top of page

Richard Clarke

Hoan Ton-That interviews Richard Clarke, Former National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary State Department


Hoan Ton-That and Richard Clarke

When our friend Lee Wolosky introduced us, he said you were already writing a futuristic novel about facial recognition. What is it called, and what got you interested in the topic? And, will Bill Clinton be getting a copy of the book?

Artificial Intelligencia will be published in March, 2022. It's the story of a Chinese detective who is an expert in facial recognition and AI. He discovers that somebody has invented thousands of fake personas, all of whom are getting paid as employees of big companies. When he tries to find out who did this and why, things get complicated and risky. I have always had a fascination with the use and misuse of technology for personal identification. My novels try to show the near future and highlight issues we should be addressing, while providing a fun read. President Clinton loves a good thriller, so I will definitely be sending him a copy.

You have been consistently at least 5 to 10 years ahead of the curve when it comes to big threats: terrorism, cybersecurity and China. In the next 10 years, what do you think are some of the potential threats that people do not pay enough attention to?

Some people are always paying attention to the next big things, but often not the decision-makers. We wrote about this phenomenon in the book Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes. The elephant in the room is the financial and societal impact of climate change. There are no good financial models of what the effect on the economy will be from sea level rise, desertification, movement of growing areas, seafood depletion, refugee resettlement etc. It is possible that those costs will do profoundly severe damage to the U.S. and global economy.

Cyber Weapons are getting more sophisticated and harder to detect. Technical solutions for prevention and detection will never be perfect, and it seems that more 0-days are being found everyday. Do you think there is a workable political solution for cyber arms control?

We know what to do. Form a group of Like Minded Nations, create cybersecurity cooperation standards and practices, and then tell the cyber sanctuary nations to shape up or face serious sanctions. The U.S. would have to lead and right now it's not a priority for the Administration.