Blake Dowling, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 of 8

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is chief business development officer at Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at or at

Blake Dowling: WannaCry? No.

Ransomware has become the fastest growing cyber threat; last week it was a variation called Fatboy, this week is WannaCry. The criminals are targeting everyone from home users to health care systems to big business. Data show that there has been an average of more than 4,000 ransomware attacks every day of this year. That is some serious volume.

I know of a dozen entities that have been hit, some hit hard, like 1997 John Lynch chasing you down.

On May 12, information technology professionals began tracking a new ransomware variant that spread rapidly throughout the weekend. It is a highly virulent strain of a self-replicating ransomware that has affected organizations like the Russian Interior Ministry, Chinese Universities, Hungarian and Spanish Telcos, as well hospitals and clinics run by the British National Health Services.

It is especially notable for its multi-language ransom demands that support every major language on the planet. These criminals need to be hunted down now.

Patients’ lives were put on the line in Britain. Surgeries and procedures were delayed. I have not heard of any fatalities, but the hammer of justice needs to find these cyber-weasels STAT.

On to the techy details, this ransomware is being called several names: WannaCry, WanaCrypt0r, WannaCrypt or Wana Decrypt0r. It is spread through an alleged National Security Agency exploit (I said “alleged” NSA, don’t come looking for me) called ETERNALBLUE that was exposed online in March by the hacking syndicate Shadow Brokers.

ETERNALBLUE exploits a vulnerability in the Microsoft Server Message Block 1.0 (SMBv1) protocol.

Bottom line: make sure someone manages your technology.

Make sure someone has been reviewing, confirming, patching, and applying any current updates that may put added security to your firewall, operating systems (if you are still running Windows XP, you fail), anti-virus and anti-spam solutions.

It is most important that now and going forward that you and your users do not click on emails that hold the following threats; (some may get through these layers of security).

Emails from HR Professionals claiming to include resumes, financial institutions, and shipping companies are some of the most common.

Be extremely wary of any Microsoft Office email attachment that recommends you enable macros to view its content. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is a genuine email from a trusted source, do not enable macros. Instead, delete the email at once.

This latest attack stayed on the other side of the pond – for now – but thanks to technology, our world is inner-connected like never before.

We will see something new and more devious before you can say “Putnam for Governor.”


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: A new (politically incorrect) cyberthreat, linked to Big Macs

For better or worse, we live in a politically correct world. On one hand, efforts in that area have created increased awareness of sexism and other social injustices.

On the other, some PC speak is patently ridiculous.

I read somewhere that is politically incorrect to the word “fat.” I’m told we should say EWI — Enhanced Weight Individual (or stout, overweight, etc.).

So, you cannot say “fat-free?” If that’s the case, there’d be a lot of rebranding in the packaged food industry.

Where do we draw the line? Don’t get me wrong, society is obsessed with size. There are issues, indeed. But is this really the solution?

Isn’t the real issue being kind (or, more accurately, a lack of kindness)?

Are these PC people those who changed the name of the world’s largest cocktail party to something silly?

Where does the PC Council of What-You-And-I-Should-Say-Or-Not-Say hold their meetings, anyway? Is it in a clandestine annual retreat (like the Skull and Bones society?) If so, I would bet there are some non-fierce debates, since they really don’t do name-calling. Think British cops, who are not allowed to carry guns: “Stop, or I’ll say stop again!”

Rant concluded.

Well, guess who couldn’t care less about soft-bellied American PC nonsense?

Vodka-guzzling Russian hackers, that’s who. The latest cyberthreat has the (decidedly non-PC) name “Fatboy.”

Are they making fun of non-motherland swine who might be a little “big boned?” Nope.

It’s actually ransomware that charges different amounts, in different locations, depending on the Economist’s Big Mac Index.

At this point, you may be intrigued … or think I am blatantly creating fake news. No, It’s a real thing.

The Big Mac Index is now 30 years old, and shows how poor or wealthy a nation is based on the price of a Big Mac.

In 2017, you are looking at $5.06 for a Big Mac in Florida, and about $2.83 in China.

So, there you have it. Hackers of the world continue to innovate and surprise.

So, while they might charge $500 in the U.S., the charge would be closer to $250 in China?

That makes sense, right?

First, it was a Ugandan Prince with $10,000,000 U.S. just for you. Next were fake emails from UPS, followed by ransomware that gives you encryption keys if you infected two friends.

Then comes RAAS (ransomware as a service sold on the dark web), allowing anyone with basic computer skills to become a hacker. Now there’s Fatboy.

I can definitely see the PC crowd getting upset — not only do they say “fat,” but it’s gender specific.

Look out Russkies, the American Civil Liberties Union is gonna get ‘ya.

To them, it should be called “Fat-person” or “Fat-one” (referring to one who is fat; no medical marijuana jokes, please).

So, you get infected from an email, your IP address is confirmed and the price of the Big Mac is reviewed and you receive a notice of how much you have to pay to get the encryption keys to get your data back. And they usually ask for the money in iTunes gift cards or bitcoins.

As an information technology professional, I always give the same advice to anyone infected with ransomware — never pay cybercriminals. Payment only encourages them.

As a fan of good manners, I don’t call people fat, either, and always avoid being tacky. We have plenty of that in the world.

Be safe out there, and lay off the Big Macs, unless you wish to be classified EWI, that is.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: Looking back …

Legislative Session is winding down – gaming, dope, infrastructure, assistive tech.

It has been an exciting journey, with losers and winners, fights, name calling at the Capitol and at the Governors Club.

Hopefully, when the dust settles, those in the trenches can regain some commonality and remember we are all on the same team as both Floridians and Americans (minus the UF-FSU rivalry, we will never be on the same team there).

Besides that, it’s time for summer. Time to move efforts to other things.

I work with a lot of associations and lobbyists, all running in high gear as of late.

Last night, a few website issues were needing immediate attention; that’s done.

Today, a conference room telecom gear is on the fritz (on the list for today); can’t send emails with a 1 TB attachment (no you can’t do that); my wireless network has 300 guests (yep, that’s bad); my laptop is in the pool (waterproof, no; backed up, yes).

It’s an endless list, but a pleasure to serve. Beats working for Corrine Brown.

From where I sit, I can see several interesting things on how the business of the day at the Capitol (and beyond) is carried out.

How did people get anything done in May 1845, during the first meeting of the Florida Legislative body?

I bet it was hot; lots of sweaty people with no AC. But it was also awesome.

We rely on technology so much, for better or for worse. Take it away, what do you have? Face to face interaction.

We as citizens of 2017 are faced with this every day, with friends, constituents and families. How many times this week have you said, I shot them a text or email? In the old days, it was face to face, think even pre-phone.

Few things are more powerful than the written word. I still send handwritten thank yous.

When I was 10, my dad gave me my first cardstock from Brooks Brothers. I was told to always say thanks to people when they do something for you. Message heard. I still do it, Pops.

(There is a great scene in the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou about cardstock. If you missed it, it’s a must-watch.)

As we roll out of Session mode with families and colleagues, let’s put the phones down. Have lunch, a cocktail, no devices at the family dinner table. Am I right?

Let’s make Happy Hour great again, with some face-to-face time.

When we are old and gray, we will not remember texts and emails (unless you were a hacked DNC employee last year), but we will remember the time spent face-to-face with those in our personal and professional lives.

Let’s flash back to 1930 Florida.

Downtown Tallahassee 1930 – College Ave.

Florida was a mess. Unemployment was on the rise, tourism was plummeting (they needed a Pitbull concert, maybe).

Annual visits were down from 3 million a year to 1 million a year. Florida had its own economic collapse in 1926; another one in 1929 was merely par for the course.

War was looming, after supporting Hoover in 28’ Florida switched sides in 32’ and supported Roosevelt. The conservatives were nervous about his reform plans but needed change.

