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lecture: The IT of another Europe

Building systems we can trust again


12 year before Snowden the EU already knew they should not trust US tech but chose to make itself more dependent on it anyway. We need a radical change in the way we select the tech that runs our society.

Without reliably working software and data-processing the modern world stops working. From the supermarkets where you get your food to the electricity or gas that heats it up to the water that cleans your plate afterwards; IT is everywhere but still has a long way to go to reach the reliability of older technologies (such as the basic elements of the powergrid). IT is still developing very rapidly and new developments are stacked on top of slightly older ones. So on the one hand we now have 'smart' thermostats you can control via an app but on the other hand those thermostats can easily be hacked and then operated, in their millions, by someone else. When these same technologies are applied to industrial systems things risk start to look more like a bad Hollywood thriller scenario and less like the paper wisdom of ITIL-certification courses.

The Stuxnet case and the revelations by Edward Snowden have shown how fundamental the problems (and challenges to fix them) are. Most systems and platforms in common use are, by design untrustworthy in ways that cannot be fixed barring regime change in the US. While a lot more work needs to be done on detecting breaches of security sooner this does not really solve any problems, just cleans up the mess afterward.

In order to re-gain trust in systems because we can *trust* them we need to be willing to move away from proprietary systems and 'cloud' computers under the control of foreign powers. Even the most common used hardware platforms and CPU-architectures need to be up for discussion and replacement by more trustworthy alternatives. Nothing is irreplaceable and by replacing what we know we cannot trust by things we can a future of computing under control of citizens is possible.


Day: 2016-09-10
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 01:00
Room: Tesla



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