Our Next President Should be a Hacker

I think that the perfect kind of a leader for our country – for any country – would be a hacker. And when I say “hacker” I don’t mean “computer criminal”. I use it in its original meaning. To me a hacker is a person who knows enough about technology to make me feel small, insignificant and undereducated. There is just no other word out there that denotes this particular blend of insightfulness, technological expertise, problem solving ability, competence, intelligence and cleverness. So I will use hacker, even though in recent years it gained this negative connotation.

Why do I think a hacker would be a good leader? Let me count the ways.

Most hackers are mindful of computer security. This falls under their general technological expertise. They know security systems, they know their pitfalls, and they know ways to make things secure. They have the analytical mindset to sit down, look at a system, identify gaping holes in it’s security and devise a plan on how to close them, or minimize their impact – without actually disrupting how that system works. If you think about it, managing national security is a very similar process. You consider the country as a big, complex system. The task is to secure that system without actually disrupting or disturbing it’s inhabitants. I believe that a hacker is much more suited to carry out such task than for example a lawyer, or a career politician. They have the analytical capacity, and rigid, logical approach, and engineering precision, focus on details and a sharp mind – those are all attributes necessary to succeed in the technology field. Lawyers and politicians… Well, they just need to be good at bullshitting, and memorizing stuff. Yes, there is more to it than just being a fast talker, but they are not formally trained in identifying flaws, devising solutions, devising action plan and executing it in a rigorous way, testing and validating it along the way. This is what we technology folks do.

In fact, this problem solving ability extends to other areas beyond security. The same process can be applied to other areas be it economical, social or foreign relations. The thing about true hackers is that they have this strange ability to absorb and analyze incredible amounts of information in relatively short time. Typically you talk to one of them on Friday about some new cool technology and they promise to read up on it over the weekend. Come Monday it turns out they not only “figured it out” but they also set up a test box, ported your system to the new technology, benchmarked it, optimized it, then improved parts of your system using what they have learned in this process. So even if you don’t adopt this new thing it is a net gain for you. They are not merely fast learners – they are more than that. And this is the sort of attitude, and thorough approach they could bring into politics.

There is a crisis abroad? Have no fear, our hacker president spent the whole weekend researching that area, he already learned much of their language and he figured out the local customs, conflicts and tensions in the area. He is now with his advisers devising an action plan that is supposed to be both subtle, effective and beneficial to both us, and the area in question.

Naturally, few hackers would ever pursue a career in politics. It’s not their field, not their area of expertise and not their ambition. Which is precisely what you really want in a good leader. Diligent, hard working, dedicated, humble, reluctant to abuse the power vested in him, and happy to relinquish it at the end of his term. In my honest opinion anyone who actually strives for a political office out of ambition is absolutely unsuited for it. Lust for power is a dangerous thing. People who set out to make it big, even with good intentions can be easily led astray by their own ego. The only trustworthy leader is one who holds power sternly but reluctantly and treats it as very heavy burden of responsibility and a patriotic duty.

In other words, hackers can be perfectly serviceable leaders, precisely because they don’t want it. Their work ethic, attitude, and diligence which are all part of the hacker ethos can almost make up for lack of statecraft experience. And let’s face it, not all of our leaders are bright shining stars of diplomacy, or competent orators.

Perhaps not this time around – but at some point in the future, let’s try to get someone like that into office somewhere. Perhaps it would be a welcome change for the better.

If you didn’t notice this whole bit is supposed to be humorous and satirical in nature and in no way should be treated seriously

[tags]politics, president, hacker, hackers, geek[/tags]

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One Response to Our Next President Should be a Hacker

  1. Tino GERMANY Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” // Douglas Adams

    I gather it is a bigger thing to go for a third party in the US than in the typical multi-party systems present in Europe. However, just maybe you could find something in the “Pirate party” movement. (Started in Sweden; some useful links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_Party , http://www.piratpartiet.se/international/ , and in the US: http://pirate-party.us/ )

    Note: I’m not saying hackers are automatically pirates and all of them support the the core politics of this movement (privacy, rebalance of copyright and patents) but I suspect the ‘density of hackers’ prepared to engage in politics is higher there than in other political movements/parties.

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