Belmont Club

The Next Ten Years

Within the next ten years the world will be a very different place.  The biggest driver of change will be the relative dispersal of power driven by the spread of information. NSA director Admiral Michael Roger’s message to Silicon Valley was simple: you are moving faster than we can catch up.


The days when the Defense Department drove technical innovation, he said, “are way behind us.”

He also pushed on Monday for better information-sharing between the intelligence community and private technology companies. Legislation that would set up a formal information-sharing system has stalled in Congress, facing objections from the private sector.

“It is unrealistic to expect the private sector to withstand the actions of nation-states,” Admiral Rogers said. “I think it is also unrealistic to expect the government to deal with this all by itself. How do we create the partnerships that allow us to work together as a team.”

A very similar message was articulated by the head of Britain’s GCHQ. “US tech giants such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp have become the “command and control networks of choice” for Isis, the new head of Britain’s GCHQ intelligence agency has warned.”

“GCHQ and its sister agencies, MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service, cannot tackle these challenges at scale without greater support from the private sector, including the largest US technology companies which dominate the web,” he wrote on his first day in the post. …

“However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us,” he said.

Inside those streams of information are value tokens, or what we call money. Legal tender is now simply information banks accept and honor.  Government’s problem is ensuring they only honor what they’re supposed to.  If Silicon Valley is the C3 center of ISIS, the banking system is the center of dark money. One European institution alone has been accused of holding $1.5 trillion in unreported funds, which is to say a log of transactions they honor but which they don’t want to tell the government about. Money remains money as long as its accepted. Government awareness of its existence is not a necessary attribute.


In 2001, investigative reporter Denis Robert and Ernest Backes, an executive at Cedel until May 1983, published a book, Revelation$ in which they alleged that Clearstream played a major part in the underground economy, was a main platform for money laundering for hundreds of banks, and “operated hundreds of confidential accounts for banks so they could move money undetected,” according to Business Week.

Bloomberg Business Week also said, in 2001, “Earlier this year, Clearstream, which handles the back-office paperwork for some 40% of European stock and bond trades, was found to have overstated its assets in custody by $1.5 trillion. (It has $6.5 trillion.) If Clearstream makes $1.5 trillion math errors, customers are understandably nervous–and some have moved to rival Euroclear.”

It gets worse. In the very near future information will control major parts of the physical world, through what is called the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. Typically, IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications. The interconnection of these embedded devices (including smart objects), is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid.

Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue. Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize wifi for remote monitoring … ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (Internet of Everything) by 2020.


This trend began a long time ago through SCADA or computer controlled manufacturing. The  Stuxnet bug destroyed hundreds of Iranian centrifuges by taking over their control systems and  telling them to speed up beyond their limits, like something taking over the accelerator of your car and ordering it to speed up to 150 miles per hour.

And now  there’s 3D printing, or as it called: “additive manufacturing”. “Rapid Prototyping was the first big use. Custom production of a prototype often takes a month or two. With 3-D printing, designers have a prototype in their hands in just hours. … jigs and fixtures may be the hottest growth area … Mass customization is the ultimate small production run: a product made for just one customer,” wrote Bill Conerly of Forbes just yesterday.

It’s spooky, like the spirit world has come to life. These are Elon Musk’s fears exactly.

“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon,” he said. “You know all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, and it’s like yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”

The whole field, as NSA and GCHQ have pointed out, is moving faster than our government institutions can even understand them. Perhaps faster than anyone can understand them.  Even the failures reveal the paradigm shift. The failure of Antares at Wallops Island, the crash of Spaceship Two in the Mojave tell us that space exploration is moving to the hands of the private sector.


But perhaps the biggest indicator of change has been the privatization of warfare. The Obama administration is fighting the Islamist with proxies, albeit with the specialized technical support from the regular Armed Forces.  This again has been coming for a long time. A few months ago I wrote:

Last fall I met up with an old friend in the security consulting business. We met for breakfast at an upscale hotel in the DC area. As he was having a second cup of coffee he leaned forward and said, “I’m going to say something crazy, but I can be frank with you.” He paused and added, “what we need is a new East India company.”

Maybe it’s not such a crazy idea. None of this is to say that government will totally disappear, but it’s not unreasonable to predict that the state may actually  become less important. Either that or it becomes all powerful.  In any case its role will change.  Clearly government cannot maintain its dominant role without considering outlawing encryption, restricting the movement of information and establishing what essentially amounts to universal surveillance.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.  The dominant ideology of the elite is based on a paradigm that is vanishing before our very eyes.  Perhaps its vanished already, but they just don’t know it. The socialist systems of Europe are dying on their feet.  The most amazing thing about their American admirers is their continuing belief in a socialist future rooted in the past.

The balance of probability suggests that government will become less important over the next 10 years, though many states will not surrender its prerogatives without a fight. After all, a great deal of that missing $1.5 trillion in Europe represents political corruption. But those governments which survive will focus on providing the essential state services: maintaining sovereignty, controlling borders and delivering public goods.


The states which dabble in irrelevant atheistic, 19th century social engineering are probably going to have a hard time surviving. Ironically the nation whose vision naturally conforms to this is the the United States. The “hundred year old document” which the Left habitually dismisses as irrelevant may turn out to be the key map for the future; a future in which non-state actors are dominant, where the word “God” becomes relevant again in a universe where Demons are suddenly real.

For America it may be “back to the future” or at least the original vision of the future.  For the Left maybe it’s a case of “stuck in the past”.

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The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
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