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Friday, May 25, 2007

Can the lack of built-in security endanger all this?

David D. Clark points to the Internet's dark side: its lack of built-in security.

In others, he observes that sometimes the worst disasters are caused not by sudden events but by slow, incremental processes -- and that humans are good at ignoring problems.
"Things get worse slowly. People adjust," Clark noted in his presentation.
"The problem is assigning the correct degree of fear to distant elephants."

Today, Clark believes the elephants are upon us. Yes, the Internet has wrought wonders: e-commerce has flourished, and e-mail has become a ubiquitous means of communication. Almost one billion people now use the Internet, and critical industries like banking increasingly rely on it.

At the same time, the Internet's shortcomings have resulted in plunging security and a decreased ability to accommodate new
technologies.
"We are at an inflection point, a revolution point," Clark now argues. And he delivers a strikingly pessimistic assessment
of where the Internet will end up without dramatic intervention.
"We might just be at the point where the utility of the Internet stalls -- and perhaps turns downward."

Business Week had a cover story in June :



The nearly 1 billion people online worldwide -- along with their shared knowledge, social contacts, online reputations, computing power, and more -- are rapidly becoming a collective force of unprecedented power. For the first time in human history, mass cooperation across time and space is suddenly economical. "There's a fundamental shift in power happening," says Pierre M. Omidyar, founder and chairman of the online marketplace eBay Inc. "Everywhere, people are getting together and, using the Internet, disrupting whatever activities they're involved in.

Peer power presents difficult challenges for anyone invested in the status quo. Corporations, those citadels of command-and-control, may be in for the biggest jolt. Increasingly, they will have to contend with ad hoc groups of customers who have the power to join forces online to get what they want. Indeed, customers are creating what they want themselves -- designing their own software with colleagues, for instance, and declaring their opinions via blogs instead of waiting for newspapers to print their letters. "It's the democratization of industry," says C.K. Prahalad, a University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business professor and co-author of the 2004 book The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers. "We are seeing the emergence of an economy of the people, by the people, for the people."

Can the lack of built-in security endanger all this?
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