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Weekend Reads 030218:

It’s been said that software is “eating the world.” More and more, critical systems that were once controlled mechanically, or by people, are coming to depend on code. This was perhaps never clearer than in the summer of 2015, when on a single day, United Airlines grounded its fleet because of a problem with its departure-management system; trading was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange after an upgrade; the front page of The Wall Street Journal’s website crashed; and Seattle’s 911 system went down again, this time because a different router failed. The simultaneous failure of so many software systems smelled at first of a coordinated cyberattack. Almost more frightening was the realization, late in the day, that it was just a coincidence. —James Somers @The Atlantic

The charges, and the confirmation that the Russians had used social media in an attempt to influence the 2016 election, is likely to fuel the call for government regulation of Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets. When tweets and posts can hurt democracy, America should do something, right? Wrong. —Paul Levinson @Connecting

As we start to connect durable goods such as cars, medical devices, and electricity meters to the Internet, there will be at least three big changes. First, security will be more about safety than privacy. Certification will no longer mean testing a car once before selling it for 10 years; safety will mean monthly software updates, and security will be an integral part of it. Second, we will have to reorganize government functions such as safety regulators, standards bodies, testing labs, and law enforcement. —Ross Anderson @The ACM

Beyond its role as a protocol for managing and transferring money, the Bitcoin protocol creates a complex system of economic incentives that govern its inner workings. These incentives strongly impact the protocol’s capabilities and security guarantees, and the path of its future development. This article explores these economic undercurrents, their strengths and flaws, and how they influence the protocol. —Yonatan Sompolinsky, Aviv Zohar @ACM

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