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Home » Clifford Stoll Talks at TED on The Call To Learn (Transcript)

Clifford Stoll Talks at TED on The Call To Learn (Transcript)


Clifford Stoll

“Astronomer Clifford Stoll helped to capture a notorious KGB hacker back in the infancy of the Internet. His agile mind continues to lead him down new paths — from education and techno-skepticism to the making of zero-volume bottles” –

Listen to the MP3 Audio: Clifford Stoll- The call to learn


I’m delighted to be here. I’m honored by the invitation, and thanks.

I would love to talk about stuff that I’m interested in, but unfortunately, I suspect that what I’m interested in won’t interest many other people.

First off, my badge says I’m an astronomer. I would love to talk about my astronomy, but I suspect that the number of people who are interested in radiative transfer in non-gray atmospheres and polarization of light in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere are the number of people who’d fit in a bus shelter. So I’m not going to talk about that.

It would be just as much fun to talk about some stuff that happened in 1986 and 1987, when a computer hacker was breaking into our systems over at Lawrence Berkeley Labs. And I caught the guys, and they turned out to be working for what was then the Soviet KGB, and stealing information and selling it. And I’d love to talk about that — and it’d be fun — but, 20 years later I find computer security, frankly, to be kind of boring. It’s tedious.

I’m — the first time you do something, it’s science. The second time, it’s engineering. A third time, it’s just being a technician. I’m a scientist. Once I do something, I do something else. So, I’m not going to talk about that.

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