DDoS and Buffer Overflow within the Justice System (eliciting pragmatic remedies, preferably anti-fragile solutions)
With all the hoopla regarding Roe v Wade, I feel like maybe this Supreme Court decision isn’t getting enough recognition, because it speaks significantly to systemic vulnerability.
Let’s pretend like you are a hacker.
Every modern enterprise and operation on earth monitors all computer and network activity down to the smallest detail, and this monitoring creates a significant quantity of log and event data.
I am intimately aware of this because this has been my professional domain of expertise (I managed a couple of products that are used by pretty much every critical system in the Western sphere)
The events are collected, and then they are processed through the use of various technologies designed to distill order from chaos, aspiring to provide insight and awareness to security professionals.
Therein lies an interesting paradox:
The more detailed an organization monitors events, the more likely it is that their systems will become overwhelmed by their volume in when they experience a cyber attack of significance.
In hacker parlance, this is referred to as “the smash and grab,” which is a methodology designed to overwhelm the security monitoring system for the purposes of obfuscating one or more more subtle attacks.
If any of you have read the novel Neuromancer (by William Gibson), you will recognize this as the methodology used when the Panther Moderns attacked Sense/Net.
In the novel, the Panther Moderns orchestrated an attack designed to instill chaos and terror, thus overwhelming the security systems, which provided a decent cloud of obfuscation for the actual attack vector.
The metaphor applies to the existing justice system.
Law enforcement is merely the front line, detaining suspected individuals for violating laws, and their standard is “probable cause,” not “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is why (during civil unrest) they arrest as many people as possible without much concern about whether or not they are actually guilty, merely because they seek to restore order.
Often, the laws themselves are unduly punitive, and tend to reveal the systems biases towards the protection of property over the protection of people.
Indeed, the Supreme Court itself declared that law-enforcement has no obligation to protect the safety of people.
And so during periods of economic and social instability, it stands to reason that we might expect a large increase of arrests derived from damage to property, regardless of whether or not this represents an imposition upon a person’s right to assembly.
Additionally, in many states, many laws serve as a reflection of how private enterprise has lobbied to create an ample flow of convicts into privately-held, for-profit prisons.
When I was stationed in Mississippi I volunteered to take 12 step meetings into the local jails, and I witnessed firsthand the substantially punitive charges that are levied against those who violate property crimes, and unsurprisingly a disproportionate number of the convicts were black, which means they are left with the inability to vote.
Many of these correctional institutions provide work opportunities, but for pennies on the dollar.
And although slavery is technically unconstitutional, slavery is allowed if someone is incarcerated.
As a result, the system itself is biased towards a disproportionate quantity of arrests, and if everybody was afforded “their day in court” this would bring the system to its knees, but they are not.
What happens is this:
The prosecutor informs the suspect that they are on the cusp of losing everything, and are offered a “plea bargain,“ where they agree to admitting guilt in exchange for reduced charges.
And it’s for this reason that most people don’t pursue a proper trial.
If you look at this problem systemically, it becomes clear that if everyone were to reject a plea bargain and demand a trial, it would bring the system to its knees.
And so let’s return to the recent decision on the part of the Supreme Court to expedite convictions over justice.
These people aren’t stupid. I know it’s popular to dismiss foes as idiots, but it’s not that simple.
Something tells me that this and related decisions serve as a reflection of what one or more members of the court assess as a strategic risk to the system, with the aspiration to maintain status quo.
In popular terms, they are doubling down, and likely as they anticipate widespread unrest, but can you imagine the result?
In the past I have spoken of how strength and brittleness are related; one might imagine that a stronger concrete is better, but actually it’s more brittle.
That’s what I perceived to be our current systemic risk: brittleness as a unintended byproduct of projected strength.
Framed thus, one might consider out-of-the-box solutions for the purposes of introducing load balancing, and I can think of many such solutions, but unsurprisingly the system flails at any such reform.
If the justice system were a for-profit corporation, it would be speeding towards insolvency and fiscal collapse, but the system doesn’t think that way.
This is because to date the budgets have expanded without interruption, and now we have for-profit prisons to “take on some of the load,” only exasperating the problem (because the private prisons use their profits to lobby for more laws and harsher sentences).
If it were a corporation there would be a number of tools that are proven to effect systemic improvement, but the system resists any such measures as if they were attacks.
Candidly, I don’t have any idea how I’m supposed to help this situation. I’m just one person, with a net worth of about two dollars and fourteen cents, who sleeps on the floor in a bedroom I share with my three daughters 🤷♂️
But I can still think of some remedies, and some of them are pretty tricky, here’s one example:
Within a corporation what’s merited is the introduction of key performance indicators (KPI), as well as transparency, accountability, and processes that are easy to audit.
The agreement would be that funding continues only if improvements are made to defined KPI, but the system is deeply allergic to any such accountability, and sometimes for a reason:
It would seem intuitive that all one would need to do is open these processes to public review, but there’s a danger: there are a substantial number of activists who are steadfast in their intent to destroy the system, and so ironically placing them at the table only introduces additional risk to the system (they help grind the system to a halt from a disingenuous commitment to reform).
It might seem intuitive to add an additional review layer, perhaps at the state or federal level, but there’s an additional problem: corruption.
Far too many of our elected and public sector representatives have been usurped, preempted, and corrupted by the deep pockets of private enterprise.
And so it’s more likely that we will have to face the worst case scenario before the system itself becomes receptive to anything that resembles reform, and along the way the citizens will likely lose our trust and faith in the justice system, which strikes me as a substantially large disaster, because it results in a loss of faith in the system in its entirety.
Trust can only be earned, it can never be bought, and it takes time.
And trust can be lost in a moment.
What are your ideas?