Friday, February 1, 2008

information terrorism

Knowledge has always meant power, but knowledge must be combined with raw materials to realize that power. Knowledge of how to build a catapult is useless without the resources to both build a catapult and transport it to your enemy's doorstep.

Throughout history, tyranny has prevailed over enlightenment due to its possession of sufficient resources, not just to realize the fruits of knowledge, but, perhaps more importantly, to control the flow of knowledge.

Such a system is self-perpetuating and induces the illusion that it is the only viable, or only rational, solution to the problem of coordinating activity amongst a heterogenous population.

In the age of the internet and the linked in computer, however, both the resources needed to realize knowledge, and those needed to transport it to one's enemy's door have diminished exponentially. For the ubiquity of the computer for the purposes of organizing information has ensured that everyone is vulnerable to attack. The catapult can be realized with a few lines of code, and the internet offers a highway to transport it to your door.

Although the individual is put at risk, so much more so those authoritarian organizations which had heretofor supressed knowledge through their control of resources, both labor and materials, and, perhaps more importantly, their control of the flow of knowledge. In the modern age, all information is virus, permeating the internet, infecting those who are linked in.

Not only political bodies have abused this power, yet now find themselves threatened. Consider, for example, ANONYMOUS' threat against Scientology:

ANONYMOUS is (supposedly) a cabal of secret "superhackers" (though they themselves claim to include divers members of society, from lawyers to "veterinary technicians"). They threaten Scientology with vigilante justice of some kind. So far, success of related groups has been limited; however, the response by Scientology is just the typical move of the authoritarian ~ throw more resources (money) at the problem, in this case, primarily for purchasing the knowledge of others.

Yet, if the trend continues, the ability of authoritarian bodies to combat knowledge with material resources will dwindle to naught, and we may finally enter the age of the philosopher kings.

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