Wow, Criticism from Moscow

June 17, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

I read “Edward Snowden Eviscerates OpenAI’s Decision to Put a Former NSA Director on Its Board: This Is a Willful, Calculated Betrayal of the Rights of Every Person on Earth.” The source is the interesting public figure Edward Snowden. He rose to fame by violating his secrecy requirement imposed by the US government on individuals with access to sensitive, classified, or top secret information. He then ended his dalliance with “truth” by relocating to Russia. From that bastion of truth and justice, he gives speeches and works (allegedly) at a foundation. He is a symbol of modern something. I find him a fascinating character, complete with the on-again, off-again glasses and his occasion comments about security. He is an expert on secrets it seems.


Thanks, MSFT Copilot.

Fortune Magazine obviously views him as a way to get clicks, sell subscriptions, and cement its position as a source of high-value business information. I am not sure my perception of Fortune is congruent with that statement. Let’s look and see what Mr. Snowden’s “news” is telling Fortune to tell us to cause me to waste a perfectly good Saturday (June 14, 2024) morning writing about an individual who willfully broke the law and decamped to that progressive nation state so believed by its neighbors in Eastern Europe.

Fortune reports:

“Do not ever trust OpenAI or its products,” the NSA employee turned whistleblower wrote on X Friday morning, after the company announced retired U.S. Army Gen. Paul Nakasone’s appointment to the board’s new safety and security committee. “There’s only one reason for appointing [an NSA director] to your board. This is a willful, calculated betrayal of the rights of every person on earth. You have been warned.”

Okay, I am warned. Several observations:

  1. Telegram, allegedly linked in financial and technical ways, to Russia recently began censoring the flow of information from Ukraine into Russia. Does Mr. Snowden have an opinion about that interesting development. Telegram told Tucker Carlson that it embraced freedom. Perhaps OpenAI is simply being pragmatic in the Telegram manner?
  2. Why should Mr. Snowden’s opinion warrant coverage in Fortune Magazine? Oh, sorry. I answered that already. Fortune wants clicks, money, and to be perceived as relevant. News flash: Publishing has changed. Please, tape the memo to your home office wall.
  3. Is Mr. Snowden correct? I am neither hot nor cold when it comes to Sam AI Man, the Big Dog at OpenAI. My thought is that OpenAI might be taking steps to understand how much value the information OpenAI can deliver to the US government once the iPhone magic moves from “to be” to reality. Most Silicon Valley outfits are darned clumsy in their response to warrants. Maybe OpenAI’s access to someone who knows interesting information can be helpful to the company and ultimately to its users who reside in the US?

Since 2013, the “Snowden thing” has created considerable ripples. If one accepts Mr. Snowden’s version of events, he is a hero. As such, shouldn’t he be living in the US, interacting with journalists directly not virtually, and presenting his views to the legal eagles who want to have a chat with him? Mr. Snowden’s response is to live in Moscow. It is okay in the spring and early summer. The rest of the year can be brutal. But there’s always Sochi for a much-needed vacay and the wilds of Siberia for a bit of prison camp exploration.

Moscow has its charms and an outstanding person like Mr. Snowden. Thanks, Fortune, for reminding me how important his ideas and laptop stickers are. I like the “every person on earth.” That will impress people in Latvia.

Stephen E Arnold, June 17, 2024


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