Robert David Steele

Knowledge Is Power - Interview: Robert David Steele

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ex CIA-Agent Robert David Steele answered Elevate Festival's questions about news services, secrets and the hacker-scene. #e13knowledge

What does Open Everything mean to you?

For me Open Everything is the equivalent of heaven on earth – God is We, a local to global community in which sharing is the common virtue, and we really do practice the Golden Rule that is touted by all religions but dishonored by those religions that emphasize dogma over practice.

At a spirtual level or ethical level, Open Everything is about trust.  Transparency enables truth, which creates trust.  A Nobel Prize was given some time back to an economist that demonstrated that trust lowers the cost of doing business – or any transactional activity.  We have lost what little trust we once had in academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, the military, and non-governmental organizations.  They have all become corrupt at the top and ignorant across the body.

At the practical or intellectual level, Open Everything is about inclusion.  We cannot create the Whole Earth without first connecting each individual to all other individuals.  I wrote about this in my next to last book, INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, Sustainability.  That book is available free online and I would be glad to see it translated into other languages – the online vesion has more links, all to free information, than any other book I know of.

Open is above all affordable, inter-operable, and scalable.  Open is also beyond humanity.  We are about to see the disclosure of extra-terrestial intelligence, and we have failed completely to appreciate and learn from intra-terrestial intelligence – what the communities of plants and animals can teach us about true cost economics, holistic analytics, and integral consciousness.

Finally, it is important to emphasize that voluntary transparency should not be confused with mandated nakedness.  For me the 80-20 rule has always been a practical measure.  We should have free and open access to 80% of the information on the planet, in all languages and all mediums, but with the creator of the information always been „root“ and always having the right to be recognized as the author and to assign Creative Commons conditions as they might see fit.  I admire Rickard Falkvinge, he has done a great deal to illuminate the Satanic, selfish, and ultimately destructive nature of copyright and patent laws used to destroy knowledge rather than share knowledge.  Of course Lawrence Lessig and all hackers – from Hac-Tic and the Chaos Computer Club to Hackers on Planet Earth (East Coast USA) and the Hackers Conference (West Coast USA) merit special appreciation.  A good hack is about doing the right thing better.  Our governments, corporations, and other forms of organization are corrupt and retarded – they persist in doing the wrong things righter, because that is what rewards the few over the many.  It’s time we put a stop to that by boycotting all evil (Monsanto and Google, for example) and redirecting ourselves to organic local – know your farmer – and the Autonomous Internet Roadmap, among other examples.


In which fields do you think Openness is particularly important? Which current developments are significant there? Which challenges and opportunities arise?

The seed crystal for human progress is the individual human brain, soul, and heart mix that we enjoy in infinite diversity.  Put another way, the one infinite resource we have on Earth is the human brain.  Right now we are disgracing ourselves by treating the five billion poor humans as disposable „non-pesons“ whose lives are inconsequential.  What this really means is that we are both ignoring the four trillion a year annual economy that the poor represent (four times the one trillion economy of the one billion rich), and we are also ignoring the infinite wealth that the aggregate brains of these four billion are capable of producing.  Education, Intelligence (Decision-Support) and Research are the center of gravity for human advancement.  I will mention just two reference points.  The first is Will Durant, whose 1916 doctoral thesis, Philosophy and the Social Problem, remains in my view the single best guide to why every nation, every tribe, every society, is only as good as its educational process for all – not the education of the elite, who learn how to steal discreetly, but rather the education of the common person, who must learn how to live responsibly and create shared wealth including wealth in the arts.  The second is Rickard Falkvinge in Sweden, co-founder of the Pirate Party, who just edges out Lawrence Lessig, creator of Creative Commons concepts.  Copyright and patent laws today are an atrocity, a crime against humanity.  What we have allowed dishonest governments and greedy corporations to do to knowledge – locking it up, ruthlessly imposing bad ideas and bad products (e.g. Monsanto), and ruthlessly blocking natural and alternative knowledge – is our responsibility.  It is difficult for slaves to revolt, but the Internet makes it easier to connect, to have flash mobs, to do CrisisMapping and CorruptionMapping.  Freedom is a non-negotiable condition for education, intelligence, and research.  Anything else is a lie, a virtual prison.  The truth at any cost lowers all other costs.  Today all eight tribes of human intelligence (academia, civil society including labor and religion, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, non-government and non-profit) are lacking in integrity.  They are inherently dysfunctional, dishonest, and a disgarce to all of us.  INTEGRITY is the core word, transparency is how we assure integrity in creating truth, and truth is the foundation of trust.  An economic received the Nobel Prize for showing that trust lowers the cost of doing business.  For lack of openness, we have destroyed the truth and trust across all domains, with governments and corporations spending obscene amounts of money to try to control what the public can see and hear and read.  To be open is to be alive – anything else is a moral and intellectual gulag.  The short answer to your question is free cell phones (OpenBTS), open sharing networks (e.g. CrisisMappers applied to everything), and global volunteer networks able to educate any person in any language one cell call at a time.  My pitch to Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Truth 2.6, has been received by him but not answered.  My pitch to the US Government on the Open Source Agency, and my pitch to NATO on three challenges facing NATO, are all online.  If I could get any two of the following people [Richard Branson, Breedlove from NATO, McRaven from SOCOM, Miller from SOUTHCOM into a room for one hour, I am certain I could create the OSA, and change the world for the better.  Until then, all I can do is share my vision.  I love sailing, if the EU wants to adopt me and have me build the OSA on the northern shore of the Mediterranean, St. Tropez appeals to me, I am available.  Eventually the EU and NATO are going to have to merge and become a hub for ethical evidence-based decision support to everyone, in partnership with the BRICS, but right now no one wants to hear this, least of all from me.  As Will and Ariel Durant say at the conclusion of Lessons of History, the only sustainable revolution is in the minds of men.  No one, anywhere, other than myself (at least in the English language), is focused on the affordable, tangible, holistic means of achieving that vision across all borders, all cultures, all generations.


