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SXSW: Al Gore Talks Surveillance Culture, Spider Goats 260

Nerval's Lobster writes "Former vice president Al Gore sat down with Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg at this year's SXSW conference to talk about the future — specifically, what Gore sees as the dangers and opportunities awaiting the planet for the next few years. Gore drilled down into what he referred to as the "stalker economy." The rise of apps such as SnapChat, which allows smartphone users to control how long friends can view messages, is emblematic of people reaching the "gag point" with pervasive recording and surveillance by government and business. "Our democracy has been hacked," Gore also told his audience, referring to the U.S. Constitution as "our operating system." While there's never been a "golden age" of American Democracy, he added, the perils emerging today are new. "If a Congressman or Senator has to spend five hours a day begging special interests or rich people for money," he said, they'll be more concerned about how what they're saying will appeal to those interests—rather than their constituents. In yet another tangent, Gore railed against genetic engineering, including Spider Goats, which are goats with spliced spider DNA that allows them to secrete spider silk along with their milk. The goats breed, extending that trait to future generations. Gore sees such things as a case of science run amok, alternately creepy and scary."
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SXSW: Al Gore Talks Surveillance Culture, Spider Goats

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  • by Let's All Be Chinese ( 2654985 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:37PM (#43134579)

    Actually, no. The hackers were the founding fathers, hacking together something intended to last for a bit, only then the lusers came along and allowed the people's interests to be hijacked by monied sleaze. The malware more or less is running the system. There certainly are no competent administrators around to clean up the mess.

    You can only stretch analogies so far, but "government" as "operating system", executing laws and directives and things, and regulating access to resources for corporations and individuals, isn't that bad an analogy, really.

  • Re:democracy hacked? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @09:52PM (#43134647) Homepage Journal

    Definitely [], Al Gore benefited from his political connections many times. Current TV would not have become profitable for him in that sale if he wasn't Gore and didn't have all these political connections (you can't just start a media company and really expect all those networks and channels and carriers to give you access). His fortune became larger also as a result of the 529 Million USD loan (political connections) that gov't gave Fisker car company, and they moved production to Finland, manufacturing gas guzzling (climate change, ha?) luxury 90,000USD cars (man of the people).

  • Re:democracy hacked? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:08PM (#43134731) Journal

    Special interests are inevitable in a system that allows politicians to set the rules for businesses and individuals in the first place.

    Only if money changes hands.

    that's why there is all this money pouring in

    No, there's money pouring in because it's legal to do so. Make it illegal, create public election financing and put a few politicians away for taking money and watch how fast things change.

    Politicians set the rules for businesses and individuals in 1790 too, you know.

  • Re:Sad to see (Score:4, Interesting)

    by manu0601 ( 2221348 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @10:40PM (#43134875)

    Those goats aren't being thrown out in the wild to breed

    Indeed. It looks creepier than GM corn because goats are closer to humans than corn, but the risks of uncontrolled dissemination is much lower than with GM corn. And unlike GM corn, the silk goats are not drowned under toxic roundup

  • Re:democracy hacked? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday March 11, 2013 @01:29AM (#43135491)
    However "smaller and more limited government" is in many cases just a code for not having any auditors that can identify where the bribes are coming from and what the money is getting spent on. That gold plated cisco router in a one room library mentioned in an earlier story is an example of the "smaller" government, as is the missing millions in Iraq, outsourcing a pile of TSA stuff to Chertoff's company and I'm sure plenty of more recent stuff perpetrated by both of the functioning US political parties. The players know that code so for some of the honest "smaller government" is seen as meaning nothing more than graft, corruption and diverting public money into friendly pockets - thus "It's anathema to them".

    It's one of those stupid twisted issues where the actual issue (in this case that of a well run public services delivered without consuming a lot of tax income, which everyone would like to see) gets buried under tons of baggage ranging from "I'm all right Jack" anarchists, blatant Royalists that want to set up the rich as a new nobility that Washington would have shot without hesitation, to utter scumbags on the take. Acting to oppose utter scumbags on the take (and similar) is framed as wishing to waste public money.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 11, 2013 @02:32AM (#43135689)

    But what are Al Gore's views on GMO? Mossberg, not Gore, thinks spider goats are science run amuck.

    Not the first time WSJ didn't get the story right.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson