Everyone wanted to sit in the chair and pretend to be Picard. As you do.

Lt. General Keith Alexander, the gent in charge of the US National Security Agency and, arguably, the world’s most famous spy right about now, built his Information Dominance Center – that’s base of operations to the likes of you and me – in homage to the bridge of Next Generation‘s Enterprise-D. Perhaps he hoped to boldly go where no intelligence gatherer had gone before, but lawmakers loved the idea. When invited to Alexander’s sanctum, they took turns sitting in the captain’s chair, pretending to be Jean-Luc Picard. Don’t go thinking this was some knock-off, as Alexander takes his sci fi seriously; he brought in a Hollywood set designer to help him achieve that authentic look, complete with doors that made a ‘whoosh’ sound when they slid open and closed.

It was all part of the show, from a man who could “charm the paint off a wall,” according to a former administration official. He had his massive screen set up so the ‘captain’ could get a good view, at which point he’d demonstrate his impressive data collection efforts with all manner of graphs and footage. Razzle-dazzle wins hearts and minds, and those who paid Alexander a visit often walked out from a Big Board demonstration as his Washington ally. It’s a hell of a boost to play Picard, even for a moment, and then to be told, by the man who ought to know, what’s really going on in the world; you’d have to be made of stone not to listen.

But then Alexander’s also the man his immediate predecessor described as a “cowboy,” according to Forbes; the man who didn’t quite commit insubordination, but came as close as possible to it. “Alexander’s strategy is the same as Google’s: I need to get all of the data,” claims a former administration official. “If he becomes the repository for all that data, he thinks the resources and authorities will follow.” He and his scientific advisor James Heath have spent their careers – and an eye-watering amount of cash – building towards this moment, when their shiny new Dominance Center convinces Washingtonians a new era in intelligence gathering is dawning.

“There’s two ways of looking at these guys,” a retired military officer claims. “Two visionaries who took risks and pushed the intelligence community forward. Or as two guys who blew a monumental amount of money.”

Source: Stuff.co.nz Technology Blog

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