Are the Internet and cloud computing expressions of liberty and emancipation? Or is Big Brother there in the shadows, fooling everybody and still pulling the strings? Cloud computing like other major initiatives in the world attracts its fair share of conspiracy theories and some eminent cloud conspiracy theorists as well. Yet there indeed are forces at work that could reshape cyberspace and the cloud in general. Here are a few of the theories from the potty to the more plausible (but make your own mind up on which is which).
One World Government Strikes Again (Maybe)
Is all your data being sucked up into the cloud to be ultimately controlled by the obscure forces of the New World Order? This conspiracy theory suggests that one elitist group is working to achieve supreme power over the whole world. After taking control of international finance, pharmaceuticals and food production (so the theory goes), the Internet and the cloud will be among the next targets. But then to paraphrase Henry Ford, “whether you think you’re controlled or you’re not, you’re probably right”.
A Gigantic Governmental Carving Up of Cyberspace
In his novel ‘1984’, George Orwell divided the world into three parts: Oceania, Eastasia and Eurasia. As things stand today, cyberspace is divided into five parts given the allocation of IP addresses by five organizations representing five regions of the world. However, certain countries have been arguing for a system in which the ITU (International Telecommunication Union, part of the United Nations) takes over this administration. If such a thing should happen, we might be closer to the One World Government theory than the Orwellian superpowers model.
Cloud Conspiracy à la Rollerball
The movie ‘Rollerball’ predicted a world in which there were no more national governments, because they had all gone bankrupt. Instead, a handful of ultra-powerful corporations controlled society and distracted the population by staging brutal sporting (Rollerball) events. In our world, there are also powerful privately-held entities that exert control over the cloud through their technology, their infrastructures and their content (yes, Google, Amazon and Facebook, I’m looking at you). Let’s hope they don’t get any funny ideas about motorized gladiator-style combats.
We owe it to ourselves to examine every eventuality. As Sherlock Holmes said, “…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. However, the idea of aliens invading us by propagating the cloud and sneaking down from it to take over our bank accounts, wedding photos and lawnmowers (Internet of Things, right?) does seem just a touch far-fetched. How about we keep it in reserve, just in case all the other theories turn out to be non-starters?
The origins of the Internet can be traced back to a few people trying to figure out a way to make a resilient computer network that could survive partial damage. The origin of the cloud is not as clear. Nobody actually knows who really started it – or what really started it. Look, there’s software out there now that can modify and improve itself without any human intervention! What if the cloud was actually machine-generated and human beings were fated to be overtaken by the very devices they had invented? Are you all gripping your coffee-mugs a little tighter now?
The Normal Theory
In this theory, people keep on being people and pushing ahead with new ideas to get more done in less time and at lower cost. And with scalability and resilience built in. Regulations and competition pull things one way and another, but the overall direction is forwards. Being slightly lazy, the only name they can think of for their latest brainwave for computing is ‘the cloud’. This theory is perhaps less entertaining than some of the others above, but may do rather better in terms of plausibility. So with these different possibilities, which one gets your vote?