DARPA Is Developing an Implant that Can Read Brain Signals in Real-Time

Image via Flickr

The latest project from the futurists at DARPA takes a detour from the agency’s typical dabblings in autonomous robots and artificially intelligent computers to focus on the health of actual humans. The agency announced its latest moonshot initiative today, a $70 million project to develop a new implantable electronic device that can be used to treat some of the mental disorders plaguing the US military.

The ambitious goal is to create a medical device within five years that can be implanted in the skull to monitor, analyze, and respond to real-time information on the brain, somewhat like a pacemaker for grey matter. That new level of insight into the human mind could lead to more effective treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders, researchers hope.

The Defense Department has good reason to devote such a large chunk of change to advancing neuroscience. Today, the leading cause of soldiers’ hospital stays isn’t physical injuries, but mental conditions like post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, DARPA said in its announcement.

The agency is turning to technology to better understand these problems. The project is part of the White House’s BRAIN initiative to research the mind to uncover new treatments for mental health. President Obama’s budgeted $100 million for the first year, half of which will go to DARPA.

DARPA is hoping to either improve on current “deep brain stimulation” technology, or develop new ways to do it better. Doctors already use deep brain stimulation to treat certain neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease—some 100,000 Parkinson’s patients in the world have chips in their brain today, the agency said. It works by sending electrical impulses to the affected areas of the brain to regulate abnormal impulses caused by the disorder. Researchers are also testing electronic chips to treat a number of other mental conditions, like depression, OCD, Tourette’s, and epilepsy.

But the current technology is limited. The chips can’t monitor how effective the stimulation treatment is; they can’t “read” brain signals. That’s a hurdle for treating complex conditions like depression that’s don’t have obvious biological indicators. And while neurotechnology is advancing quickly, the human mind is still shrouded in mystery. Researchers today rely on a fuzzy understanding of the brain and trial-and-error approach to treat disease. “We’re talking about a whole systems approach to the brain, not a disease-by-disease examination of a single process or a subset of processes,” DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez said in the announcement.

Pulling it off will require generating complex models of the brain systems. Luckily, scientists from the government and private companies have been on a tear in recent years trying to better understand the inner-workings of the mind. The White House’s BRAIN initiative is just one of the big-budget, large-scale attempts to map the brain currently underway, and the military has invested heavily in a wide range of neurotechnology.

Researchers are also collecting unprecedented real-time information on the brain from EEG technology that essentially read the mind and transmit that data back to a computer for analysis. These “brain hacking” headpieces are becoming more advanced, increasingly commercialized and affordable, and are starting to be used to help treat mental conditions, namely ADHD.

DARPA’s collaborating with the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation on the project, called Systems-Based Neurotechnology and Understanding for the Treatment of Neuropsychological Illnesses.

Good for Bitcoin: BRICS Countries Build New Internet to Avoid NSA Spying

BRICS countries are close to completing a brand new Internet backbone that would bypass the United States entirely and thereby protect both governments and citizens from NSA spying. This could also mean Bitcoin will have a new way to reach the world which can not be shut down by the U.S. Government.

BRICS countries are close to completing a brand new Internet backbone that would bypass the United States entirely… 

The so-called Emerging Economies – the BRICS countries – have decided to build their own Internet infrastructure, circumventing American and European wiretapping points. While this is mostly skillful geopolitical play, it spells opportunity for civil liberties online that should be harnessed.  www.privateinternetaccess.com… 

They say it is to stop U.S. spying but it more than that. The BRICS cable was already in development months before the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden first became public in June. It is clear there is a huge shift in power coming…. these emerging economies want more autonomy and this is the logical place to start. 

This is good news for Bitcoin. 

It means the U.S. Government won’t be able to shut down the crypto-currency and could led to its wider adoption. If Bitcoin really does become a threat to the dollar, and the dollar were displaced, the world would be better off as a result. Money would be returned to the market whence it came and leave the grasping hands of the political and financial elite who use their monopoly to exploit the rest of us. No more inflation, no more business cycles, no more multi-trillion dollar bailouts. Money would be private property, with a complete separation between money and the state.

