I think the only winnable long-term counterterrorism strategy involves lowering ill-will.
No matter how many holes in the dam and how many prophylactic technologies are fashioned as fancy fingers to plug these holes in the dam … if ill-will continues to grow, the water will be coming over the top of the dam.
If ten people on earth want to see democracy fail, the risk to our free society is relatively low. When this number becomes ten thousand, a million, or ten million, catastrophic damage can be rendered. And this damage will be some combination of physical harm and the eroding away of privacy and civil liberties. Dark days.
Some number of years ago, Jim Simon, a former CIA executive, once told me "They can blow up our buildings and kill our people and we still don’t lose. But the day we have to change our Constitution in response to terrorism … we lose."
This sent a shiver up my spine. And this happens to have been the first time I really began to ponder a previously unfamiliar concept to me … something called "privacy and civil liberties." (Although embarrassing, better a late bloomer than never a bloomer.)
In any case, I think about this a lot. And as a technologist making efforts to balance national security and privacy, I can’t but help think, where are the folks developing a workable strategy to lower global ill-will?
While this is obviously outside of my area of expertise, it is clear to me that a well executed strategy to lower global ill-will is significantly more important to a brighter future than any of my work.