September 17th, 2014
04:38 PM ET

Geeks vs global policy

For more Last Look, watch GPS, Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

Over the past few years, technology and global affairs have increasingly intersected. Think about when Twitter delayed site maintenance in order to continue to carry tweets during Iran's green revolution. Or about apps like "Red Alert," created this summer to warn Israelis of incoming rocket attacks.

Well, last month, geeks collided with global policy once more. Hack North Korea, organized by the Human Rights Foundation, brought 100 engineers, coders, activists, investors, and designers together in San Francisco to answer one burning question: How can we get information into and possibly out of North Korea?

The attendees divided into eight groups judged by a panel that included North Korean defectors, refugees, and even a computer scientist who once trained the regime's cyber warfare unite. The winner – tiny portable satellite receivers so small and flat they could be hidden on the exteriors of North Korean homes. They would be smuggled in using balloons or across the Chinese border. And they would pull in English and Korean language stations from a South Korean broadcaster.

Think of it as air dropping a different kind of weapon – knowledge.

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Topics: Last Look

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    Ok, so you just told NK about it...

    September 17, 2014 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  2. revenge of the nerds...

    let the geeks into the room. They can solve some pretty complex issues using rather "different and unconventional" approaches. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg are good examples of why "Geekdom" is a good idea.....🙂

    September 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Reply
  3. Ferhat Balkan

    Sounds interesting, but I don't think China will be happy with spy balloons going across their border into what they consider their close and best communist friend North Korea.

    September 17, 2014 at 11:13 pm | Reply
  4. chri§§y

    As a former "geek" my thanks to you @ revenge of the nerds! And you are correct, Mr Bill Gates is a very smart man and a true delight person to converse with! One who also cares a great deal about humanity, as also does his wife!

    September 17, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      Bill Gates and his wife run a wonderful charitable organization. There is a lot to admire about them both.

      September 18, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • rupert

      Banasy is right. Not only have they donated lots of money to good causes. But also to scholarships

      September 18, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Reply
      • rupert

        Chrissy, so true. But can't talk about computers with Bill. Just too technical for me.

        September 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
    • Philip

      Bill Gates accepted NSA bribe to engineer a back door in MSOS in order for your government to spy on you. The NSA was finally forced to admit this after Eric Snowden/Wikileaks exposed it months ago.
      Talk about GWB worship. Why don't you just lick Gate's ballz.

      September 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm | Reply
      • LaBella

        First you talk about Bill Clinton's privates and now you're postulating on Bill Gate's balls? I'm sensing a trend here, Slingblade.

        September 19, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
      • Philip

        I was talking about Apple McIntosh telling the NSA to take a hike. And Bill Gates bending over for them.
        Get your mind out of the gutter, LaBella. Back up on the sidewalk were you belong.
        I have read everything that I have seen you posting. And I recall little children being ornery towords other kids they were fond of. Even awfully.
        Truce.

        September 19, 2014 at 7:43 pm |
      • LaBella

        =>Based on everything I have read by you here, there is nothing to be fond of you about. I'll give you that you are an ornery child though. But okay. You want a truce? I'll give you a truce. If I see you bashing the women on here, I'll be back to bashing you.
        =>My mind isn't in the gutter, by the by. But you post blatantly garbage about Bill Gates licking someone's balls, I have to assume yours is.

        September 19, 2014 at 8:07 pm |
  5. Thomas

    As long as they are good Geeks , the silicone valley is filled with geek pimps who want to deliver my pizza at minimum wage and create a cast system of 0s and 1s .

    Don't be fooled by a cyber nanny pretending to be an Au Pair ?

    September 18, 2014 at 2:27 am | Reply
    • Philip

      Exactly, Thomas. Millions of Americans have traded their home mortgages for university educations of just plain old stupid sons and daughters. Credit card debt used to be the burr in America's saddle. Now it's student loan debt.
      Who was it that said "There is nothing more repugnant than observing an average minded student being forced to acquire knowledge that will never become wisdom"? Could have been an old MIT professor or some BC Roman general. Guess I could Google keywords and find out. (So much for idiots asking for links. Use keywords already provided you idiot. @banasy, of course. Chrissy&Co. not withstanding.

      September 19, 2014 at 7:36 pm | Reply
      • LaBella

        =>Philip, what did I just say? Stop bashing the women on here. I know when you sat down to type every little thing that popped into your subnormal brain you figured no one would ever hold it up to any scrutiny. But people do, and when they disagree with you, you bash them.
        =>What's going on in that brain of yours, Philip? Something's going on with it for you to constantly bring up banasy and Chrissy in your posts. I guess scientists won't know what's wrong with your brain until after they cut open the insects that ate it.

