During a recent visit to a department store I encountered two fairly ordinary household items that astonished me: a lamp and a coffee mug. The lamp was "mp3" and the mug was "usb", and at first I thought this was an amusing coincidence of acronyms. Even more amusing was the fact that the lamp really was MP3 capable because it had built in speakers and an iPod cradle, and the coffee mug had a USB connector for drawing power from a computer to keep the mug warm. I imagined sets of fine china with Bluetooth connectors, Tupperware with memory cards, and the whole lot of them engaging in a cacophony of protocols, spam messages, and intrusions into the cell phones and hearing aids of dinner guests. Is this a nightmare or a glimpse of the future?
Perhaps answers lie in one or more of the papers in the forward-looking research conferences announced in this issue of Cipher. Or perhaps clues to amelioration lie in the book "Endpoint Security" reviewed by Richard Austin. What is clear is that our path leads to a world so intricately connected with communications and processing that the concept of a tree falling in the forest without observation may become unthinkable --- someone will eventually see it on YouTube or Google Earth.