1964 was a harbinger of the future we now inhabit, but no one knew it at the time. It was the year of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) at the University of California Berkeley, the first stirrings of the cultural revolution to come. FSM epitomized the fear of a world dehumanized by mainframe computers controlled by corporations. Yet that same year Marshall McLuhan also first articulated his famous concepts of “the medium is the message,” and his vision of a “global village.”
In July of 2014 I wrote a blog post on this site, reporting the growing controversy and debate within the Internet community about the rise of a balkanized Internet, typified by the Chinese “Great Firewall.” Bill Gates and Vin Cerf argued that the Internet was too expansive and pervasive for government restrictions on the Internet to succeed. On the other side, Eric Schmidt and John Chamber of Cisco railed against the NSA metadata snooping as a contributing factor in the development of the “Splinternet,” that would severely harm American technology leadership.
Many know the name Kaspersky well. Others may only dimly recognize the brand name. Its anti-virus and Internet security software has been around for years in computer stores and OEM’d with computer systems. More than a year ago, I became concerned about what I was learning about Kaspersky Lab and its headquarters in Moscow, I began asking myself hypothetical rhetorical questions. What if Kaspersky was quietly working with the Russian FSB? What if Kaspersky had installed a sleeping Trojan Horse in millions of copies of its consumer computer security software? I was a user of Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity software myself. I knew that it was rated very highly by the tech journals. I liked its elegance and simplicity compared with other competitor products from U.S. based companies like Symantec and McAffee. Nevertheless, as the Russian hacking of the 2016 election became an ever-larger issue, I decided to pull the plug on Kaspersky because of my fears, though there was no direct evidence of collusion between Kaspersky and the Kremlin at that time, wiped my system clean, and installed another competitor product.
Underscoring Goldman Sachs forecast last week of oil prices at or below $50 per bbl until at least 2020, Bloomberg News is today reporting that Iraq is preparing to unleash a flood of new oil within the next few months. This is very bad news for the price of Western Canadian Select bitumen, and Alberta oil sands producers. Saudi Arabia’s strategy, together with OPEC, to squeeze high-cost oil producers of oil sands and shale seems to be working. More pessimistic forecasts of WCS at $25 for an extended period now appear more plausible.
We are all now hearing and reading about Edward Snowden, who is now at the center of a global political firestorm, caused by Snowden’s decision to reveal the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program, and its increasing encroachment of personal privacy. Snowden’s revelations have now also entangled the UK’s GCHQ, the secret intelligence gathering arm of MI6 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire which has also been sharing similar snooping with the NSA. A former U.S. National Security Administration contractor, Snowden was actually employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, a global management consultancy firm. Snowden’s situation should give us all pause to consider the Brave New World we have entered with zettabytes (1 Million Terabytes) of Big Data, and the uses of it.