Critical Engineering Manifesto
- -Engineering is a transformative and influential language that shapes our communications, mobility and thought.
- Critical Engineers are people who are aware of engineering’s influence and are therefore suspicious of technologies that push dependency or rich user experience and seek to deconstruct and expose their inner workings
Critical Engineers recognize that dependency on a piece of engineering in turn engineers its users. They expose these spaces between production and consumption of technology to showcase their imbalances and deceptions
- Critical Engineers consider the term “machine” to encompass devices, bodies, agents, forces and networks. They understand that written code can regulate behavior between people and machines, and seek to use this to reconstruct user-constraints and social action
- Critical Engineers look for historical examples of Critical Engineering withing the realms of art, architecture, activism, philosophy and invention and utilize concepts, strategies and goals from those works
Exploiting a system is the most desirable form of exposure
Critical Engineers examine systems to find how a new technology could change the way we think or interact in potentially undesirable ways. They then look for ways to exploit the technology so it can expose its own flaws
- Sovereign society – Hierarchy, with one central individual or group holding the most power, with lesser powers branching off from the center. Enforcement of control usually relied on violence or coercion
- Disciplinary society – Bureaucracy, decentralized control with several individuals or groups with equal power and smaller powers spreading off of each node. Control enforced by bureaucratic guidelines and wage control
- Control society – Protocol, distributed power with set rules determines how power flows. Control exercised by limiting the permissions and access of a user within the network
How the internet works:
TCP/IP – Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol Suite, digital rules for transmitting lots of octets (8 bits) between programs or servers on a computer or the World Wide Web.
TCP/IP treats each computer as equal in a network, enabling any computer to communicate with any other without hierarchy
DNS – Domain Name System, a decentralized, hierarchical system for associating a plain-text web address (www.hackpad.com) with an IP address, which is a set of 4 numbers that the computer can actually recognize as where it needs to connect. (Try typing 192.168.1.1 into your browser, it is the default address for many types of router) The addresses are found by starting at a root server, which directs the request down the line to a specific domain, ie “.org”, this repeats until all parts of the address are located (.org -> rhizome -> www.)
Since DNS is a decentralized hierarchy, parts of it can be turned on or off to deny or allow access to certain blocks of IP addresses, making servers and webpages unreachable even if there are no other connection issues.
HTML/HTTP – Hyper Text Markup Language, and Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. On the server of a webpage, HTTP encapsulates the individual HTML objects and follows the TCP to deliver the information to the computer that requested the page
Disciplinary society tied power to the location of the machinery through factories, plants and offices. The control society will distribute the power across the network, but control comes from the strict requirement to follow the protocols within the network. If two nodes wish to communicate, its not an issue of who as more or less influence, its a matter of if they are speaking the same language. However, the Internets reliance on DNS forms a weak point in its distributive model, allowing a government or similarly powered body to deny access to whatever web domains they want, making the equality provided by TCP/IP meaningless
- Have you stopped using any technology after an exploit showed you its ugly side? Or have you simply changed the way you use that technology?
Are there any Futurist or Science Fiction technologies you would really like to see realized? Are there any that would creep you out, scare you, or challenge your moral beliefs? Are there any that are both?(IE – cryogenics, genetic manipulation, androids, smart devices, or anything you’ve seen or can think of?)
- Is it unusual to consider and try to act upon the potential negative aspects of a technology that hasn’t been fully realized yet?
- Do members of your family work in an office or factory? Do you see yourself working in that same environment after college? Have you seen a shift in friends/family/yourself towards working outside of traditional work spaces on personal computers? Is that something you want going forward in life?
How would you react to your government shutting down internet access and even text messaging services in order to exert control?
Do you have an opinion on “The internet of things”? If so, does the concept of DNS servers blocking access to entire domains of addresses change that opinion? Should we base a system of embedded smart devices and automation on protocols that are subject to hierarchy?