27 February 2008

Never Be the Same Again

Technology empowers those who master its use. The more advanced the technology, the greater the power granted to its masters. Nanotech, biotech, robotics, and advanced electronics bring the costs of widespread violence, mayhem, and terror down within the reach of a lot more people.
Professor Sharkey, who is famously known for his roles as chief judge on the TV series Robot Wars and as onscreen expert for the BBC´s TechnoGames, said: "The trouble is that we can't really put the genie back in the bottle. Once the new weapons are out there, they will be fairly easy to copy. How long is it going to be before the terrorists get in on the act?"

"With the current prices of robot construction falling dramatically and the availability of ready-made components for the amateur market, it wouldn't require a lot of skill to make autonomous robot weapons."___Source
Biotech terror will likewise grow from the bioweapons programs of nations such as Russia, China, Iran, etc., and become more widely available as the tools of biotechnology become less expensive and more easily obtained. The same is true for chemical weapons and nanotech weapons.

Nanotechnology will be widely used by both legitimate authorities and criminal/terror groups for multiple purposes. As both stationary and mobile stealth sensor networks, nano-devices offer unprecedented information gathering capability. Molecular assemblers, once available, would allow rapid assembly of nano-weapon devices as well as larger weapons systems and devices.

Currently, westerners enjoy freedoms of movement and action unprecedented in the history of the Earth. At this time, significant violence and oppression are geographically limited to specific areas of the third world, or to specific cities or sections of cities in the advanced world. Most westerners feel free to travel anywhere from cross town to cross planet, without feeling too concerned about their personal safety.

Such a situation cannot last much longer. Within every western country, significant minorities of people nurse feelings of victimisation, along with violent revenge fantasies. The fact that such disturbed individuals have heretofore lacked the means to perpetrate their vengeance upon the majority has done nothing to dampen the intensity of these violent urges. As technologies which can easily be perverted to violent ends become more readily available, such malcontents will more often carry out their dreams of revenge.

Currently, individuals can carry weapons into the workplace, the school building, the shopping mall--and kill a handful or two of unfortunate victims. In the near future, such aggrieved individuals will be able to use more advanced technologies to cause the deaths of dozens, or hundreds of individuals--with less risk to themselves.

Consider all the computer hackers of the world (mostly Russia and China, but also in your hometown), who would do so much more damage if they only had greater reach. Consider the breakdown of government and commerce due to widespread failure of computer networks, financial networks, utility control networks, flight control networks, and so forth. Soon, the advantage may shift from the defense to the offense, with a simple breakthrough or two.

There is no need for Peak Oil, no need for Catastrophic Climate Change, no need for Islamic Nuclear Terror. Just a few advanced computing algorithms operating on some custom hardware. Or a suitcase full of stealth nano-weapons released into a water supply or skyscrapers' air supply.

The US is the world leader in scientific and technological research, but US labs are full of spies and potential spies. Secrets are difficult to keep in the US, with most other nations of the world--including putative allies of the US--trying to snatch whatever secrets they can. But as more technology and science originates within labs in China, and other emerging powers, the US and Europe have no analogous spy networks set up to warn them of potentially dangerous breakthroughs. The first hint of a problem may be the abrupt collapse of every building in NYC more than three stories tall.

The point is that informed individuals should be prepared for such a shift in reality well before it occurs. Just as Californians need to be prepared for earthquakes, Kansans and Oklahomans should be prepared for tornadoes, Alaskans should be prepared for blizzards and extreme cold, and individuals living along the Gulf of Mexico or the southern US Atlantic coast need to be prepared for hurricanes.

Civilisation rests upon the organisation of civil affairs, basic infrastructure. But nothing is easier to disrupt in the new era of tech-enabled terrorism, than basic civil infrastructure. There is no need for a hurricane, earthquake, or other natural disaster. Infrastructure breakdown can be its own disaster.

Think about it. Expect it. Count on it. And be prepared.

Sponsored by the Society for Creative Apocalyptology®

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