John Schwartz of the New York Times has an interesting piece today on the rise in complexity of networked applications and the risks that complexity poses. Headlined Who Needs Hackers?, the piece makes the point that the biggest threat to these systems isn’t malicious users, but complexity itself. Understanding how these giant interconnected systems work (or not) is a great challenge for the community.
“We have gone from fairly simple computing architectures to massively distributed, massively interconnected and interdependent networks,” [Andreas M. Antonopoulos, a founding partner at Nemertes Research] said, adding that as a result, flaws have become increasingly hard to predict or spot. Simpler systems could be understood and their behavior characterized, he said, but greater complexity brings unintended consequences.
“On the scale we do it, it’s more like forecasting weather,” he said.