October 09, 2006
Is the technology world bound to be a world with hard edges?

These days an unprotected Windows machine on the internet lasts less than 5 minutes before it's turned into a zombie spam emailer. I am unwilling to buy that Google Code Search is evil, but nonetheless certain really stupid ideas - like posting your password in an archive that "no one will notice" - can quickly turn into hard security problems. In that respect, the digital world is a lot like the physical world would be, if the road was made of molten lava and every wire in your home was uninsulated. You'd be okay if you stayed on the sidewalk or in your asbestos covered heat resistant car and if you never accidentaly touched those wires, but the consequences of being wrong would be very bad.
The old biological world has fuzzier risky edges. We are surrounded by risks, but the consequences of the risks aren't fatal most of the time. What can we do to blur the risky edge of technology?

I wrote about this kind of idea before - but if biology was to tell us what to do, the answer would be mass redundancy of all information, and just amping up the attacks and the countermeasures. The body is under constant attack and is constantly losing and winning minor battles at the risky frontier - but there's enough mass redundancy of the systems under attack that we don't suffer when we lose a battle.
(I wonder if there exists a model genetics study that says that multi-cellular organisms have an advantage over single cell organisms in this respect. It could be one of the key drivers for biological complexity at the lowest level of biological organization).

What definitely does not work is the "Are you sure you want to touch these electrical wires?" type of security. Attention is much too flaky for that to work.

Posted by Claus at October 09, 2006 10:41 PM | TrackBack (0)
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