Let’s keep this post simple.
We’re near the start of a long cold, cyber war. Many things make this clear – from Stuxnet to Snowden, from the Sony hacks to Chinese DNS poisoning.
This is a hard time to be in information technology.
Just in raw, technical security terms this is tough – rebuilding every layer of computing infrastructure so that it is safe.
And that’s the easy problem.
The hard problems are emotionally and politically challenging: We have to prevent automated privacy invasion from creating new powerful fascist states. We have to keep the Internet competitive and innovative – a positive creative force.
To give a hint at how hard it is, here are three harsh yet promising articles on key subjects.
- Ethics and Power in the Long War explains the importance of the cost of spying and the usability of encryption tools.
- On the ethics (and pragmatics) of cryptography calls for a reconceptualisation of cryptography to have three actors: Government, the Mafia and the public.
- The Coming Civil War over General Purpose Computing digs into the question of who controls the power of programming.
I don’t know how long this war will take. I’d prepare for, say, a century.
It took many times longer than that after the invention of the printing press for everyday ideas like copyright, the novel, universal literacy and the public library to settle down.
If it feels tough, that’s because it should be.
If, like me, you’re a programmer, the days of rainbows and unicorns are gone. It’s now about moral responsibility, professional integrity and the strategic creation of new concepts.
Let’s get to it.