The end of 2017 has seen some pretty ridiculous headlines about the tech industry. 2018 will be the year the cool tech guy in the hoodie is finally revealed to be the not so cool tech guy who’s “hacking” your attention to get more money from advertisers. It’s going to be the year that “Move Fast and Break Things” turns into “Move Slow and Check For Bugs”.
This week saw the release of the “bug” called Spectre. Spectre means that speculative execution is a major vector for attacks on all machines. Speculative execution is a technique that’s the basis for a lot of the speed increases in modern computing. Here’s the rub, speculative execution is done at the hardware level. This means that even if you patch the kernel of the operating system you’re not truly fixing it until they release new processors. It’s not even a bug, it’s a logical error in the design of every processor made after 1995.
Now let’s talk about Bitcoin, your second favorite thing your relatives ask about over Thanksgiving dinner. A few days ago Kodak released a cryptocurrency called KodakCoin. It’s supposed to help right’s holders get paid for their photos.Why do they need the blockchain for this? To hash the names of owners of pictures? EXIF metadata contains copyright information. Every image file has EXIF data in it already. Finally, why is it not called KodaCoin?
This will be the year people remember what Bitcoin was designed to do. It’s original incarnation was a way to wrest control of currency away from governments and banks. Bitcoin isn’t an investment vehicle, it’s supposed to be a currency. There’s a positive aspect of the Bitcoin bubble deflating. We can start looking at the interesting technology that underlies Bitcoin. Not just the amount of money someone accidentally made by making a joke currency.
I hope the combination of Bitcoin hype, Snap’s IPO failing, and realizing all Computer Scientists have been wrong for 20 years will make for a saner 2018.