Saturday, August 04, 2012

Silicon Valley "Minority Report": Technology (plus asymmetry) can make us vulnerable

Silicon Valley companies “collectively” already operate a “Singularity University”, which could probably be called an “Asymmetry University”.  Marc Goodman is the Chair of Policy, Law and Ethics at this university, as well as founder of the “Future Crimes Institute”, a group that sounds like it comes out of the movie “Minority Report.”  And, no, Marc doesn’t particularly resemble Tom Cruise.

He has an opinion piece on the CNN Ideas Series, “How technology makes us vulnerable”, today, link here. There is an accompanying video which is particularly chilling, regarding the way “operations centers” and simple searches were used by the attackers in the 2008 Mumbai attacks in India.

The article gives several important links, including a 16 minute video by Avi Rubin, “All of your devices can be hacked”, on Ted.

There are two big problems, it seems.  One is our increasing dependence on technology, especially solid-state – there has been a lot of discussion in the media about vulnerability to solar storms and even deliberate EMP attacks, although there is a lot that can be done to harden our technology (even in the chip design itself) that we haven’t made the commitment to doing yet.  Another is the way hyper-individualism, originally (and still somewhat correctly) viewed as an antidote to cronyism and organizational corruption, works psychologically and exacerbates the dangerous potential of asymmetric actors.  As a result, basic questions in our culture – about equality, individual rights, narrow personal responsibility, and rationalism as put against belief, relational commitments, generativity, sustainability, and “karmic fairness” –could be up for grabs, some day, and maybe sooner than we would want.  We could backtrack to the mentality of the 50s.  

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