Your double-edged cell phone

By » Thu, March 1 2012
1175966858 bdd8167f55 450x299 Your double edged cell phone

"Deploy!" (img by Devon D'Ewart)

Every tool can be used for lots of different purposes. Shovels are for digging and throwing at your enemies, screwdrivers are for stabbing people, screwing Apple, and fixing stuff.

That’s pretty easy to understand, for physical tools that we’re familiar with the workings of. But what about the computers most of us carry around in our pockets all day long? According to Wired, DARPA’s a little nervous that regular people have tools that used to be exclusive to the government.

Commercial consumer electronics has created vulnerabilities by enabling sensors, computing, imaging, and communications capabilities that as recently as 15 years ago, were the exclusive domain of military systems,” Darpa deputy director Kaigham “Ken” Gabriel tells the House Armed Services Committee’s panel on emerging threats. “These capabilities now are in the hands of hundreds of millions of people around the world and in use every day.”

Instant realtime communication and coordination is only part of the picture. Your phone probably has GPS, a camera, video capability, and internet access that lets you look up all kinds of information on the go.

But those are just the things you think smartphones are for. There’s actually a hell of a lot more you can do with them as soon as you remember that smartphones are general purpose computing devices strapped to lots of communication hardware.

Think about the possibilities: you could write a piece of software for your phone that turns it into a peer to peer encrypted communications device completely free of a cell carrier. There are already apps out there that allow anonymization. The computer in your pocket could serve as a platform for an encryption-based currency free of government control.

Two phones together can be a decent surveillance camera. You can store images and notations about edible plants, floor plans, etc. As long as you can keep your phone (and your neighbors’ phones) charged, you could store lots of information on a distributed network and all have access regardless of the state of your phone carrier, local library, etc.

And I’m just brainstorming, here, then googling ideas afterward… Guess what? People are working on most of this stuff right now. Think about the possibilities, learn to code, and don’t be afraid to mess around with stuff. Scared of breaking your phone? Virtualize Android on your computer and invent stuff there, then port it over later.

Most importantly, remember that tools can be used for more than their stated, marketed purpose. Think different. Jailbreak your iPhone. And your brain.

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