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Technology, Tyrants, and ‘Max Headroom’

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Published on: March 16, 2017

Fans of the 1987 television series “Max Headroom” may be somewhat familiar with the narrative that follows. The show was sort of a near-future dystopian cyberpunk deal that featured a small group of good guys battling a leviathan industrial-government complex – often with fairly good results. It was one of those really good television offerings that was probably a little too cerebral for most viewers, so after a dozen or so episodes, it went away.

Whether intended or not, the show featured a running theme that has since become somewhat popular in futuristic TV and movies, and it actually runs a bit counter to the majority of futuristic dystopian productions of the last 50 years. In these offerings, American viewers had become accustomed to story lines featuring invulnerable, malevolence power structures. Citizens were more or less powerless against them, and this dynamic obviously influenced plots to no small degree.

Enter “Max Headroom” (and similar fare). This new plot dynamic included something of a gratifying twist: The leviathan power structure might be big, mean and powerful, but it was still a bureaucracy fraught with inefficiency, sluggishness and minimal creativity. Hubris on a dizzying scale was a hallmark of these institutions and those who worked therein, which put them at a marked disadvantage when pitted against the protagonists, who weren’t big, mean, or powerful, but they were better … stronger … faster.

So they usually won.

In “Max Headroom,” the industrial-government complex bad guys employed technology against the populace and their enemies in order to keep control, but the protagonists were nearly always able to beat them because (in addition to being the good guys) they had smarter, more creative people. This theme – though it may not have originated with “Headroom” per se – gave rise to similar plots which showcased rag-tag underdogs beating well-resourced, high-tech villains.

Ultimately, this “life imitating art” may wind up being to our benefit, because I am sure that the real-life leviathan industrial-government complex that governs the West would like nothing better than having citizens summarily accept the pre-eminence of the evil new order, wherein the bad guys are unassailable and infallible.

As we know (and which I addressed last week in this space), the news cycle is still abuzz with reports of President Donald Trump having accused the former Obama administration of wiretapping the Trump campaign’s activities during the 2016 campaign season. The Obama camp has denied this, despite having boasted on investigating Trump during that period of time. Now, we can’t be entirely sure what knowledge the Trump camp had of this supposed wiretapping or when they became aware of it. To my way of thinking, speaking the truth on these facts would be tactically unsound for them. Ergo, when Trump says his outfit was wiretapped, it indicates that they became aware of it at some point – but it doesn’t indicate much more than that. Neither does it definitively specify whether any sensitive information was ever compromised.

This is very, very significant.

We know that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was technologically compromised. One would presume that any organization representing any national candidate would have sufficient resources to secure premier utilities for data security, yet the Clinton camp was in fact compromised; the evidence is all over WikiLeaks. We also know that our federal government and the Obama White House were hacked numerous times during Obama’s presidency – and not just by agencies of foreign governments.

How is this possible? Additionally, despite the spate of fake news pertaining to Trump that has been reported over the last couple of months, there isn’t one jot of data that can be confirmed as having been gleaned from so-called investigations or wiretaps.

Again: How is this possible?

The answer is the same for both questions I posed. The reason these issues are not being discussed (outside of far-left politicos seeking to exploit such salacious items for political gain) is the same reason banks don’t discuss data breaches unless they happen to wind up on the front page of the New York Times: Discussing one’s vulnerabilities publicly when security is one’s stock in trade is tactically unsound in the extreme.

These days, there are more high-tech security solutions currently available for purchase than one can count. Nearly all of these rely on similar technologies, however. Usually, it’s encryption. Unfortunately, encryption is no longer state-of-the-art technology. This is evidenced by the ongoing effectiveness of nefarious parties, who nearly always seem to be just one step ahead of law enforcement and the developers who offer these products.

The dynamic that has given rise to business and consumer desire for effective security solutions – and which currently has Western socialist elites absolutely terrified – is the same one that is giving rise to those anticipated effective security solutions. It is also setting the stage for the scenarios represented in “Max Headroom” and similarly-themed entertainment: A world wherein global tyrants may be big, mean and powerful, but there will always be individuals or groups thereof cloistered in dank little rooms full of computers working diligently against them. These people have the ability to out-think and outmaneuver petty tyrants. In any Western nation that even pretends toward espousing liberty, those tyrants will never be able to triumph.

How is this emerging dynamic manifesting itself, and how does it affect us on a practical basis?

Well, people with the same skill sets as the hackers who are giving the leviathan industrial-government complex fits have been busily developing those real-world communications security solutions for consumers and anyone else who might want to pay for them.

Why? Because the market is demanding it.

In cases like this, it just takes a little time for those with the skills to get the lay of the land, then get busy creating. Right now, there are enterprises poised to send encryption the way of the dinosaurs with novel, state-of-the-art security solutions that will facilitate the protection of data and communications for consumers. Some have already gone to market. I know of at least one startup that is offering a proprietary communications security package for the average consumer at a reasonable price; this is a strategic overture to making the big sale to business. How does it work? The developers won’t say, but then I’ll bet few subscribers to LifeLock® know how that product works, because the company is similarly closed-mouthed.

So, whether those requiring digital security wind up obtaining cutting-edge solutions from Wal-Mart, an online vendor, or the neighborhood teen computer geek with the lazy eye and wool cap he wears even in the dead of summer, the market will inevitably provide.

If you ask people in the Trump camp, they might tell you that it already has. Or they may simply decline to answer – for reasons of security, of course.

Article posted with permission from Erik Rush

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