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Hackers, Griefers, and Futurists

Apropos of griefing Glass, my most recent piece for Co.Exist is now up: "To [Forecast] The Future Of Technology, Figure Out How People Will Use It Illegally". (The actual title uses "predict" not "forecast," of course.) It's a quick look at stuff I've talked about before, why illicit and unexpected uses of new systems give a better vision of the future than do such systems' intended purposes.

New technologies don’t exist in a vacuum: they interact with both technological and non-technological systems as well as a variety of human wants and needs. This allows for the emergence of surprising combinations of goals and uses, many of which may be completely outside of the expectations of the designers. In short, as the patron saint of futurism William Gibson once said, “the street finds its own uses for things.”

As a futurist, I try to think beyond the designers notes when it comes to the impacts of emerging technologies. I find that it’s often useful to imagine the unintended, seedy, improper, or illicit uses of new tools and systems.

Not a new argument from me, but a concise articulation of it.

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