Friday, March 24, 2006

Evil technology

In 1998, the technorealists started to warn the world that technology can be used for evil.

Turn the page to December 26, 2005 - there was a very interesting post in the Military Forums about individuals buying cell phones in bulk and shipping them to the Middle East. The person who posted the information goes by the screen name "The Bogert."

Here's what he had to say:

'Howdy all, don't get to post all that often but I have recently had something come up in my life. To fill you in, I've worked for Best Buy 4 years now and will be leaving to boot camp in a just over a week. Lately there have been individuals attempting to buy bulk amounts of virgin mobile phones which are no contracts and shipping them over to the Middle East, the FBI is looking into this for it is against "title 50 of us code 2401" export of US goods to foreign soil. This individuals have tried to buy up to 2000 phones in deferent areas, so they come into my store to try and buy these phones two day's in a row. On the first day we limit how many they can buy and write down all there info on who they are, and fax it in just how we're supposed to do. The 2nd day we deny them the phones all together. Two coworkers of mine start calling me racist for not letting them buy the phones and think I shouldn't care if there sending them over seas or not, they just think I should stay out of it. I told him that there are troops getting killed because of phones used in IED's WILL BE my problem in a few month's and if I lose a leg or worse and find a piece of virgin mobile phone stuck in me I'll be a little pissed off.'

On January 13th, 2006, similar stories started hitting the media:

Newsmax: 'On December 18, six individuals of Middle Eastern origin, including one from Iraq and another from Pakistan, attempted to buy approximately 60 disposable phones at a Wal-Mart in Midland, Texas.'

ABC 13: 'In one New Year's Eve transaction at a Target store in Hemet, Calif., 150 disposable tracfones were purchased. Suspicious store employees notified police, who called in the FBI, law enforcement sources said... Other reports have come in from other cities, including Dallas, and from authorities in other states. Authorities in Pennsylvania, New York and other parts of Texas confirmed that they were alerted to the cases, and sources say other jurisdictions were also notified.'

These purchases may be happening all over the United States.

Related?

1. The FBI is said to be quietly investigating reports that some of the automobiles used in car bombings in Iraq originated in the U.S.

2. There have been recent reports that criminals in the U.S. are converting drug money, etc. into prepaid cards that are shipped overseas to be sold for cash, thereby circumventing efforts by the U.S. to track suspicious financial transfers to overseas destinations.

Now the navy is also looking at how technology can be used to listen in on 'loose lips' - especially after the Greece phone tapping incident a few months ago. Even though the best snooping technology that the FBI currently uses, the controversial software called Carnivore, has been useless against suspects clever enough to encrypt their files, my sources say that there is only one group sophisticated enough to modify the Vodafone and Ericsson codes - American intelligence agents - read\NSA.

Where's this going .... OK - here it is:

Technology IS evil but we have to understand both sides of the story in order to manage the benefits of technology. Those who don't play by the rules have the advantage. Let's face it. But they also set the standards whereby we can create alternative value.

Here are a few issues I want to looks at:

  • To what extent are such doctrines as "Shock and Awe" and of the general U.S. strategy based on misconceptions about what IT can and cannot do in a unpredictable and uncontrollable arena such as war.
  • To what extent the existence of "so-called" smart weapons leads to the doctrinal, tactical, or strategic misuse of such weapons. Americans have a particular love of technology. That some people can unequivocally say such weapons "really work" when they have hit three of the wrong countries is an important issue to explore.
  • The possibility and possible impact of future weapons or military information systems such as effective identification systems.
  • The absolute limits of computer technology to model complex systems.

This isn't just about the virtual Jihad - the Interfada - it's about beating the evil out of technology or at least understand how.

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