        September 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm |
  6. Angie Merkel showed us the way

    Ol' Aunt Angie, over yonder, in Deutscheland, is a Geek. She has a PhD in Physics from East Germany. She is awesome. She brought Germany back and even saved the EU from itself! We certainly can use some more "geek help" on this Planet. Send in the geeks please..........

    September 18, 2014 at 10:30 am | Reply
  7. definitely not Hillary....

    Yup, we definitely do not need that ol' bat, Hillary, in 2016. And forget about those nitwit Republicans that want to nuke the Planet. So where is our Geek? We want a Geek! Now! Hey Lawrence Lab and Los Alamos Lab, send us one of your Geeks to lead us.....

    September 18, 2014 at 10:33 am | Reply
    • spoiled brat from Radcliffe

      Hillary is just a spoiled brat from Radcliffe. No fit to lead us. A female geek from Lawrence Livermore Lab would be just fantastic. They have 1000's of PhD's at these labs. All we need is ONE............ please.......... pretty please...........

      September 18, 2014 at 10:37 am | Reply
      • banasy©

        I saw a pseudo campaign for the election of Neil deGrasse Tyson for POTUS.
        He'd certainly further NASA's endeavors, that is for sure.

        September 18, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
      • Neil de Grasse Tyson for President!

        Good comment. I vote for Neil de Grasse Tyson for President! He will do a much much much much better job than ANYBODY who is standing for US President for 2016.......... guaranteed............ the guys is soooooooooooo smart.......... no matter what Fox News says about him.........🙂 Yessssssssssssssss.............. we need a PhD in Physics............. a super nerd............ to hell with all this losers with law degrees that waste our valuable time and our precious tax monies.............. Neil will straighten things out............ like any good scientist would.............🙂

        September 18, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
    • portlandtony

      PhD's are not Gods and definitely, in most cases, not suitable leaders for a nation. They are men or women who have dedicated their intellectual lives to the study, research, understanding and adding to a particular area of human knowledge. Yes, we need more intelligent leadership in our government, but then agiain we need a smarter electorate to put them there.
      And in some states or geographic areas, would be impossible.

      September 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Reply
      • so what's the alternative?

        Yeah, you are right, geeks have dedicated their lives to studying, in depth, a subject such as Physics or Chemistry or Biology or Mathematics.......... but you know what, that's what makes them special, that's what makes them capable of focusing on a problem and fixing it........ and most importantly, that's what kept them away from learning the "tricks" of obfuscation, the tricks of rhetoric, the tricks of lying, the tricks of cheating, the tricks of accepting money for campaign financing that corrupts our current politicians........... and THAT'S WHY WE NEED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!! Angela Merkel has shown the entire world what a geek can do, when she is given the reigns of power.................. QED: Quod Erat Demonstratum.......... it is time for those loser politicians with Law Degrees to move over........... we, the American people are DONE with you.............. all you guys are capable of, is arguing for decades, in circles, while you draw a HUGE paycheck, from us taxpayers, while you enjoy your comfortable lifestyle in "uptown" DC, and do NOTHING else!!!!!!!!.......... we are SICK of you.......... if you have a law degree or political science degree, please get the hell out of DC........... we want the GEEKS to take over.............. they will do at least a million times better........... and we are SURE of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        September 18, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
      • Philip

        Get a clue. The average American is obese and stupid now. Half are drug addicts. The average Ivy League grad student can't even pass an 8thgade final. (National Adult Literacy Survey)
        In a democracy, it is impossible to have corrupted leaders without there first being corrupted voters.

        September 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
      • LaBella

        Do you see why nobody wants to discuss anything with you? Get a clue. That's why! Now shut up and ADDRESS WHAT HE SAID!

        September 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm |
  8. Philip

    Hillary tolerates an abusive womanizer. Do you?

    September 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm | Reply
    • LaBella

      You are the LAST person to judge anyone.
      🎶I'm careful not to fall
      I have to climb your wall
      'Cause you're the one
      Who makes me feel much taller than you are
      I'm just a peeping tom
      On my own for far too long
      Problems with the booze
      Nothing left to lose

      I'm weightless... I'm bare
      I'm faithless... I'm scared

      The face that fills the hole
      That stole my broken soul
      The one that makes me seem to feel much taller than you are
      I'm just a peeping tom
      On my own for far too long
      Troubles with the gear
      Nothing left to fear

      I'm weightless... I'm bare
      I'm faithless... I'm scared
      I'm weightless... I'm bare
      I'm faithless... I'm scared

      With every bet I lost
      And every trick I tossed
      You're still the one who makes me feel much taller than you are
      I'm just a peeping tom
      On my own for far too long
      Problems with the booze
      Nothing left to lose

      I'm weightless... I'm bare
      I'm faithless... I'm scared
      I'm weightless... I'm bare
      I'm faithless... I'm scared
      I'm weightless... I'm bare
      I'm faithless... I'm scared
      I'm scared
      I'm scared
      I'm scared
      I'm scared
      🎶

      September 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Reply
      • Philip

        I didn't judge Bill Clinton. He did. He admitted to luring a young plump aid into the Oval Office. Guilty by his own admission.
        Ask Hillary. Bill has been cheating on her for decades. She uses him. Duh.

        September 19, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
      • Philip

        Scared of what? Foreign terrorists? Lmao

        September 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
      • LaBella

        You sure as hell did judge him. So? You're not saying anything new here...the last thing the world needs is a second Alzheimer's victim with mannequin genitals declaring themselves an expert on relationships. So shut up, ok?

        September 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm |
  9. chri§§y

    And WE tolerate an abusive blogger! Whats your point?

    September 18, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Reply
    • Philip

      You do not tolerate me, Chrissy. Give it a rest.

      September 19, 2014 at 6:37 pm | Reply
      • LaBella

        She is right. You are abusive.

        September 19, 2014 at 8:29 pm |
      • LaBella

        Although props to you for recognizing you are an abusive blogger.

        September 19, 2014 at 10:53 pm |
  10. LaBella

    🎶My friends just don't understand just cause hes not the man
    They try to act hard now pretend like they floss
    We'll see who's laughing when my geek is their boss
    Maybe he doesn't have experience with dates
    But I bet the same thing happend to Bill Gates
    So even though he doesn't have Sean Jean or Gerbauds
    I got love for my geek I want everyone to know
    🎶

    September 18, 2014 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  11. chri§§y

    Lol @ rupert idk if thats true or not. My conversations with him only pertained to components and circuit boards. And humanity!

    September 18, 2014 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  12. Rupert

    Interesting LaBella. I understand. I really do.

    September 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm | Reply
    • LaBella

      So are you a geek or the peeping Tom that can't MHOB?

      September 18, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Reply
    • Rupert

      Neither LaBella, neither.

      September 18, 2014 at 9:54 pm | Reply
      • LaBella

        This is good.

        September 18, 2014 at 10:20 pm |
  13. Ferhat Balkan

    Reminds me of Socrates and his view that philosophers should be kings... He was sentenced to death because of that belief.. Should geeks make leaders? Should engineers, scientists or mathematicians be leaders? Well, it largely depends on the character of the person in question. Does he/she have leadership qualities. Does he/she serve the people or serve the corrupt leaders in congress instead? To me, it's not a question of credentials, but a question of character and values. Someone who stands up for the people and can see beyond dollar bills and corruption schemes. Someone who delivers on his/her promises. Unfortunately, many of the future candidates are corrupt. I wish I could say I favor one of them, but I can't. Money and power can sometimes corrupt the best of us and we see it in congress every day.

    September 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Reply
    • believe me, geeks are better

      Thanks Ferhat. Good thoughts, as always! You know, I have had the unusual luck to be surrounded by geeks, all my life. They are truly awesome human beings. They can see though the garbage games that "low level" humans play, in about 2.3 micro seconds!!!!!! And then, they give you that shy smile, which tells you that they have figured you out! We need such super-smart people, to populate our government. They have incredible heart, incredible wisdom, incredible smarts........ and they can get the job done........... charisma or no charisma........... the old saying goes: I'd rather have a man or woman in charge that can GET THE JOB DONE........... than a guy or gal that talks smoothly..........🙂

      September 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm | Reply
  14. please give us a Geek!

    Geeks have dedicated their lives to studying, in depth, a subject such as Physics or Chemistry or Biology or Mathematics.......... but you know what, that's what makes them special, that's what makes them capable of focusing on a problem and fixing it........ and most importantly, that's what kept them away from learning the "tricks" of obfuscation, the tricks of rhetoric, the tricks of lying, the tricks of cheating, the tricks of accepting money for campaign financing that corrupts our current politicians........... and THAT'S WHY WE NEED THEM!!!!!!!!!!!! Angela Merkel has shown the entire world what a geek can do, when she is given the reigns of power.................. QED: Quod Erat Demonstratum.......... it is time for those loser politicians with Law Degrees to move over........... we, the American people are DONE with you.............. all you guys are capable of, is arguing for decades, in circles, while you draw a HUGE paycheck, from us taxpayers, while you enjoy your comfortable lifestyle in "uptown" DC, and do NOTHING else!!!!!!!!.......... we are SICK of you.......... if you have a law degree or political science degree, please get the hell out of DC........... we want the GEEKS to take over.............. they will do at least a million times better........... and we are SURE of it!!!!!!

    September 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  15. chri§§y

    Lol agree AGAIN @ Ferhat! Have you ever considered yourself? I think you would do a fine job.

    September 18, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Reply
    • Ferhat Balkan

      🙂 Thanks chri§§y, but I have to disagree. I lack organizational skills. I'm horrible of organizing my schedule, not to mention following up with my clients. The irony is even more funny.. I am a LAN Engineer and many of my coworkers would consider me the resident "Geek". I solve computer problems, yet I can't figure out where I put that coffee mug.

