) all share an allergy to light. 6. In contrast, democracy, markets and science all do better in the open. Conclusion: professional anticipators & protectors should remember the long term goal - - a secular trend toward an open-transparent world. The stakes are too high for self-serving assumptions. Civilization will only succeed if we all participate. If we empower citizenship.
    • Left for another time -
      • Prediction & credibility…
      • Horizons and history…
      • Accelerating change…
  • 16. Citizen volunteers - CERT members, Boy Scouts and guardsmen - were essential during the 2007 San Diego firestorm … as they were on 9/11… … and during ever crisis since the republic began. A lesson we forget at our peril.
  • 17. Further reading: PROBLEMS: Runaway progress and " singularities": http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EOU4RQ The effectiveness of resilient citizenry: http://www.futurist.com/portal/future_trends/david_brin_empowerment.htm An emerging “caste conflict” between professionals & amateurs: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BY2PRQ War, Interdependence, and Nanotechnology http://www.futurebrief.com/miketrederwar002.asp The Democratization of violence: http://www.indcjournal.com/archives/000402.php The rise of regional powers: http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_printable&report_id=317&language_id=1 Security implications of climate change: http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001480.php#more SOLUTIONS: The “Holocene Tool Set” for improving online communications: http://www.holocenechat.com “ Accountability arenas” and improving discourse online: http://www.davidbrin.com/disputationarticle1.html Anticipatory ‘prediction’ as a credibility-measuring tool: http://www.davidbrin.com/predictionsregistry.html Or drop by http://www.davidbrin.com Notice: this document is a draft work in progress, not for general distribution. © 2008 David Brin