The new Openness bears a lot of potential for self-empowerment and participation, but also involves the risk of total surveillance and control as well as increased exploitation and oppression. How do you assess the situation? Which tendency prevails?

Openness includes the absolute right to privacy.  Openness does not mean that one must do and say everything openly, but rather that society must be open to infinite diversity including the peverse. At the same time, openness MUST be demanded of all human organizations, or they become corrupt and cancerous.  The only assurance of collective integrity is collective intelligence, and the only means of achieving collective intelligence is through a constant appreciation of individual clarity, diversity, and integrity.  The good news is that total surveillance and control by the stateis not possible, at the same time that comprehensive monitoring of the state by the public is now achievable.  NSA is a classic example of a very corrupt system that costs over $40 billion dollars a year when including cyber-operations.  The hard fact is that NSA is good at spending money, good at collecting with the help of Google, Microsoft, and other unethical corporations, and it SUCKS at processing, analysis, and intervention.  A really wonderful illumination of just how stupid NSA can be is found in its new computing center in Utah.  The Director of NSA, whom I know personally, approved the building of a facility that requires 1.7 million gallons of clean water every single day, to operate.  He approved this knowing that Utah is a water-starved state, a state that has water restrictions on everything and everybody.  Here I believe the lack of integrity among the Mormons contributed to the decision.  NSA is the classic example of doing the wrong things righter, something Dr. Russell Ackoff, Buckminster Fuller, and others I follow point out is an unaffordable and unsustainable approach to human endeavor.  NSA has not stopped any terrorist plots of significance, nor has it contributed to decision-making at any level for two reasons: first, NSA has nothing to offer and second, even if it did, the two-party tyranny in the USA has absolutely no interest in making decisions in the public interest, they make decisions on the basis of who pays them to do so.  This is one reason I have been championing public intelligence in the public interest, not just Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), but Open Source Everything (OSA, the technical solution) and Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-making (M4IS2, the human solution).  Secrecy is toxic, and its own poison.  As Daniel Ellsberg lectured Henry Kissinger so ably (page 236 of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, those who fall prety to the cult of secrecy, become like morons, „incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours" [because of your blind faith in the value of your narrow and often incorrect secret information].  Kissinger is a disgrace, a man famous for saying „The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.“  Like Colin Powell, who chose to remain silent in the face of over 20 acts of treason by Dick Cheney (as itemized in my review of VICE: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency), Kissinger used sececy for personal gain and to pursue crimes against humanity.  Governments and corporations cannot monitor everything, especially if we move rapidly toward the creation of an Autonomous Internet and code-level deep security.  The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa – soon to include Indonesia and Turkey in my view) are already building their own Internet to escape the corruption and the technical idiocy that characterizes the US-dominated Internet.  When everyone is open, no one is a prisoner of the state or the industrial complex.  The true cost of a totalitarian state is unaffordable and unsustainable – from Howard Zinn to Vaclav Havel to Jonathen Schell, the future is clear: the public is a power that no state can repress forever.


What needs to happen in order to allow the emancipatory potential of Openness to flourish?

