One of my first patents, while I am not listed as the sole inventor I did significantly contribute to the technology. Back in 1998 when I was working on this stuff I was worried that one day it could be used to prevent society from engaging in the most benign behavior. Note the patent was published in 2002 as a global patent. While its ideas didn’t enslave you, I was seriously worried at that time the clever ideas would one day be used to enslave the world. I also believed I would be destroying all the world’s money, I couldn’t with an ISDN modem. Stupid people aren’t predictable.
My father showed me his patients when I was a kid and I was like wow. Jerry had patented the fuses for bombs and grenades. My bedroom bookshelves were lined with inert replicas of munitions and spent shells. The books were encyclopedias of weapons systems, engineering handbooks, chemistry manuals and military technical manuals. Fortunately I grew up dyslexic and never read them, though, I may have looked at the pictures. As a young man I was so torn as to how the fuck anyone could patent something so destructive — It was cool and I was in awe, darkness was as equally attractive as light as weapons themselves provide no guidance in right and wrong unless you are a witness to their use.
young and inspired, I tried to develop some ideas that could be levered to enslave humanity. Back in those days I was satisfied that I failed. Hey, I know I didn’t get to develop triggers for nuclear weapons, but I think I did something on par with Good ‘ole Dad. When I finished my tour at Sock Power after 1 year and 1 day — I was listed as an inventor on six patents that all dealt with ensuring we knew more about you than you did. Fast forward to fuckville.
My first job in Silicon Valley involved learning and supporting every networking and computer technology of the day. I loved it and I was really good at it. I just had fun, it was play to fix things and something always broke with every new upgrade, patch or software release. After only working for about 6 months, my boss asked me to quit. I became a consultant to the company working at 50% of my hours with my full salary. He helped me get my first office and land a few contracts from his friends. I’d become a silicon valley consultant — because, I didn’t fit in very well, as I’d over delivered.
Over the decades I have loved working with hundreds of companies. I’ve been able to hold some of the Fortune 50 as my clients, customers, friends and collaborators. I had to learn how to talk to people, negotiate contracts, loose deals and navigate the business world of companies dominated by venture capital.
I always enjoyed the bleeding edge of technology because few understood it and I could fake understanding it. Clients would ask me to build something that doesn’t exist and I’d say “YES!” I never liked working on things that already existed and only wanted to build something that didn’t exist. I just loved the bull shit, decided this was all performance art and a confidence game. Without the blinders on I could do anything I wanted to do.
I spent a few decades working on Identification and naming and since I like to volunteer I spent time contributing in the IETF and ICANN and after 9/11 found myself on the Security and Stability Committee — a group tasked with ensuring policy development for a stable Internet. Working with the SSAC sounds like a “big deal” but it wasn’t. It was cool to hang out with the folks that created the internet and think about how to take it down and what impacts that might have upon the population of the globe. For around 15 years the team thought of bad things that could happen should the internet become compromised and worked to ensure those “bad” things didn’t happen or if they did, their impact was minimised.
We never considered how to lever technology and communications to harm anyone. Connection causes no harm though harm requires connection. I should not have been surprised. I always thought that connections would help but what I realised is that it was just something we all yearned for.
It was always fun to think of disaster scenarios and how to counter them, especially when the scale of such scenarios involve the panet. Eventually I would get to participate in such a plan in 2008. It was fun, spectacular fun. Got to make a bunch of new friends that worked in places that had no name, with people that had no name, behind armed vaults in funky five sided buildings — rings of rings. I got to live a bit of pure science fiction and I did feel a true sense of belonging as they seemed to love my ideas and I loved their challenges.
I remember one interaction in particular while discussing how an evil-doer might kill a billion folks with a keyboard. “It’s just typing,” I would lament, “10 billion just takes a few more keystrokes.” At some level there isn’t good and evil but there is suffering and that is when I discovered that some of my ideas offered might induce more suffering that I could anticipate or accept. So, I began to grow food, drive a tractor and spend more time out in the sunshine. I’ll never forget just how clever some of those folks were — there are really lots of ways to fuck with billions of people over a keyboard.
As we advance into the sunset of 2021 and we consider vaxceen passports –understand that some of us thought about those 20 years ago. We just didn’t have some key pieces of technology in place that could deal with managing the population of the planet. We didn’t understand your behavior well enough. You can fight against masks, school/job vaccination, vaxcen passports, lockdowns, supply chain disruptions and the extinction of cash. Go ahead fight as expected; meet your challenger, compete.
As your tribe grows — be kind to the new ones, their minds are fresh, their hearts broken. Give them love and listen to their lamentations. Bring them good food, family and friends, lovers. Show care, cherish these moments and be present for the ones around you. Prepare.
I’m not repenting from my old ways, I still type.