Things are becoming more complicated. With the push for online systems and online storage we have found that this interrellation, interconnection and interdependency works well in an integrated approach when things work properly. But when things fail or don’t go as planned when they should the system breaks down. Many firms are charging their customers for this breakdown when the breakdown was nothing to do with them. They claim it costs them money, but they have a stranglehold on compensation for problems. Immediate payment is now acceptable practice with penalties for late payment. The idea is any delay in payment costs a firm money, but this logistic problem of having the right amount in the right place is becoming acute. When the amount is not in the right place at the right time a powerful firm can charge not only its customers, but its suppliers as well, getting paid both ways, even though they may be tardy at re-inbursing wrongly charged amounts to customers and not paying their suppliers on time.
The key word with modern systems is resilience. Without it, such as backup systems, you are waiting for an accident or disaster to happen. It will probably not be a case of if, but when.
The bigger the firm or country, the more it can do and enforce this as quite often they have gained a monopoly in supply, both to and from them. They can now charge what they like as there are few or no competitors, having removed those quite often by underpricing their goods to corner the market with their financial clout, smaller better firms falling by the wayside, being bought out by the big firms or other countries businesses along the way. Then suppliers to all those firms need to deal with them, cutting them out where they object and buying them out, controlling the whole process.
We have seen with covid how supply chains when stressed cause all kinds of goods and services just not to be there, a major problem with communications meaning the whole system grinds to a halt.
We have seen a number of cyber-attacks and hacks on Russia recently because of the Ukraine business. Groups around the world that were synonymous with anarchy and damaging society have suddenly received respect in the public. ‘Your enemy is my enemy’ thinking. But there is a mixed set of overlapping people, some on either side of the problem and little-known differentiation between who is for and against. The US, Russia and China have in the past ‘sponsored’ a number of these groups for their espionage, some possibly being sponsored by all three. Most of the attacks are specific publicly arranged hacks, where there are large systems that have vulnerable points. The larger and more complicated the system, the easier it is to gain entry, and the bloatware that is standard on today’s systems quite often give more points of access than those they replace. (Why use a 1K routine when a 100MB renamed library will work just as well, there being so much space left on people’s hard disks, every programmer thinking the same way.)
Unless you become an identifiable target and stand out, in most cases minimal protection is all you need. Just being slightly vigilant, not opening sites from emails, a standard anti-virus, a VPN, not using other people’s pen-drives, keeping regular back-ups of computers and phones, etc. The determined cyber-warfare release of controls and restrictions in the world will give some unwanted effects, but most people won’t be affected, project fear now being used and employed as a sales tool by manufacturers of equipment and software to regularly get people to buy the latest at full retail rates, giving slower and more cumbersome systems that have exponential levels of simple and small things disrupting them completely.
Cars have become this way, with them failing to run completely by a non-manufacture’s parts being a tiny fraction out from defined resistances or timings, even though a factor of ten would make no difference to its actual running. VW’s designed software just being one more of a whole string of manipulations to get people to part with money or buy their product instead of another’s. A bit like putting in a demand for wood to be measured to thousandths of an inch.
Like computer software, built in and planned obsolescence is now the order of the day, car software being also full of booby traps, dead-ends, false calls, obsolete routines, just to force upgrades in equipment, operating systems and software (0-60 in 10.5 seconds being better than 0-60 in 11, where 99% of people don’t like being in cars where drivers do this sort of thing.) The idea is to lock you into a defined and regular cash stream, not for your benefit. Overall, we are being manoeuvred into sell-by, best-by, and use-by dates in equipment and software, forcing into slow systems and unwanted revenue paths, not for security, but for selling you stuff for more money.
Nearly all software and operating systems are now designed, not that they won’t run efficiently on old systems, all of them could, but that they can’t run on old systems, with fake calls that do nothing, and deliberately renamed calls, so they are purposely designed to fail or hang. Think, the original operating systems, windows, office suite, would all fit within 10MB installed and would do 95% that it does now and much quicker and less complicated, with it all running within 1MB of memory. Now you need about 50GB space (5000 times) and 8GB memory (8000 times) to do less and slower, cloud services really being extremely slow remote access drives, ‘model T Ford level engines’ in computers. Adequate pictures are in the 50k mark, anything over 200k being more for posters. In comparison, internet access is about 30mbs, the very oldest 1990 hard disks 5mbs, later laptop ones typically 200mbs, SSD’s 20,000mbs. The enforced and planned ‘thin client’ mentality is firmly entrenched in this revenue stream, but an interconnected, interrelated and interdependent set of systems is easy and likely to fail completely due to small problems the natural and artificial world throws at us and wherever thin client is installed and claimed to be the last word, the users have another word for it and try to avoid using it.
I have gone to more than one organisation that has thin client systems, the key and vital work being done on laptops because the system isn’t fit for purpose, only upper management being happy with the results as they are completely divorced from its use.
But the move to have everything on the internet leaves it fully open to the possibility at some point that internet is not there. People involved with transferring everything onto web and cloud services working from an everything works position. The web has a number of key areas that could cause it fail or pushed into failure, possibly needing weeks to restablish. So with all social, transport and logistics, medical, financial, supply, customer, sales, all on one system we are planning for disaster, not to prevent it, but to cause it.
It is a reliance on single type systems that gives a good chance of total failure. In effect, a bottleneck of services dependent on few diverse sources.
An example of this dependency could be ‘A wage is due to be paid in on a friday, but the transfer system fails.’ The person is in charge of the transfers, but needs to leave for home before this can be done. This leads to a family not having access to any money over the weekend, so they also don’t put petrol in their car and need to rely on what they have in their cupboards. Their direct debits also don’t go through. The local petrol station has a breakdown as the person who was going to man it also has no money to come into work. So on monday when the system resumes there is no-one to open the petrol station to provide petrol for the first person to travel into work, so they also are absent. The mobile phone companies notice that the direct debits aren’t paid so immediately suspend phone services for both parties and the person who would now do the transfers cannot contact his office to arrange for an alternative person to do it. The bank sees something going wrong so they leave the payment system until the next day where similar happens and further standing orders and direct debits are not then paid. The banks and the people providing services then charge the original people extra for non payment.
The escalation of such a minor event could end up with something that brings down a government or country, all based on this strict and time critical interrellation, interconnection and interdependency without resilience or leeway. The move towards such systems and the belief that such things are ‘wasted finance’ without allowing for back up’s in place means the system in place could be the thing that brings the system down.
With things like Covid, it has stressed the worlds systems, many projects abandoned and in chaos. Social projects are not happening, going wildly out of financial control and services are diminishing in nearly every area. Maintenance is becoming more sporadic and back-up systems are being reduced due to financial pressures. Some countries are using this reduced social cohesion and reducing budgets allocated for defence in other countries for their military expansion plans in an opportunist way, totally oblivious of the spiralling effect on their own economies, thinking that their own general domestic standards will continue without help and support. But, because of this interrelated, interdependent, and interconnected state within and outside their own economies, the chance for world systemic collapse is now greater than at any time in the past.
It’s a bit like damaging an enemy’s food crops that normally supply and export to your own people, or blowing up or damaging enemy’s electrical companies when your military and public communications systems depends on the components they produce. All that is happening is inducing a combined and irrecoverable systemic collapse for the enemies and your own economies, wanting or demanding everything, and in the end choosing to lose everything.
But, there is becoming a real danger from reliance on certain systems and the lack of resilience built into them, especially from intended and hostile action. Recently, the Nordstream detonations, as this seems almost certainly the case, suggests a probing of the infrastructures and how liable they are to disruption and the effects. The have been a number of unexplained outages in other areas such as transport and communications, especially ones that have defined routes or cables that suggest probing in those areas as to effect has also been happening. All of these could be down to chance, but the odds are that some organisation(s) or government(s) are putting together a strategic offense, with the plan of first rendering the enemies infrastructure confused or inoperable before the major push. The current unrelated probing simply as a feasibility study for this. It could be part of the plan for future military or commercial action, not always evident who the planner is.
Most systems are set and run with the premise that they are resilient and reliable based on normal conditions. 99.9% of the time conditions are normal. The systems operate smoothly and a false sense of security is achieved simply because they are not running when things go drastically wrong. If this happens, the true resilience of the systems are then evident and cascade failures occur taking down all the other ‘similarly resilient systems’ in it’s wake.
One major flaw in much of the modern legislation and control is expecting events and systems to perform perfectly, quite often demanding a set of circumstances that are not capable. Take for instance the UK’s and EU’s view on electric vehicle replacement with a deadline. UK being 2030, 8 years away and EU’s being now 2035, 11 years away. If you used most of the world’s current lithium production then yes, the UK can do it on schedule. Similarly, the EU requires the current worlds production of lithium each year, or it has to drastically reduce the number of new cars produced each year, the world needing 10 times the current lithium production to keep the same level of cars being produced. Lithium production has increased over the last 20 years, but nowhere near the levels required. Production was about 12,000 tonnes a year in 1996, 20,000 in 2005, 28,000 in 2010, 38,000 in 2016, 95,000 in 2018 and about 100,000 tonnes now, basically on 3 plateaus of production as planned new sources were expanded and came on line, but few such new planned sources are in the pipeline now, so it may plateau at that for half or all of the time legislation requires exponential increases. Economies of scale are claimed, but the lithium cost has increased while the proportion being production costs have reduced to a tiny fraction making batteries very much cheaper, now overall about 14% of that 10 years ago. At the start production was about 96% of the cost of a battery, lithium 4%, now production is about 70% of the cost of a battery, lithium about 30% and will probably not change much further, except for the lithium proportional cost to increase, making batteries more expensive as the price rises. and scarcity cuts in. Lithium in 2000 was about $15 per Kg, now being about $75 per Kg and the price will only go up as the demand increases.