Not a war on computing

Former EFF-Austin Director Cory Doctorow thinks that there’s a war on general purpose computing.

Transcript at
But it’s not as bad as all that. It’s not a “war” on GP computers–in
fact things would grind to a halt rapidly without a continual supply of
the very speedy and infinitely mutable CPUs that make modern tech work
and progress.

What will happen–in fact is already happening–is the shift of data
storage and muscular data processing off of the commonplace
laptop/desktop model that we have today to the “cloud.” Aside from the
obvious privacy issues, this is not all bad. Take a look at the Google
ChromeOS model. Lose your ChromeBook? No big deal, just go get another
one, log in, and there’s your stuff. Viruses? Not your problem.
Apple’s Siri is another cloud app bellwether. A few milliseconds of
crunching on a CPU in a datacenter, plus some database dips provide
version 1.0 of an actual intelligent agent application that would be
impossible to implement in a meaningful way on a desktop. So the trend
is back toward centralization of data and processing, not a war on
computing. Great risks come with centralization though.

As for cars, aircraft, and the like, code signing and other security
tools _must_ be deployed in life safety and other critical applications.
Designers and developers who implement these systems using commercially
available and open source general purpose operating systems need to be
flogged. Yes, it’s cheap and fast, but it’s not good. Just ask Siemens
and the Iranians. We need to have a lot more R&D on building hardened
Real Time Operating Systems for critical applications to run on, and
have better testing and development procedures for those applications
and RTOS’s.

Centralization of personal data favors the oppressor and the marketer.
Implementing the centralization (which is going to happen, market
forces are too strong) without getting the security and privacy right
is a greater risk, and the real battle ground.

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