Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Which network would you subscribe to?

A smaller cycle between the discovery of malware and it's neutralisation is on the cards, it seems? (That's a very interesting peice behind that link - do go ad read it before you become absorbed in this fascinating post here!)

It makes you think, doesn't it? Other feedback loops could be narrowed in this way, but - as with McAfee, there needs to be a certain amount of trust involved. By subscribing to a 'cloud' that we have no control over, as opposed to installing instances of software on a network that we do control, we are further placing ourselves in the hands of others.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that anti-virus programmes of the sort that we use already are ones that we really exercise too many preferences or options over, but this 'cloud' model seems more based upon our willingness to provide even-more instant anonymised access to information that is at our disposal in order to sharpen a feedback loop that we mutually benefit from. In theory, you can choose not get your updates from McAfee at the moment. In the future, the cure is administered without you even knowng about it.

Were it transferred to other fields, it may be something that we'd like more control over - and the potential for abuse is huge. The market possibilities spring to mind. I'm no medic, but there is a sci-fi world in which anonymised instant readings of our responses to drugs or stimuli followed by instant near-unmediated treatment comes a step closer once the ethicists have managed to bottom-out the tension between scientific advancement and privacy.

But the bottom line is that much faster, more efficient feedback loops such as this - diagnosis >> fully implemented solution of a problem has the potential to make an enormous positive difference to many different aspects of our lives - whatever our misgivings may be about the process.

My question is this: For intimate data to be respected, and reliable responses to it administered (ones that can make the difference between life and death / wealth and penury) what structure would you trust to deliver it? A state body? A semi-state body with an independent management (the BBC?). Or a co-operative / mutual body? A PLC? Or a private equity firm? How about a Trade Union-type body or a charity? Or a spontaneously-created affinity group of some kind?

It kind-of defines the big question of trust, doesn't it?

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