A coin with more than two sides

Let us take a look at two of many more sides. The first side is given in this article: Google’s Vint Cerf warns of ‘digital Dark Age’ (at http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31450389). The initial quote is “Vint Cerf, a ‘father of the internet’, says he is worried that all the images and documents we have been saving on computers will eventually be lost“. This sounds nice, but is that not the same as we have had forever? If we did not take care of our old photographs and our old negatives, than those pictures would be lost forever, so how is that different?


See here, the picture of an Agfa Instamatic. It is almost identical to the camera I had in the late 70’s. So, how will you get those negatives developed? Where to buy film? Most will not care about it, many have bought new camera’s, but where to print the negatives you have? Nowadays with digital images, almost any printer will print it, almost every system will show them. How is that different? So are the words of Vint Cerf anything else but a sales pitch for some new ‘forever’ saved option, likely one that Google will offer and not unlikely in a way that gives Google shared ownership. Is that under the current feelings of ‘data collection’ such a sceptical view to have?

Now, I will state, that not unlike those old prints, the owner has the responsibility to keep the images safe, just like in the old days. Even if the originals (the digital negatives) are lost, as long as a print still exists, the image remains, just like the old photographs. Yet, his quote “But as technology moves on, they risk being lost in the wake of an accelerating digital revolution” holds truth, because that is not unlike the 110mm film issue. So as long as you have a data option that survives, like the 110mm negative holder, you can always get another print. So, CDROM’s in a writable version came in the late 90’s, so we only started to have a backup option for 20 years, yet affordable digital images would still need several more years. Yes, that market has grown exponential and now, we see the application of Common Cyber Sense in another way. Now, people will get confronted with the need to back things up. As the Digital disc evolved, so has the quality of these solutions. Now the discs last a lot longer, so backing up the old discs on new discs does make a whole lot of sense, so there is a side that makes perfect sense, but is that enough?

That part is shown in the following quote: “’I worry a great deal about that,’ Mr Cerf told me. ’You and I are experiencing things like this. Old formats of documents that we’ve created or presentations may not be readable by the latest version of the software because backwards compatibility is not always guaranteed’“. This is at the heart of what Vincent Serf is getting to, so he is definitely onto something. How many of you can still access all the WordPerfect files you created in 1992? Who can still access their FRED applications and their Ashton Tate’s Framework solutions? That list is slowly and surely getting close to zero. This is what Vincent is getting to and there list the crux, because this would have gone beyond mere images and what we currently still access. Consider the Digital VAX/VMS systems, the collected data that spans decades from 1982 onwards. The IBM series one (those 64Mb mainframes with 10 9” floppies), so Vincent is perfectly correct (as a man with his experience would be), but what solution to use? Yes, his idea is perfectly sound, but the issues that follows is the one that I have to some degree an issue with, you see, sometimes things get lost, which has happened throughout history, would our lives have been better if the Library of Alexandria survived? Would it be better, or would there be more and more incriminations? There is no way to know, but the issue can be explained in another way. This is a myth I heard in school a long time ago. The story is that a person could ask whatever he wanted for a created chess game. He asked for a grain in the first square, two in the second square and so on. By the time the board was half way through, the person paying for it would owe the person 2,147,483,648 grain seeds and that is just half way through. Now think of today’s world, where we collect everything. Like the chess board we collect every part and this just increased the junk we collect and that at a premium price. So what to keep? That is the hard part, it is interesting to keep on the side that sometimes we need to allow to lose things, but Vincent has a case. Now we look at one of the last quotes: “’Plainly not,’ Vint Cerf laughed. ‘But I think it is amusing to imagine that it is the year 3000 and you’ve done a Google search. The X-ray snapshot we are trying to capture should be transportable from one place to another. So, I should be able to move it from the Google cloud to some other cloud, or move it into a machine I have’“. Yes, there is the sales pitch. “Google search” and “move it from the Google cloud“, so there we have it, the Google cloud! Still, even though there is a sales pitch in here, does that make it a bad approach? Are we better because we save EVERYTHING? That is at the heart of this little conundrum. Now, those having their data on the old Cray might consider their data worthy, so do many who had their data on UNIX mini’s, but now consider every Novell edition, every desktop, now, it will be arbitrary if people decide to take these steps, yet what happens when all data can be baked up like this, what happens when some start ‘offering’ this for ‘free’? Who then co-owns that data, those solutions? Is that such a crazy thought to have?

