Delving deeper into the thoughtful book Liars and Outliers” by Bruce Schneier, this time we move onto the Natural History of Security where Schneier takes us through the course of history, informing us about the origins of security and how its development has affected modern day’s society.

Beginning the chapter he begins with “Security is what you need when you don’t have any trust”. Modern day security has diversified into myriad of options (both physical and digital) and exploring the extent of each of these individual security systems definitely marks how far humans have developed since 300,000 years ago. Some questions that I thought of: How much is too much security? Can we have trust with minimal security?

However, all of us know that there will be Liars and Outliers out there.

Schneier also describes how evolution is an arbitrary process. In the early stages and now, preys and predators have also been playing this one-up game where whoever can outsmart the other will win; randomly discovering new ways to kill or escape. The the Red Queen Effect, came after Lewis Carroll‘s race in Through the Looking-Glass” : “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”. This also relates to Charles Darwin‘s quote “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”. As some organisms evolve by responding to stimuli, the organism who responds the quickest will be the fittest to survive, thus inducing a faster response in other competing organisms. This process is called the Red Queen Effect which allows evolution to take place. I find this very intriguing and have noticed how it has become a natural behaviour to humans – which has perhaps come with evolution.

Placing it in our perspective, humans are able to respond much quicker than animals due to our ability to transmit skills and ideas. This has drastically made us evolve increasingly quicker than other organisms, but has also made us the most dangerous and yet safe. Humans use intelligence to deal with the threats from other intelligent individuals but also use it to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

“Out ancestors grew smarter because those around them grew smarter, and the only way to keep up was to become even smarter”. And that my friends is the Red Queen Effect in action.

Here are links to two diagrams from the book explaining the effect:

Red Queen Effect in Action

Red Queen Effect Feedback Loop

In conclusion, I have summarised all the ideas into this line: An Increase in intelligence leads to an increase in security.


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