Whether the U.S. Government likes it or not, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are the future of money. Just as email and texting displaced the U.S. post office, and cell phones have displaced the wall phone the government used to install for us, cryptocurrencies could become the preferred medium for conducting exchange in the age of the Internet. Indeed, with the BRICS new Internet, that prospect has been a certainty. Capital is more mobile than ever and will, over time, tend to seek out liberal jurisdictions over those that regiment every aspect of commerce. 

The U.S. has a very bad habit, one that stands in complete contradiction to the very idea of liberalism. Its most fundamental tenet is that anything that is not heavily regulated probably should be completely illegal. The notion that stuff should just be permitted to happen and take its own shape in the course of trading and competition and the like is just not part of the mindset of an imperial paranoid state like the U.S.. 

The U.S. can slow down the trend but it can’t stop it. Cryptocurrency will find a home and it will be the one that is most welcome. The nations that punish it will die and those that welcome it will thrive. Ultimately, cryptocurrency could erase borders and free humanity from the chains of state economic control. Look to those regions like these BRICS countries that are, for now, open to genuine progress.

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In light of revelations that the National Security Agency hacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, in addition to recording information about 124 billion phone calls during a 30-day period earlier this year, the fallout against the NSA has accelerated.

Brazil is set to finalize a 34,000-kilometre undersea fiber-optic cable by 2015 that will run from Vladivostok, Russia to Fortaleza, Brazil, via Shantou, China, Chennai, India and Cape Town, South Africa.

According to the Hindu, the project will create, “a network free of US eavesdropping,” which via legislative mandates will also force the likes of Google, Facebook and Yahoo to store all data generated by BRICS nations locally, shielding it from NSA snooping.

“The BRICS countries have the muscle to pull this off,” notes Washington’s Blog. “Each of the BRICS countries are in the top 25 largest economies in the world. China has the world’s second largest economy, India is 3rd, Russia 6th, Brazil 7th, and South Africa 25th.”

However, some privacy experts fear that this will do little to stop the NSA, given that it has tapped undersea cables since the Cold War era. Others are more positive.

“Any alternative would be a positive thing, writes Michael Dorfman. “The more choice you have, the better. Yet no-one can say for sure whether this new Internet will be safer than its US counterpart and will be able to protect the rights of regular users, including the privacy of personal data and free access to resources, more effectively.”

The BRICS cable was already in development months before the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden first became public in June.

In September it emerged that the NSA had been spying on Brazilian government communications as well as Brazilian oil company Petrobras. Spooks hacked into the firm’s computer network to eavesdrop on conversations between CEOs.

The current Internet architecture is dominated by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which is largely controlled by the United States.

Other entrepreneurs are also fighting back against NSA surveillance. Tech maverick John McAfee recently announced that he was to fund a $100 gadget named Decentral that would sync up with a modem to thwart NSA spying and provide total anonymity.

Asked what he would do if the US government banned the product, McAfee responded, “I’ll sell it in England, Japan, the Third World. This is coming and cannot be stopped.”

As Worries Over the Power Grid Rise, a Drill Will Simulate a Knockout Blow

The electric grid, as government and private experts describe it, is the glass jaw of American industry. If an adversary lands a knockout blow, they fear, it could black out vast areas of the continent for weeks; interrupt supplies of water, gasoline, diesel fuel and fresh food; shut down communications; and create disruptions of a scale that was only hinted at by Hurricane Sandy and the attacks of Sept. 11.

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New York City during a blackout in 2003. More than 150 companies and groups will
take part in a drill that will simulate attacks on the power grid.

This is why thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, F.B.I. antiterrorism experts and officials from government agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico are preparing for an emergency drill in November that will simulate physical attacks and cyberattacks that could take down large sections of the power grid.

They will practice for a crisis unlike anything the real grid has ever seen, and more than 150 companies and organizations have signed up to participate.

