Lauren Beukes tells Security Summit how to confront the darkness

Lauren Beukes told delegates to use their power for good.
Lauren Beukes told delegates to use their power for good.

Acclaimed author Lauren Beukes delivered the keynote at the ITWeb Security Summit 2017 in Johannesburg this morning, and laid out for delegates what she calls the 'disco ball principle'.

The author of Shining Girls, Zoo City, and Moxyland, among others, said: "Technology is what you do with it."

Asked if she saw technology as a force for good or a minefield of surveillance, she answered, "The Internet is one of the best things in the world."

"I met (science-fiction author) William Gibson through Twitter. It's an amazing way to connect with people. It's a beautiful, incredible sharing tool. And it's so powerful to have all this information at your fingertips, but it can also be used for the dark side, and that comes down to people."

"For me, and my books, what I'm really interested in exploring is not what technology does to us, but what we do to technology, and how that affects our story and how that changes who we are. It's a tool."

Beukes told delegates that aside from global warming, we are dealing with poverty, war, refugees, drought and junk status.

"And the darkness rises up and wants to swallow us whole. It's easier to look away, and that's why I like to turn to escapism, to fiction."

She said her fiction is very dark, and her job as a novelist, much like that of an IT security professional, is to play out the worst case scenario. "You imagine the worst possible thing that can happen and you explore how that might evolve."

Beukes said Moxyland dealt with a surveillance society, and how citizens are controlled by their cellphones, and 'robot police dogs'.

"Who knew the future was going to be this weird? Giant robots, drones, killer robots, death in the sky! I definitely couldn't have imagined that."

Beukes told delegates to be brave, and 'confront the darkness'.

"Imagine the worst case scenario. Look at how that is going to play out, whether that's in social media, or solar flares. Explore the real horror of the world and don't be afraid to turn away from it, because we can only deal with it if we can look at it."

After this, 'find the light, do good, it might be light inside yourself, or the work that you do, and be generous. Share your expertise and you don't have to hold onto the spotlight. We should all be disco balls. And we should set the world alight."

Read time 2min 20sec
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