Chelsea Manning's statement for Aaron Swartz Day 2015

Lisa Rein writes, "Chelsea Manning prepared a statement for this year's "Aaron Swartz Day Celebration of Hackers and Whistleblowers That Make The World A Better Place" that took place at the Internet Archive, in San Francisco, on November 7th. It's pretty amazing.

"How ironic for her to give us all an uplifting, inspirational pep talk, from her cell at Fort Leavenworth. I had the honor of reading her statement, which starts at 1:23:00 on the video."

Today, as is obvious in some of the headlines that we see online – we are in a constant technological arms race, and I think that it's important to realize that we are always only a single breakthrough away from making the methods of network obfuscation and encryption pointless or unusable. While I agree that it's unlikely, it certainly is well within the realm of possibility that we might wake up tomorrow morning – or, if we're really honest, tomorrow afternoon for some of us – and find out that some truly brilliant or devious mathematician or mathematicians have solved the Riemann Hypothesis, throwing entire regions of our encryption arsenal into turmoil. Or, we might wake up and find out that a six, eight, or even ten qubit quantum computer with near perfect error correction has been built, effectively accomplishing the same thing.

The point I'm trying to make here is that – and it is sometimes hard for those of us in the tech community to accept – that our technology can only take us so far on its own. Rather, it is the Human element that is so important, and unfortunately very easy to forget.

As most of us are acutely aware, our software can be written to accomplish a task that, in the right hands, solves incredible problems, creates miracles, eliminates boundaries, and saves lives. Think about, for instance, the entertainment provided by streaming videos and video games, the real-time artificial intelligence applications that are used in automated cars, manufacturing plants, and medical equipment, or the so called "big data" platforms being applied for Internet search, marketing, political campaigning, and healthcare.

[Chelsea Manning/Aaron Swartz Day]

(Image: Happy Birthday American Heroine, Garry Knight, CC-BY)