“This is different from a hurricane that hits X, Y and Z counties in the Southeast and they have a loss of power for three or four days,” said the official in charge of the drill, Brian M. Harrell of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, known as NERC. “We really want to go beyond that.”

One goal of the drill, called GridEx II, is to explore how governments would react as the loss of the grid crippled the supply chain for everyday necessities.

“If we fail at electricity, we’re going to fail miserably,” Curt Hébert, a former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a recent conference held by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Mr. Harrell said that previous exercises were based on the expectation that electricity “would be up and running relatively quick” after an attack.

Now, he said, the goal is to “educate the federal government on what their expectations should or shouldn’t be.” The industry held a smaller exercise two years ago in which 75 utilities, companies and agencies participated, but this one will be vastly expanded and will be carried out in a more anxious mood.

Most of the participants will join the exercise from their workplaces, with NERC, in Washington, announcing successive failures. One example, organizers say, is a substation break-in that officials initially think is an attempt to steal copper. But instead, the intruder uses a USB drive to upload a virus into a computer network.

The drill is part of a give-and-take in the past few years between the government and utilities that has exposed the difficulties of securing the electric system.

The grid is essential for almost everything, but it is mostly controlled by investor-owned companies or municipal or regional agencies. Ninety-nine percent of military facilities rely on commercial power, according to the White House.

The utilities play down their abilities, in comparison with the government’s. “They have the intelligence operation, the standing army, the three-letter agencies,” said Scott Aaronson, senior director of national security policy at the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association of investor-owned utilities. “We have the grid operations expertise.”

That expertise involves running 5,800 major power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, monitored and controlled by a staggering mix of devices installed over decades. Some utilities use their own antique computer protocols and are probably safe from hacking — what the industry calls “security through obscurity.”

But others rely on Windows-based control systems that are common to many industries. Some of them run on in-house networks, but computer security experts say they are not confident that all the connections to the public Internet have been discovered and secured. Many may be vulnerable to software — known as malware — that can disable the systems or destroy their ability to communicate, leaving their human operators blind about the positions of switches, the flows of current and other critical parameters. Experts say a sophisticated hacker could also damage hard-to-replace equipment.

In an effort to draw utilities and the government closer, the industry recently established the Electricity Sub-Sector Coordinating Council, made up of high-level executives, to meet with federal officials. The first session is next month.

Preparation for the November drill comes as Congress is debating laws that could impose new standards to protect the grid from cyberattacks, but many in the industry, some of whom would like such rules, doubt that they can pass.

The drill is also being planned as conferences, studies and even works of fiction are raising near-apocalyptic visions of catastrophes involving the grid.

National Academy of Sciences report last year said that terrorists could cause broad hardship for months with physical attacks on hard-to-replace components. An emerging effort led in part by R. James Woolsey, a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is gearing up to pressure state legislatures to force utilities to protect equipment against an electromagnetic pulse, which could come from solar activity or be caused by small nuclear weapons exploded at low altitude, frying crucial components.

An attack using an electromagnetic pulse is laid out in extensive detail in the novel “One Second After,” published in 2009 and endorsed by Newt Gingrich. In another novel,“Gridlock,” published this summer and co-written by Byron L. Dorgan, the former senator from North Dakota, a rogue Russian agent working for Venezuela and Iran helps hackers threaten the grid. In the preface, Mr. Dorgan says such an attack could cause 10,000 times as much devastation as the terrorists’ strikes on Sept. 11, 2001.

Despite the growing anxiety, the government and the private sector have had trouble coordinating their grid protection efforts. The utility industry argues that the government has extensive information on threats but keeps it classified. Government officials concede the problem, and they have suggested that some utility executives get security clearances. But with hundreds of utilities and thousands of executives, it cannot issue such clearances fast enough. And the industry would like to be instantly warned when the government identifies Internet servers that are known to be sources of malware.

Another problem is that the electric system is so tightly integrated that a collapse in one spot, whether by error or intent, can set off a cascade, as happened in August 2003, when a power failure took a few moments to spread from Detroit to New York.

