Chris Chyba on biosecurity

Just back from a seminar on national security issues at Stanford University, where Chris Chyba gave an outstanding presentation on biosecurity. (Chyba’s nothing if not a polymath: as well as being one of the US’s top biosecurity experts, he used to be the Carl Sagan Chair of the SETI Institute‘s Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. There’s an interview with him on his work at SETI here.)

Chyba argues that the term “weapons of mass destruction” is more misleading than clarifying: the kinds of nonproliferation, deterrence and defence strategies needed against nuclear weapons, cyber threats and and biological weapons are entirely different in each. In fact, he says (in a 2005 presentation given at a Carnegie Endowment conference),

“…biological terrorism shares as many or more characteristics with cyberterrorism as with nuclear terrorism. And the trajectory of biotechnology is such that these similarities are only likely to grow—bio is moving closer to the “cyber” end of the continuum.”

See also a 2004 article in the IISS journal Survival here.

It’s not enough to be right

In the Sun – the UK’s leading tabloid in a shrinking market – Jeremy Clarkson, professional motormouth and patron saint of petrolheads, is having fun.

Clarkson is sceptical about the theory of global warming. Actually, that doesn’t quite catch it. He thinks the idea is “bonkers, idiotic, a complete fairy story.” He blames the usual suspects (politicians, the media, “scientists on the climate change payola”) – plus a few less familiar ones (Margaret Thatcher, who created global warming to allow her to close down Arthur Scargill‘s coal mines).

But Channel 4’s documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle, has convinced him he’s right. After all, it had “proper scientists” arguing the case. “Global warming started off as a lie and became an industry,” he writes. “Now it’s a fashion statement and that, ultimately, is what will kill it off.”

Of course, no-one listens to this rubbish (even American climate sceptics hate Clarkson)… apart from all the people who believe every word of it. And it’s them that we should be paying a lot more attention to. Continue reading

Clans and open source intelligence…

Premise 1: “The end of the Cold War is ushering in a new world order of clans, tribes, and ethnic groups that have been smothered for generations under the weight of nation-states.”

Premise 2: “The foundation of global communities [is] the ability to acquire and quickly use information to gain an advantage.”

Premise 3: “The winner in global competition today is one who can cycle information faster than the opposition. It is more than just having information; it is a matter of using it faster and better than the other person.”

Premise 4: “We need to demystify and de-spook some of our intelligence… Rather than use information and intelligence, we horde it.”

From a 1995 Marine Corps Gazette article

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