This article is a personal opinion, based the recent power outage at CES 2018. Certainly, some inventions provided lighting and retained the power to counter memory saving sessions. However, what the blackout led me to think of was EMP, the blockchain, and the digital age.
We are a world at war, whether it is with guns and bombs or with economic restraints and trade sanctions. The countries of the world are constantly battling something. Some wars are internal, while others are global. The age of the internet gave us information at the speed of light, as well as disinformation even faster. (Try to explain why two people in different parts of the world can believe the same urban legend before the real news comes out)
With all this said, let’s take a look at the age of electronics and what separates us from our very recent past, which is only fifty years ago.
Fifty years ago, we did not have smartphones, internet, or even personal computers. There were computing systems in universities, some research facilities, a few global businesses, and the military. The rest of us had to contend with either black and white TV, some with color, tape decks, and vinyl records, and radio. Electricity reached our homes from fossil fuel sources and only in 1954 did the first nuclear power plant open in Russia.
Then, from the 1970’s an exponential burst of information technology management spread across western Europe and the US. With Intel leading the way with the worlds first microprocessor in 1969, which led to the landmark Intel processor 8080, the father of modern computer hardware. While Turing might be considered one of the fathers of computing software, Intel’s Ted Hoff should be given the place for hardware.
It took two decades to reach the internet, but when it hit us, it took only another 20 years to introduce the first smartphone (iPhone) and then in 2009 with the blockchain. What is unique about the blockchain, is that it sits on many computers around the world, so information is not stored in any one place, making it secure. Why is the blockchain so important for this article, because one thing has not been discussed here. Energy source security. One of the biggest issues that have evolved alongside the development of information technology maintains a constant flow of energy from alternative sources. This came about more form a necessity to utilize nature and the environment for cheaper electricity as well as the desire to be released from the oil industries stranglehold on every walk of life.
However, there is a third section to this story, that is electronic warfare, I started the article off by mentioning the nature of the world. One of the developments is EMP or electromagnetic pulse. This is a pulse of energy that overloads electronic circuits, basically killing all things that live off electricity. Now let’s go back to the blockchain, why is it important? Imagine a server hub hit by an EMP; all the information is wiped out. If there is a backup server in another location, then the information is recoverable, but most probably not up to date. With online transactions, this can mean the difference between zero and infinity. With blockchain, the only way you can erase all the information is if you EMP the whole planet. If that happens then, nothing really matters, and we can go on into a more feudal way of life.
Defensive materials and mechanisms against EMP are being constantly developed, but have they been given enough focus and importance? Even if we create alternative sources of energy, they will not have any effect if the systems we use are all fried.
What is missing from the CES 2018, is EMP security. No one has bothered to show us how he or she will protect us from EMP and other electronic warfare weapons aimed at destroying our digital infrastructure. The blockchain is a great alternative, not as a countermeasure, but as a full-fledged defensive weapon. By dispersing information in billions of PC’s with thousands of backups, we effectively secure our global data. The blockchain is the software platform; now we need to create a blockchain server system, where PC’s being sold include a silent hard drive, used only by the blockchain to store information as a backup for global data. We also need to consider how information is stored, where it is stored, how many backups and how do we protect ourselves from EMP’s and other power outages that can wipe memory as well as stored data.
The key points to consider:
- Electronic housing materials (casings, product materials, wire coverings)
- Electronic data transfer technology (wifi, cable, sat)
- System data proliferation (multiple backups, constant data stored in multiple locations, blockchain)
I hope that at the next CES we will see more companies presenting information securing solutions and not just another small energy source for power outages or batteries with longer life.
“EMP interference is generally disruptive or damaging to electronic equipment, and at higher energy levels a powerful EMP event such as a lightning strike can damage physical objects such as buildings and aircraft structures. The management of EMP effects is an important branch of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) engineering.Weapons have been developed to create the damaging effects of high-energy EMP. Misleading or incorrect information about such weapons, both real and fictional, have become known to the public by means of popular culture and some politicians’ claims. Misleading information includes both exaggeration of EMP effects and downplaying the significance of the EMP threat.”