Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Are We Magicians?

Computerized technology pervades every aspect of our life, from cars, to medical devices, and increasingly every electronic thing around us. Only a select few people understand this technology well, meaning for most people it is well in advance of what they know how to use and manipulate effectively. As Arthur C. Clarke said, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." For most people the world around us is indistinguishable from magic.

So then people who can bend this technology to their will are indistinguishable from magicians. And that is just what hackers do - use our techniques, tactics and processes to bend this technology to our will. This mastery gives us the power to manipulate and control the world around us. And with great power comes great responsibility. It is time for hackers to assess the way we use our power - or don't use it - and ask whether what we are doing is responsible.

This year at Black Hat and DEF CON, two of the premier hacker conferences, the theme seemed to be hacking altruism. For the past few years I've noticed a trend of information security people advocating for fixing problems, not just finding them. Over the past year or two I think the community has realized that our ability and responsibility to impact the world reaches far beyond the technical.

For years now the community has been helping each other. Community members with problems get help, from money to marrow. Now we have begun looking outward to others who need our knowledge and experience if they are to get any help.

I like this recent development and so do most in the community. So look for more impact from hackers coming soon to a problem space near you! 

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