Let’s be honest, you are all hackers!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most people would be familiar with the term “hacker”. The term conjures images of a high tech criminal teenage mastermind surrounded by multiple display screens, fingers typing computer code furiously in a darkened room readying to launch an attack on an innocent home computer on another continent which is used by a grandmother to type up the monthly historic society meeting minutes.
For those not familiar with the term, a hacker is basically a technically literate person who uses their skills to disrupt small and large computer networks, most commonly for the purpose of financial gain (or just because they can). At best such an image is misleading, and at worst is a gross misrepresentation of the profiles, locations, gender, age, motivation and objective of a hacker.
What is true, is that we are all hackers
‘I’m not a hacker’ you may say. Let me repeat with some clarity: You are all hackers. Well at least probably, maybe, mostly. And it is very important that you understand you are probably a hacker. If you definitely are not a hacker, then you might be either a ‘creator’ or a ‘securer’. At the very least, even if you are not a hacker, you are the product of hacking.
Knowing about this and knowing which one you are will be transformative. While I am using computer “hacking” as a form of analogy, it is also directly related to the fundamental structure of the physical world, the basis of why we are here and therefore where we are heading.
But first, some general definitions:
Creator: Takes existing independent things and integrates them to become a new thing;
Hacker: Takes existing things, identifies vulnerability, and exploits the vulnerability. The results of the exploitation are numerous and discussed below.
Securer: Uses existing independent things and creates complexity through the securing of one thing (with vulnerability).
You are only here because of hacking
Literally, you are here because of hacking. Your birth parent/s consorted either knowingly or unwittingly to bring you into existence through hacking numerous biological, physical and cultural systems. You are the product of some serious hacking!
As a baby you hacked the systems around you and somehow managed to be fed, clothed and looked after sufficiently until you then became more of an independent hacker (commonly referred to as a teenager). You grew up learning how to hack. You may have also learned when not to hack. Other people have either successfully or unsuccessfully tried to hack you! A school bully is really just a low fidelity hacker. They sought to tease you (exposed you to a computer virus), blackmail you (ransom ware), stole your things (data theft), sullied your reputation (identify theft), deliberately made you a social outcast at school (denial of service attack) or any other innumerable sad antics that are analogous with computer hacking. Yes, they were exploiting your vulnerabilities just like a computer hacker does. The irony is that few if any of those bullies were probably ever smart enough to become a computer hacker and you are probably hacking your childhood school friends right now on your computer. Lol lol lol...
Hackers – they isn’t all bad Mr Jobs
But let’s not confuse hacking with motivations. If I give you a toy helicopter and you manage to repurpose it as a drone, then you’ve successfully hacked one thing into another thing. A car is simply a horse and carriage that has been hacked. A flying car is a car that will have been hacked together with a plane, and a mobile phone is just a cassette player/computer/camera hacked together. The iPhone developed by Mr Jobs was a masterful hack.
We live in a world of hacks. We typically confuse innovators as “creators” when in most cases they are just really smart hackers. “Innovation” is just hacked hacking – take a thing, hack it and present it as a new thing.
When traditional businesses announce they want to be more “innovative” it is largely because they have come to the realisation that they had been hacked. “Disruption” is a form of hacking. Take an existing business model, hack it and package it as something new. Kodak, Nokia, Blackberry and numerous other formerly gigantic businesses failed because they were unable to keep up with the hacking happening around them. And some businesses fail because they hack too much. If any of the current corporate giants fail (Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, and Apple - which all came about through hacking), then it will only be due to one of two reasons: (1) they get hacked by someone else, or (2) they end up hacking too much. A great example of a company that is now suffering from too much hacking is Uber. Yes, you can end up hacking yourself into a PR nightmare.
Have we ever created anything?
True ‘creators’ take one thing, and another thing, and bring them together to create a new thing that has not been created before. For that reason, we don’t often see much creation. In his book “Homo Deus”, Yuval Noah Harari outlines the process of how humans domesticated animals. In fact, the majority of all animals on the planet are domesticated (e.g. cows, sheep, pigs etc.). Humans hacked the evolutionary process of these animals and exploited them for food. Your lamb kebab is a result of hacking. Even ‘cultural appropriation’ is just a rude, lazy and unimaginative form of hacking.
Thus we would generally have to go a long way back to find any genuine creativity. Computer? Hacked from a typewriter. Writing? Hacked from cave drawings. Cave drawings? Possibly hacked, not sure. But you get the point. Self-help books? How to hack yourself. Neuro linguistic programming (NLP)? How to hack others. Minecraft? Hacking for kids. Cryptocurrency? Hacking of the corrupt mainstream financial system.
Everything is being hacked. If you were born as a result of in vitro fertilisation, you were definitely a product of hacking and stem cell therapies are another elaborate form of hacking. Looking for a cure to anything, then you are in search of a successful hack. Your DNA is a code that has been and will continue to be hacked through either biological or technical means.
How a cat can make you safer except from a blockchain robot
As a result of all this rampant hacking, it was inevitable to see the rise of methods of securing assets from hacking. Think of an “asset” as a thing that could be hacked, and the securing of the asset is for the purpose of preventing hacking. As a consequence, we get complexity. The more things are hacked, the more complex the security becomes.
The ‘Securer’ uses existing independent things and creates complexity through the securing of one thing (with vulnerability). It’s not a judgement; it is just a fact that more complex hacking generates complexity. Blockchain is an important development and may well be the future of robot DNA.
Your immune system is one example of a very complex system to prevent hacking. Vaccination is analogous with installing virus software on your computer. Once the software is installed, your computer can then match potential threats with a list of viruses and take appropriate action. If your computer is infected with a virus, then it is likely a new virus that your virus software doesn’t recognise. Hence the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in virus protection software. It works in a similar way to how you recognise a cat. How is a cat different from a dog? The cat has properties of “cat-ness” and even though we might see a cat we’ve never seen before, we know it’s a cat because of its cat-ness. The AI virus software knows the ‘-ness’ of a virus. It doesn’t need to have the specific virus definition loaded to be able to assess if it has the properties of a potential virus. It’s smart. But huge industries have now been established around exploiting vulnerabilities (computer hackers) and the development of computer security. The computer security industry is expected to worth over USD $200 billion by 2021, possibly sooner.
So increased security breeds complexity (and profit). Future human-like robots operating with AI, potentially to the extent that they may become indistinguishable from an organic human, that is complexity. Computer networks are complex. An Airbus A380 is complex, disease is complex, and everything is becoming more complex. Why? To prevent hacking (and preventing hacking is extremely profitable)! And by the way, AI robots are a hack and will become hackers. Google (Alphabet) have developed AI and it is busy teaching itself how to hack. Sadly, at some stage, we will all pass away as a consequence of some form of hacked activity. Death is far from creative and there is no security from it, yet.
50 shades of hacking
To be honest, I am unconvinced myself whether the “creator” and the “securer” are simply just other shades of hacking. Rearranging existing things to either “create” something new or to protect something appears to be just another form of hacking.
You are all hackers. Well at least probably, maybe, mostly. And knowing this is transformative. Why? We live within a puzzle, whether we like it or not, we are all puzzle solvers (aka hackers) and to solve this puzzle requires that we hack hacking. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are important developments in how we understand the puzzle.
More on this will be outlined in a future article called “A Theory of Everything and why you can’t hack truth”…
(c) Jarred Taylor and peppersnort 2017