Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The world is now a little more like a Neal Stephenson novel.

That link describes a new weapon.  The first of its kind.  A massively precise targeted virus attack intended to seize control of a specific industrial facility.  And then, presumably, destroy it.  This must be what people felt like back in the 40s when the atomic bomb was first unveiled.  But even that wasn't this kind of jump.  Atomic weapons were dropped from bombers, same as any other.  It was an incredible new mechanism, capable of letting one bomber destroy most of a city, but it was still a bomb dropped from a plane, impressive for smashing the incremental improvement curve.  This is transcendent.  It is a creation of the mind, something that could theoretically be done by anyone, and then carried in apparently in the pocket of an unknowing contractor until it has very real, very physical effects. 

The deliverer of this payload would pass any polygraph or brain scan.  They would have no suspicious contacts among friends or family.  They could be the most trustworthy employee you have, truly meaning you no ill-will.  And they would carry in a bomb capable of destroying your factory, a bomb that looks exactly like a useful piece of equipment, that has no markers, sets off no chemical sniffers, in the most refined version would be utterly undetectable.

I am a paranoiac.  This was only ever intensified by depression, eventually to the point where I was looking in the ceiling and the walls, and disassembling approximately everything I owned to look for signs of tampering.  And at my worst, I could have been infected by a weapon of this sort.  This could be considered the perfect payload.  Not the perfect weapon, I've got ideas on that that bypass many of the weaknesses this has, but Fat Man wasn't exactly a paragon of its kind either.  This is the first.  It will not be the last.

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