Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Three Unconnected Thoughts. (I Hope)

Back in the day, I used to get into arguments about nuclear disarmament. I thought it was a good idea. Still do. But 'wiser' folk that I would trot out a variety of arguments as to why I was being a muddle headed idealist. Eventually, one argument would come up again and again:

"No matter what Britain does with its nuclear weapons, they can't be uninvented so other countries are going to have them anyway...."

But, sometimes, things do get 'uninvented'. Go see Roman Bath and its underfloor central heating. First such heating became uneconomic as the Empire collapsed and then the whole technique was forgotten for centuries.

Why does reading this Wired article about the potential security flaws in the whole internet remind me of these two facts? It ends with the portentous quote ,

"There is no saving the Internet.... There is postponing the inevitable for a little longer."

I can't judge the validity of the article any more than a Roman grandee could have assessed the likelihood of Barbarian attacks on a distant border one day depriving his family of central heating. But I do believe that geeks are like Roman travellers, bringing back 'difficult-to-grasp' stories of exotic lands which, one day, may be more important to the Empire than most of can know at the time.

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