      September 18, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  16. Rupert

    Let's face it. The geeks in high school end up with the highest paying jobs, best women, and best houses in the market.
    Good for them.
    It is revenge of the nerds as someone said earlier.

    September 18, 2014 at 7:03 pm | Reply
    • I am living proof of your comment!

      Good comment, my friend. I am living proof that you are right! I was a total nerd and super geek during my entire school years (not just high school). I was the laughing stock of all my classmates! I have retired a multi-millionaire, at age 50, in "uptown" America..........🙂 I have traveled throughout about 70% of the planet, some on vacation, some on business. I have raised an awesome family. I am very happily married. My wife is also a super geek. She is an MD. We have our retirement accounts setup. Our children's college funds are locked away. We do not have to work for the rest of our lives. We are smiling. We are nerds/geeks and very very proud of it!

      September 18, 2014 at 7:27 pm | Reply
  17. Thomas

    Chris Christie 'Bridgegate' is for suckers !

    September 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm | Reply
    • Philip

      What Thomas are you.

      September 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  18. chri§§y

    Lmao @ Ferhat...i sure can relate to that! But im sure you've also noticed the flack our current POTUS has gotten for his organisation skills right? Not to mention all the hero worshiping still going on for GWB who most times couldnt find his way to the bathroom on his own! So im willing to bet that we maybe need someone with common sense whether he knows exactly where his coffee cup or not lol. Thats what presidential aides are for anyway lmao!

    September 18, 2014 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  19. chri§§y

    Although the Republicans may FINALLY have a viable candidate for POTUS! Lets see if their smart enough to realise, i will reserve my judgement. But...of all THEIR probabilities Rand Paul is their best option. Definitely he his fathers son! I may even vote Republican if hes on the ticket.

    September 18, 2014 at 9:14 pm | Reply
    • Philip

      No. He is not.

      September 19, 2014 at 7:08 pm | Reply
      • LaBella

        I actually agree with this.

        September 19, 2014 at 8:31 pm |
      • banasy©

        So do I.

        September 20, 2014 at 11:22 am |
  20. chri§§y

    Whats with the name change???

    September 18, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Reply
    • Rupert

      I decided to spell my name with an upper case "R". I'm turning over a new leaf. I've stopped taking my zinc pills. No more imaginary hot love dates with you chrissy. We're through. As of yesterday.

      September 18, 2014 at 11:01 pm | Reply
      • Philip

        Lmao. And tip of the hat to Big R Rupert. Zinc free at last. Lmao.
        Ya know, when I first started blogging on CNN I spelled my name with a little 'p'. Oh I was so humble. Drinking mulled wine with little 'b' banasy at an imaginary ski resort in Utah somewhere. I think Chrissy was there. As was Thomas D. Nobody got laid. I think Chrissy was worried about her F-150's brakes squeaking. ThomasD and I ended up going fishing. You men know what I mean. You women have an eternity to figure men out. If you only knew.

        September 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
      • LaBella

        There is nothing humble about you now. I wish you'd revert.

        September 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
      • banasy©

        That was raven, @ Philip.

        Those were fun, more simpler times, indeed.

        September 20, 2014 at 11:25 am |
  21. chri§§y

    Lol we never "were" remember. Besides that the quickest way to wreck a friendship. And even if its imaginary.

    September 18, 2014 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  22. Philip

    Geeks cannot solve greed nor love of money. Geeks cannot invent a way for humans to love rather than curse at and kill each other. Geeks cannot stop people from spreading AIDS. Case dismissed.

    September 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  23. Philip

    Bill Gates/Microsoft agreed to engineer a back door in their operating system for the NSA/CIAto use spying on US. Wikileaks/Eric Snowden revealed this to you months ago. The NSA has already publicly admitted to US that for the past 6 years, every single keystroke made using a PC has been stored as data by the NSA. Not to mention emails, text messages, and phone calls.
    History will record Bill Gates as a bribe taking informant. Not a geek philanthropist

    September 19, 2014 at 6:30 pm | Reply
    • LaBella

      Oh, shut up up. Gates does more in one day than you'll ever achieve in thirty lifetimes. If I ever had any doubt that you weren't just typing any damn thing that popped into your head, it's officially gone.

      September 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm | Reply
  24. chri§§y

    Ok i just re-read every single post on THIS thread and guess what? Not only did i NOT SAY i tolerated you @ Philip but i NEVER address you til this very minute. Perhaps you should STOP posting your hallucinations!!!

    September 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  25. chri§§y

    Lol @ philip you cannot provide links simply because they DONT exist! The links to your imagination are inadmissable as well as advised AGAINST due to the fact that they would be detrimental to anyone elses health and well being!!!

    September 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Reply
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