Sunday, March 12, 2006

dark measure of technology

Whilst flipping through Compusmart, London Drugs and Future Shop flyers this weekend, I was struck by just how commoditized some technology has become. Linksys 802.11b/g routers, for example, can be had for $60 CAD (after rebate) brand-spankin' new - or search eBay and get 'em for even less. The same technology from a company like Cisco, 10 years ago, would have cost thousands of dollars. And 25 or so years ago, during the height of the Cold War, well... having the same technology in your hands might have put you on a CIA or KGB hit list.

Now there's an idea for a darker kind of technology index: the likelihood that intelligence agencies 20-something years ago would have killed you for it. Measures such as processor clock speed, Mbps, etc, all have far less emotional impact. Imagine having your current home or work computer with you in Grade 9; you would have been the ultimate uber-geek, with enough computing power to render the most complex photo-realistic scenes! And enough computing power to crack the most current encryption used by both sides at the time.


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