Monday, April 8, 2013

Overconnected, underprotected

William Davidow's take on being overconnected is a point of view that I never examined before and frankly didn't even think of. But it makes total sense. As he references Eugene Wigner's work in mathematics, he shows us that as a system becomes larger and more connected, the likeliness for instability occurs. There will eventually come a tipping point. As Davidow says, we have the convenience of paying for things online, but at the same time run the risk of putting our information out there which makes us vulnerable for fraud and identity theft. The ideas about positive and negative feedback working in the opposite manner (i.e. furnace saying "Too cold!" as negative vs. "It's hot, keep it up!" for positive") slightly blew my mind. I guess this is another thing that I never quite thought of. The intended consequence of either would result in the opposite effect. The example of feedback from a microphone in a venue is one I could easily understand and helped to "visualize" the problem more effectively.

As I read about the downfall of being overconnected, I couldn't help but think of Wile E. Coyote.  With our fast paced inter-connected world, we have seemingly run off the cliff and are left stranded in midair.  Yes, it's impossible to imagine life without smartphones. But 10 years ago cell phone technology was no where near what it is today. Now try to imagine life BEFORE cell phones. Impossible, I know.  With our dependence on these technologies we open ourselves to a world of hurt.  One electromagnetic pulse could wipe out communications for a massive area, essentially crippling communications.  So technology is seemingly a Pandora's box that needs to be monitored through an increasing loop of positive and negative feedback so as to prevent massive catastrophes such as the economic crisis in Iceland

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