Monday, April 18, 2005

WiFi Minefield

Bruce Schneier blogs about Wi-Fi Minefield (April 2005).

"Put aside arguments about the ethics and efficacy of landmines. Assume they exist and are being used. Given that, the question is whether radio-controlled landmines are better or worse than regular landmines."

Is an intelligent landmine better than a dumb one? At one level perhaps it is, because it might be more discriminating about whose legs it blows off.

But then military planners may judge that this technology makes it okay to have a greater number of more powerful landmines (on both ethical and efficacy grounds). Furthermore, it makes it harder for the good guys to clear landmines. So now the landmine situation has escalated.

As an anonymous comment to Bruce's post puts it:

"I don't think arguments about the ethics and efficacy of landmines *can* be put aside here, because surely the "smartness" of these mines will be used to justify laying more of them."

The problem here isn't the intelligent technology itself, it's the stupid (man-made) judgements that the intelligent technology supports.

A levelling law seems to operate in many systems, by which a local increase in intelligence is compensated by a loss of intelligence elsewhere. So what's the purpose of intelligence here?

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