The cell phone has replaced the Kalishnikov as the weapon of choice for revolution.  Just as the state used to have a monopoly on violence and lost that monopoly, now we must strip the state of its corrupt, ignorant, and counter-productive monopoly on the instrucments of information-sharing and sense-making.  OpenBTS and Open Spectrum are two obvious starting points.  A digital currency not subject to manipulation (or taxation) is another....Open Money.  Most of all, I believe that localities must begin nullfying external regulations that are designed to be repress the public and its ownership of the commonwealth.  There are 5,000 seccessionist movements in the world – 27 of them in the USA.  Local communities need to adopt the Swiss model and live free.  Community-owned solar power, community-owned water management, community-owned agricultural production and animal husbandry that is not subject to the corrupt insanity of the state, these are all starting points.  I have posted a list of the Opens as I knew them when I drafted my book The Open Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, & Trust, it is posted online.

WE must become a power unto ourselves, using the cell phone, mesh networks, and a mindset that goes „all in“ across all the opens.  I support Freedom Net and Freedom Box and other such initiatives, and of course Open Wi-Fi, Montreal has set a good example.  Own your mind, own your time, own your information – and share them all freely.


In your opinion, how important is the protection of privacy and of private data? Is the society of the future perhaps a post-privacy society?

Privacy is essential to both diversity of view and to experimentation.  There is no reason why we cannot have, today, something Eric Huges spoke about at Hackers Conferncec (the Silicon Valley event founded by Stewart Brand and now managed by Glenn Tenney).  Every communication should be perfectly encrypted. NSA is a financial and technical monstrocity, the end state of an out of control idiot government that fell prety to the idea that technology can be a substitute for thinking.  The only form of intelligence that matters is human intelligence.  NSA has still not, in the decades of spending over a trillion dollars, created a computer that is very small, uses almost no energy, and can do peta flop calculations per second: the human brain.  Humans need privacy, humans should „own“ their own information, and humans will ultimately share what they wish, when they wish, in the manner best suited their own needs.  Privacy is like sunlight – it nurtures thinking freely, and that happens to be our greatest need right now, for free thinkers who can eventually empower the five billion poor to create infinite wealth.


What effects will the new technologies, forms of production and modes of communication have on society?

The only revolutionary technologies are in the communications and intelligence arenas, followed by the energy, water, and waste arenas.  The state has died as a form of human organization – it is out of touch with reality, an obscene challenge to the tribal and ethnic and moral communities that have evolved over thousands of years (see my review of The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State), and really really stupid to boot.  Weber was relevant in his time, now Weber and his bureaucratic stove-piping are the enemy of society.  Hyprid public governance rooted in ethical evidence-based decision support is the necessary next step.  While I admire those that have written about hybrid governance (Wolfgang Reinicke and Niels Akerstrom Anderson come to mind) they all fail to understand that governance in any form that is lacking in public intelligence – in holistic analytics and true cost economics – is simply another means of separating the public from the common wealth.  Transparency is essential to avoid corruption in all forms, but transparency without truth is like a nightgown without sex.


How can we all, individually and collectively, contribute to positive transformations?

Individually, we must appreciate the reality that the truth at any cost lowers all other costs, and refuse to compromise on this point.  Most people have no idea how to get to the truth, much less use it, because they have been raised on a diet of disinformation, medicre education, and governments and corporations that lie every single day.  The unemployment rate in the USA is closer to 22.4% than 7% (see but every single day the US Government plays with this lie, and no one in the dishonest academy, the dishonest media, the dishonest civil society, challenges this lies.  INTEGRITY is the one word that sums up everything I believe in.

Collectively, we must boycott all government programs and services, and all corporate offerings, that are toxic.  We must begin living without our means at the local level, and make local resilience our number one priority, while converting to a local economy that is not taxable for the support of war and other forms of toxic lotting of the public treasury.

Beyond this, I cannot say.  Certainly I would be glad to inspire interest in the Open Source Agency.  In the meantime, subscriptions to Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog are free and will remain so.  I am pretty sure I will never be President of the United States of America, but if anyone would like to explore my views on what an honest president and an honest political system might look like (naturally, a parliamentary and cabinet coalition form of government) I have collected some good ideas from others at We the People Reform Coalition.  My dream job is that of Secretary General for Education, Intelligence, and Research, ideally for the USA – I still believe in the concept of America the Beautiful – but happily for any region such as South America, Africa, or Central Asia.

Education, intelligence, and research are the engine of transformation.  They must be transparent and truthful, producing trust that is glue for peace and prosperity.


Robert David Steele - Biography