Security Today – Magic or just a throwback to a 1960’s episode of Star Trek?

August 9, 2011 - 2 Comments

Stealing a quote from Arthur C. Clarke: “Any technology, sufficiently developed, is indistinguishable from magic”. Some people would certainly consider security these days as magic. Okay, so much for that reference, but what does Star Trek have to do with government and security, my typical topics. Star Trek, although mostly about exploration sure seemed to have a bit of a “Space Military” characteristic to it. Isn’t that what the Star Fleet was all about? (no offense intended, Capt. Kirk.)

Lately, I’ve been doing some research for a paper on the integration of physical and logical security (I did an initial paper that you can see here: Click on “The Necessity of Security”) and it dawned on me how very similar the technology of today is to the science fiction of the 1960’s, or in Mr. Clarke’s case, magic. So here is a synopsis of some of my observations. I’m sure there are more; please feel free to reply with what I’ve missed or your own favorites.

Can you tell me who had the first big screen TV? Well, maybe not a television, but I can tell you who had the first TelePresence unit in the universe. That would be the Starship Enterprise. Big screen, 2-way audio/video, high definition. Everyone wanted one, they were all the rage. And how about the “Replicator”, a.k.a. protein resequencer, a term that originated on the Star Trek series. It was capable of creating any food or drink requested, and in later shows, many other devices. Hmmm, now that sounds a little like the 3D printers that are getting a lot of attention these days. As a matter of fact, not only are they capable of printing rigid objects, but Dr. Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine, recently printed a real, working kidney. Now that’s what I call resequencing protein.

So what about security and technology. What was the badge on their chest, their communicator? It had voice recognition and could be used to identify and locate anyone, anywhere in the universe. It was voice controlled once tapped, and it sounds and acts a lot like my cell phone. Have cell phones come a long way, or do they have a long way to go?

The communicator appeared to be much more than just a 2-way communications device. Remember all those sliding doors on the Enterprise? I don’t ever recall seeing a doorknob, card swipe or motion detector anywhere. How did they know who was allowed into each location? Somehow they found a way to integrate physical and logical security. The communicator worn by every person was detected and the doors would open as they approached assuming they had access. Cell phones as a way to access everything, everywhere? Hmmm, now we’re getting to the next paper, so I don’t want to give too much away.

What about video and video surveillance. Apparently, a camera everywhere, although never seen, that had an inexhaustible amount of video storage, since you could find video from any location, any direction, from any time in the past, present, and sometimes future, that included all of the travel logs. And talking computers, named “Computer” if I remember correctly. Very original. Knew everything there was to know, ran all the systems, located crew members, etc. I don’t ever recall seeing the computer, but it was there, somewhere behind all the panels, knobs and lights that they would show. Some of cloud computing’s finest moments.

So much for reminiscing, let’s get back to reality. Way back when the security industry was first forming, it was considered security, not physical, logical, cyber, just security. Physical and Logical were one, and the systems interacted as one, just like they should. So where did we go awry? When did physical and logical security become separate entities? Well, who knows, who cares, it is what it is. But now, it’s my opinion that the technology is available to integrate the two and that’s what I’m all about and what got me to reminiscing in the first place. Watch for my next paper on the integration of physical and logical security, coming soon, and feel free to comment on the integration of the two, or, any technology, security or otherwise, that I’ve left out of this post. I’d love to hear your comments about how today’s security parallels science fiction of the 60’s, whether it’s Star Trek or some other show.

Until they figure out the transporter, warp speed Mr. Sulu. Let’s go home.


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  1. Oh, yeah. Good catch, Bob. I forgot all about the tablets they carried around. I wonder if they had to use iTunes to load programs, or if they were centrally managed 🙂

    What else did I miss?


  2. Yes and the little tablets look very much like the tablets of today. Wonder if they had trouble with wireless security and signal propagation.