As we rush towards putting more and more things “in the cloud,” as we rush towards an Internet of Things with no governance beyond profit motive and anarchy, what we’re effectively doing is creating a massive single point of failure for every system we put in it.
What we are building is basically a perfect scenario for collapse, where a commons is consumed by actors who either don’t care or don’t understand the collective damage that is possible in a connected system, and the tipping points that can ensue.
If software eats everything, then the ability to kill software is the ability to kill anything. Net connectivity becomes the single point of failure for every system connected to it.
A typical US city only has three days of food within the city limits, because the Internet has enabled just-in-time delivery of foodstuffs. Economic optimization within a network tends to imply specialization, which means that even those lovely rural communities that in theory grow their own food don’t grow balanced diets locally. And you’re laughing at an Internet connected juicer? Your juicer is already Internet-connected. If that goes down, you don’t get any more juice! It’s just connected in a way you can’t see.
We think of critical infrastructure in terms of government-owned or controlled utilities… but the food trucking fleet is “critical infrastructure.”
In a world where we take actual damage when something digital is attacked, any CPU is basically a weapon, and leaving Internet connected CPUs unattended is basically leaving armory doors open.
The issue is whether we are increasing the fragility of the system and thereby increasing the likelihood of cascade effects.