The Emperor's new clothes.08/09/2007 Written by tripwire
Ignorance, arrogance and greed, together, shape the world.
As Andersen’s fairy tale clearly states, power, money and the fear of loosing them make people at any level behave in stupid, blind, immoral, and dangerous ways.
Only those who have nothing to gain from not telling the truth, from not misbehaving, will do it.
In our case, an Australian 16 yo boy was able to crack the new Government-made 89 million dollars worth anti-porn family filter, in 30 minutes. His technique ensures the software’s toolbar icon is not deleted, leaving parents under the impression the filter is still working.
Then he called the press and showed them how easy it was to crack it. The Emperor is naked, he said.
Of course, as the news spread, Politicians declared that “a computer with a filter is infinitely safer than one without”, Security Experts said that they were looking into the vulnerability, Psychologists whined that “old-style parental control is more necessary than ever” and so on.
Everyone played its role in the comedy, as required by his or her character, so that the status quo is preserved, and those in the right position, even in presence of such an incredible failure, can reap advantages as usual.
What should be learned from this story, instead?
That hundreds of experts, engineers, coders, project managers, quality controllers, beta testers, paid 89 million US dollars, formally following all the software development lifecycle standards, certificated from the most prominent sources, with masters and degrees and shiny medals on their chests, delivered a crappy, useless, vulnerable product.
And that this happened not by mistake, but because this is exactly what Our Wonderful System produces by design, when everything works well.
The bug in the system is the 16yo boy, not the poor design, implementation and testing of the filter.
Nor can be held responsible those politicians that wanted the filter in order to show they were truly and seriously involved in fighting porn and saving our poor children’s innocence.
Now a little mental experiment: just imagine for a second that you were part of the design /coding /testing team in charge to deliver the filter.
What would YOU have done?
Given enough greenies, the Emperor’s new clothes look so beautiful, after all.