Worlds & Time

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Spam 101

I was just watching Bender's Big Score and something obvious occurred to me.

Here's a prediction about my (probable as per actuarial tables) lifetime. Someday, we're going to have to teach kids, probably in fifth or sixth grade, how to avoid getting suckered into phishing and infected with email based viruses.

Considering the amount of personal data that will be available electronically to the average sixth grader, they're going to have to be able to protect themselves. And if there's one thing going to a public school has taught me it's that there are a large numbers of people that need to be taught the basics, be it sex or defense against protection.

So, for the good of society, we're going to have give those classes in public schools, basically giving people anti-Turing test lessons to teach them how to avoid getting suckered.

The spammers will get better, of course, as will the swindlers and the scammers but perhaps once the lessons are common enough there will be enough people out there that can recognize a scam getting played on them that spamming, phishing, and scamming won't be nearly as profitable as it is now.

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2 Comments:

  • I totally agree. And sometimes I wonder if this sort of thing isn't what a lot of today's kids must have in mind when they grumble about the curriculum hasn't got a thing to do with their real lives. Phishing's just the tip of the iceberg, although it's valuable information. I know I graduated high school not having been taught how to register to vote, do my taxes, or create a personal budget.

    It all kind of makes me scratch my head about. The things our education system teaches are a mishmash of information priorities carried over from the last couple centuries worth of political squabbling. The cumulative Mrs. Helen "Won't Somebody PLEEZ Think Of The Children!" Lovejoys of the world are very suspicious of change. And apparently there's lots of people who would much rather argue about whether to include creationism in science class than whether to include phishing and taxes in, say civics class.

    Ach, sorry for the negativity. Staying up late poking around the internet affords many opportunities for getting annoyed at things!

    By Blogger Fiat Lex, at 2:43 AM  

  • No, you're absolutely right about that.

    I think that learning to do taxes or create a personal budget would have been extremely helpful. Personally, I didn't even have a civics class, although my American history classes did give me an overview of the structure of government.

    It's just funny that my bias toward things futuristic kept me from realizing that there's important things already being skipped that we should be teaching in schools.

    I will say though, knowing how to register to vote seems less important to me in this day and age. Most of the population of the United States goes to college or church, and both groups were targeted for voter registration heavily. You'd really have to consciously avoid registering in order to remain so.

    Further, in the last election, Barack Obama came to my house in a very rural, dirt road paved section of New Mexico and asked if everyone in the household 1. was Registered and 2. if anyone wanted an absentee ballot.

    By Blogger Spherical Time, at 12:00 PM  

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