Meanwhile, in Ozark, Alabama, my family is hanging out in front of the house JD Holman (my grandfather) on the far right (just as he was with his politics) 1930. He referred to himself as a radical right winger. RIP JD.

Tourists weren’t coming; banks were closing.

Funny how with technology everything has changed. But the words don’t change.

Right, left, change, reform, etc

In 1930, they sweated it out, wrote letters, had runners, did not email 1TB worth of videos, they met face to face and talked the New Deal, the Depression, the Bankhead-Hone Farm Tenant Act. They talked a lot about aviation. At the time, Florida was the place for training: Drew and McDill bases in Tampa, Dale Mabry in Tallahassee (someone found WWII era undetonated ordinance from this station just last year), Eglin, Mayport in Jax.

Even the RAF moved into Arcadia at UM for training.

We could talk all day about then versus now, but on with the business at hand.

Put down those phones, give thanks to those who fought the good fight this legislative session, and thanks to those sweaty legislators who got us through the really rough times of World War II and the Depression – all without cell phones.

Here’s to all of those in public service, and all of those involved in The Process.

It’s great to be an American.

“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at .


Blake Dowling: Maybe we are getting a handle on hacking. Maybe.

A fella named Pyotr Levashov was arrested in Spain this month. Allegedly, the man’s real name is Peter Severa, one of the most wanted cyber criminals on the planet.

At least six Russians have been arrested around the world on international warrants over the past several months, according to McClatchy Newspapers. There are allegations of involvement with the recent U.S. election, worldwide botnet schemes, ransomware and lots of fun stuff.

As Americans, we get it, the Russian hacking community is after our elections, money, infrastructure, trade and military secrets and even Hollywood films.

Maybe, we are getting a handle on the situation. Maybe.

Extradition from Russia is the equivalent of jumping a 4-wheeler over a 2-acre lake. Not happening.

As stated earlier, most of these folks have been caught elsewhere; if they stay home in the motherland, it’s vodka and hacking for days without fear of incarceration.

Most of these recent arrests have occurred outside of Russia. So, a few Russki baddies are out of the way. Who else do we need to look out for?

Have you heard of Pawn Storm?

It is a group of Hackers/Hacktivists who are gaining quite a bit of momentum. They took their name from a type of chess strategy in which several pawns are moved quickly to the opponent’s defenses. They are targeting elections (among other things) all over the world.

They are looking to disrupt the upcoming battle in France, Marine Le Pen versus Emmanuel Macron. If I was going to make a wager on PredictIT, keep in mind Le Pen is mightier than the sword.

That’s right, I am now Mayor of Pun Town (thanks, Keith).

What’s different about these folks? They crave the limelight. They want to be written about, and who are they after? They attack celebs, TV stations, government, politicians, lobbyists, journalists, anyone with influence and they impersonate you as well as rob you. Imagine they hack the Miami Herald and email blast Dade County: “Frank Artiles returns.”

Or “Artiles hires Playboy calendar model.”

Oops. That was real. Never mind.

Back to … Fake news? Oh yeah, supreme fake news, with a side of extra bogus sauce — the sole purpose is disruption.

Ever heard of Tabnabbing?

This is a form of cybercrime they use to change a URL (website) to that of a phishing site, that doesn’t look like one. A message pops up to re-enter your credentials as the site has timed out. When you do, your toast. These folks are patient too, they may sit on someone’s info for a year and then go to work. Who has fallen victim to these folks? French TV, The U.S. Army, The DNC, the World Doping Agency.

So, what now?

Russian Dmitry Ukrainskiy, 44 and Olga Komova, 25, from Uzbekistan, after they were charged in Bangkok with involvement in a transnational hacking gang.

Step 1. Awareness. You need to know these types of nuts are out there.

Step 2. Prepare. It has repeatedly been said, but here goes. Keep your passwords complex. It’s the front line, keep them unique. For example, Peter Severa (mentioned earlier) was caught by using the same passwords for his criminal empire that he used for his iTunes account. Details here.

