Smartphones, GPS navigation, e-books, self-driving cars, sampling, identity theft, cyberstalking… it was all in the future once.
In the early ‘90s, when the Web consisted of two nodes connecting CERN to Stanford, and few people outside the industry had much experience with computers, I noticed some ill-informed and possibly hazardous decisions: keeping sensitive data on wide-open systems, putting cars' brakes under software control, committing huge wads of public money to excessively ambitious software projects.
So, thought I, if I explain the problem clearly, accurately, and amusingly, surely some of those decisions might become more well-informed and cautious?
The young can be so naïve.
And the past can look so quaint. Now the music industry's toast, and even the NSA knows that network security is an oxymoron. But what really
worries me is what's coming:
— Why bother with gun control when we'll have home 3D printers? Throw in a wiki or two dedicated to Everyman's freedom to own an arsenal, and the whole idea becomes a sick joke.
— Can't wait until drones the size of dragonflies become cheap and ubiquitous. You can already buy miniaturized spy gear (and who knows what you'll be able to print in 3D). GPS navigation and long-range control are well established. Welcome to the goldfish bowl.
— As if mobile devices haven't done enough damage to the ancient tradition of facetime, soon our children, our friends, even we ourselves will have to compete with Google Glass for a moment of genuine eye contact with anyone ever again. Digital Woes 2.0 coming soon