This episode features returning guest Sam Woolley, whose new book 'The Reality Game,' examines the new frontiers of 'fake news' and the idea that the next wave of technology will 'break the truth'. We discuss the state of the art in propaganda bots, delve further into the Russian strategy of producing 'controlled instability' through ongoing, widespread informational attacks such as political bots, and talk about the rise of institutional distrust, which may well prove disastrous in the context of the current pandemic.

I hope you are doing okay during this tough period. During these uncertain times I'd love to connect with listeners more than ever. For that reason I'm temporarily opening the Patreon discord to anyone who wants to join -- just email me at [email protected] and I'll send you an invite. At times like this we all benefit from exchanging information and ideas about what we should be doing and how to survive whatever comes next.


In this Stolen Headlines, we invite show supporters Tim Reutemann and Mendel Skulski to discuss Coronavirus - how various world governments have responded so far, and the role information technology has played in detecting, containing and eradicating the disease. Tim introduces the informal hackathon he's initiated along with this wife, as a platform for people to do something about the virus.

We discuss: how Taiwan has approached containing Coronavirus, and whether the surveillance provisions set up in order to contain the disease could persist after it's resolved. And we argue about whether modern, data-driven totalitarian societies like China are proving themselves more efficient than free-market economies in addressing Coronavirus, and whether this points to any unexpected advantages this new state form may have over the Western model in the future.

Tim brought the stolen headlines for this show (via Google Translate). The first piece we discuss looks at how the first Swiss citizens became infected with the virus and how the Swiss government has responded to the infection.

The second is a detailed reflection from blogger Alex Kunz on his experience of Coronavirus in Taiwan.

Joey & Tim's Coronavirus Hackathon is organizing itself via Discord. There's already a couple of investors staking cash to help the best ideas get realised. If you'd like to help out, you're welcome to join -- you'll also find me there! Come say hi at: https://discord.gg/tfsCfk2


This conversation centers around Bitcoin - its past, present and future. Cedric Dahl's 1000x group, which describes itself as a 'private think tank' focused on finding black swans in the world of open and distributed protocols, has a thesis that Bitcoin is on the verge of 'superdominance' in which its value could multiply by a thousand or more from where it is right now. We discuss various evidence for this, from Bitcoin's increasing dominance as the key currency of the darknet, to a surge in coin-mixing on the Wasabi network and the possibility that asymmetrically disadvantaged nation states may be hoarding Bitcoin in order to tip the balance of power in their favour should a 'hyper-bitcoinization' scenario arise. Find out just when Cedric thinks the tipping point for that event might occur, and why the US Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) is serious enough about this kind of 'black swan' bitcoin situation to to be sponsoring a study on just what the world would look like if the U.S. dollar lost its status as the world’s reserve currency. 


In this episode, we meet Andy Greenberg, senior writer at Wired Magazine and author of Sandworm, A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hacker. We learned how Russia is developing a secret hacking programme with the ability to take out national infrastructure across the world -- and how, under a new paradigm of 'total war', essential elements of our lived environment are increasingly vulnerable to digital attack -- from banking to electricity to transport systems and beyond. Find out why Russia may now be trying to export the 'controlled instability' it has produced in Ukraine to the West, and how this could provide the country with an unprecedented 'asymmetric' military upper hand.


In this episode, I met Hugo Fruehauf, one of the inventors of GPS, the global positioning system underpinning an enormous number of the technologies we rely on today. We dig into how GPS works, and how much of our world depends on it -- from cellphone networks to financial markets and the electric grid…. and the multiple attacks against it by spoofers and jammers.


We are living in a world eaten by software -- software created, owned and operated by Silicon Valley. In this episode, Jamie meets Margaret O' Mara, author of 'The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America' to discuss how Silicon Valley's rejection of the conventional bureaucracies and corporate structures, its turning away from the mainframe towards a decentralized attitude to innovations and development, led to a huge new empire -- one that is radically restructuring the world's institutions.


In this episode Jamie meets up with John P. Carlin, author of Dawn of the Code War and former Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division to discuss the ongoing network war with China -- one that's about to ratchet up, as 5G connects billions of devices via a technology heavily dependent on China's Huawei.

What does it mean to wage war in the era of distributed networks? How do networks change the very idea of 'Command and Control' towards leaderless, non-hierarchical memetic structures? We dig into crowdsourced terrorism' of Al Qaeda and look at some similarities with Anonymous and the QAnon phenomenon.

Finally, we discuss the widespread idea that there's a kind of break with authority going on in the online era—what could be described as an 'epistemological crisis' created by our hyper-informational environment—one that's being exploited and amplified by various lords of chaos to create new and unpredictable political realities.


The fourth installment of STEAL THIS SHOW's semi-regular news discussion format. In this episode of Stolen Headlines, Tim, Mattias and Jamie get together to discuss: how 8Chan came to influence White House policy; why in China, the Little Red Book *reads you*; and the array of Silicon Valley companies caving to China's stringent censorship demands.

Links:

https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/qanon-ukraine-server/
https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/chinese-app-allows-officials-access-to-100-million-users-phone-report-2115962
https://www.businessinsider.com/tech-companies-censoring-content-for-china-apple-microsoft-2019-10?r=US&IR=T

Stolen Headlines is created in the STEAL THIS SHOW Discord channel, in collaboration with the show's patrons. Join us and get involved: patreon.com/stealthisshow.

In Fighting For The Perimeter: Huawei & The 5G Surveillance Empire. I looked at 5G as a new global surveillance surface, one largely dependent on Huawei, a company run by ex-officer of China's military.

Using the documentary American Factory as a springboard, this episode looks at how and why the West has allowed a strategic adversary to occupy key elements of its economic infrastructure. Transnational capital was supposed to create a world of free-market democracies. Instead, China has used the free market system to maintain and grow itself into a dominant ‘command economy’, based on a highly technologized form of authoritarian capitalism. 

What are the consequences of hooking up our factories, nuclear power production, and networking infrastructure to a Chinese state which is openly seeking empire and hegemony? 

This is a kind of precursor to the next episode in this sequence, which will look at the role information technology is playing in the success of China’s centralised command economy. Why might a state based on centralised control succeed, in today's digital environment, where others in the past have failed?


This is part one of a two-part interview with Finn Brunton, author of 'Digital Cash: The Unknown History of the Anarchists, Utopians, and Technologists Who Created Cryptocurrency'. In this part we dig into the secret pre-history of Bitcoin, including the World War 2 origins of public/private key cryptography, how Proof Of Work was initially proposed as a means to fight spam,  and how the 'Extropian' movement - which, Finn explains, stood for 'more life, more energy, more time, more space, more money... more everything! - collected an uncanny number of the early engineers contributing to what would eventually become Bitcoin.

If there's one key takeaway from this episode, it's that there's no one Satoshi Nakamoto -- Bitcoin's a bricolage of math, technology and ingenuity stretching back at least seventy years. Do any of the Extropians who had themselves cryogenically preserved, we wonder, have bitcoin wallets still till accruing value -- and will they still be able to recall their word seeds when they're brought back to life in a hundred years' time?