The article discusses the future of hacking and the disposition takes a particularly critical attitude aimed at unpacking many of the implicit assumptions in the topic that limit the way it’s viewed today and its future importance to society.
Hacking in 2050—the future of anarchy and towards modern post-national identities and post- territorial governance.
When we seek answers to questions that build upon the loose use of popular or even incompatible concepts, it’s important to first consider and understand the essential meaning of each concept. Here we have two such contentious terms: hacking and the year 2050.
The term “hacking” is not only open to interpretation but has also sparked controversial political debate. Alone, the term would barely cause mild irritation, let alone act as a provocateur, but in conjunction with ongoing developments in the world, and as a key facilitator in the process, it is becoming a peer-word for concepts like “war”, “sex”, “beauty”, “rich” and why not, “happiness” too. In short, we are dealing with a complex word because its meaning is highly abstract and multifaceted, and when juxtaposed with the mythic year 2050, it could almost be the title of a B-movie. Yet, on current projections, hacking will certainly be prevalent in the year 2050, so let’s have a closer look.
In this article, we discuss some of the potential developments to which abstract concepts like “hacking” and mundane thoughts like the year 2050 could relate. It may already be apparent to the reader that there is no such thing as “hacking” in itself, inasmuch as there is no linear time either, which would act as a continuum and coherent dimension between two discrete realities. This is why the mystery of time is still unresolved and predicting a distant future for any concept, at best, amusing.
There is no scientific reason to define and limit “time” and “progress” as concepts that must move forward in a linear manner. Events have the freedom to appear, accelerate and disappear in space-time without following our traditional conception of time. Our traditional conception of time has simply survived because of its practical implications to society and, to some degree at least, because it has well served those in power, and not because of a universal governing law.
Our own space-time reality, however, is here and now, and for all intents and purposes, we can continue to consider time as linear and constant with one event unfolding as a consequence of an earlier event. This predictability allows us to deploy institutions, traditions and societies in a way that supports, maintains and enhances those conceptions.
Our practical observations seem to indicate that time is measurable, linear and, in fact, passing by. There is past, present and the future. These we think of as the continuum of time which are notable from what we are able to recall, experience and envisage, respectively. There seems also to be a high level of stability which allows us to presume how events will unfold to a certain degree along that continuum. We must respect, however, that wars, revolutions and human ingenuity, grand ideas, technology and developments in science and other disciplines can swiftly and forever change our world and disrupt present- day realities.
We cautiously assume that the period leading up to and including the year 2050 will be ordinary, not destroyed by one means or another and not disturbed by ground-breaking discoveries that would make it unrecognizable to anyone living today, in 2019.
How then could “hacking” look in time? In the year 2050? In the following three sections, we consider what it might involve.
Future—fate, God-given or a commodity?
Predicting the direction of a possible future in “hacking” can be challenging, particularly when it must be envisaged well in advance. Furthermore, as “hacking” is ambiguous, the challenge to predict its future quickly becomes complex.
Hacking could be most easily understood as a bundle of activities that include not only a certain amount of non-institutional effort, even anarchy, but creativity and political activism too. Unfortunately, however, it is notorious for its supposed association with criminality.
Hacking is also a cultural phenomenon, with its practitioners seen by many as radical prophets driven to defend justice and human rights. Many of them hold elevated moral values and an intense interest in establishing a contemporary society that is just and purposeful. They also exhibit courage, strength, intelligence and creativity—qualities that some established forms of authority might try to subdue and control.
The classic conception of the future used to be bipolar—based on fate or shaped by one’s own chosen path—but modern views typically include multiple potential and parallel dimensions. Modern science leans more towards constructivist thought that highlights the assumption that the future is neither fate nor God’s gift, but a socially constructed mesh of unintended consequences. Against this backdrop, the future is more of a commodity (yet, not that sparse!) and “hacking”, one of the nodes facilitating the process of construction. Considering the role of “hacking” in the world of international politics, its recent effects on those in power and the “culture of youth”, we can predict that “hacking” will continue to influence the process of construction for many years to come.
In its current orientation, “hacking” leans towards, and sometimes leads to anarchy. One must, however, foresee that as security paradigms and society’s relationship with cyberspace evolve, “hacking” will increasingly be influenced, with formal research & development increasingly taking the place of rebellious and uncontrollable hacking. In the year 2050, “hacking” will, by design, no longer be the hype but will, in its current radical form, perhaps be history.
A world without work, but a universal basic income—Crisis of cybernation?
One of the most prominent features of cyberspace and related scientific innovations has been the onset of post-industrial society. Largely, however, this notion has remained rather speculative and left people waiting for a time when work has been replaced by automation and thus something like “leisure society” has evolved. This development has strong connections to the world of “hacking” and as the post-industrial capabilities of individuals, groups and crowdfunded experiments suddenly exceed those of former superiors, governments and indeed the financial apparatus, “leisure society” will spring to life and become our new reality.
An established former authoritarian structure is not, of course, going to give up its power without a fight, and that is what we have today, a “cyber war” against civil groups, among nations and emergent cyber-powers that challenge established settings and make full use of the radicalizing powers of “hacking”. This is also why the future of “hacking” draws the attention of governments, because, at its roots, it questions the legitimacy of their establishment and the future of governance.
