Mathematicians Increasingly Reluctant to Aid the NSA

It’s been said that the NSA is the world’s largest employer of mathematicians. I’ve also noted a few times that one of the harbingers of doom for the East German surveillance state was when the best people stopped being willing to join the Stasi.

Therefore it’s highly significant to see quotes like the following published in the “Notices of the American Mathematical Society.” This sort of thing, more than any possible legislative change, is what will shift things away from the Orwell/Huxley vision.

(Unfortunately, as one of the mathematicians points out, the government is only half the problem — a tech-obsessed private sector brainwashed with the mantra “computers are more useful the more data they have, so let’s collect all the data we can!” is the other half of the problem. Well, computing as we know it was invented to a large part by a British spy, why are we so surprised that using it everywhere results in mass spying?)

“As things currently stand, I would not collaborate further with any of the US intelligence services. They have betrayed all of us…”

“My carefully considered view is that our society has become preoccupied with terrorism to an absurd and harmful degree.”

“Terrorism is a threat to our society, but it is simply not an existential threat that justifies extraordinary measures.”

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