Fakes news, hacking, hacktivists, tabnabbing, credential phishing. You name it, man, it’s all happening all over the world, our country and our state.

If an email looks suspicious, it is. Delete. Report to the Florida Cyber Crimes Office.

If someone calls looking for info and these days they also want to impersonate you digitally, post fake posts and tweets, even TV footage (back to France). Don’t give people info over the phone, and, more importantly, train your staff.

It seems like there is a new threat or group that threatens us online every day.

Eric Schmidt of Google said, “the internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity does not understand, it’s the largest experiment in anarchy that we’ve ever had.”


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at


Blake Dowling: Look out for hackers (and the government)

U.S. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) with gavel and dog.

What now? More breaches. More leaks. Internet carriers selling your data? Hackers coming at us like United Airlines security?

(For an interesting read, see Nader v. Airlines 1972)

So you are worried about hackers, and — of course — the National Security Agency is watching (and logging) you surf on or Or are you stressing because you might be in the World-Check database (bet on it — just by being an elected official, because it may consider you bribable, and, yes, this site was also breached/leaked recently).

Yes. All of that, and much, much more.

The Internet of Things and the Cyber Renaissance (or apocalypse, depending on your point of view) that we are experiencing in 2017 truly has us going where no one has gone before.

This past weekend, I used a vending machine that would not take cash. ACK! Since I only had cash, no Mountain Dew for me.

Is it too much tech? Too much internetting? Too much exposure?

Last week, one of our elected officials had something to say about the internet. U.S. House Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, had some truly amazing advice for his constituents: you don’t have to use the internet if you don’t like it (according to Hmmm.

In today’s world, that’s about the same as saying if you don’t like the air don’t breathe it, same with roads and driving.

Hopefully, Jimbo was just hitting the Hendricks a little hard the night before and was having a fuzzy day. If not we have problems. As the powers that be in D.C. look to an era of deregulation, we are going to potentially see internet providers that have very little oversight. With customer service rankings right there with our pals at United Airlines.

We have a lot to watch out for.

The new law Jimbo was defending involved the ability for national internet carriers to sell customer info/history.

Advocates for digital privacy are outraged, as they should; this is the real deal. I don’t want my info sold to anyone, and if ol’ Jimbo is my advocate, it’s not looking good. Don’t we get harassed enough? Say I visit Solider of Fortune Magazine online a couple of times, and I mysteriously get emails wanting to sell me night vision goggles.

I mean I love some good NV hardware but get outta my business.

As consumers, we are constantly stalked digitally. Jimbo and the gang need to get their heads out of their … err … sand and look out for Mr. and Mrs. Citizen.

The big 5 (Comcast, Charter (now Spectrum), Verizon, CenturyLink, and AT&T) have control over approx. 80 percent of the market; most Americans have only 1 or 2 providers to choose.

Some parting words from Dunder Mifflin’s Corporate office, that is practical advice for all things: tech, driving, politics, social media, business, talking, lawn care, etc. … while staying off the internet for a 73-year-old congressman with aides and assistants galore may be practical; it ain’t so good for you and me, peeps.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: Legislative Session 2017 – I’m just a bill

@Last weekend, I was on the road in Gainesville for some spring football.

As I sat in my mobile command station (aka the Wyndham) the following day — watching an epic Masters, NBA and college baseball weekend — I couldn’t get the old PSA from Saturday Morning Cartoons out of my head, and I started writing …

“I’m just a bill on Capitol Hill waiting to become law, but today I am still just a bill.”

Man, they do not make them like that anymore; 1976 was a hell of a year: KC & the Sunshine Band ruled the charts and TV had class – before reality TV, before the INTERNET.

Speaking of bills, I had the chance to write on innovative technology earlier this year, AI-powered personal delivery devices made by Starship Technologies.

Last week, I received a call from its lobbying team; they were actually at the Capital showcasing the machine. The performance was a success, as Mitch Perry reported April 6; House Bill 601 passed 115-0.

