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Chicken Little Entrepreneurs

By Mike Banks Valentine
Posted Friday, November 26, 2004

Chicken Little is hurrying Umbrella 'neath her wing.

She thinks the sky is falling fast So goes to tell the King.

But, after she has spread the news And all is told and said

The good old King just laughs at her And sends her home instead.

That is a very wise old King and I'd love him in charge now.

Technology vendors think they can save the world and they are using terrorism to sell snake oil to government and industry. Acting like Chicken Little, they run to government with a technology based "solution" to terror. But somehow our King, anxious to appear to be doing something about terrorism, agrees that the sky is falling and buys her tech toys instead of laughing and sending Chicken Little home.

The following is a quote from a Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania interview with Tom Siebel of Siebel Systems, a manufacturer of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software for big business.

"Tom Siebel has been attacked for his proposal to use Siebel software to sniff out terrorist plots. In February, Siebel told a Congressional committee that a specially tailored Siebel system might have deterred the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Security agencies can use this technology to maintain a 'logically' centralized – although physically disparate – consolidated view of terrorist-related information gathered from multiple sources and channels and make this information immediately accessible to authorized personnel in the homeland security network," Siebel testified. "This is not an opportunistic capitalization of tragic events. This is a combined effort between the U.S. government and private enterprise to avoid a repeat of September 11th."

He added that since November of last year, various government and non-profit agencies have purchased the Siebel Homeland Security product to anticipate, track, prevent, and respond to national security threats."

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Siebel Homeland Security product? Wow! Can I get a copy for my laptop and another for my PDA? Must be a hot selling item, and it's working like a charm, too. I wonder why it's not available worldwide, since it IS so effective? It seems that between Larry Ellison and his National ID database and Tom Siebel's Homeland Security product we've got the problem of terrorism licked. But wait, it seems that the hardware guys want a piece of the snake oil action.

"If we had advanced (technology) tools in place prior to Sept. 11, it is almost certain that some of the terrorists would have been detained and possibly some of the plots would have been foiled," said a report from Progressive Policy Institute, a Washington research center associated with the Clinton-Gore administration.

A story at points out that new tech spy gear is being hawked to the government at unimaginable rates.


"With some exaggeration, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, whose department is responsible for airport safety, told the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month: "We've got every salesman - 20,000 of them, I think - approaching us about how they've got some machine that will take care of everything we do, including not only detecting explosives but athlete's foot as well."

That snake oil is pretty slippery guys. Software powering advanced hardware is impressive, but not magical. Where is the wolf to chase off these high tech chickens? It seems that we've got a children's story being rewritten in Washington, D.C. The remake of "Chicken Little" has 20,000 high tech Chicken's selling overpriced umbrellas to the King -- and apparently he's buying.

Chicken Little is hurrying Database 'neath her wing.

She knows the sky is falling fast So goes to sell the King.

Now, after she has sold the cure And all is told and said

The good old King smiles sweet at her And takes her in to bed.

The huge new homeland security proposal by President Bush will employ over 169,000 people and incorporate all or part of dozens of existing federal agencies.

No doubt it will have a vast database incorporating Larry Ellison's suggested National ID software, and will be powered by Siebel's Homeland Security Product. Surely there will be lots of iris scanning, finger- print reading, face recognizing, smart card reading, body scanning, security cameras and superduper tech- nology feeding all that data into the centralized database where Big Brother comes to life, finally.

What the heck, I may as well get into the act. "Oh King! I have a Homeland Security Bridge I'd like to sell you."

This baby has a built in database of every vehicle on the road and computerized steel gates that slam shut when terrorists attempt to cross over. We'll know because all car rentals and sales will require purchasers to state whether they've got evil intent. That will be entered into our bridge database along with predictive behavior modeling, just like that used by the airports now. You'll need one at every border crossing point. Buy the hardware at $3 Billion each and I'll DONATE the software 'cause I'm a Patriot, just like Larry Ellison!"

About the Author
Mike Banks Valentine
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