Why nominated: Influence can come in many forms and dimensions, sometimes it’s one on one and other times it’s to a huge audience. In the case of James Plouffe it is both. As a technical advisor for the former USA Network television show Mr. Robot he had a massive platform to inform people on the dangers of hacking by making sure the show was technically accurate and offering up some real-life experiences – such as when he used Stagefright – as plot fodder. However, he is also just as well-known for spreading his knowledge in much smaller domains.
Profile: Over the last year Plouffe has continued his mission on Mr. Robot using the show as a platform to bring the reality of the dangers of poor cybersecurity and what can be done by a few truly dedicated hackers to a broad audience. He cites the playwright Edward Albee who is credited as having said, “the function of art is to bring people into greater touch with reality …” and James hopes Mr. Robot accomplishes that by having the show is tackle cybersecurity issues that are relevant to the general public.
The end result, Plouffe hopes, is the people who see the show will place a greater value on cybersecurity as a result. This is something he has also taken to heart in his role at MobileIron, where he spends an large amount of time working with technology partners to make various security products interoperate better, so he’s able to spend time working closely with MobileIron’s customers helping them take advantage of these improvements.
What colleagues say: “James was the first subject-matter-expert I turned to when I wanted input on how to make the show’s technological conceits more grounded and realistic. When MR. ROBOT aired its first season, it was lauded by viewers and critics as the first television show to portray hacking and technology in an authentic way—all while still telling a compelling story. This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without James Plouffe. He consulted with the writers’ room on numerous occasions, lending his expertise and brainstorming feasible conflicts for our hacker characters to struggle with.” – Kor Adana, writher and producer for Mr. Robot.