I enjoyed the experience of doing some investigative reporting and quicker than you can say, ‘Nole Day Bathroom Shenanigans at the Capitol, it’s law.

This new tech will change the game with delivery services, although I don’t know if they are ready for North Florida. I can see some Wakulla County residents making up a game where you shoot the PDD’s with shotguns. Am I wrong?

As rewarding was that was, tracking Senate Bill 772 on assistive technologies was game changing.

James Harding, an Instructional Specialist at Florida State University’s College of Business, shared some testimonial with me about the bill. I was genuinely moved.

I immediately wrote something about the issue, as kids that need assistive tech to communicate were only allowed to use the tech in school and not at home. As the one young lady testified, “do you only get to talk from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. sir?” Powerful. I won’t know if I swayed anyone, but I will know in my heart that I tried to bring some awareness to this remarkable piece of legislation.

Rep. Loranne Ausley, who sponsored the bill, sent a tweet about it after reading my column. Harding from FSU and I ended up in a meeting about it. I was introduced to Michael Daniels from FAAST.

Awareness of the issue, having a conversation about it and taking action. That’s what it’s all about.

Dr. Harding with Gov. of Florida Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott.

Harding and I talked about doing a presentation for the Chamber on assistive tech, working on an update about SB 772 (you’re reading it).

Here is what Daniels had to say about where the bill stands: “I couldn’t be more pleased with the enthusiastic reception this bill has received.  It is incredibly cool seeing the attention Michael Phillips and Jennifer Perry Breen have received with their personal stories.  I know from the OMG looks on the legislators faces this is the first time they have seen a person testify with a speech generating device.  Goes back to the first lesson I learned from my mentor, Jean Issacs, technology levels the playing field for people with disabilities in ways we still can’t imagine.”

Harding added: “Without technology, success in school or in the workplace would not be possible. It is all about independence.”

Thank you to everyone who has supported SB 772 and the people counting on it.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at



Blake Dowling: Making a good first (or millionth) impression on Twitter

Twitter is an interesting beast, created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass and others.

Within six years, 100 million users were on the platform — cranking out 300 plus million tweets a day.

I joined the Twitter Army in May 2009 and 3,881 tweets later, I am still at it. It is a great way to launch our company Newsletter, POLITICO factoids, Crucial Gator Madness, Tech Industry news, Rando Band/Music info and the columns that I write.

I had a column retweeted from the maker of a personal delivery device that was featured in the column, Starship Technology. They were at the Florida State Capital this week displaying for lawmakers in attendance their artificially charged delivery machines, which could transform the way delivery services work. (CS/HB 601: Personal Delivery Devices)

You can also check out my February 2017 column showcasing that kind of tech.

@StarshipRobots has about the same ballpark number of followers that I do, so the retweet doubles the number of impressions.

If I really wanted to get stir crazy I could launch a paid Twitter campaign via the “Tweet Activity” function in Twitter.

However, I have no Pryor and Wilder feelings today so I will leave it at that.

I recently wrote a column about Russian hackers and wove my college acquaintance, present day comedian @BertKreischer into the mix (see the Machine story).

Because he has 200K followers, the number of impressions on that tweet were high. That tweet was not only featuring my company brand but the brand of and a lot of new folks were exposed to the site, in theory. Pretty cool.

Same with the band @SisterHazel, I tweeted about their Memphis show (which they retweeted) and quite a few folks saw it, as they have close to a million followers.

Blake Dowling @AegisSales: “A guy I knew in college named @bertkreischer is a comedian. He is in my new column @Fla_Pol on Russia. Enjoy” (Impressions: 15,556 times people saw this tweet on Twitter).

I certainly am not claiming to be a Twitter master; not by any stretch of the imagination.

If I were, however, I would be like Logan Paul, hauling in six-figure afternoons with my crazy videos and other content that his 7 million followers slurp up like nickel beer night at the Palace Saloon.

According to 60 Minutes, Logan was indeed paid almost $200k for one day’s work for Dunkin’ Donuts.

