The Software Samurai
At a presentation last night about the future of computing, I asked the speaker about the "123456" password people - the ones who aren't wired to think about a world of digital threats, information power asymmetries, digitized life games where a rival designed the game and holds all the cards.
The speaker's response was: there will always be losers. He was talking about people I care about. In time, as age and misfortune reduces digital agility, he was talking about me, and himself, and everyone else in that room.
The software samurai are creating a new world with new shoguns - and new tools that are used by bandits to make strange and fearful threats, justifying the power the shoguns gather and wield "to protect us".
Lawrence Lessig writes "code is law". We can write code to protect and enable the weak, or we can write code to further empower the software shoguns. What do we write if the shoguns write the paychecks?
It is difficult for a software wizard at the peak of lifetime productivity to understand that every coding decision they make can be used against them and their family and friends. The dancing animated screen that captivates and keeps users in their seats for one more minute, multiplied by millions, is a handful of disabilities and deaths, driven by chair-bound passivity and the sedentary diseases that result. Which cigarette kills the smoker?
We can dismiss this as "problem exists between keyboard and chair" - or we can ask why a human being has to sit in that chair in the first place, what we screwed up so badly that a precious human life must be spent that way?
In utopia, every life lived well would become sharable software that others could use to live well also. I have no clue how to do that, only the belief that we have the capability if someone is clever enough to harness it, and is humble enough to realize that it isn't their own life that is most worth sharing.
P.S. Forgive the speaker, he had a bad cold, was stoned on Sudafed, but had the fortitude to show up and speak anyway. I hope he isn't forced by inflexible software to choose and remember a password before he gets well.