Robert David Steele was recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, for his work integrating holistic analytics, true cost economics, and Open Source Everything Engineering. The son of an oil engineer, he grew up all over the world and went on to earn three graduate degrees, in international relations, public administration, and national security strategy and economics. He has been a Marine Corps infantry officer, a CIA spy with three clandestine tours overseas, one focused on terrorism, and the second ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, responsible for creating the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity. Very few people know that the CIA created its first Artificial Intelligence Staff around him in 1986. The author of a dozen books, thirty kindles, and hundreds of articles, he is also the top reviewer in English for non-fiction, with over 2,500 published reviews across 98 categories. As CEO of Open Source Solutions Inc. from 1993-2007 he trained over 7,500 officers from over 60 countries in Open Source Intelligence. He founded Earth Intelligence Network, a non-profit, in 2006, and Open Source Everything, Inc., a for-profit, in 2018. He ran briefly for President in 2012 and may run again — he is passionate about his campaign to restore integrity to election, #UNRIG, but today we will talk about his thirty years of engagement in the world of information technology and human understanding. His over-all vision is shown here:
– Can you tell us about your journey from covert to OSINT
While I was proud to be a spy — selected by an extremely competitive process second only to the astronaut program — I realized after three clandestine tours overseas that CIA was not so much in the business of stealing truth as selling lies. I also realized that CIA was not doing what it was supposed to do: decision-support (intelligence properly understood is about decision-support (the output) not about sources (the inputs)). At the nine year point the Marine Corps, where I had remained a reserve intelligence officer, invited me to create the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity and I quickly realized that 80-90% of what we needed could be answered with Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), at a fraction of the cost and with zero political risk, compared to secret sources and methods. General Tony Zinni, USMC, then Commanding General of the US Central Command engaged in 2 wars and 12 joint task force actions, is on record as saying that he got, “at best” 4% of what he needed from secret sources. The other aspect of my conversion is that for spies a secret shared is a secret lost, and the world needs to share information — especially true cost economic information — if it is to achieve the sustainable development goals and create a prosperous world at peace. The secret intelligence world is corrupt to the bone and in the service of the 1% — OSINT is what the 99% should and could use to take down the Deep State and Shadow Government and achieve direct informed democracy in the public interest, but I have failed so far in part because CIA has blocked me at every turn, and in part because the Deep State and CIA have been very successful at using the media, Hollywood, and other measures to dumb down the public and make 70% of the public totally inactive in relation to civics (which is no longer taught in schools).
– Can you tell us about the OSEE Manifesto
Richard Stallman was the original for Free/Open Source Software, at the same time, from 1988 on, I was the original for OSINT. At some point in the 1990’s I realized that Open Source EVERYTHING was a possibility, and started thinking to that end. The Open Source Everything Manifesto, with a foreword by Howard Bloom, has been translated into Chinese and Spanish and is freely available for translation into other languages; it lists 60 opens Anyone looking up <Open Source Everything Engineering> (OSEE) on Google Images will immediately get to the core graphics. I was deeply influenced in my final conclusions by Michel Bauwens of Peer to Peer Foundation and Marcin Jakubowski of Open Source Ecology, who created the Global Village Construction Set, and I was aided by Bojan Radej of Slovenia who created an epic Venn diagram to illuminate the world-changing value of OSEE — the current Western economic model is 50% waste and 90% profit for the banks. Marcin and others have documented that OSEE can create a post-Western economic model for 10-20% the cost of the existing model. There are nine core opens — data access, decision-support tools, governance, software, provisioning including energy, water, and food; manufacturing, infrastructure, health, and space. For each of these I have identified three sub-domains for a total of 27. My hope is to create an Open Source Agency — the Office of Management and Budget has approved this twice at $2B a year, but CIA has blocked me from reaching the President or a Cabinet member. An interim solution is for any given state — Nebraska for example — to create an Open Source Everything Innovation Center at a major university with backing from the state, chamber of commerce, and labor unions. My letter to the Secretary General of the UN outlines how my ideas can resolve all seventeen of the Sustainable Development Goals within 10-20 years at 10-20% the cost of the existing failed donor-Western economic model.
