• 4 minutes China's Economy and Subsequent Energy Demand To Decelerate Sharply Through 2024
  • 7 minutes Beijing Must Face Reality That Taiwan is Independent
  • 11 minutes Phase One trade deal, for China it is all about technology war
  • 14 minutes Shale Oil Fiasco
  • 1 hour We're freezing! Isn't it great? The carbon tax must be working!
  • 28 mins Boris Johnson taken decision about 5G Huawei ban by delay (fait accompli method)
  • 49 mins Trump has changed into a World Leader
  • 5 hours Which emissions are worse?: Cows vs. Keystone Pipeline
  • 9 hours Indonesia Stands Up to China. Will Japan Help?
  • 15 hours What's the Endgame Here?
  • 37 mins Prototype Haliade X 12MW turbine starts operating in Rotterdam
  • 6 hours Might be Time for NG Producers to Find New Career
  • 15 hours Turkey Muscles-In on Israel-Greece-Cyprus EastMed Gas Pipeline Deal. Erdogan Still Dreaming of Ottoman Empire II.
  • 22 hours Trump capitulated
  • 22 hours US Shale: Technology
  • 23 hours Gravity is a scam!
Alt Text

The Single Biggest Factor In Oil This Week

China has been the key…

Alt Text

Iran Regime Change Could Push To $40 Oil

It sounds counterintuitive and counterlogical,…

Alt Text

Is This The End For Big Oil Dividends?

Big oil has been living…

Kurt Cobb

Kurt Cobb

Kurt Cobb is a freelance writer and communications consultant who writes frequently about energy and environment. His work has also appeared in The Christian Science…

More Info

Premium Content

The Dark Side Of The Digital Revolution In Energy

The U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that would form a government-industry working group to "examine ways to replace automated systems with low-tech redundancies, like manual procedures controlled by human operators." The news release linked above specifically references an attack on the Ukrainian grid that succeeded only partially because of such manual technology:

This legislation was inspired in part by Ukraine’s experience in 2015, when a sophisticated cyber-attack on that country’s power grid led to more than 225,000 people being left in the dark. The attack could have been worse if not for the fact that Ukraine relies on manual technology to operate its grid. The Senator’s bill seeks to build on this concept by studying ways to strategically use "retro" technology to isolate the grid’s most important control systems.

The enthusiasm for all things automated and digital has run into a snag. The purveyors of so-called "smart" systems would like us to think that there are always digital solutions to digital problems. But, in truth, digital security problems merely reflect an ongoing arms race between security technologies and procedures and the hackers who work constantly to circumvent them.

In most cases, the hackers are after money as was the case recently with the flawed 7-Eleven app used in Japan that allowed criminals to reset passwords in customer accounts with relative ease.

The attack on the Ukraine, however, was almost certainly one orchestrated by a military cyberwar unit. The resources and sophistication of such units make the phrase "arms race" more than just a metaphor.

I have often written about the limits of complexity. (See herehere and here.) The idea that increased complexity could become a liability rather than an enhancement to our lives remains an alien concept to most in our modern technical society. We celebrate increased complexity and venerate the master technologists of our day as if they were high priests who hold the secrets to the realization of a techno-utopian heaven on earth.

We forget that such priests have vested interests more aligned with profits than service to humanity. Implementing manual or at least non-digital solutions short-circuits the arms race in the digital world and undermines the authority and profits of the high priests of technology. Expect them to fight the move proposed in the Senate bill should it become law. Related: Iran Threatens Seizure Of UK Oil Tankers After Gibraltar Tanker Boarding

We have collectively handed over much of our lives to Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Cisco Systems, and a host of other technology giants. Their incentive is to figure out how to maximize power and profits in the short run. If that creates problems for all of us in the long run, well, as far as the tech giants are concerned, that's our problem not theirs.

To expect something other than a high-tech "solution" to come from our high-tech industries and their surrogates in academia and the media is pure foolishness. I am reminded of a quotation from author Upton Sinclair who once wrote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."

If we truly want long-term solutions to the problems that vex us in our increasingly high-tech society, then we will have to look elsewhere than the technologists. Finding those who are creating such solutions takes a little perseverance since their solutions are not prioritized over the breathless front-page coverage of the latest high-tech "advance." But such people are out there, and apparently, there are at least a few senators who, on this one issue, could see past the beguiling rhetoric of the techno-utopian fantasists.

By Kurt Cobb via Resourceinsights.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage




Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News