William Gibson on NSA wiretapping

Open Source Radio did a special yesterday on the NSA's indiscriminate, illegal databasing of American citizens' calls, revealed in an expose in yesterday's USA Today. They got William Gibson on for a rare interview and he was fascinating, trying to place this in context as a spasm generated by humanity's inability to master its technologies. Audio starts about 34 minutes in.

I can't explain it to you, but it has a powerful deja vu. When I got up this morning and read the USA Today headline, I thought the future had been a little more evenly distributed. Now we've all got some...

The interesting thing about meta-projects in the sense in which I used them [in the NYT editorial] is that I don't think species know what they're about. I don't think humanity knows why we do any of this stuff. A couple hundred years down the road, when people look back at what the NSA has done, the significance of it won't be about terrorism or Iraq or the Bush administration or the American Constitution, it will be about how we're driven by emerging technologies and how we struggle to keep up with them...

I'm particularly enamored of the idea of a national security "bubble..." Technologies don't emerge unless there's someone who thinks he can make a bundle by helping them emerge...

I've been watching with keen interest since the first NSA scandal: I've noticed on the Internet that there aren't many people really shocked by this. Our popular culture, our dirt-ball street culture teaches us from childhood that the CIA is listening to *all* of our telephone calls and reading *all* of our email anyway.

I keep seeing that in the lower discourse of the Internet, people saying, "Oh, they're doing it anyway." In some way our culture believes that, and it's a real problem, because evidently they haven't been doing it anyway, and now that they've started, we really need to pay attention and muster some kind of viable political response.

It's very hard to get some people on-board because they think it's a fait accompli...

I think it's [the X-Files, Nixon wiretapping, science fiction]. I think it's predicated in our delirious sense of what's been happening to us as a species for the past 100 years. During the Cold War it was almost comforting to believe that the CIA was reading everything...

In the very long view, this will turn out to be about how we deal with the technological situation we find ourselves in now. We've gotten somewhere we've never been before. It's very interesting. In the short term, I've taken the position that it's very, very illegal and I hope something is done about it.

Link

(Thanks, Brendan!)