The Cylons Might Not Be Cuddly

23 Nov

The Battlestar Galactica franchise has frightened viewers with the prospect of “toasters” becoming humanity’s mortal enemies – and seeming mentors. The Blood and Chrome prequel tries to thrust human folly another step closer to the present age when our machines are still our slaves. In the opening scenes, there’s this evocative image of a Cylon nursemaid with a human toddler perched lovingly on its hip.

It’s everyone’s nightmare – the enemy in our midst.

What if more tentative, less dramatic dangers lurk in our midst now, and not in the form of an android. George Dvorsky identifies two technologies, social media and missile defense, either of which might not end the world, but could be the snake in the garden that whittles down a government’s ethical resolve crisis by agonizing crisis.

What’s the hashtag for terror? For propaganda? I’ve been talking about the role of social media as a possible enabler of political violence for years. In my June 2009 talk at Mobile Monday in Amsterdam, I argued that Twitter and similar media had the potential to serve a role similar to the radio stations used to drive the 1990s Rwandan genocide.


“New war technologies will proliferate as history shows they always do,” [Patrick Lin] says, “So whatever advantage one side has now will be erased later as adversaries also obtain the same weapons, and this seems to be a silly, unproductive arms race.”

Moreover, argues Lin, as these seemingly fantastic technologies get integrated into society and war making, they also make our infrastructure more fragile and vulnerable.

“Think about how devastating a simple cyberattack can be to military, financial, and other systems,” he says, “or how disruptive a loss of Internet access or electrical power would be to your work day or society at large.”

That being said, he concedes that the Iron Dome is an effective defense — though very expensive. He notes that each Israeli interceptor missile costs about $60,000, compared to the $800 rockets fired by Hamas.

And, beware of daggits.




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