Thursday, June 10, 2010

Brittle Security

This is a few days old but worth commenting on. A few days back a large federal office building was evacuated when a package of decorative eggs was suspected to be an explosive device.

The incident, while a limited inconvenience, is a glaring example of what I regard as the "brittle" nature of how security is currently handled in the U.S. By brittle I mean that the systems and incentives put into place to "guard" infrastructure are set to "trip" at a very low level. This is justified by the legal pressures of potential lawsuits, the trap of regarding more guards, guns and restrictions and a general attitude that bad things should never be allowed to happen anywhere at anytime, as if the Savior State could ever somehow implement that. By always defaulting to an extreme response, you actually build up a complacency that could pave the way for true tragedies down the road (the Boy Who Cried Wolf syndrome).

The three factors cited above feed ravenously on the negative mood that the socionomics model tells us is consuming much of the world. Expect more of this as angry individuals and groups can easily leverage this low-threshold of extreme response by sending their own "suspicious" packages, constantly disrupting operations at large facilities - all without the hassle of real explosives or other agents.

In the end, it will feed another aspect of negative mood and that is the decentratilization of many functions of governance. Instead of a single office building or office park with thousands of employees confined in an easily disrupted central location, we will see a diffusion of authority (de facto at first, de jure later), a radically down-sized and dispersed employee base and continued attempts by angry groups to disrupt what remains of large and obvious symbols of central control.

1 comment:

David said...

One of the salutary effects of this massive correction is to gut the economies-of-scale argument in favor of "Big."

Big = sclerotic in almost every case I can conceive.