Saturday, January 9, 2010

Security Challenges Into the Next Decade and Beyond
- A Leap Into the Future with Kurzweil, Suarez & Joy

Over the New Year's Holiday, I dusted off and finished pressing my way through a stunning, expansive view into the not so distant future with Ray Kurzweil’s tome The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. In his richly cited work, huge advancements in renewable energy and storage efficiency, with microscopic fuel cells and other technologies, will capture abundant energy available for the taking in a distributed manner- intrinsically reducing unique security risks associated with centralized power stations.

Looking at accelerating trends continuing with information technology, Kurzweil argues that The Law of Accelerating Returns applies to many problems once sufficiently addressed with information technology based approaches. For example, rather than traditional experimental trial by error, exponentially improving computing environments are increasingly being used to effectively model and test medical treatments virtually. Expect significant life extension and expansion improvements over the next 20 years, as well as rapidly emerging non-biological intelligence fundamentally going beyond various narrow artificial intelligence applications widely used today. Related nanotechnology will drive expanding human intelligence and also result in new existential threats as we eventually transcend our biology- some heady prognostications.

If you haven’t read about or heard Ray Kurzweil in depth before, here’s an informative Dec 2008 Ray Kurzweil presentation from the 26th Army Science Conference The Impact of Accelerating IT on War and Peace - Dec 2008, video 54m) This talk was broader than the title implies, providing his updated views and supporting presentations slides (142 w/pdf, pptx formats) regarding IT driven advancements and unfolding implications.

Focusing on cyber security, non-biological computer infections or actions taken by malicious actors will increasingly be less just about compromising computers and more about harming the physical environment including humanity - who wants to let their bio or nano augmented substrate be chewed up and spit out as grey goo by rapidly replicating nano-nasties or otherwise adversely repurposed? So much promise and notable perils which many baby boomers may be able to witness if they stick around long enough. Kurzweil, turning 62 in Feb, is taking several hundred supplements daily and adhering to a strictly formulated diet- striving to bridge into his predicted, further life extended future bridges with continuing advancements in GNR (genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics).

From a more current perspective, the emerging best-seller “fiction” hit in 2009 Daemonby Daniel Suarez (audio clips at provides a present day look into what could go wrong with runaway non-biological intelligence. His first book, and just released sequel Freedom (TM) provides subtle and ruthless ways civilization could be systemically torn down by a cleverly designed artificial entity savvy in human behavior, reaching out from cyber space via online gaming and other methods, recruiting and exploiting human agents, etc. While entertaining and recommended reading, his informative, non-fiction presentation Daemon: Bot-Mediated Reality- The Long Now Foundation (video 1:20) emphasizes underlying themes with concerns about how humanity is increasingly facing the prospects of a Darwinian struggle with non-biological intelligence. He emphasizes key strategies and controls needed now to address the growing risk.

For more on concerns about the perils – here’s a provocatively titled article “Why the future doesn't need us.”- Bill Joy, Wired, April 2000 “Our most powerful 21st-century technologies — robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech — are threatening to make humans an endangered species."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

No doubt, cyber security challenges in the coming decade would be much more sophisticated than ever before. I hope that innovations will address the security issues in the cyber space. As for the present, enterprises are dealing with cybercrimes such as identity theft, unauthorized access to privileged databases, breach of authentication systems, cyber espionage, information manipulation, phishing attacks, malware attacks and denial of service attacks. Creating user awareness, hiring security specialists with qualifications such as ceh, and regular security updates, devising access controls and formulating implementable IT security policies can help in defending the IT infrastructure against cyber security threats.