by James Bailey |
North Korea Word Cloud 2b

At the end of the powerful lead story about North Korean cyber activities in today's New York Times, a former cyber executive in the Obama administration makes the obvious point:

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Everyone is focused on mushroom shaped clouds, but there is far more potential for another kind of disastrous escalation.

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There sure is. But we are looking up instead of down—thinking top down instead of bottom up—because that is what our STEM educations have equipped us to do. We are all prisoners of our early habits of thought. We do what we are good at. And it has been true for a very long time. Recall Thratta's put-down of Thales, the father of STEM in ancient Greek times, when he fell into a well while stargazing.

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In his zeal for things in the sky, he does not know what is at his feet.

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We desparately need more bio-Thrattas looking up from the power of tiny pathogens and simple pieces of malware. Instead we are raising another generation of Thales's, convinced that it is all top down.

As noted in last week's post, cyberwarfare is a biology problem, not a physics problem. There we noted, for example, Lucas Kello's belief that the technology can be understood separately from its social and political implications. In the article a British specialist puts paid to that:

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All I have to do is create a moderately disabling attack on a key part of the social infrastructure, and then watch the media sensationalize it and panic the public. 

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Imagine if we already had a new generation schooled in the subjects of Biology, Ecology, Algorithms, Data, and Society (BEADS) instead of in algebra and calculus. They would know that we need to build defenses that evolve and adapt on their own just as our own immune system does.

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