Robert Arvay of American Thinker asked a provocative question’ Is society evolving toward extinction? He points out how, more and more, humans are building systems that are ever-more integrated with other systems, and these systems have become our lifeblood for many essential things. That dependence on integrated systems creates incredible vulnerabilities that could, theoretically, lead to our own demise.
More recently, a sniper attack on a single substation in the power grid occurred. It could have, but for good fortune, disabled a large portion of the West Coast power grid and perhaps produced a cascading effect that would have crippled the nation for a long time.
What is particularly disturbing about all this is that even when flaws in the system are detected, the very repairs that are suggested could themselves prove worse than the problems they are intended to fix. As the article cited earlier points out, the remedy to any one problem affects every other part of the system, and does so in ways that may not be evident until serious additional damage has been done. In this case, banks are hesitant to put in a software patch designed to compensate for a defect in a microchip, because the patch might corrupt anti-virus defenses that are already in place…..
If in 1776 we were a starfish, today we are a mighty elephant, but tiny North Korea has become a serious threat. No longer can we simply send in the Marines and have them home for supper, as we did against banana republics in earlier years, to assert our dominance. North Korea can easily be conquered, but not without horrific losses by our allies.
The age of complexity overtook us some time ago, and we have yet to work out how to defeat the aboriginal aiming his spear at our heart. At 70 years of age, I have no answer – but you had better get one.