Leaping into the abyss

Stuxnet, Assange and the new world being born  

A hundred years ago it was 1910 and not a soul in Europe would have foretold the War that would come four years later. No one knew they were living on the edge of a volcano and that when it erupted nothing would afterwards be the same again. 

The sense of something massive about to invade our lives now seems everywhere. The combination of Stuxnet, Assange and the cyber attack on various websites is overlain with the chopping down of the 2000 year old thorn bush at Glastonbury. Not only can we bring our civilisation down, there seems a real will in large parts of the West to actually do it. 

The leaking of classified documents is to my mind indefensible. My right to know – your right to know – is trumped by my right to be protected from our enemies. This WikiLeaks can do nothing other than make the defence of our way of life more difficult. 

The sun rose this morning and everything is more or less as it was yesterday. But major seismic shifts occur after plenty of pressure has applied. The changes to come, whatever they are, may now be almost inevitable. 

I had a strange conversation with someone yesterday. He asked me what I thought of Assange and I told him. He said he could see no harm having been done and it was good to know what is going on. I said that these leaks will make it more difficult to defend him and his way of life; did he not know what Australia’s geographical position was, stuck out here in the middle of the South Pacific. Yes, he said, he knew, but in a hundred years we will anyway probably be the southernmost province of China. Well, I said, that’s very possible, but didn’t he worry about such a prospect. No, not at all, he said. This way, at least, we will end up with peace. But, I said, since nothing is determined, wouldn’t you rather end up as the most westerly state of the United States than the most southerly province of China? No, he said, he didn’t. So I walked away because there is no talking to such fools. 

Stuxnet is the other game changer. Someone, and no one knows who, has created a computer virus so lethal that it may have stopped in its tracks the Iranian nuclear program. Excellent in its own way but the possibilities are now endless. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. In 1945, only one country had nuclear weapons. We are now adding North Korea and Iran and stories now circulating mention Burma and Venezuela looking to be part of this great game. 

Well, why not the same for computer virus technology only in this we go beyond nations states to single individuals. We in are now universally vulnerable to such attacks. Stuxnet required a major government effort somewhere but the techniques are being studied everywhere and are with little doubt end up in the hands of the “hacker community”. 

There is a new world being born right this minute that is creating conditions that will make 2050 as different from us as 1950 now is. Whether this is a world any of us is going to like, given the high level of malevolence that appears to be out there, is very much to be doubted.

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