Friday, August 29, 2003

Juvenile stupidity has a higher cost ...

Authorities arrest Minnesota teen in Internet attack: "... Tom Heffelfinger, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, said the case will be turned over to a grand jury to decide whether more charges will be filed. If convicted of the one count already filed, Parson could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine."

I suspect this is a young nerd with more recklessness than sense or skill. He did not create the Blaster worm, he merely altered it and then distributed it in a way that pointed directly to him. I have a great deal of sympathy for his family.

There's more to this than meets the eye. Ever since Robert Morris (who is very skilled but shared the same teenage male recklessness as Parson) created the first worm, there's been a new level of consequence to testosterone induced male teenage stupidity. Instead of local consequences (wrecked cars), there can be global consequences (wrecked businesses).

It's the same technologically mediated expansion of consequences that has made 21st century terrorists far deadlier than 20th century variants.

So what happens in 20 years when a bio-hacking adolescent playfully creates a new organism that wipes out most of humanity?

Same behaviors, different consequences. The male frontal lobes are not fully matured to age 30. Once upon a time that was not such an enormous handicap.

Answers? I'd like to redesign humanity, but failing that I think we should get used to "Total Information Awareness" -- and we'll look back fondly at an era of freedom that future generations will be unable to imagine.

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