Chaotic Good: The Ethics of Technology with Joseph Menn

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“Technology as a whole is engulfed in what may prove to be a permanent moral crisis, and the best place to turn for wisdom on how to handle it is the people who have been through this before, whether they serve in giant companies or start-ups, nonprofits or Congress.” –Joseph Menn

Let’s face it. The dark web gets… dark. The hackers and hacktivists of the world don’t often like their work to come into the light.

Some reasons for it are good, some are grey, and some are black. And some of these hackers are the paragons of moral ethics.

So how do we cut through the noise, the aliases, and the secrecy of this underground world?

In today’s episode, we chat with master investigator and chronicler of this world, Joseph Menn. Joe is the author of several books about these worlds. His most recent is Cult of the Dead Cow about the most notorious hacking supergroup of all time.

Today, we discuss the work and stories behind Joe’s books. We talk about the recent good hackers in the COVID crises who are offering to help overworked hospital infrastructures that are held up at ransom by hackers. Plus, we talk about the ethics and infrastructure needed in a world increasingly being dominated by technology.

In Joe’s words:

“The more powerful machines become, the sharper human ethics have to be. If the combination of mindless, profit-seeking algorithms, dedicated geopolitical adversaries, and corrupt US opportunists over the past few years has taught us anything, it is that serious applied thinking is a form of critical infrastructure. The best hackers are masters of applied thinking, and we cannot afford to ignore them. Likewise, they should not ignore us. We need more good in the world. If it can’t be lawful, then let it be chaotic.”



Episode 18