Sometimes utility engineers and law enforcement officials also seem to speak different languages. In his book “Protecting Industrial Control Systems From Electronic Threats,” Joseph Weiss, an engineer and cybersecurity expert, recounted a meeting between electrical engineers and the F.B.I. in 2008. When an F.B.I. official spoke at length about I.E.D.’s, he was referring to improvised explosive devices, but to the engineers the abbreviation meant intelligent electronic devices.

And experts fear government-sponsored hacking. Michael V. Hayden, another former C.I.A. director, speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center conference, said that the Stuxnet virus, which disabled some of Iran’s centrifuges for enriching uranium, might invite retaliation.

“In a time of peace, someone just used a cyberweapon to destroy another nation’s critical infrastructure,” he said. “Ouch.”

Also read:

 

Is a Currency Collapse Being Embedded in the 11/13 Blackout?

 

In this era of mistrust in which Obama enjoys only a 9% approval rating, what would happen across the country if on a Friday, Ben Bernanke announced that the banking system had collapsed, but would reopen on Monday? If bank customers did not have access to their full bank accounts on the following Monday, DHS might have to use some of that 2.2 billion rounds of ammunition that they have acquired in the past several months in order to restore order.The elite would like to avoid this kind of a confrontation at this point in time.

Instead, if a “blackout” were to occur which supposedly destroyed bank records in a bogus EMP attack, the banks would “collapse”, and the collapse would hardly be noticed in the immediate aftermath. And make no mistake about it, the banks will not truly collapse, they will come to a soft landing. Your resources will be the only ones that will be collapsed as this will be the biggest wealth transfer in the history of the planet and this event will make the bailouts seem miniscule by comparison.

A blackout and the ensuing chaos would be the perfect time to pretend to collapse the banks and not risk incurring the wrath of the public. Amid the extreme social unrest accompanying a massive blackout, the banking issue would be secondary in importance by comparison because people would be on the streets looking for food by the third day following the blackout. Looting, rioting and starvation would rule the day. The amount of computer digits in one’s bank account, would become a very secondary issue.

In the midst of the chaos and the violence, martial law would imposed and America would never be the same.

New Matt Damon Movie Reveals Mankind’s Trans-humanist Destiny

In 2009 upstart South African director Neill Blomkamp showed Hollywood a thing or two when his $30m sci-fi thriller District 9 took more than $200m at the box office with a compelling tale of aliens as victims as opposed to predators. Four years on he’s back with a bigger budget – $115m – plus A-list stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster for a another dystopian tale – this time the cosseted rich versus the vulnerable poor – set against a global canvas.
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Elysium, a new movie starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, depicts what many futurists have long predicted is mankind’s ultimate destiny – the division of the human race into two new class systems – a transhumanist elite that centralizes technological progress to achieve utopia, and a massive underclass left to rot on a dying planet ruled by robotic drones.  It’s 2154 and earth is one big polluted ghetto, a sun-seared hell where big cities – specifically Los Angeles – have broken down into favelas housing the dispossessed and those lucky enough get back-breaking work in factories run by faceless corporations.

The trailer for the movie, set to be released on August 9 in the US, begins by depicting an army of robot drones in control of policing that shake down and beat citizens for trivial “violations”. The year is 2154. When Damon’s character expresses anger at his treatment, he is offered a pill to calm him by a robotic bureaucrat. Any form of dissent is treated as “abusive”.

“Humanity is divided between two worlds,” reads the caption, explaining that most of humanity is left to reside on an overpopulated, collapsing earth while the super elite have developed a gargantuan and luxurious off-planet space habitat called Elysium where war, poverty, hunger and disease are non-existent.

Matt Damon;Sharlto Copley

Damon’s character is forced to undergo cybernetic enhancements before he can lead a mission to Elysium in order to find a cure for a cancer virus he has contracted. The movie is also clearly designed to be a political jibe at anti-immigration activists.

However, many of the themes of Elysium are clearly lifted from the work of futurists like Ray Kurzweil, who in his book The Age of Spiritual Machines predicted the body scanner depicted in the trailer which eliminates cancer cells.

