Being played out like some sort of global video game, it is our Indian and Chinese, MIT and Stamford-educated computer science Ph.Ds vs. the ideologically and economically disenfranchised teens and college hackers who used to spend time checking in on the President's secure daily schedule or trading stolen credit card numbers and movie files -- in a titanic struggle of who can mess up the other guy's shit faster and for longer. Not since the Vietnam era has the world seemed so polarized between the famous American military-industrial complex (if you count PayPal and MasterCard in there somewhere) and the wild-eyed idealists who, instead of wearing work shirts with red fists spray-painted on the back and carrying placards, are hunched over keyboards determined to give new meaning to the notion of freedom of information.
The issue now seems to have transcended the WikiLeaks themselves and emerged as a struggle between the U.S. "establishment" and the rest of the world that thinks we are an arrogant, militant, narcissistic and hedonistic nation that deserves to be knocked down a few cyber notches. The battleground seems remote at the moment, but if this thing escalates far enough, the next time you try to boot up, you will only see the image of your LCD maker rotating slowly on your otherwise empty screen. Could this be the Big One, the worst-case scenario, where hackers get really pissed and shut off the electrical grid or the nation's airline radar or banking system? Don't think it can't happen.
Our lives are no longer analogue, but completely digital. We can't even start our cars without computer chips. What happens if their Indian and Chinese, MIT and Stamford-educated computer science Ph.Ds are smarter than ours? The U.S. fends off millions of cyber attacks even on a normal day (thank you, China) but a few get through despite our best prophylactic efforts.
OK, now I am scaring the crap out of myself. I am not sure Obama can get that many hackers around a table in the White House garden to discuss this over a couple of beers. What would you do to resolve this? Use the comments section below and reassure me that we will meet again next week.