One of the great things about the United States is that the people really can change the way the government does business. There’s a claus that says if 25,000 people sign a petition, then the government must respond. And, oh, the fun we have!
Here’s an example. 25k people in the U.S. thought they wanted a Death Star. You know, that giant planet destroying orbital from Star Wars. It made news: Fox News, The Week, The Washington Post, Toms Hardware, Mother Jones, The Huffington Post, Forbes, The Guardian… you get the point; pretty much every news agency covered this story.
In what may be the most brilliant public relations moves of all time, the Obama administration responded. Paul Shawcross addressed the petition as though it was a serious request. He gave three main points why the U.S. isn’t going to build a Death Star: primarily because it’s absurdly expensive: $850,000,000,000,000,000; then, because, “The Administration does not support blowing up planets.”
In, one of his strokes of genius, Shawcross goes into all of the awesome science the U.S. is actually supporting.
However, Shawcross’s final bullet point is one I’d like to address, “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?”
Let me expound.
Anything designed and built by a human that is less than perfect, which is everything, has the potential for being hacked. That potential may be minuscule, but it does exist. As the number of people on the planet continues to increase, improbabilities become probabilities, and then, with more people, they become certainties.
It’s the same idea of a million monkeys typing on keyboards will eventually produce Hamlet.
While I agree with Shawcross’s conclusion, that building a Death Star is a bad idea, the final bullet point is fundamentally flawed, because everything is hackable. Everything is breakable. Everything can be compromised. It’s just a matter of motivation, patience, drive, whatever.
In the words of Will, the main character/anti-hero in ALGORITHM, “The point isn’t the method. It’s the potential. There’s always a way in.”