Here is the last part: “And that’s the key issue here – how do I ensure in the distant future that the standards are still known, and I can still interpret this carefully constructed X-ray snapshot?” This is the part that is interesting; his concept of Digital Vellum is an interesting one. Yet, how should we move forward on that? What happens when these snapshots link up, when they connect, perhaps even interact? There is no way of knowing; perhaps this would be the beginning of a new evolution of data. Is that such a weird concept? Perhaps that is where we need to look at other sides too. Consider our insight, into our memories, our ‘wisdom’ and our ability to filter and extrapolate. Is this solution a primal step from near ‘artificial-intelligence’ to possible cyber/digital intelligence? The question becomes, if intelligence is grown from memories, what do we create when we give it everything we ever collected? I have seen the stories, the way some people think that the dangers of an artificial intelligence is so dangerous. We might consider the thoughts from the ‘Cyberdyne’ stories (Terminator series), but in the end, what if the digital intelligence is the beginning of our legacy? What if we learn to preserve ourselves, without leaving a carbon footprint, without being the deadly blight on nature? At some point we will stop to exist, we die; it is a simple consequence of nature, but what happened, if our wisdom is preserved? Many come with stories and nightmares of the loss of identity, but what happens if we can store intelligence? What happens if the next century Albert Einstein would be there to help us create progress, inspire innovation for all time? Is that such a bad thing? Some of these questions are beyond my ability to answer but there is a dangerous dark side too, what happens when this becomes commercial Intellectual Property? I am all for IP, yet, should cloned intelligence become the property of anyone? I feel that I might be alive long enough to actually see that question go to court. I hope that those making that decision are a lot wiser than I currently feel.

This now gets me to story two, which also came from the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-31440978), the story here is ‘Cybersecurity: Tech firms urged to share data with US‘, which gave me the initial scepticism regarding the Vint Cerf story. So, I am not linking them perse, they are separate stories. The initial quote is “Private tech firms should share more information with government and with each other to tackle cybercrime, according to US President Barack Obama“, I do not disagree with this thought, however, there is a side to this that is not addressed. The given quote is “Senior Google, Yahoo and Facebook executives turned down invitations to the summit, held at Stanford University“, so is this about not sharing, or about keeping the data non-sharable. There is part that we see when we look at the quote “Mr Obama is backing the creation of information sharing and analysis organisations (ISAOs) to help firms and government share material on potential threats“, yes, if we consider that Snowden fellow there could be issue, but is that a valid path? You see, consider how some do NOT want the cyber threat to reduce for the largest extent, consider how many software ‘solutions’ are out there, for viruses, phishing attacks, identity theft and several other parts. There are two dangers, at one part we have a possible solution to theoretically start solving and decently diminish the danger, the other side is on how all that data gets linked, that part in the wrong hands is a lot more dangerous than many could imagine.

The following quote adds to the worry: “Government cannot do this alone. But the fact is that the private sector can’t do it alone either because its government that often has the latest information on new threats” My issue is that this should not in the hands of any private part, it could be seen as the execution of the premise ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, those who face that lesson will not have an option. I would see a solution if there was collaboration between NSA, GCHQ, DGSE and a select few more. Reasoning? Cybercrimes have a distinct impact on national income and also national tax donations. They have all the drive to get it resolved. I have less faith in private companies, their allegiance is to profit, their board of directors and more profit. This is the issue as they will do what they need, someone falls on a sword and many get extremely wealthy, the data goes everywhere and many become exploitable, classifiable and re-sellable. I have been in data for decades, I think that governments can do what needs to be done, and it is time to change the cycle of re-iterated profit. Governments have made themselves the bitch of the private industries, the three mentioned initially is not enough, consider the quote down the line “Facebook, Yahoo, Google and Microsoft have all sent less senior executives to the conference“, so why was Microsoft not mentioned earlier? What is going on? The interesting part is that Bloomberg mentions Microsoft several times, the BBC article just twice. It is clear that something needs to be done on several levels, but it takes a different scope and a different approach, I feel decently certain that keeping the private touch out of this will be essential, for the reason that private companies have a mere commercial scope. I feel uncertain that this approach will work, it has not worked for a long time; I have seen ego and political play and personal reasoning interfere with results, in more than one nation. Whatever is done, it needs to be done, it needs to be done a lot faster than many consider and even though taking the politician out of a government seems to be impossible, we need to make sure that an approach is considered that does not allow for political exploitation, but how to get that done is another matter entirely.



1 Comment

Filed under IT, Law, Military, Politics

One response to “A coin with more than two sides

  1. All coins have at least three sides… a 50c coin has 14 sides…

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