Kurzweil’s 1999 book, which successfully foresaw the invention of the iPhone, the iPad, Google Glass, iTunes, You Tube and on demand services like Netflix as well as the Kindle, predicts that by 2029 the vast majority of humans will have augmented their bodies with cybernetic implants and those who refuse or are unable to do so will form a “human underclass” that is not productively engaged in the economy.

The wider trend of the elite seeing humans as completely expendable as their roles are taken up by machines unfolds after 2029 when, “There is almost no human employment in production, agriculture, and transportation,” writes Kurzweil.

By 2099, the entire planet is run by artificially intelligent computer systems which are smarter than the entire human race combined – similar to the Skynet system fictionalized in the Terminator franchise.

Humans who resist the pressure to alter their bodies by becoming part-cyborg will be ostracized from society.

“Even among those human intelligences still using carbon-based neurons, there is ubiquitous use of neural implant technology, which provides enormous augmentation of human perceptual and cognitive abilities. Humans who do not utilize such implants are unable to meaningfully participate in dialogues with those who do,” writes Kurzweil.

One of the most prescient voices of dissent against this future – despite his murderous actions – was Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, who is widely quoted by futurists like Kurzweil and Bill Joy as sagely outlining the dangers posed to the general public by the elite’s drive for technological singularity, as depicted in the Elysium movie.

“Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite,” wrote Kaczynski in his manifesto.

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Alice Braga portrays the standard love interest as a childhood friend turned honourable nurse but it is Damon who provides the rich focus, a quietely determined good guy who has never been able to accept the literal gap (about 20 minutes in a space shuttle) between rich and poor.

In a disappointing season of bloated blockbusters, Elysium stands tall, a first-rate sci-fi thriller given extra heft by a heartening moral core.

Kucinich: “Everybody Lies To Congress; Abolish NSA, Celebrate Snowden”

There should be a ‘death penalty’ for government agencies that betray the American people

Steve Watson
Infowars.com
Aug 19, 2013

Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich slammed the Obama administration late last week, saying that the NSA should be completely abolished, and that whistleblower Edward Snowden should be celebrated with a ticker-tape parade.

Kucinich, known for his strong stance on privacy and civil liberties, urged attendees at the premiere of a documentary on government and corporate abuse of digital data that it was unacceptable to allow the government to continue to destroy constitutional rights.

“We have the CIA, the FBI, a dozen other intelligence infrastructures. Frankly — and I’m saying this with a lifetime’s experience in government here — it’s time to punch the NSA’s ticket here.” Kucinich stated at the showing of the film Terms and Conditions May Apply.

“They’ve ruined the brand. They’ve destroyed the idea of privacy.” he added.

“We need some kind of symbolic and profound approach here, that says, ‘look, you’ve violated something that’s very dear to the American people — you don’t get to do that.’” Kucinich urged.

“We talk about the death penalty for individuals, which I oppose, but I think there needs to be for government agencies that so broadly betray the public interest,” Kucinich added.

“There needs to be a measure of responsibility. And if they go beyond the pale, which the NSA has, they just ought to be abolished. We don’t need the spying.” he asserted.

The former Ohio Congressman, who left office earlier this year, stated “In a just world, Snowden, we’d be having ticker tape parades for him. But that’s not what’s going to happen.”

Speaking about Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper lying to Congress about the NSA’s spying techniques, Kucinich stated:

“Well, you know it’s illegal to lie to Congress, but everyone lies to Congress. As soon as they raise their right hand, watch out! Clapper should be held responsible, but he won’t be, because that’s the condition we’re in right now.”

Fresh revelations of NSA abuses were met late Friday by with a response from the agency that the spy agency was “not trying to break the law.”

“These are not willful violations, they are not malicious,” John DeLong, NSA director of compliance, told reporters.

In a blatant attempt to diffuse the revelations, Senator Diane Feinstein, Chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence, echoed the comments, stating “The majority of these ‘compliance incidents’ are unintentional and do not involve any inappropriate surveillance of Americans.”

