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Do You Really Want What You Want?


After some upbeat, smart pop from singer-songwriter Tony Ferrari, Convergence 2014 opened with a bang on Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, as John McAfee – the security wizard who founded McAfee Associates – gave an electrifying opening keynote. His appearance at Convergence was, in fact, filmed as part of a documentary on McAfee in the works for a cable channel. McAfee began, "I'm outside the box. I don't even know what the box looks like." After talking a bit about radio history, McAfee said frankly, "I don't listen to broadcast radio." He observed that in this digital "Age of Me," it's possible to find pretty much anything you might want, quickly and easily, and noted that Google is even dabbling in matchmaking, potentially finding anyone the perfect mate. But, he added, "Do you really want what you want?"

After praising his wife, who accompanied him to the event, for expanding his horizons culturally and otherwise, McAfee later noted, "I don't want the perfect  mate. I don't want Google to search 5 billion women to find the perfect one. I would shoot myself in six months."

McAfee soon turned the tables on the documentary filmmakers, bringing the camera and sound operators up onstage and taking over the camera himself. He asked them some questions, all by way of illustrating that "reality" TV has a formula that is in itself unreal – including pretending that the film crew doesn't exist. He said a cameraman who knows he's not part of a subject's normal life "takes himself out of the lives." He also turned the camera briefly on the audience, pointing out that the reality is that "I am not some lone person, standing on a stage, talking to an empty room." He also predicted about the forthcoming documentary: "The viewer will be clued to the set, if they use this. They won't, of course."

McAfee also talked about his investment in a company called Hum, saying the technology – which allows personalized messages to be delivered to an entire base of fans or followers – is "one one example of technology giving you an opportunity that you can only pick up and take." Today, he said, "You have to abandon everything you've ever known or believed. You have to come to the table with an
open mind, thinking all things are possible."

Asked to comment on online privacy, McAfee made the point that everyone has something to hide, and in today's world, between Google and NSA surveillance, no one really has any secrets. But, he said, "Privacy is a choice." And an important one: "If everybody here knew everything about everybody
else, there would be fistfights in the hall." He added, ""The only way we can live
together as a society is if we deceive each other. Tragic, but true." Nonetheless, he said bluntly, Google and the NSA know everything: Though we all have something to hide, "If you have something to hide in this world, you're screwed."

He pointed out that even the most innocent-seeming smartphone apps can require permission to take pictures, record audio, send information back to the developers, access your contacts, read your texts and e-mails, change network settings, and even send messages to your contact without ever notifying you that it's happened. And the first step to addressing the problem, he said, is being aware of it. He demonstrated an app called DCentral that spells out all the privacy a user gives up to a particular app – everything it can access, do, or change without notifying the user. He himself changes phones every two days, but advised, "Do not download anything unless it is life-critical."

Asked about the newsworthy situation in Belize, McAfee said that, after retiring there, he was soon approached by officials who asked for political contributions in exchange for land and favors, and that he was attacked and his land set on fire when he refused. Soon after, he gifted Belize cabinet ministers with computers that tracked all their activity, and now, he says, he possesses 17,000 hours of proof of egregious violations and crimes. After his activity was revealed, a neighbor of his was murdered, and the army came after him. He was able to escape to Guatemala, and is still in an ongoing "war" with the government of Belize; he said he and his wife have survived five attempts on their lives to date.

Asked about Edward Snowden, McAfee said, "For me, he is a hero. Thank God for Edward Snowden," adding that without Snowden's revelations, Americans would still be unaware of the extent of NSA surveillance. Asked who if the American government could be working with the government of Belize, he replied, "Our government is in cahoots with everyone, but at the same time, I believe, wants to protect American citizens."

McAfee added, "Who do you trust? It turns out, no one."

Follow Day Two of Radio Ink's Convergence on Twitter at #CONV14

(6/6/2014 9:00:55 AM)
Perhaps he is too deep for you

- marsha
(6/6/2014 9:00:24 AM)
Perhaps he is too deep for you

- marsha
(6/5/2014 2:52:26 PM)
Guy's off the deep end. Shame that you are associating with him. How much is he paying you?

- Concerned

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