- What if you had a virus in your brain?
- What if it was a cognitive virus, a kind of cognitive AIDS?
- What would it do to you? How would it affect your thinking?
- How did you get infected with the virus?
- What could you do to cure it?
Every technology has its hackers – those enthusiasts who enjoy exploring the intimate details of the system, cracking the codes and stretching and testing the capabilities of systems. There have been radio hackers and computer hackers and you’ve no doubt read about the security hackers who have ripped-off customers and banks for millions of dollars.
We’ve seen nuclear hackers who have designed DIY nuclear weapons for science projects and we have cyberspace hackers who roam the networks for fun and profit. No doubt it won’t be long before we read of genetic hackers who amuse themselves by playing around in our gene pool.
Hackers, driven by strong curiosity, often just start off by seeking amusement and showing off their skill but sometimes their antics lead to chaos, fraud and even … disaster!
In recent years, some computer hackers started out manipulating their systems for fun by designing viruses that replicate themselves into other systems. Few hackers, however, are competent enough or even willing to fully comprehend the ongoing consequences of their antics.
Many of their viruses took off out of control and by now have infected millions of personal computers. These viruses are real! They cause real down time, real loss of capital, real damage to equipment, real destruction of databases and, sometimes, real loss of life.
Shawn Henry, assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, told a conference in New York, in January 2009, that computer attacks pose the biggest risk “from a national security perspective, other than a weapon of mass destruction or a bomb in one of our major cities. Other than a nuclear device or some other type of destructive weapon, the threat to our infrastructure, the threat to our intelligence, the threat to our computer network is the most critical threat we face,” he added.
US experts talk of “cybergeddon,” in which an advanced economy — where almost everything of importance is linked to or even controlled by computers — is sabotaged by hackers.
Michael Balboni, deputy secretary for public safety in New York state, described “a huge threat out there” against everything from banking institutions to municipal water systems and dams.
Daily cybertransactions that can be infected by computer viruses include:
- Wall Street decisions involving the transfer of capital in the billions
- credit-card transactions between millions of traders and their customers
- airline reservations affecting thousands of travellers
- maintenance and command decisions involving hundreds of US missiles and others.
The mind boggles at the havoc that can be caused if these viruses spread unchecked. Yet, there is a virus, a brain virus, which already exists in the brains of many humans from preachers to presidents, that makes these computer viruses look wimps by comparison.
This brain virus–or meme–is real.
It’s seductive and it’s very powerful.
It’s also highly destructive. Just last century alone more than 26 million humans were killed in the world wars, revolutionary wars, conflicts, pogroms, persecutions, genocides and racial cleansings. It can be argued that many or most of these events were initiated by people infected with PTV and motivated to apply their ‘Truth’ to others.
In the brain of a president or a terrorist it could unleash a missile that starts the unthinkable nuclear madness that threatens the very existence of humanity. In the brain of a CEO it can threaten the survival of the business.
And, in YOUR brain???
This brain virus is the Plato Truth Virus (PTV) and chances are almost certain that you, dear brainuser, are already infected.
In Part One of this training you will come to understand the virus and how it affects your life and in Part Two you will find out exactly what you can do to contain it.
Ideaviruses, Memes and Memeplexes
In myÂ book The X10 Memeplex: Multiply Your Business By Ten! (Prentice-Hall, 2000) I look closely at the concept of ‘information brain viruses’ like PTV.
The other scientific name for these idea viruses is ‘memes’ as coined by Oxford biologist, Richard Dawkins, in his book The Selfish Gene. (This book is now in its 30th Anniversary edition and is a MUST READ for any educated person).
Plato the TruthFreak
When it comes to ‘thinking’, Plato was the ultimate hacker. At that time, playing around with thinking systems was as much the rage amongst an elite group of men in Greece, as playing around with software systems is the rage amongst the hackers of today. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were the most famous ‘thinking hackers’ of their day. These hackers of 2500 years ago designed fundamental thinking technologies, systems and viruses that have dominated Western thinking right up to the 20th century, and who knows for how much longer?
Today’s hackers have handles like AcidFreak and CyberSam. Plato’s handle would well have been TruthFreak since it was he who invented his ‘truth’ concept – the strange and unlikely notion that there is such a thing as ‘absolute truth’.
Yet this bizarre suggestion has so side-tracked Western philosophers that even today many great minds in Western colleges and universities have still not escaped from Plato’s ‘truth’ idea and their thinking remains infected with this dangerous virus.
It would be a difficult (but worthwhile) project to calculate the cost to humanity and the staggering destruction caused by PTV – Plato’s ‘truth’ virus. It’s unlikely that Plato had any idea of the extreme consequences of his invention any more than some of today’s hackers will have of theirs. He was just hacking around with thinking.
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