Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


We have become so accustomed to the failures, dangers and frustrations of technology that most of us ignore them and use some sort of escape mechanism. We assume that some clever person will put it right or that the disaster will happen to somebody else. The event that drives me finally to scream aloud is minor. I have not recently had a computer virus. I have not had my bank account raided by a hacker. I have not had a tax bill for £1,000,000. 

I just can’t get into my house.

I live in what they advertise as a Luxury Retirement Village. The staircase that serves my apartment and five others has an outside door which owners can open by waving a key fob in front of a sensor. When it fails you can only get in by calling the main village reception desk and asking for help. The girls on reception are charming and helpful but it gets embarrassing to call on them every time.

How do ‘They’ (the management) respond?

By sending for ‘the engineer’ who turns up next day and reports the result of his investigation a day after that. The problem is ‘worse than expected’. It means sending for a component, and nobody is quite sure how long that will take. My bet is that when it arrives it will be a part for a different system (Sixteen digit serial number the only identifier) and won’t work in ours.

Multiply that domestic inconvenience by a factor of 1,000 to locate it on the world stage where electronic systems not only fail but are invaded by enemies and criminals. Hardly a day passes without some new report of cyber-crime. National governments are fearful of their authority being eroded by foreigners spreading disinformation through social media. Add to that the uncritical reporting that fills the mainstream media and we shall soon reach a state where none of know what to believe about anything. Nor will we be able to trust any product or service. Here are two questions to think about.

How many public services are fully independent of digital technology?

Do you believe that the state has the competence to frustrate cyber-crime?

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