Staring into the Abyss: The Dark Side of Security and Professional Intelligence
Richard Thieme has published hundreds of articles, dozens of short stories, two books with more coming, and given several thousand speeches. He speaks professionally about the challenges posed by new technologies and the future, how to redesign ourselves to meet these challenges, and creativity in response to radical change. Many recent speeches have addressed security and intelligence issues for professionals around the world. He has keynoted conferences in Sydney and Brisbane, Wellington and Auckland, Dublin and Berlin, the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and the Hague), Dubai and Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg and Eilat Israel. Clients range from GE, Medtronic and Microsoft to the National Security Agency, the Pentagon, FBI, US Dept of the Treasury. and the US Secret Service. His pre-blog column, "Islands in the Clickstream," was distributed to thousands of subscribers in sixty countries before collection as a book by Syngress, a division of Elsevier. His most recent work, "Mind Games," is a collection of nineteen short stories about anomalies and edgy realities. He returned to writing fiction when a friend at the NSA told him, "The only way you can tell the truth [about what we discuss] is through fiction." His work has been taught at universities in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States, and he has guest lectured at numerous universities, including Purdue University – CERIAS; the Technology, Literacy and Culture Distinguished Speakers Series of the University of Texas, and as the Nathan B. Stubblefield Distinguished Lecturer in Telecommunications Systems Management at Murray State University.
Nothing is harder to see than things we believe so deeply we don't even see them. This is certainly true in the "security space," in which our narratives are self referential, bounded by mutual self-interest, and characterized by a heavy dose of group-think. We become assimilated by the conversation and cease to see the bigger picture.
An analysis of deeper political and economic structures reveals that narrative and therefore our core beliefs in a new context which illuminates mixed motivations, some of the reasons we chose to do this work, and the interpenetration of overworlds and underworlds in our global society and profession. This analysis will make you hesitate before uncritically using the buzzwords and jargon of the profession - words like "security," "defense," and "cyberwar," and thinking in a binary fashion of good guys and bad. By the end of this presentation, simplistic distinctions between foreign and domestic, natural and artificial, and us and them will have gone liquid while the complexities of information security will remain ... and continue to challenge us personally and professionally.