cs492 - Spring 2017

Societal Implications with Computer Science

rpe10 -- War on the Internet

Background.

Every day we see and read about war carried out in the presence of civilians, most recently in Syria, Iraq and Libya. If you are like me you think, "Surely this can't happen here." Think again. We know about the bad guys, who phish us, send us spam and steal our private information. We rely on governments to keep us safe from bad guys. But now we know that governments do what bad guys do, fighting against one another in our presence.

Team A. The Techno-optimists.

You are optimistic that technology in itself can keep us secure against bad guys, warring governments and even well-meaning but incompetent good guys. The goodness inhering in technology ensures that the application of technology will have good results. To prosper we need only to keep up with progress; those unwilling to find the time to keep up deserve whatever happens to them.

Team B. The Techno-pessimists.

Unsought experience has taught you that whatever contributes to good ends can be perverted to bad ends; that is, technology itself is neither good nor bad, but can support either. Furthermore, bad guys do exist inside and outside government, and will use whatever tools are available to attain their nefarious purposes. Thus, we require customs and laws to constrain how technology is used. If digital technology cannot be constrained globally, there is no option but to constrain it nationally.

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