He got their message out to just as many people as a prime-time TV ad with nowhere close to the cost.

If you are not using Twitter, take the plunge.

It can give you some interesting branding opportunities, and there is more to it than getting celebs to retweet your stuff click here for a guide on how to get started.

if you are in the middle like me don’t forget to use hashtags to tighten up your messaging, follow those that you want to engage and keep your content SFW, no matter if you work at the White House or McDonald’s.

If you are past beginner status, let’s close with some tips.

— Pin a compelling tweet at the top of your profile.

— Add a period or exclamation point to your mentions and that will send them as tweets to all your followers.

That’s it for today, cache you ousside, tweet about that.


Did you hear that this person is getting a TV show, it could be a sign of the apocalypse.

Blake Dowling is CEO for Aegis Business Technologies and is CEO for Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at

Blake Dowling: New ransomware kicks it up a notch

Meeting this week with one of our national security partners, SonicWall, we had a fantastic luncheon with some local media partners, clients and Aegis staff.

A big topic of conversation — ransomware.

A SonicWall firewall can certainly help minimize risk, but there is no 100 percent protection from the constantly changing landscape of cyber threats.

Say you are a successful lobbyist, and legislation you want to pass is passing; you keep tweets clean, your email is in a secure cloud, your hardware is under warranty, with a solid backup, password-protected wireless network, two factor authentications for financial institutions, solid anti-virus, anti-spam protection firewall, and so on.

You rock through Session, rolling in a Maserati or other fly ride, feeling confident, successful — think Vince Vaughn in Swingers — confident. Then an intern clicks a link in a bogus ransomware email they thought was from the bank.

Now the game has changed; suddenly all your files are encrypted.

You are hosed.

Making things even worse is that this particular variation of ransomware not only encrypts files, but — if you do not pay the ransom — publishes your data on the web. That could include sensitive client info, financials, browsing history, everything.

This is happening, like a Cary Pigman late-night DUI. It’s not pretty, but it is a reality.

Let’s say; perhaps you spent the past three days logged on to (or streaming episodes of Days of Our Lives), your clients and the whole wide world will know.

QuickBooks files? Yup. All of it.

Over the past few years, ransomware threats (like CryptoLocker) have hauled in over $325 million, with growth that more than doubles each year. How? Why?

Side note, why was Chris Kattan on Dancing with the Stars, what a spectacle. Even worse, why am I admitting to watching? Talk about shame.

Anyway; the “why” is indeed Intriguing.

The business model of ransomware cons is awesome (the crime is not awesome, but it is a classic pyramid scheme).

Go on the dark web and buy a ransomware tool kit for next to nothing; “they” show you how to launch ransomware campaigns via the web and they want half the cut (usually of any of the profits you make).

One variation is particularly devious.

After infection, they will send you the encryption keys to your files, but only if you get two other people you know to click on the same email. They also encourage you to send it to people you don’t like.

Wow. Talk about preying on fears and weak spots.

The threats are real, so keep your Maserati clean, and keep the intern off the internet.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at

Blake Dowling: Senate Bill 772 — Time to help

Blake Dowling and the team at Gretchan Everhart

One of the first columns I ever put together was on assistive technology for those who need it for communication. It was based on a 60 Minutes expose highlighting the power of a tablet to open doors to those who, for most of their lives, have been unable to communicate.

Since then, I have written on the topic several times.

But for that first one, it was about six years ago; I was just married and had been sitting on 30A eating stone crab claws. On the TV, Tebow and the Broncos were pulling a miracle win against the Dolphins.

Dave Hodges, my editor at the time, texted me suddenly; he needed my column that night.

So, I pulled out my iPad and hammered something out.

The color and functionality of the tablet crossed boundaries, offering something truly powerful to a part of our community in need.

I recently reviewed some testimony and information on Senate Bill 772, sponsored by Lorraine Ausley, sent over the weekend — I would love to put it out there so our elected officials can make this bill a reality.

If you have ever spent any time at a school like Gretchen Everhart in North Florida or get to know kids with special needs, you understand how valuable these tools are in their lives.

