Friday, January 26, 2007

The bad guys are hackers, too

The world has reached a certain fascinating state when the New York Times, the gray lady herself, writes a bemused and almost laudatory article (no, wait, it's a blog post!!) about a pseudonymous hacker who's broken the content industry's latest quixotic attempt at copy protection. I can think of no better proof that the hacker culture of freedom has deeply affected our modern culture.

Unfortunately, a lot of innovation is done by bad guys, too. Spam, phishing, and box cutters + airliners = -skyscrapers are all great examples of brilliant hacks, and they've made our lives measurably worse. The latest example comes from John Robb -- apparently some guerilla hacker has figured out how to block GPS signals with readily available, cheap tech. This does not bode well for the maintenance of structure and order that is so important for the fragile capitalist economy.

Every time you celebrate innovation, the open-source spirit, and radical change, ask yourself, "do I disproportionately benefit from the status quo, and am I at risk?" Much more often than you realize, the answer is yes.

No comments: