Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


Ought not the title to be Science Fiction? The two are pretty mixed up. Sometimes nothing happens till an idea is created and then reality follows. At other times the thing comes first and then people write stories about it.

Recently two writers of spy stories (Le Carre and Rimington) have been attacked by an earlier head of British security (MI5? MI6?) for writing too realistically about what really happens. It is assumed by readers that the knowledge they gained (in one case from actually doing the top) is bound to influence their story-telling. Some of it must surely be true! They are giving too much away!

I read and enjoy both writers, but today some of their stories are scary. Right now I am into a Rimington book that was published in 2010 and contains ideas that must have been familiar to her work-wise before that date. It concerns Drones and their capability. (Don’t get them mixed up with The Drones Club in London to which Bertie Wooster belonged. Those drones were so called because they were useless) The Drones of our century are not useless at all. They are now well known for hanging around airports and interfering with travel. In this book they are capable of transmitting instructions to human or electric or mechanical agencies on the ground. The drones are told what instructions to send by some controller who may be half the world away and can give his/her commands in plain English or Japanese or whatever. These commands are turned into code that the drone can understand by clever encryption which is thought to be secure. The person issuing the commands probably has no understanding of encryption and may not be aware that what one expert can encrypt another expert can alter.

None of this is beyond modern technology. This has been proved by the recent destruction of oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, done, according to some sources by drones operated from Iran.

In the world of cyber warfare there is as much room for deceit and error and accident as there was when the Britsh attacked Spion Kop. Just days ago a snooker player driving to perform in Barnsley, Yorkshire, put ‘Barnsley’ into his Satnav and ended up in Barnsley, Gloucestershire. So how about this scenario? An enemy aiming to disrupt a computer-controlled facility the Uk Atomic Research Establishment at Aldermaston encounters some human/electronic confusion and all the power fails at my “Luxury Retirement Village” twenty miles away.


ANYTHING can happen. It can happen to ME. It can happen quite by accident because somebody has put an extra comma into a line of code. NOTHING is impossible. Should I be scared? Should I put my head underground like an ostrich and rejoice in my ignorance? Probably. (They don’t, by the way, but they do keep their heads pretty low.)


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