Twenty years from now,
- You won’t necessarily know anything about the decisions that affect your rights, like whether you get a loan, a job, or if a car runs over you. Things will get decided by data-crunching computer algorithms and no human will really be able to understand why.
- The Internet will become a lot more like TV and a lot less like the global conversation we envisioned 20 years ago.
- Rather than being overturned, existing power structures will be reinforced and replicated, and this will be particularly true for security.
- Internet technology design increasingly facilitates rather than defeats censorship and control.
It doesn’t have to be this way. But to change course, we need to ask some hard questions and make some difficult decisions.
Here, too, the message was clear. You need our permission to operate in this world. If you step over the line we draw, if you automate, if you download too fast, if you type something weird in the URL bar on your browser, and we don’t like it, or we don’t like you, then we will get you.
In the future will we re-secure the Freedom to Tinker? That means Congress forgoing the tough-on-cybercrime hand waving it engages in every year — annual proposals, to make prison sentences more severe under the CFAA, as if any of the suspected perpetrators of the scores of major breaches of the past two or three years — China, North Korea, who knows who else — would be deterred by such a thing. These proposals just scare the good guys, they don’t stop the attackers.
We’d have to declare that users own and can modify the software we buy and download — despite software licenses and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
This is going to be increasingly important. Over the next 20 years software will be embedded in everything, from refrigerators to cars to medical devices.
Without the Freedom to Tinker, the right to reverse engineer these products, we will be living in a world of opaque black boxes. We don’t know what they do, and you’ll be punished for peeking inside.
The general public just don't care about this stuff. And for some reason, this thought keeps going through my head: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.