Thursday, 5 January 2012

Google versus Cyber-Terrorism


Yes, I'm aware of the irony that I'm writing this blog post on a Google owned blogging platform; I'm ranting at myself as much as at you.

In a documentary for Charlie Brooker's 2011 Screenwipe, Adam Curtis talks about the downfall of Rupert Murdoch. He talks about Murdoch's desire to fight elites with sensationalist stories bringing down the great and the good. He talks about the resultant rise of the ordinary person obtaining celebrity, and how in order to prevent these new celebrities becoming an elite, the tabloids need to also bring them down by putting their sordid private lives on the front page. This is what sells, because we the public need to see elites topple - it makes us feel good about our own pathetic little lives.

Of course, when some of the morally reprehensible methods of collecting such sordid details spill over into the lives of ordinary people grieving their murdered or missing children, then we the public shake our heads and wag our fingers… then enjoy the spectacle of another elite falling.

Curtis brings the story up to present day, depicting Murdoch 'on the way out', with his wings clipped.

But then Curtis says this:

"There is a new empire that offers the same dream of a world without hierarchies, where we are in control. It is Google, with its promise of information flowing free of all political control, and where everyone talks with each other as equals. But the price we pay for this is that Google's machines watch us all the time and know everything about us, and they don't even have to pay for private detectives or for phone taps. And the strange thing is, we don't seem to be bothered about this at all."

I was excited by this, because I too am concerned by the lack of people who appear at all concerned by the fact that we now all rely upon one gargantuan company to protect most of our data and provide most of our methods of communication. In not too many years, our children will be silently cursing us from within the strictly monitored confines of the laughably named virtual reality 'life pod' they're physically wired into as they perform drone tasks for Google in return for tasteless 'power-up nuggets'.

OK, so that's edging towards worst-case, but even the best-case that I see, is our children laughing at our immense short sightedness - 'Didn't you realise that your entire business life and all economics had been inextricably reduced to a series of zeros and ones?' 'Didn't you stop to wonder whether entrusting all your precious data to something called The Cloud might be sensible?' 'Didn't you at all consider that a company providing all your business tools and personal entertainment for free might possibly have an ulterior motive?'

Hopefully, they will be laughing because instead of living under the gaze of the Google overlords, our children will be living in what I predict will be the next great age - the Post Digital age. Every great age ends with the destruction of the one before it, and it is only a matter of time, extremely short time I would imagine, before somebody - probably flying some kind of political flag, finds a way to commit an act of massive digital terrorism wiping everything binary and breaking the internet forever.

Imagine a magnetic device that can send out a wave throughout a country - deleting or corrupting every one of those zeros and ones it finds on every hard drive, USB stick, server and memory card in the land.

When the Digital war arrives, whose side will you be on?

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