Friday 31 December 2004

Interesting Reads

As the new year approaches, I am clearing out some of my old unread bookmarks. These two articles make interesting reads and I thought I should share them:

The World Wide Web as a Super-Brain

If society is viewed as a super-organism, communication networks play the role of its brain. This metaphor is developed into a model for the design of a more intelligent global network. The World-Wide Web, through its distributed hypermedia architecture, functions as an "associative memory", which may "learn" by the strengthening of frequently used links. Software agents, exploring the Web through spreading activation, function as problem-solving "thoughts". Users are integrated into this "super-brain" through direct man-machine interfaces and the reciprocal exchange of knowledge between individual and Web

More Than Human: Thinking Ahead

Transhumanism - the practice of enhancing people through technology - sounds like science fiction. But when it arrives (and it will), it will create unique problems for CIOs


A brain running on a network will obviously be an extremely attractive target for everyone from outright criminals to bored hackers to spammers. Why worry about actually earning a promotion when you can just write a worm that will configure your superior's brain so that the very thought of you triggers his or her pleasure centers? Why bother with phishing when you can direct your victims to transfer their assets straight to your bank account? Why tolerate the presence of infidels when they can be converted to the one true faith with the push of a button?


[...] a key problem is that the brain appears to consider itself a trusted environment. When brain region A gets a file request from region B, it typically hands over the data automatically, without asking for ID or imposing more than the most minimal plausibility check. It is true that with age and experience our brains do gradually build up a short blacklist of forbidden instructions, often involving particular commands originating from the hypothalamus or adrenal glands (for example, "bet the house on red," or "pick a fight with that bunch of sailors"), but in general, learning is slow and the results patchy. Such laxity will be inadequate in an age when brainjacking has become a perfectly plausible form of sabotage.