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The problems described in both above posts seem to support my idea - funding for the long-term creation of real, useful standards backed by government authority - and funding for the creation of fundamental bits of the architecture for everyone else to use that are fundamentally reliable and secure.

The situation kind of reminds me of 19th century railroads and track gauge - somebody had to step in a tell everybody to use the same gauge, to stop railroads from using alternative track gauges as a self-destructive competitive measure.

by Zwackus on Fri Jun 7th, 2013 at 09:25:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except governments have no interest in making our computer systems secure, however much they try and secure their own systems.  Standards for commercially available encryption programs are purposely "broken" so messages can be read by intelligence agencies and services.  It seems to be the case the stuxnet mal-ware was designed and spread by the US and Israeli governments.  It is fairly clear countries have been conducting cyber-espionage for decades, the recent outbreak of outrage from the US wrt the PRC's efforts is a case of the biter bitten.

Must Follow Standards freezes the Cybernetic Sector into existing functionality.  In some cases, e.g., ASCII that's an undeniable good ... for a while.  ASCII has a range of coding to support teleprinters.  Who the heck uses teleprinters these days?  But there they sit, hogging space that these days could be used for other, more important, purposes.  It's possible to state ASCII is obsolete; it was designed for 8 bit systems in a 64 bit world.  

In the late 70s 80 megabyte mass storage devices were the size of a small end table costing $80,000.  Today I can purchase 180 terabytes for ~$7,500.  For sheer raw computing power my desktop development system obliterates the IBM 360/70 I worked on 'back in the day.'  The Raspberry Pi at $35 a pop, is more capable than any microcomputer available in, say, 1985.  

The technological change over the past 40 years continues today.  Much of it is not reaching the consumer market because of existing "standards," e.g., WinTel.  And the fact 95% of the people on the software side know bugger-all about hardware, its design, architectural trade-offs between hardware and software, and hardware/software integration.  Putting it simply, computer systems available in 2013 are squarely based on the limitations of 1975 hardware using paradigms and heuristics developed in 1956.  

MicroSoft developed Windows 8 in an attempt to force a move to 2013 technology.  BUT it was an "update" that didn't threaten their market dominance.  Apple forced a change with the various "i" devices but only under the control of a narcissistic control freak: Steve Jobs, who was deeply interested in freeing people to consume anything ... he permitted.  Want to do your own thing?  Tough shit.

Like everything, Standards have a Good side, a Downside, and a range in between.  They are 'an' answer to some things, 'the' answer to some things, 'meh' to some things, and a real hindrance to other things.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jun 8th, 2013 at 11:20:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except governments have no interest in making our computer systems secure, however much they try and secure their own systems.

But as more and more of government is run on computers and the internet, reliability becomes a real issue. Not thinking so much of hackers as malfunctions.

Also thinking less about the deep state as the rest of it: taxation, emergency services, judicial system, the lot of the not gun-carrying parts of the state.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jun 10th, 2013 at 02:22:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Should we ask bankers, how do they secure the data and transactions?
by das monde on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 07:03:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Design carefully, encrypt everything, lots of firewalls, test a whole lot.

There is no rocket science involved in securing banking transactions. And in general, it's pretty secure. Almost all money leaks in banking systems are not actual security breaches these days, but social engineering scams.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 09:41:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Design carefully, encrypt everything, lots of firewalls, test a whole lot.

And fix problems quickly when they appear. Also if possible keep the problems out of the public eye. Which makes it look safer then it is.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 02:25:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And eat the bill for your own fuckups.

And most of your customers' fuckups too.

And, most importantly restrict access: A universal computer connected to the Internet is inherently unsafe, because the wetware can be tricked into overriding even the most stringent software controls.

There are two ways to make it safe: Either remove the wetware's ability to modify the programming in any material manner (unfortunately, this turns the device from a universal computer into a dumb console). Or disable the wetware's access to the Internet (unfortunately, this introduces the problem of who gets to censor your Internet traffic).

Smart corporate sysops will do both. But that is because most corporate machines don't need to be anything more fancy than dumb consoles, and almost no corporate machines actually need to have access to the Internet (as opposed to the child- and idiot-proofed playpen defined by your sysop's favorite censorware).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 07:36:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or people falling asleep.
The hapless employee appeared before an industrial tribunal in the state of Hesse today to explain his actions. He told the tribunal that he had intended to transfer €62.40 from a retired employee's account but "momentarily fell asleep" and ended up transferring €222,222,222.22.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 04:59:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With technoglogy progressing exponentially, governments can't keep up. We cna expect that.

But if all this technology and economy were to slow down for a while, then there might be a chance for standartization, enforcement, some energy efficiency.  

by das monde on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 07:06:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You'd be more likely to lock in inefficient tech. Wait until the curve flattens.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 07:10:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Microsoft, Apple, and the rest have been locking in inefficient tech for a while.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 07:13:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What about a "doomsday computer" project, if there is a chance of economy and energy infrastructure breakdown? Would there be a market soon for slower, clunkier but more durable hardware for personal data saving and reading, worst-scenario computing? What software would be worth saving or (re)making?
by das monde on Tue Jun 11th, 2013 at 07:33:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very useful from the collapsitarian viewpoint. After reunification they dismantled the parallel communication system that was supposed to keep up if the Cold War would have turned hot. A robust backup would be a good thing to have. You wouldn't believe how commonplace system failure is. We're all waiting for the big one.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Jun 13th, 2013 at 05:28:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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