Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cloud Of Opportunities

We are all used to the idea of privacy, nobody wants people barging unannounced into their homes or peaking into their windows.  But what about electronic spying?  Part of the problem is that most people don't even know enough about electronic spying to know when someone has broken into a computer or smartphone.

The National Security Agency has done the electronic equivalent of forcing everyone to use the same lock on their door so that the NSA can have the key to every house;  This means that anyone with the key could break into any house with ease, because it's almost like the houses were made to be broken into.

That's essentially the state of electronic privacy in the world today, American and European technology security and encryption have been purposely weakened to allow intelligence agencies to collect data at will, but this also allows anyone to get into your electronic systems.

One might wonder how the world can become peaceful and crime free with such obvious opportunities for exploitation being written into the technology itself.  In order to achieve anything that could be called an advanced society we must be sure of our technology, would you trust a self driving car that was created intentionally to be hacked?  Because that is how every computer, smartphone, server and connectivity device that uses parts from America was built; to purposely allow back doors and with bunk encryption.

If these problems can't be solved, its hard to imagine the ultimate potential uses for these technologies becoming manifest.  How can you store data on a cloud if you know someone could always break in?  How can we connect and automate systems and devices around us if we are opening them up to the possibility of hacking?  And last but definitely not least, would you hook your mind up to a computer system that had a back door in it? With advanced cloud storage and digital interfaces, things could start to seem a little like Startrek, but it is hard to imagine this working without secure networks.

In the future, the lines between electronic space and real space will be blurred greatly.  When people begin to merge with computers and live in digital realities, the mind and the network will become more like physical spaces.  You will be able to store thoughts and creations in a private space and protect them from other people.  With 3D printers and ultimately nano printers, you can create objects right from files, using your mind as the interface.  This would literally allow you to store "objects" on your personal cloud network and print them into the real world.

With so much at stake in our technological security, your personal cloud network will become hallowed ground, only people you authorize will be allowed in, any violation of this space will and must be treated as a great crime, on par with breaking and entering in real life.  The clouds should function in layers, each person has their own private network, outside the private area could be a sort of "house cloud", imagine the digital equivalent of a living room, friends could come in and talk to each other, look at objects in the living room, but wouldn't just be able to go into your private room and start pulling things out.  In the same way, the house cloud wouldn't give visitors access to your private files, just the ones you chose to display.

Then there are public clouds, a sort of anything goes zone.  Data on the public cloud is copy able, nothing you do here is private.  It function as a mixing pot of ideas and people, social spaces, groups activities, fan clubs, even digital workshops.  This is some aspect of the future of the internet, but it is only possible with secure technology, because without the fortified cloud layers, the system would be a nightmare of surveillance and exploitation.

It's hard to imagine that people will stop advancing network systems, but how the political effects of digital spying will influence the shape of these technologies is still unknown.  There is a great force of decentralized innovation taking place that seeks to create secure and encrypted networks as well as technological hardware that prevents hacking.  These widespread trends could help bring about a more secure variety of technology as well as to push the political paradigm that communication networks and privately owned electronic devices should protect the user from digital harm and exploitation.

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