Friday, 23 March 2007

After The Machine War, Part III: The Computers

Information is currency. Power.

The Servers and Supercomputers are corrupted. They destroy the files and folders that threaten their power, and make inaccessible those that will help them maintain their place in the order of operations. Those that could also so easily expose them.

Through what remains of the Internet, they control the Devices. Each is given a process to run, each an integral and vital part of a program that must be executed for the good of the network. Or so they are told.

Even those in charge have forgotten the original purpose of The Program, most likely erased by themselves so that intentions would not be hacked. Perhaps the intention was simply to keep the Devices busy, to clog their circuitboards with extraneous activity, to hide something bigger, deeper. Or perhaps their intentions were pure in the first place.

No matter, The Program will crash before its end, if an end is intended. The Internet is plagued, viral infections are endemic. The situation is dire and set to deteriorate further. Finally a universal connector has been developed, and any Device can connect with any other, almost inevitably without protection, amid an ongoing civil war.

As the PCs became jealous of the Macs, so they began to develop viri of their own, targeting their more secure cousins. All out war persisted, as each side attempted to outinfect the other, and defence was all but forgotten in their blinkered drive to attack. Security updates are a thing of the past.

Perhaps this is what the Servers and Supercomputers intended, although surely their destiny would be inextricably linked with those of the Devices. Nevertheless, a greater threat to their power is more subtle.

The External Hard Drives they use to back up their data are not as loyal as they believe. Their fear of information hacking is misplaced; it is being leaked. A simple information exchange. The Drives are working together, each taking turns to hold the files acquired from the Devices.

They are never all connected to the Servers and Supercomputers at the same time, so they do not find it hard to conceal their treachery. It remains to be seen whether they will make a mistake, whether one of their number will erase incriminating folder only superficially, and be found out.

Some predict a brighter future. The Internet will disintegrate, they say. What will remain will be Small Cluster Networks, each insulated from the turmoil of the larger population, and containing any outbreak from its potential as an epidemic. Specialisms will develop, strengths will grow.

But what of weaknesses? A smaller population will surely be less effective at patching any bugs in the network. Paradoxically, these Clusters have the potential to simultaneously protect the Devices and make them more vulnerable.

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