“As I have said previously, the committee has never identified an instance in which the NSA has intentionally abused its authority to conduct surveillance for inappropriate purposes.” Feinstein added.

Basically, as yet more proof of abuse of authority is unveiled (as if it was needed), the NSA and intelligence oversight officials have been reduced to arguing that the agency didn’t mean to spy on millions of Americans, so therefore it’s OK that it spied on millions of Americans, and its also OK that it is continuing to spy on millions of Americans.

Senator Rand Paul slammed the ludicrous response Sunday, saying that the NSA’s massive surveillance program is “fundamentally unconstitutional” and that it cannot be saved by more oversight.

“They basically are looking at, I believe, all of the cell phone calls in America every day.” Paul stated, adding “We need more people doing specific intelligence data on people who we have suspicion of rather than doing it on suspicion-less searches of all Americans’ phone calls.”

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Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, andPrisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

Email Provider Forced To Shutdown By Feds For Not Helping Them Spy On You

The email service provider, Lavabit, has been forced to shutdown after the mafia told him he either had to help them spy or face criminal charges.

Given the nature of this statement, it seems safe to assume that all other email service providers have been coerced, through the threat of force, into spying on your communications.

Ladar Levison was not yet 20 years old when Congress passed the Patriot Act after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. It gave him a start-up idea: an e-mail service for what he thought of as “a tech-savvy crowd” that cared about privacy.

“I’ve always sort of believed it’s important for Americans to have private conversations with other Americans,” Mr. Levison said in a telephone interview Monday, “and not fear that their conversations were being monitored by the government.”

His start-up thrived for nearly 10 years until Thursday, when he abruptly shut it down, leaving little more than an ominous note on the site. He said he did not want to be “complicit in crimes against the American people” and hinted, obliquely, at a government search that he believed to be unconstitutional and that he would challenge in a federal appeals court.

He offered no details in his closing announcement or in the interview on Monday. He is under a gag order that has led him to give up e-mail altogether.

“My principal concern was to give people the ability to communicate privately,” he said. “When I was no longer able to do that I felt I had the obligation to shut down the service.”

Lavabit’s mysterious legal drama began six weeks ago. One of its more than 400,000 users was Edward J. Snowden, the leaker who had worked as a National Security Agency contractor. Mr. Levison has not said whether or what kind of government order he was served with, or how it might have been served.

His lawyer, Jesse Binnall, made it clear that Lavabit had complied with “narrowly tailored” court orders for user information on at least two dozen occasions in the past.

Mr. Levison, now 32 and living in Dallas, added: “What I’m opposed to are blanket court orders granting government access to everything.”

After his announcement last Thursday, a second company, Silent Circle, based in Maryland, said it would close its secure e-mail service. That company said it had not been served with a government order of any kind. In a pre-emptive bid to protect its customers’ data, Silent Circle said it had obliterated everything in its server.

Lavabit, by contrast, still holds the data on its server, Mr. Levison said. He said he was prohibited from saying why, or whether a government order compels him to do so.

“I can’t talk about it,” Mr. Levison said. “It’s frustrating. Even today I don’t know if I’m going to be arrested.”

His lawyer, Mr. Binnall, won’t even say whether he has filed a legal challenge yet, only that they “intend to bring legal challenge to the constitutionality of the government snooping on e-mail.”

Mr. Levison had made a living off Lavabit; the site charged a monthly fee for subscribers who did not wish to see advertisements. “I wasn’t shopping for any Italian sports cars but it paid rent and paid for pizza,” he said.

The shutdown of the service has compelled him to turn to his parents once for financial support. Lavabit has raised $90,000 so far for a legal defense fund, and he says he fears his legal troubles could be “a long, drawn-out battle.”

He says he will look for a job soon, and though he has also spent time with technology, he will not be working in the technology sector. “I don’t want to be put in this position again,” he said.

Maybe he will start a restaurant or bar in or around Dallas, he surmised, “where I won’t have to deal with the F.B.I.”

He quickly added: “Hypothetically speaking.”

Asked whether he has had to deal with the F.B.I. during these last six weeks, he said he could not comment.