If you have seen how these tools change lives, you would easily make this effort a reality.

I was emailing James Harding, Instructional Specialist at Florida State University’s College of Business who also serves as the Chair of the Public Policy Committee for the Florida Alliance of Assistive Services Technology (FAAST).

Harding had this to say about the revisions to the legislation: “Technology has been a game changer not only for business but has been vital in tearing down barriers for work, fun, and independence for persons with disabilities.”

This bill is simply a natural extension of existing law; it will empower the next generation to secure their place in an ever-changing world and to ensure that they have tools they need to maintain their independence.

To gain a better understanding of why accessible technology is so important, he urges everyone to watch the recent testimony provided by members of the disabled community using text to speech technology.

The message was profoundly heard.

It is simply good public policy, and we are very grateful the leadership of Ausley and our other elected officials.

Below is some recent testimony from individuals that use assistive technology.

A link to Jennifer‘s testimony:

A link to Michael Phillips‘ testimony:

If you made it this far I would like to thank you for reading about this important issue and if you have the ability to do something about it, make it happen because helping others be able to help themselves should always be our top priority.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at

Blake Dowling: Legal artificial intelligence

I was meeting with the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce’s Communications Committee; there was some brainstorming about session ideas for the upcoming Chamber Conference.

There were some thoughts thrown out, and quite a few comments were made. Then someone said, “how about automation and artificial intelligence.”

Suddenly, a surge of ideas and thoughts hit the room like a vicious uppercut from Mike Tyson circa 1999. All industries went into the mix: retail, auto, construction, medical and legal.

We are on the crest of a mighty wave of disruption, the likes of which the world has never seen.

That wave, my friends, is called “artificial intelligence.”

We must approach this wave head on like the wise one Jeff Spicoli (of 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High played by Sean Penn) once said, “Well Stu, I’ll tell you, surfing’s not a sport, it’s a way of life, it’s no hobby. It’s a way of looking at that wave and saying, ‘Hey bud, let’s party!’” Indeed.

I was the first (the opening act and least knowledgeable — HA!) of three speakers for a luncheon last month hosted by the Leon County Research and Development Authority; the topic was artificial intelligence.

The most interesting part of the discussion was about the legal world. The speaker dove into AI platforms that actually answer legal questions. The conversation quickly escalated to why not have AI judges, lawmakers and police?

Think about an AI cop pulling someone over. There would be no concern for their own safety, no bias. Same with a judge, no agenda, no individual interpretation of the law. Only the facts. That is unless it was an AI judge from Iran?


Lots to ponder here. Let us move into legal AI.

Each day, our world creates about 2,500,000,000,000,000 quintillion bytes of data. This data needs review and analysis. What better way to review data, than have a supercomputer like IBM’s Watson jump on it?

For example, Watson please review every piece of legal information on the web about police use of excessive force (only cases where the suspect was perceived to have a weapon) in the United States to assist with county of Los Angeles v. Mendez. This is happening.

AI research tools like ROSS are changing the game. Firms like Salazar Jackson and Latham & Watkins are on board with ROSS.

Check out their video online, it is very cool, (and see Todd’s tiny shoes)

LawGeex is another AI platform specializing in contract law. According to a CNBC piece earlier this year, CEO Noory Bechor called it “like the beginning of the beginning of the beginning,”

The LawGeex platform, Bechor said, ” it can take a new contract, one that it’s never seen before, read it and then compare it to a database of every similar contract that it’s seen in the past.”

Legal Robot is also a very cool company, promising to ensure fairness, improve transparency and allow signups with confidence. Sounds fantabulous to me.

If you are strolling down Market Street in San Francisco, stop in and say hello to their team.

There is really no way of knowing how far this will go, what massive legislative hurdles await – I am hopeful it will lead an enhancement of the legal community, but who knows.

As Hunter S. Thompson once muttered: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. This is the American Dream in action. We’d be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way to the end.”


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He is available at

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