The love of knowledge is a kind of madness.
― C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
After all this time of turning ideas into words you would think we’d be better at it than we are. It’s still really hard.
In the not too distant future, we could see a race of cyborg plants that tell us when they need more water, what chemicals they’ve been exposed to, and what parasites are eating at their roots. These half-organic, half-electronic creations may even tell us how much pollution is in the air. And yes, they’ll plug into the network.
Not hard to imagine organic computing and the Internet of Things. Connected plants that relay and transmit data. That monitor their surroundings. It would eventually be cheaper than inorganic network infrastructure. Coaxial vines on buildings. WiFi bushes in the park. NFC flowers.
Whether you agree with the activities of Anonymous or not — which have included everything from supporting the Arab Spring protests to DDoSing copyright organizations to doxing child pornography site users — the salient point is that democratic governments now seem to be using their very tactics against them. The key difference, however, is that while those involved in Anonymous can and have faced their day in court for those tactics, the British government has not. When Anonymous engages in lawbreaking, they are always taking a huge risk in doing so. But with unlimited resources and no oversight, organizations like the GCHQ (and theoretically the NSA) can do as they please. And it’s this power differential that makes all the difference.
Is it okay for governments to fight fire with fire? What concerns me isn’t that governments are using these tactics, but they’re using them on a group that, while maybe breaking the law, aren’t really hurting anyone. They may be an annoyance, but do they warrant the use of subversive tactics by governments? And if they do, then where does the government stop?