Thunder Sticks and Smartphones

Hackers don’t exploit our computers; they exploit our ignorance. Most of us lack even a basic idea of how our digital gadgets work. They’re magic. And magical thinking makes us vulnerable to threats. Arthur C. Clarke observed, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But this only holds true for those who don’t know how a technology works. Our ignorance makes it appear supernatural. A column in this month’s Scientific American argues that Apple, Amazon, Fitbit, and other Silicon Valley “wizards” deliberately make their consumer products appear magical to naïve users. “The awe component is important,” writes David Pogue. “It's the difference between magic


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