Tuesday 20 September 2011

Interesting Times

I’ve been thinking a bit about the fact that we’re living in a time of monumental change that is running rings around the established systems of the world.

First consider that the world we live in now is one where the average computing power, and digital storage available to individuals is increasing at a rate that is roughly equivalent to a 64x improvement in performance, capacity or cost-effectiveness over the lifetime of an average political leader ( 8 years ). Those in nominal control of things haven’t got the beginnings of a clue what that actually means, they are struggling to come to terms with the concept that stuff that was functionally impossible a handful of years ago is easily managed by a school-kid with a phone today. And the idea that such school kids might actually have experience with the complex multi-tasking needed to marshal armies is something that I suspect rarely bothers them but it probably should, after all hundreds of millions of hours are spent by the youth of today doing just that, only they call it online gaming.

Have a read of Ben Hammersley’s awesome speech last month to the IAAC. He puts forward some ideas there that are well worth reading at any point in time but it is truly worrying to think about the conceptual problem the rulers of the world have given the things that are happening right now.

So there are clear problems with “The Suits” trying to get their collective heads around security and governance in a world that changes faster than they can change their ties and pin stripes but so far they have mostly only been dealing with the effects of revolutions in communications capabilities and patterns. Now even those can be dramatic – the Arab Spring and the London Riots both showed how social networks and cell phones can pose existential threats to governments. It is interesting to note that these are proven existential threats, unlike the fake existential threats that Hammersley talks about that have prompted the ridiculous security theatre of Airports and the rest of the pointless moves towards a ubiquitous surveillance society.

Now think about the following two articles I read today about some interesting legal edge cases in the world of 3D printing.

3D Printed parts for Automatic Weapons.

ATM Skimmer Gang invests in 3D printer.

Once the ability to print your own guns, and any other illegal machinery of your choice, gets out there it will be out there and no amount of banning will put that genie back in the bottle.

Interesting Times doesn’t even begin to describe what I suspect is about to happen.

I think that despite my previous rant about being able to buy Rule-34 as an e-book that I really should go out and get a copy.

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