I been there, and done that – back in the Nineties in Silicon Valley.

I worked for the last American robotics company. The Japanese beat us to the punch there. And on the assembly lines that resulted – robots picking up cookies hot out of the oven (for example) – and assembling them into nice orderly packages – there was not an American robot in sight.

They took the place of poor women doing the same thing – but suffering from repetitive-stress injuries. They never showed you what happened when they tried to force their robots to work even faster – and they started throwing cookies all over the place. Even robots have their limits.

But the Japanese missed out on the next breakthrough – the Computer. And now Google self-driving cars – are doing more than the Japanese ever dreamed of.

I stole this idea from The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies – a book, based on idea of exponential progress – packing more and more bits into a chip. I have one of these now – the BeagleBone Black – and am playing with it. It is very clever – but has its limitations. And we should be aware of them.

This book was designed to impress me – and it succeeded at that. But I also noticed some things were not that simple – breakthroughs happened which were not planned. For example – encryption – which is driving the governments of the world nuts.

This gives too much power to the Computer, and its allies, they think – and they want to take that back.

Lots of luck, fellows.


Why Are We Fighting the Crypto Wars Again?

Medium Daily Digest – BackChannel

I was going to write something this morning about Computer Literacy – I continue to study the Java Programming Language – which describes the nuts and bolts of a popular programming language.

But I needed something for the man on the street – who knows nothing about Computers.

This article plopped into my inbox just in time. And gets right to the point.

If anyone really wants to know, it’s easy enough to find out.


I am now a proud user of this computer encryption program. No one else can get access to my computer. It’s mine alone.

It’s so easy to use, I can’t believe it – but you have to follow the instructions carefully. It will hold your hand – but it will take you into unfamiliar territory.

I now feel like Alice in Wonderland – I’m someplace new, but a little scary.

When Encryption is Necessary

There are two kinds of situations where encryption can be vital – to protect data in companies or other organizations, and to protect personal data. The two can overlap – personal data (such as medical information) can reside in databases operated by organizations. In which case, these organizations must protect the personal data they are responsible for.

In either case, encryption makes this easy and foolproof.

Many organizations (and many governments) do not have feel they are responsible for protecting personal information – they own all the data they can collect, by whatever means, and they can use this data however they please. Strong encryption makes this difficult for them – and for this reason they are against it.

They are important, and the individual is not.

What do individuals do in situations like this? In most cases, nothing. It is easier just to go along with the crowd, and get what you can, without calling attention to yourself. Big Brother holds all the cards, and he wants to keep them that way.

Encrypting your personal data can be a bit of a hassle. I just did this for my Android, with some puzzling results. I will next do it for my Windows 7 computer – and I expect it to be a learning experience also.

Companies and organizations (including government organizations) should protect their data carefully. But most are lazy, and don’t. As a result, China now has much of this valuable data for itself.

Encryption can protect the data of criminal organizations also – and this is seen by many as unacceptable. But they are going use encryption, whether it is legal or not. And they have been doing this for centuries.