Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Legacy Futures in Cyber Space: To Deal With Future Problems, It Helps to Look Forward

Adam Elkus writes on Threats Watch:

At the information security convention Black Hat DC, homeland security expert Paul Kurtz argued in favor of developing sophisticated cyberweapons to deter attacks on American networks. However, as ThreatsWatch's own Michael Tanji observes, cyber-deterrence makes as much sense as trying to ban math. With anyone with a computer science degree able to develop malicious code, Cold War concepts of deterrence and non-proliferation are useless.

Nebulous concepts of cyber-deterrence are but one isolated symptom of a severe problem within the cyber-industrial complex: the pervasive reach of "legacy futures."

Futurist Jamais Cascio writes that legacy futures are old conceptions of the future that act as a deadweight drag on the policy planning process:

"Legacy futures are rarely still useful, but have so thoroughly colonized our minds that even new scenarios and futures models may end up making explicit or implicit references to them."

Cyberspace is a radically new battlespace, but security experts and strategists increasingly draw on the legacy future of the Cold War for strategic concepts and solutions. But can one really deter Russian hackers hiding behind a wall of botnets and proxy servers or contain stateless global guerrillas in an era of porous borders? Applied to the brave new world of cyber-conflict and networked insurgency, Cold War concepts muddle rather than clarify.

More here.


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