This episode my guest is Laurie Segall senior technology correspondent for CNN and editor-at-large for CNN Tech.
Laurie is host of CNN’s first CNNgo original, Mostly Human with Laurie Segall, a 6-part investigative docuseries, exploring sex, love, death & humanity through the lens of tech.
Mostly Human follows Laurie around the world as she tackles the uncomfortable questions about our increasingly complicated relationship with technology. She examines the power modern technology holds, while exposing the darker side.
The full Mostly Human series streams exclusively on CNNgo.
You can access the series for free through CNNgo on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon FireTV, and Android TV.
It is also available on CNN.com, and CNN’s iOS and Android apps.
Using thousands of texts, tweets and Facebook posts, a woman creates a digital version of her best friend … after he died. Artificial intelligence and years of social media data allowed her to create a bot that responds like her best friend, jokes like him, and blurs the lines between man and machine. This is death in the digital age.
An investigation into the first person deemed dangerous enough to kill… because of his ability to tweet. We explore the life and death of Junaid Hussain, the ISIS hacker who ushered in a new era of terror, mainly due to his social media celebrity. We infiltrate hacker circles in Vegas, explore undercover operations, and have a dangerous run-in outside his hometown, to understand how he went from computer nerd to third most dangerous member of ISIS.
Westworld, or real world? From people falling in love with robots to sex dolls who now have, “AI brains,” our relationship with tech is getting…complicated. We explore a sexual assault in the virtual world and Minority Report technology being used in a high security psychiatric ward. It’s too controversial for the US and will blow your mind.
Dig into the myth of Silicon Valley – where heroes are hailed and success celebrated. Silicon Valley has a secret they don’t want you to know about. Much of the creative genius, the brainiac success stories are also associated with depression and bi-polar disorder. Is there a price to creative genius?
Explore the human impact of a hack that exposed 36 million potential cheaters. Behind the hack, there were suicides, broken families. We introduce you to the human impact of Ashley Madison and take our viewers inside the War Room of Ashley Madison where there were millions of dollars on the table, death threats, and a ticking time bomb that would explode with society’s secrets. We’ll also look at the company’s secret: their ability to program algorithms that would make you more likely to click-for-affair.
A look at why the most powerful people in tech are stepping away from the products they’ve built. In a place where algorithms play god, we explore the soul searching Silicon Valley is doing. The biggest CEO’s are raising the alarm bells and wondering – have we entered the singularity? Who’s in control… man or machine?
This podcast features guest Christopher Kelly who shares a historical perspective on the “surveillance society” we live in and its origins in World War I espionage. Below is a recent article Christopher wrote on this subject and is the basis for our conversation.
Surveillance Technology Drove America to Enter World War I
by Christopher Kelly
Lately, we’ve been hearing on a daily basis about alleged wiretapping by leaders and governments both foreign and domestic. Americans find themselves asking, What is our government up to? What might be the consequences of governments’ abilities to listen into our private conversations?
If history is any indicator, the answer may be troubling. Much of the “surveillance society” in which we live today had its origins in World War I espionage, which began the decade after Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first transatlantic message from Cornwall in England to Newfoundland in Canada, in 1901.
Soon, governments were scrambling to intercept the blizzard of electronic transmissions that followed. The British built a sophisticated signals intelligence network designed to monitor German radio traffic during the war. Their SIS (Secret Intelligence Service and forerunner to MI6) established monitoring stations from Folkestone to London.
And these newfound clandestine surveillance capabilities, while a promising tool for national security, also turned out to be the very thing that prompted America’s entry into World War I one hundred years ago.
British intelligence played a decisive role in the American entry into World War I. But it was not a martini-swilling gun-toting field agent that did it.
It all began in Room 40 — the decryption service of the British Admiralty in World War I. Experts there managed to obtain the German naval codebooks in 1914, including one seized by the Russian Navy in the Baltic. Room 40’s greatest coup of the war, however, was the interception and decryption of the famous Zimmermann Telegram in 1917.
Relations between Mexico and America were tense even in those days. In March 1916, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa launched a cross-border attack on Columbus, New Mexico. He seized supplies and burned the town. In retaliation, President Wilson ordered the U.S. Army into Mexico to capture the notorious bandit leader. Brigadier General John Pershing led the Punitive Expedition from New Mexico into Chihuahua. Pershing was a tough veteran of Indian wars and the Moro uprising in the Philippines. A young George S. Patton Jr., whose attractive sister Nita was dating the widower Pershing, was detailed to Pershing’s staff.
Pancho Villa, as it turned out, proved to be somewhat elusive, but Patton, leading a small patrol, participated in a skirmish at a hacienda in San Miguelito. Three Villistas were killed. When about fifty Villistas approached the hacienda, Patton beat a hasty retreat with the three dead men strapped across the hood of his automobile. Patton was later promoted to first lieutenant.
In January 1917, less than eight months after Patton’s skirmish, Room 40 intercepted and decrypted the Zimmerman Telegram.
The message it contained, sent by the German minister of foreign affairs to the German ambassador in Mexico City, proposed an alliance with Mexico in the event of America’s entry into the war. According to its terms, Mexican territory lost in previous wars with the United States, in states such as Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, would be returned to Mexican sovereignty in exchange for Mexico’s declaration of war on the United States. When its contents were disclosed, the telegram enraged many Americans, and was one of the catalysts (along with unrestricted submarine warfare) for the declaration of war by the United States Congress on April 6, 1917.
The intrepid Lieutenant Patton would serve in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. General Pershing would command over two million men in the AEF in Europe.
American neutrality was not the only victim of British intelligence. Room 40 also decrypted messages that identified Mata Hari—a Dutch courtesan and exotic dancer in Paris, who was born Margaretha Geertruida Zelle in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, in 1876—as H-21, a German spy.
The information was passed to French intelligence, and the femme fatale was arrested, convicted, and executed by firing squad in 1917. The unfortunate Mata Hari had been overly friendly with officers on both sides of the Great War.
Years later, Room 40 would, of course, provide inspiration for the codebreaking that took place at Bletchley Park in World War II. Both Britain and America were routinely listening in on Axis messages. Eisenhower claimed that the work of the codebreakers may have shortened the war by as much as two years, saving countless lives.
After World War II, Henry Stimson, FDR’s Secretary of State, would write in his memoirs that “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” But the truth is that gentlemen began reading each other’s mail long before World War II. And they continue to read all of our mail today. And the full scope of the consequences such breaches of trust can have remains to be seen.
Christopher Kelly, an American history writer living in London and Seattle, edited An Adventure in 1914, a memoir about an American family traveling in Europe on the brink of World War I (www.anadventurein1914.com).
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This episode is on Dataminr, a New York-based startup, which is authorized to analyze the entire Twitter “Firehose” of all live tweets and offer clients advanced social media analytics as a service in the form of digests and news updates.
Exclusive access to information and data feeds, which include Twitter’s raw live tweets, allows Dataminr to filter the data to identify important events and business trends as they unfold and also act as an early warning system for major events like terrorist attacks, natural disasters and other public emergencies.
Dataminr is Twitter’s only data partner that is also allowed to resell the complete stream of tweets and their clients include large hedge funds, mainstream news outlets, public relations firms, publicly traded corporations and major government entities including, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
The DHS, FBI, and CIA have used the service to help with tracking criminals and terrorists, but have also drawn the ire of the ACLU, who have challenged the use of Dataminr’s services by government agencies to monitor domestic protests.