Slow Down & Don’t Confiscate My Graphical User Interface

Exploratory bot. Photo by Takuya Oikawa.
Exploratory bot. Photo by Takuya Oikawa.

Here’s a fun headline from The Register: “’Devastating’ bug pops secure doors at airports, hospitals”. I’m sure we’ve all read similar reports before! Enjoy this snippet of the story, for flavor…

“Criminals could waltz into secure zones in airports and government facilities by hacking and jamming open doors from remote computers over the Internet, DVLabs researcher Ricky Lawshae says. […] Lawshae says the attacks, which can open every door in a building, are possible because of a command injection vulnerability in a LED blinking lights service.”

Wait, what? Why is an “LED blinking lights service” hackable? Allow me to note, very unoriginally, that the Internet of Things is dumb. Not every tool or appliance needs to have wifi access jammed into its design specs. The much-mocked “smart juice” startup is the pinnacle of this awful trend.

can u not chloe

I have similar feelings about the bot services craze. People seem to be jumping on this technology without stopping to ponder how it might turn out. When your next venture capital round depends on glossing over potential problems, it’s easy to assume that the impact of your harebrained scheme will be beneficial.

“Conversational commerce” isn’t quite as problematic as the Internet of Things, because it doesn’t pose a security threat (at least not off the top of my head). But people are still building things without considering whether their chosen medium fits the stated purpose of the tool. The last thing I want from an app is a replica of the phone call, this time rendered in text.

I demand clickable buttons! Give me a GUI or give me death! On the other hand, maybe I’m a dirty Luddite. Perhaps I should resign myself to relearning how to interact with computers every couple of years. I’m not against experimentation — what futurist could be? — but my mood is decidedly curmudgeonly tonight. Also, fuck Snapchat.

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