– Can you unpack the OPEN SPACE Diagram (and each of its component parts)
Open Space was invented by my friend Harrison Owen, and his book Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide, is where anyone can go to get his vision directly. What I will emphasize is that collective intelligence is vastly more powerful than individual intelligence, and you cannot harness collective intelligence if you operate within a paradigm that worships secrecy. The best solutions inevitably come from people who were not part of the original decision-making process — because most decision networks are both hierarchical and closed, they tend to be insular and tap into less than 20% of the relevant knowledge. Here is a simple example: Reebok executive were meeting, not in a deliberate open space setting but in an open room that was accessible to a security guard making the rounds. They were talking about where to find a new market to grow into. The security guard offered an opinion and because they were open, they listened. He said that people like him needed shoes that were athletic in nature to support long hours on foot, but that appeared to be business like. Reebok made $28 million the first year from cops, security guard,s nurses, and such. The US national security mind-set is to make deficiencies in weapons systems and such TOP SECRET. That results in shutting out all those who might have fresh ideas, and gives a monopoly on fixing the deficiency to the military-industrial complex company that created the deficiency in the first place — we make waste and deficiencies PROFITABLE with such mind-sets that are exclusive instead of inclusive.Kevin Kelly wrote about hive mind in the 1990’s — for me open space is about enabling the community of humanity to be educated, engaged, and committed to the commons.
– You say “the truth at any cost lowers all other costs”. What do you mean by that?
Half or more of our history is a lie. Half or more of our science is a lie. Half or more of our academic rote learning is either a lie or totally irrelevant to the future. No one does true cost economics — a McDonald’s cheeseburger actually costs $200 or more if everything is added up. From water and fuel use to child labor to toxins put into the Earth by the production process, we are killing the earth and ourselves. 5G and geoengineering are two of the major atrocities — crimes against humanity — being pushed now by the Deep State, both should be outlawed. If you do not do holistic analytics, true cost economics, and Open Source Everything Engineering, you are committing moral and intellectual suicide. I have written on information pathologies, including — each of these is the title of a book — Fog Facts, Forbidden History, Lost History, Manufacturing Consent, Missing Information, Propaganda, Rule by Secrecy, Weapons of Mass Deception, Weapons of Mass Destruction. I cannot overstate the degree to which the 99% are being screwed by the 1% for lack of public intelligence, public integrity, and public imagination.
– You speak of a “world brain” – what do you mean?
Listeners can look in Google Images for <world brain steele> to get to the graphics. I was the capstone speaker to the Amazon developers conference in 2007, the movie of that presentation is free online, and I am sorry to say that Amazon has become the police state version of the world brain, rather than the public service version that I envision. I own world-brain.net, world-brain.org, and world-brain.com, I am looking for a university to capture world-brain.edu, and then we can build all four of these nodes — a World Brain Institute, a Global (Serious) game, a Center for Public Intelligence, and a School of Future-Oriented Hybrid Governance are all part of my vision. Hybrid governance means that all eight “tribes” of information are fully engaged and inter-operable — government is the least important tribe. The other seven are academia, civil society, commerce especially local small business, law enforcement, media including bloggers, military, and non-profit. A world brain — I have written books on this topic — connects all humans to all information in all languages and mediums all the time, AND it gives them tools for thinking and sharing that enable enlightened self-governance in a distributed fashion. Top down hierarchies are inherently both corrupt and ignorant and lead to a concentration of wealth at the top and misery at the bottom.
– Lastly, how do you see the relationship between Ethics and AI evolving?
This is a great question to end on. I worry more about artificial stupidity than I do about artificial intelligence. There is no substitute for human nuanced understanding including empathy and intuition and uncertainty. I was very pleased with an interview I did with SingularityBlog, they credited me with conceptualizing the idea of ethics as an operating system. Let me say clearly that today we process 1% of what we collect and we collect 1% of what is known — so we are processing 1% of 1% at great expense and to no good end. We really do live in a matrix of lies and ignorance. We have become retarded as a species — morally retarded, intellectually retarded, emotionally retarded. Computers do binary thinking and quantum computers do binary thinking better. Black white on off yes no. Most communications and computing systems are totally penetrated and used for insider trading and blackmail and other nefarious purposes. The center of gravity for the future of humanity is educated, informed, engaged humans. When the lights go out, ethics, not computers, will rule.
Thank you, Robert.
Everyone can learn more at https://robertdavidsteele.com.