2021-08-26 | Possible Future

A Possible Future: No General Purpose Computing

General Purpose Computing Classified as a Weapon, License Required

A number of high-profile hacking incidents have led to an increasing demand from politicians and the media for a computer lockdown.

During the late twenties, Apple was first in requiring a certified Apple Developer account in order to run XCode or any other development tool on MacOS. Windows followed suit in the thirties with their Trusted Cloud Developer Initiative. Finally, the purchase of "PC" class devices (already in decline for two decades), now requires you to present government ID and, starting in 2045, you must present a Certified Programmer's License only available to large companies and wealthy individuals. Computer Science degrees had been phasing out actual programming classes for a long time, instead emphasizing courses on economic theory and data mining.

While there is a very small black market in unrestricted legacy devices, such devices cannot run modern code and cannot connect to the internet and are therefore of limited interest to the public. Overall, citizens welcome the new measures because it protects them from hackers and also prevents child abuse. Consequently, the media has not reported on any such crimes ever since.

These measures complete a long journey towards computer safety. Storing your own data outside of the cloud has been subject to special restrictions since the 2030s. "Computer hacking" was classified as a capital offense in the United States, China, and Singapore in 2034. The Commercial Software Integrity Act of 2029 has made it a criminal offense for users worldwide to circumvent any kind of restriction put in place by the publisher of a program.

Doesn't sound that unlikely anymore, does it?