Monday, July 9, 2012

The Monkey Wrench

Some recent stories in the news might make people a little skeptical of the wonders of modern technology. Apparently, some Estonians took over millions of computers for a while in a huge crime operation. And here I thought the Internet was the savior of mankind:
If you want to make sure you’ll still be able to use the Internet when you wake up Monday morning, go to this website right now, click “Detect,” and follow the instructions from there. That’s the website of the DNS Changer Working Group (DCWG), set up by court order to fix a bunch of servers that had been taken over by an Estonian crime ring. The ring, which was busted last November, had been using the servers to redirect millions of Internet users to rogue websites when they tried to visit normal websites. The FBI took over the servers and cleaned them up, but it doesn’t particularly want to be in the business of running DNS servers permanently—so it’s shutting them down on July 9.
How To Make Sure You Won't Lose All Internet Access on Monday (Slate)

Won't it be great when we're dependent upon computers for everything?

We so often forget that technology does not operate in a vacuum, but is run by human beings in a specific environment. How technology is used is dictated by the social, cultural, economic and regulatory environments, something to keep in mind the next time some kind of new savior technology comes along. for example:
Last year's accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was a manmade disaster caused by poor regulation and collusion between the government, the operator and the industry's watchdog, a report has said.

In a highly critical assessment published on Thursday, a Japanese parliamentary panel challenged claims by the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), that the triple meltdown at the plant in north-east Japan had been caused solely by a 14-metre tsunami on 11 March last year. The panel said the magnitude-9 earthquake that preceded the waves could not be ruled out as a cause of the accident.

It accused Tepco and regulators at the nuclear and industrial safety agency of failing to take adequate safety measures, despite evidence that the area was susceptible to powerful earthquakes and tsunamis.

"The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco, and the lack of governance by said parties," said the report, compiled by the Fukushima nuclear accident independent investigation commission.

"They effectively betrayed the nation's right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly 'man-made'.
Fukushima reactor meltdown was a man-made disaster, says official report (Guardian)

If only those flawed human beings would stop getting in the way of our perfect technology!

And despite this occurrence, it seems techno-utopianism is alive and well in the Far East (until all that capital from the West up and vanishes, anyway). Check out this piece:
If the ideas presented at Yeosu materialize in the same way as innovations from previous world expositions, we will not be dependent on fresh lakes and rivers for our water supply in the future. Instead, much of the demand may be met through the economical production of desalinated sea water. Energy needs will be satisfied in part by biofuels made from seaweed and other marine resources and new bio-degradable plastics will be made from materials found in the sea.

Future town squares may be covered and animated by giant digital screens, similar to the spectacular 218-by-30-metre-wide LED screen located above the Expo site's main street. The ever-changing colours and patterns include swimming whales comprised of photographs downloaded by visitors to the site.

We will travel in battery-powered low floor trams that do not require any overhead wires, similar to the Hyundai Rotem hybrid prototype on display. Cars will be powered by electricity or fuel cells.

Floating underwater houses will feature high-tech automation systems that adjust oxygen levels, air pressure and indoor temperatures. A desalination system will purify drinking water and a solar power generator will offer a self-supported energy storage system. Floating parks, harbours and resorts will result in entire self-contained communities in lakes and oceans.
Ah, the future is bright, indeed!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.