Sunday, October 23, 2016

Revenge of the Hackers


This semester I am teaching a graduate class on Social Media and Politics. In this class we have learned about the power of individuals and/or small groups to deploy influence through their control over the Internet using persuasive memes and through active hacks.

Mainstream political authorities would be well advised to keep this influence in mind as they go after Julian Assange:
AP Internet attackers now have secret weapon in household devices. Japan Times, October 23, 2016, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/23/business/tech/internet-attackers-now-secret-weapon-household-devices/#.WAzrEMmYLHo

NEW YORK – Could millions of connected cameras, thermostats and kids’ toys bring the internet to its knees? It’s beginning to look that way. On Friday, epic cyberattacks crippled a major internet firm, repeatedly disrupting the availability of popular websites across the United States. The hacker group claiming responsibility says that the day’s antics were just a dry run and that it has its sights set on a much bigger target. And the attackers now have a secret weapon in the increasing array of internet-enabled household devices they can subvert and use to wreak havoc...
Mainstream political authorities' control in the age of connectivity is diminishing.

I can only hope that a more democratic balance of power births a more rational democracy as opposed to either anarchy or totalitarianism.


6 comments:

  1. This is the technical version of the Sorcerer's Apprentice. Newton has been characterized as the last of the great magicians--but the lure of magic has never died and technology is our magic and is out of control. Not sure who the Sorcerer is who will rescue the Apprentice in this tale. Wait till there are millions of self driving cars. Perfect for kidnappers who can just program the vehicle to drive to the desired destination. Or one day one gets in his car and begins a journey at high speed to another very different place than intended! Our civilization is addicted to magic and holds the false belief that magic will transform the earth into Paradise. Finally I would argue that neither science nor technology is value neutral. Behind it all is the craving for power.

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    1. Well said! I was recently reminded of Mickey Mouse as sorcerer's apprentice in Fantasia. Nuclear is especially like that.

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  2. E.F. Schmacher forsaw all this when he recommended intermediary technology. I am fairly sure of it. His sister was married to Heisenberg the great nuclear physicist. Perhaps the two men at some point discussed the future. So here we are with burnt fingers.

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  3. Yes. Good posts William. A computer scientist from NZ wrote an article in oi gibberish and was accepted to a nuclear physics conference in Florida . Shows you how much of it is hype and fraud.

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  4. I read pulp science fiction from the fifties as a kid , in the seventies and eighties. There was a book called "The Marching Morons." It was about a society of genetic morons from all the pollution and overpopulation. Very prescient. The morons had to be taken care of by a dwindling population of technocrats. The technocrats built them cars that looked and, felt like they were going 70 mph. The morons cars were really only going 30 mph . The deception was done by the technocrats to preserve the illusion that the technocrats knew what they were doing . It also kept morons happy and the morons from killing each other en masse, in car fatalities.
    That is similar to what our fake technology is. Only it is much more dark, insane, malevolent, and mutually destructive. Our leaders are malevolent morons in our case and many are their sheep morons.

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    1. The marching morons described at Wikipedia here:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marching_Morons

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