Labor and industrial institutions have been the main facilitators of social construction, and in a world without work, an imminent release of their resources will have a drastic effect on how an employee and employer establish their relationship and mutual dependencies.
What is more, cyberspace changes the mechanics of profit-seeking behaviour, and thus, reshapes the Marshall-style systems from systems that protect the establishment to systems that deliver “relief” to the masses. Hacking here acts as—and will presumably increase its role as—a moralistic punching bag for the ownership classes who aim to preserve and maintain their positions; however, it also gives rise to modern peasants and provides opportunities for social mobility. This rapid increase in social mobility will nevertheless invite destructive rent-seeking behaviour, as is often the case, in the form of organized crime and, once again, the ad hoc formation of structures of dependency. Much of this negative development will be provoked—in the name of liberalism—by the collapse of the state itself and secretly led by former pro-government radicals, seeking to re-establish old-world power.
Without work, there will barely be a world that we could recognise today. Yet, a certain and remarkable erosion of industrial structures is inevitable. A society in which the distribution of wealth is based on the ownership and management of industrial processes, will not be the one that maintains its status quo faced with the challenges of “post-territorial hacking”. This is not necessarily because of any particular proficiencies, but rather because these new post-territorial regimes have an elevated awareness of, and commitment to, social responsibility, ethics and morals and by definition are not based on ownership or the means of production, nor are they susceptible to corruption or central control.
Herein lies the potential for the politics of “hacking”. While the public has been drawn into spectacles of criminality, the actual threat to current establishments lies not in the leakage of information, but in the erosion of the structures of state funding giving way to crowdsourcing. Similarly, the fundamental right of “electing those who govern” will take on new forms that are relevant to cybernation. Voting and the wonders of representation, all of which are conspicuously absent from the world of cyberspace in the year 2050, will be replaced by new-world self-governing systems that continuously read sample “votes” and make decisions based on peoples natural interaction with information and systems in cyberspace.
The fascism of futurecasting and modern guillotines
It’s important to recall that “hacking”, however vague and ambiguous the term is, has multiple interpretations and dimensions. It is not only rebellious anarchists, criminals and potential cyber-terrorists who might be tagged with such a bipolar label, but also these new regimes, capabilities and frameworks that challenge much of today’s methods of governance.
The term “hacking” can be considered an umbrella verb that highlights the action of imposing modern cyber-mechanical tools in order to advance ambitions, enforce policies, or simply conduct business in a supremely effective manner. In the case of authority and power, these post-territorial tools differ largely from those available to current governments in that they have a specific neutrality, naturality and deterministic character to them. One could even refer to these modern post-territorial tools of dominance as “neo-guillotines” because they are self-governing and evolve based on natural selection—they do not necessitate a regulatory body and, in fact, intrinsically work best without one.
Subsequently, “hacking”, seen from the point of view of governments, those that project power and dominate, also resembles a rogue unconfined authority or a totalitarian tyranny. What irony! That this extreme non-territorial ambition backfires on the very foundation of its own roots may just be a sign that the gods have a lousy sense of humour.
A deterrent to hacking which those in the struggle for power invest in heavily as a key capability, is artificial intelligence and futurecasting, the practice of trying to model the future. This modern weaponry is what a magician would have been like in the old days—a fortuneteller on the streets who also keeps the halls of power fully updated when it comes to future prospects and the range of options ahead.
Those old soothsayers were the hackers of their time, sadly unable to predict how their own role would evolve, though they were the gatekeepers of truths similar to those known to the modern wizards of futurecasting—truths that may or may not be actual, yet deemed natural, inevitable, well-founded and worthy of respect. The danger of futurecasting is no different from the notorious dangers of the unchecked, unconfined or just overly optimistic exercise of power. In keeping with popular jargon, this might be referred to as “hacking for power” or “power-hacks”.
Just as the industrial revolution led to economics and an increasing drive for productivity that partially overruled human rights, compassion and ethics, in the year 2050, the modern tools of dominance will produce neo-fascist movements, for example, with use of predictive modelling to improve the human race, impose political sterilizations and indeed—as psychic as it may sound—shape the future.
The so-called future of hacking is however with us now, and yet we are unable to find a “hack” that could predict what its future is going to be like. That’s because “hacking” in itself is responsible, to some degree at least, for itself in that future. We are faced with a causal loop paradox and as such, just as fortune-tellers fail to foresee their own futures, the very apparatus that shines over cyberspace will never be able to own it, see into the far distance or master the rule and law of life.
We’ve discussed the future of hacking and the disposition took a particularly critical attitude aimed at unpacking many of the implicit assumptions in the topic that limit the way it’s viewed today and its future importance to society.
Given the role of “hacking” in modern International politics, there are valid reasons for the general public and the scientific community to consider the implications for society in greater detail. To encourage an open and healthy dialogue, we must first understand and appreciate the diverse, contested and multi-dimensional structure of “hacking”, “space-time” and what the future could potentially hold for mankind while respecting both the limitations and ingenuity of the human mind.