Cybercrime in tomorrow's hands-free voice-activated Web

July 03 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Futurist Ray Kurzweil, in his book “The Singularity is near”, offers the possibility that computers will one day become self-aware, which will result in the melding of humans and machines. He sees this process well underway by 2025, as nanobots begin to surf bloodstreams to combat disease and alter our brains to increase intelligence.

In a recent article appearing in The Futurist, “Cybercrime in the year 2025,” criminal-justice expert Gene Stephens predicts that computer and Internet use will become seamless, as hands-free, voice-activated data entry and retrieval becomes commonplace between 2010 and 2015. By 2020, nanotech will increasingly impact cyberspace; and as we try to gain the most advantages possible from our new “wonder-net,” dangerous security gaps will emerge that could turn into nightmares if not handled carefully.

For example, in 2025, as databots are implanted in users’ brains, secure firewalls must be developed to keep intruders from hacking into the ‘bots and terrorizing recipients. “Could there be a more frightening crime than having your brain-stored knowledge erased or scrambled,” Stephens asks, “or hearing voices threatening to destroy your memory unless you pay blackmail? Welcome to the world of mindstalking.”

This brings us to the long-ignored issues of who owns the Internet, manages it, and has jurisdiction over it. The answer now is: nobody. Can this powerful socio-politico-economic network continue to operate at random, open to all, and thus be vulnerable to bad guys? Attempts to restrict or police the web are met with idealists who believe that the Internet should always be free from “big brother’s” interference. (cont.)

The Web is becoming more important every day. It will soon be the number-one means of communicating, conducting business, socializing, and entertaining. So what’s the answer? Sophisticated biometrics and other web-compatible ID systems will help, along with multinational cybercrime units trained to catch bad guys regardless of where they hide in the world.

But these are short-term solutions and could soon be outmoded by the ubiquitous wireless Internet with breathtaking speeds expected by 2020. With no computers involved – only signals in the air to handle all of society’s social and economic activities – tomorrow’s Internet will be exposed to a glut of new cybercrimes. Unless a spiritual, religious or humanistic values revolution occurs and humans stop stealing, killing, and hurting each other, cybercrime will thrive.

So here’s the question: Do we tightly control all human interaction by holding individuals responsible for everything posted on the Web, or do we allow creativity and individualism to emerge by not setting boundaries and jurisdictions, leaving it much like today’s Internet?

Choosing “total control” would curtail cybercrime and make the Web safe, but it would invade privacy, freedom of speech, and other liberties. Choosing “nobody-in-charge” allows a free flow of information and exchange of goods and services, but with a substantial threat to society.

However forward-thinkers believe these issues will become irrelevant by mid-2020s when nanobots begin coursing through our brains to create true “immersive” virtual reality. The greatest threat then might be the difficulty in separating the virtual from the physical world. Psychologists warn that perception is stronger than truth: Cyberreality could offer a more attractive life than real reality. Welcome to The Matrix.

Which do you think society should choose re tomorrow's Internet: Total Control, or Nobody-In-Charge?

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Comment Thread (5 Responses)

  1. So… what is so dangerous about not being able to separate virtual world from physical one?

    Posted by: johnfrink   July 03, 2008
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  2. I do not believe that it will be dangerous at all. I think what many are concerned about is that it could be so attractive that no one would want to spend much time in reality. Now would that be so bad? I don’t think so, but comments are welcome.

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 03, 2008
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  3. What a scary thought to have a hacker tapping into the brains of politicians and powerful leaders and using them against their will to do the unimaginable.

    Posted by: jcchan   July 03, 2008
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  4. I’m sure when cars started becoming more commonplace there were people of that era that had their misgivings about it, as well as television and many other things that we take for granted today. As with every advance in technology there will always be a chance that it will be abused.

    Posted by: observer35   July 05, 2008
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  5. As a positive futurist, I have to believe that safeguards will be created to keep this technology safe from “mindstalkers.”

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 05, 2008
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