Decentralize, adapt and cooperate

Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85716, USA.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 05/2010; 465(7296):292-3. DOI: 10.1038/465292a
Source: PubMed


Humankind faces a wide range of threats to its security and safety, from terrorist groups and cybercriminals to disease pandemics and climate change. All these threats share one characteristic: they are constantly changing. Decision-makers can never be sure whether the next tropical storm will be as violent as the last, or whether Taliban insurgents will use a roadside improvised explosive device or a suicide bomber for their next attack. Therefore, many of our security systems — those that are resistant to change, or that try to eliminate all risk — are doomed. Firewalls have failed to protect computers from hackers for 40 years; screening airline passengers for liquids didn't prevent Umar Abdulmutallab from taking a powdered incendiary onto a plane; and so cumbersome is the military procurement cycle that heavy armoured vehicles designed to repel improvised explosive attacks were deployed in Iraq a full three years after soldiers had identified the need.

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