Sep 4, 2012

Pompous Circumstance

Or: Sympathy for the stupid


It’s a well known fact that I have little sympathy or patience when it comes to people acting stupid. There is a pretext to that behavior that few know.


On a regular basis I am asked questions that hold such weight to them that I have to think about the implications of my answer. Those aren’t questions to be taken lightly, and more often lately I am finding myself in a position where the answers I give become the basis for mission critical applications. Situations where the failure of a technology will mean the life and death of real people if I made even the slightest mistake.


I have a low tolerance for ignorance. In what I do, even a slight margin of error can lead to women and children with their brains splattered against a brick wall somewhere. When I am asked – can this spatially identify potential threats in real time? If I answer wrong, somebody may die. When I’m asked – how accurate is a polymorphic data system, and is it secure? I know that there is a high potential for confidential and maybe even top secret classification for that data. Data which in the wrong hands will endanger many… because I screwed up. I know that there is a real possibility that a quarter of a billion dollars worth of hardware may come to rely on my answer.







I’m a champion of the Metaverse – but the technologies that will enable it are put to use in contexts you’d never dream of. I wrestle daily with the answers I’ve given, and when the phone rings I know that I don’t have the option of answering lightly or without grave consideration for the implications. I have to make moral decisions constantly… are the risks of abuse outweighing the potential for good? Will the failure of this particular approach put people in danger or get people killed? More often than not lately, that answer has been yes.


I’m not sure I particularly like walking this fine line, but I do so anyway. I’m doing everything that I am capable of doing in order to keep that balanced.


Most of what I do is locked up tight. I find myself regularly answering to people who have clearance levels that may as well reside on the International Space Station. It makes me nervous, to be honest.


I don’t particularly know what my answers are used for in totality… but I know I’m being asked particularly high-level questions lately. They involve militarization of non-public technologies and research… and for that I am nervous. I am nervous because I understand the implications involved and the consequences for being wrong.


I know what these technologies are capable of in the right hands… and I also know what can happen in the wrong hands. I could very well be the cause of total copyright collapse in the world if I’m not careful. Entire industries would fall because of me if I were to be careless. Many people could end up much safer, including the men and women with boots on the ground in hostile regions or they could wind up dead.


From innovating interplanetary communications, to figuring out polymorphic data and security. I’m one of those people embedded in a think tank… a go-to sort of mind in the world, and lately I’ve been popular in a sense of quality versus quantity.


Lately, I’ve found myself answering to JPL/NASA, US Air Force, and the Whitehouse. I’ve found myself explaining things to some of the brightest minds at University of Illinois and the National Center for Super Computing Applications. In some occasions, I’ve been on the spot directly and found myself talking to people who are of far more importance than most people will ever meet in their entire lives. Other times… well, I’m choosing to answer by proxy because it’s getting harder to answer these questions and still handle the moral consequences if I am wrong.


As time goes on, I find that these questions are coming with more and more weight behind them. I really cannot repeat those questions publicly, nor the answers I’ve been giving, but the implications are far and the consequences for screwing it up are deep. I really don’t like thinking about it if I don’t have to.


I have a good imagination, and I (unfortunately) know how bad the world really is sometimes. I don’t know if there are any sides to take… all I know is that I am responsible for my own actions, and to do my best for making the results of my own actions not lead to something I may not be able to reconcile.


What I am is a person with far more knowledge than I publicly let on, I’ve been involved with technologies and research that few have ever seen, and some very important people are finding out just how much I really do know.


This blog isn’t for you… it’s for me, so I may possibly reconcile the things I have to deal with. It is so I can hash out ideas which are quite often connected to those high-level questions which have deeper consequences than a superficial virtual world context.


What this blog represents is the closest thing to an unfiltered internal dialogue that you are going to get from me. This is part of a greater conversation that you are not privy to, because you are nowhere near important enough to know those details.


I have no sympathy for the stupid, and no mercy for the incompetent.


When people engage me here on this blog, they fail to understand that while the biggest consequence of them screwing up is loss of popularity, my biggest worry is the loss of life.


You are free to read this blog – but never assume I’m writing for you. I am not here for your entertainment or amusement. I am not writing this because I am concerned about how popular this blog is. I am writing these things because I am concerned about answers far bigger than whatever homebrew project you’re cooking under the pretense of importance. It is in public view because I welcome intelligent conversation and realization… but I have zero tolerance for disrespect and willful ignorance.


I may call some of you friends, but for the most part – you don’t even warrant a passing thought in my mind. I have bigger things to worry about than whether you stop following me on Twitter or Facebook. Thousands of people follow me, and I’ve lost track of all but the people who are actually meaningful.


In the grand scheme of things, I have a very different set of priorities and motivations for what I am doing and have done for the past 15 + years. It sure as hell isn’t about being popular – so if anyone reading this thinks I’m somehow hurt if you “threaten” to stop reading… don’t let the door hit you in the ass. If you start being disrespectful and throwing backhanded comments, I will mercilessly tear you apart and jack-boot your face to the ground without missing a beat. If you come here under the assumption I don’t know what I’m talking about, or that I’ve contributed nothing of importance to the industry – you’re looking for a fight that you are going to wish you never started.


I’m open to intelligent discussion and even debate. But if you’re going to act like a primate smearing your shit all over the comments, I’m going to give you the respect that deserves.


This blog has a Disclaimer for a reason. You might try reading it one of these days.