who knows what the future may bring? well lots of people seem to think they do, and bruce schneier even goes so far as to predict what security will look like 10 years from now. much like long term weather forecasts, he is almost certainly wrong - at least i hope he is, because the picture he paints is distinctly dystopian.
no, that's not just an interpretation - a future where we the users are viewed as parasites living off the life-blood of corporations is not a happy shiny place to live. i can certainly see where he's coming from, though, as the beginnings of that are already visible with such schools of thought as the one that refers to users as product (i.e. we aren't facebook's customers, we're they're product). we are being increasingly objectified and devalued by corporate interests. the entertainment industry (and let's not forget their associated lobby, as the group is now as much a political force as they are a corporate one) is certainly leading the anti-consumer charge in the quest to justify their sense of corporate entitlement - but unlike bruce (who is himself part of the corporate machine) i have faith that society will eventually tip the scales back towards our favour.
we've already seen a time when businesses had all the power and the little guy was at their mercy. it happened during the industrial revolution. we fought back. we won. we outnumber them and they can't exist without us (while human history proves we can exist without them). to call us, rather than blood-sucking corporations, the parasites is to ignore nature in favour of business. that kind of backwards world view was not then and is not now a natural one and nature is something you cannot beat.
but beyond my faith in humanity, i also think schneier is wrong because he's misunderstanding the signs he's reading. for example, referring to iphones as special purpose computers instead of general purpose ones and citing them as evidence of the demise of the general purpose computer demonstrates that bruce hasn't the foggiest notion of what the distinction between a special purpose and general purpose computer really is. what we may well be witnessing is the end of the personal computer in favour of the mobile computing device, but that is an entirely different matter with entirely different repercussions. for one thing, a world without general purpose computers is a world without the world wide web. it is a world without iphone apps, a world without game consoles, a world without software. the iphone may exist in apple's walled garden, but i can (and do) get the same limitations on my PC using application whitelisting. that doesn't turn my PC into a special purpose computer any more than it does the iphone - it just makes it locked down.
without the elimination of general purpose computing you cannot eliminate user choice. you cannot eliminate the emergence of technologies that empower us to throw off the yolk of corporate interests. the linuxes and firefoxes of the world will continue into the future, and the more anti-consumer that corporations become, the more consumers will choose those alternatives. we are not and never will be the parasites in the relationship with business. we are not facebook's product, we are their patrons. the advertisers are not their customers, they're more like the hotdog vendors at a stadium; they only make money so long as we show up and buy something and eventually we will stop showing up at the facebook stadium (just as we stopped showing up to friendster and myspace) and they'll have to chase us to our new favourite spot like the parasites they are.