Astral Musings

The Cost of Freedom and Technology Proliferation
(fredness), September 13, 2001


The World Trade Center Disaster is testing our notion of how to make powerful technology accessible to individuals.

This tragedy is surreal. That there are now (last decade or so) phones that passengers on the fatal flights used to call loved ones is amazing. How we regard the airliners that routinely fly above us has changed forever now that we have seen how effective they can be as potential flying bombs. That Manhatten's landscape is scarred forever is a permanent reminder that the world as we thought we knew it is gone. That this change all happened within a few hours means that September 11, 2001 will live in infamy.

I think the reason that this tragedy happened is mostly due to how important Americans consider freedom and personal rights to be. It is conceivable that those responsible for the tragedy earlier this week were not terrorists but simply fanatics. If so then there is no external party to seek out and hold responsible, only ourselves. We must question do we allow individuals easy access to powerful technology or do we surrender certain civil rights to screen individuals and possibly compromise our nations constitution.

Wherever power is concentrated, there will be opportunities for it to be used toward undesirable ends.

In the spirit of Astral Musings, here are some wild, and extemporaneous thoughts on how the future will unfold ...

Want to see the cockpit of a major airliner while in flight? Then you need to be part of the flight crew because there is no door between the passenger cabin and the cockpit anymore.

Cities will start to establish air defenses beyond just air survelence. Expect your police department and port authority to start mounting ground to air missles on their vehicles and the state police helicopter may now be packing more than a radio.

Once airborne expect military aircraft to shadow and then check that crew are still in control of major commercial airliner flights.

Major flight crews will increase staff by at least one per flight, adding a security sergent packing live ammo.

No more convenient tellerless checkins.

The planning and construction of ostentatious skyscrapers and municipal facilities now must include air space warning systems and active defence capability (can you say howatzer?).

All current and planned expansion of commercial airports with capacity to land and takeoff large aircraft will be required to have 24x7 military escort fighter aircraft capability on site.

You will only be able to board commercial aircraft if you either work for the FBI or have passed an FBI background check recently.

No carry on luggage

Special discount flights in which all passengers agree to be handcuffed to their seats for the duration of the flight.

People will be so fed up with long waits and invasive security checks at airports that the automotive industry will finally roll out the personal flying car. Ultimately making travel by airline so very 20th century.

- The Astral Muser