About the Title of This Book


A Special Acknowledgment from the Author

    This book’s title calls for a special acknowledgment. First, thank you to all who put energy and passion into trying to dissuade me from using the title, and for your understanding as I decided to use it anyway.

An acknowledgment is especially owed to all who will initially be offended by it. Allow me to attempt to reduce the offense.

The book’s intent is not to get people to be more diligent in guarding their privacy. Plenty of other books capably show how to do that.

Rather, this book is about ownership of people.

The word for that is slavery.

Since the ownership of people via their digital selves is in its early stages, it’s understandable that the plantation metaphor will strike many as extreme and insensitive. If that includes you, then please take a moment to consider what things will be like for our children if we let digital organized crime continue to solidify its control over our world. In Chapter 7’s Very Short History of the World, I note that all our fine systems of governance evolved painfully from the condition long ago where the smartest leader of the toughest band of thugs effectively owned the peasantry.

With governments based upon geographic jurisdictions being totally bewildered and incapacitated by streams of bits that know nothing about national boundaries, smart leaders of tough gangs of thugs are already vying for the world’s top spot in the transition back to feudal systems of governance. One will win, and he or she or it will win by owning us, if we let them. In his book Mind Children, Hans Moravec shows how the winner, the one to rule us all, would likely be an AI rather than a person. Have we forgotten the conjectures of Orwell’s 1984 and Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron? Do we think it’s all impossible because, well, “it couldn’t happen here…”? Indeed, those prophets managed to foresee systems of slavery without the benefit that we enjoy of being able to see firsthand how they are built using botnets and malware and phishing attacks and the takeover of banks in Central America.

Not only can it happen, it’s inevitable if we continue to rely upon remedies that do not work. Those non-remedies include information security technology and laws of governments based upon geographic jurisdictions.

Still offended? I’m sorry. And I don’t mean I’m sorry as in “Sorry about that.” I am truly sorry if you are still offended, which I realize is likely. You may feel the use of the plantation metaphor trivializes the suffering of the ancestors of our African American friends, but if you’ll wait a while you’ll see that the suffering to come isn’t the least bit trivial.

Unless we change the way we do things, that is.


— Wes Kussmaul