'Webtribution' Fact And Fiction
'Webtribution' is the Wall Street Journal's name for using the Internet to get revenge for the acts of others. Science fiction fans are way ahead, as usual; John Brunner originated the idea about thirty-five years ago.
Here's a typical scenario, as outlined in the article:
Every person you know—each family member, friend, co-worker and casual acquaintance—receives an anonymous email from a stranger making terrible accusations about you.
How would you feel?
Renee Holder knows: "Devastated."
Several years ago, Ms. Holder discovered that dozens of her MySpace friends had received an anonymous email calling her a tramp and a home-wrecker.
For weeks, she tried to counter the allegations, which she says came from her new boyfriend's former girlfriend. She methodically contacted each person she believed received the email and explained that she hadn't started dating her boyfriend until months after he had broken up with his ex.
But the harm was already done. Family members called her and questioned her morals. Co-workers whispered about her behind her back. Several friends cut her off completely.
"It took me far longer to repair the damage than it took that woman to create it," says Ms. Holder, a 34-year-old customer-service representative in Austin, Texas, who eventually married her boyfriend. "In a matter of minutes, she spread a rumor internationally."
(First edition cover for The Shockwave Rider)
In John Brunner's classic 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider, computer genius Nickie Haflinger happened to offend a certain Shad Fluckner, an employee of Anti-Trauma, Inc. When Haflinger woke up in the morning to find his power out, he took steps to discover the source of the problem:
A sweet recorded voice told him his phone credit was in abeyance pending judgment in the lawsuit that was apt to end with all his assets being garnisheed...
Lawsuit? What lawsuit?...
Then the answer dawned on him, and he almost laughed. Fluckner had resorted to one of the oldest tricks in the store and turned loose in the continental net a self-perpetuating tapeworm, probably headed by a denuciation group "borrowed" from a major corporation, which would shunt itself from one nexus to another every time his credit-code was punched into a keyboard. It could take days to kill a worm like that, and sometimes weeks.
Being a full-service science fiction author, Brunner not only describes the problem, but also its solution - the counter-worm:
He sent a retaliatory worm chasing Fluckner's. That should take care of the immediate problem in three to thirty minutes, depending on whether or not he beat the inevitable Monday morning circuit overload.
It was a common problem:
According to recent report, there were so many worms and counter-worms loose on the data-net now, the machines had been instructed to give them a low priority unless they related to a medical emergency.
Read more in the Wall Street Journal, while they're still accepting your click-thru.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/3/2009)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.
Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
Well, just speaking brain-to-computer...
IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
'Our ancestors... thought to make the very sand beneath their feet intelligent...' - Stanislaw Lem, 1965.
Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
'The miles of relays and photocells had given way to the spongy globe of platinum iridium about the size of the human brain.' - Isaac Asimov, 1941.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Zephyr Solar-Electric Stratospheric Drone
'The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day...'
Robot Hummingbird Hovers Biomimetically
'With a buzz... it started out on its journey.'
Harvest Water From Air With Sunlight
'The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance.'
Capitalist Big Brother Co-Opts Regular Big Brother
'It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.'
A Floating Cosmodrome
'...a single perfectly level platform, which rose so high above the water that it was not splashed by the waves.'
First Artificial Memory Formed In Animals
'Is an extra-factual memory that convincing?' Quail asked.
Maintain Your Megastructure
Megastructures have repair robots, which have repair robots, ad infinitum.
Venezuelans Teaching Your Self-Driving Car
‘She wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew...’
Robothread Robotic Worms Crawling Through Your Brain
Perfect for clot-busting in the human brain. No Raquel Welch and no lasers, though.
Vantablack BMW X6 Is Douglas Adams Approved
'It's so... black!' said Ford Prefect.
Humanoid Robot's Muscles Biomimic Ours
'It is remarkable that the long leverages of their machines are in most cases actuated by a sort of sham musculature...'
Animatronic Robotic Baby Exposed
'The birth of Machine, my robot child...'
Beijing HaiDiLao Robotic Hotpot Restaurant Now Flavored By Artificial Intelligence
'Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus.'
Plants of the Future - What Should They Be Like
'He almost choked in his astonishment. Mashed potatoes and brown gravy!'
China Deploys Robot Traffic Police
'The robot came up smooth and fast as a rocket...'
Better Than Dune Chromoplastic? This Guy Might Have Done It
'But when Old Father Sun departs, the chromoplastic reverts to transparency in the dark.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories