Becoming Stephen Hawking
Truth is the only thing that stands between us and a cyber nightmare. Dedicated to the 2019 October Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
By Eh’den Biber
Futures made of virtual insanity, now Always seem to be governed by this love we have For useless, twisting, all that new technology Oh, now there is no sound, for we all live underground
(Jamiroquai, “Virtual Insanity”, from the album “Travelling Without Moving”)
There is a reason why people in the west can’t grasp how the disappearance of privacy and the total exposure of our most intimate states is a part of a dystopian nightmare, and it has to do with who we are.
Think for example E=MC2. Even if you know what it means, you can't really grasp it the same way Stephen Hawking did. For Stephen Hawking, the general relativity formulas were something that he understood so deeply in a way that allowed him to explore deeper into the vast mysteries of the universe, to the “unknown”. He had deep intimacy with physics, one which knowledge is just a part of it, he had deep awareness to the nature of the physical aspects of this universe we operate in.
So when we talk about awareness, we need to remember that even if you know what it means to be surveyed every moment of your life, you can’t grasp it until you have an intimate experience with that dystopian universe like Muslim Uighurs do at this moment. The Uighurs lives in the Xinjiang province in China, where estimates are that one-quarter of the population (few millions) are in concentration camps and the others are heavily controlled and monitored using the latest technological development in AI and cyber security devices such as face recognition cameras and biometric scanners.
When you grow up in a state that monitors you 24x7, that rates you on “how good citizen” you are and control your freedom of speech, expression, and movement – cyber security becomes your worst enemy if you ever wish to escape the dysphoric world you grew into, but it can also become a major element of your survival if you decide to escape the hell you’re living in. That is, if you are brave enough to do so. In such environment, cybersecurity is a major instrument a small minority use in order to subjugate “their truth” in brutality on the rest of the population. When you grow under such regime you learn very fast that “The Truth” is what the authority tells you is the truth.
Cybersecurity is not a problem we need to solve so organisations will not get hacked or our money would not be stolen. Cybersecurity is one of the pillars of our technology driven democracy. At the end of the day, awareness to cybersecurity is a pillar of democracy and the rule of law.
“Believe in truth. Without truth, we don’t have trust. Without trust, we don’t have the rule of law. Without the rule of law, we don’t have democracy.”
(Timothy Synder, Yale professor and historian, the author of “On Tyranny: Twenty lessons from the twentieth century”)
Most people will naturally assume that a life based on truths is a better one which is one based on lies. It requires effort to lie, because when you start to lie about what you perceive as the world around, you end up lying to yourself. That’s a proven psychological fact, and it makes sense – at the end of the day, for who you are, whatever you perceive is outside is always an inner experience.
However, there’s a huge difference between operating from a state which is in line with truth, and to be trapped in one’s own story, which is where most of us are.
To change people perception of reality and include what cybersecurity means in it requires people to transform their perception of reality, and you can’t do it when there is no trust. We live in an age where technology creates so much mistrust, and where our western civilisation is moving away from what used to be sources of trust such as science, and focus more on whatever people feel is correct.
To understand the current state of affairs the western world is stuck in right now, one should consider reading two books that describe the weird place we live in, one in which truth seems to be avoided at all cost.
The first one is the book of Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, “The Cuddling of the American Mind”. In the book the authors show “how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people.” (source). We live in an age where many students and young people are encouraged to see free speech as a form of violence which leads to the increasing rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide among young people.
The second book is called “The Madness of Crowds” by Douglas Murray. This his book Douglas shows how the new era of political correctness is leading our society to very dark places. In this sub-chapter (interlude) called “The Impact of Tech”, Douglas gives multiple examples how technology, in particular the internet and social media has become an amplifying force to the disappearance of truth from the western world modern democracies. Even worse, the use of Artificial Intelligence doesn’t solve the problems relating to the nature of truth because it relies on biased individuals to make decisions on what’s good and what’s bad. Surprisingly not, those who are chosen to work in the companies that holds the key to the digital prism of our reality (Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple) tend to hand-pick the people who control the bias, thus Silicon Valley assures no real inner criticism will exist.
So here we are, living in a world where young people seems to believe that facts don’t matter, that their own feelings are more important. We live in a world where the truth doesn’t matter, where a distorted version of reality which allows others to manipulate it is being constructed all around us, and by doing so distance us from each other and alienate us.
Our task is to help people be aware of cybersecurity the same way Professor Hawking was aware of the physics fabric of the universe. For our democracies to survive and not becoming a totalitarian states in less than 10 years we need to develop deep levels of awareness. If you think we can achieve it with whatever tools we been using so far you have no idea what is awareness and what makes people change their perception of reality. We need a new paradigm for a new hope. We need a generation of young heroes, and we need everyone to constantly remember that without truth we don’t have trust, that without trust we don’t have the rule of law and that without the rule of law we don’t have democracy.
Without truth, we have no hope. Truth is our only hope for a cyber secure world where we can explore and discover mysteries beyond our wildest dreams. To be so, we need a new paradigm.
It is time to move from “cybersecurity awareness month” to “Cybersecurity Awareness NOW”, it is time to help people discover they are not who they think they are, to discover their true self. Let us start with the truth, and then allow cybersecurity to flow through.
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