Skip to main content
It's Trust that Makes the World Go Round

Bill Gates says it's time to learn to trust your computer.

Well, I love my computer, if you can call it love, but I don't trust it and I don't think I ever will.

This is because however advanced and impressive the technology, computers, in my experience, remain as fallible as ever. Like people, they have a habit of letting you down when you need them most.

If I appear mildly cynical, it's because all the technology in the world has rather let me down today and I've just missed my flight home from Dubai.

And if anyone happens to know where my e-mails are going, let me know, because I certainly don't.

Reliability and trust are, however, two very different ideals for those of us sitting with PCs in front of us. But most systems are reliable most of the time and life is no longer the unhappy lottery it once was with Windows 3.1 and its frequent "Unexpected Applications Errors".

Granted, then, that PCs work most of the time. Trust is, however, a different matter. Trusted computing does, of course, imply security or, at least, something resembling environmental integrity. It's something Microsoft has never been particularly good at in the past but plans to excel at in the future.

Sitting out here in the Middle East, trusted computing needs to be at the top of everyone's agenda, a message I've been giving governments and business in the region.

If you're going to have e-commerce and e-government, then these have to be built upon an infrastructure of trust, rather than simply the promise of better-than-average connectivity, "security first" being the operative sentiment.

The elusive problem lies in achieving end-to-end trust within an IT infrastructure, regardless of whether your business happens to sit in Riyadh or Reading.

So Microsoft can discover "trusted computing" in much the same way as it discovered networking and then, a little later, the Internet, but it's debatable whether such an overdue sense of evangelism will really do much more than encourage people to think more clearly about the risks associated with using Windows.

Over time, Microsoft products will present a much harder nut to crack, but it's going to take another three to five years before what's already out in the market and, in particular, the less developed world, is going to be replaced by more secure iterations of Windows XP and beyond.

So while the message from Mr Gates appears sensible, we all need to see evidence that skyrocketing cybercrime is on the decline and that business is putting a security policy first, rather than last, on its list of priorities.

Many of us are still far from feeling trust in Microsoft, but let's give the company 12 months to start proving that it can make a difference, or whether this is simply another marketing daydream.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…

An Ockham of Gatwick

The 13th century theologian and philosopher, William of Ockham, who once lived in his small Surrey village, not so very far from what is today, the wide concrete expanse of Gatwick airport is a frequently referenced source of intellectual reason. His contribution to modern culture was Ockham’s Razor, which cautions us when problem solving, that “The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct;” sound advice which constantly proves to be true.

A week further-on since Britain’s second busiest airport was bought to a complete standstill by two or perhaps two hundred different drone sightings, it is perhaps time to revisit William of Ockham’s maxim, rather than be led astray by an increasingly bizarre narrative, one which has led Surrey police up several blind alleys with little or nothing in the way of measurable results.

 Exploring the possibilities with a little help in reasoning from our medieval friar, we appear to have a choice of two different account…