When Camp walked in and sat down at our usual corner, he caught me thumbing my iPhone. Just like a teenager. ‘Did you know that there are 5 billion smartphones in the world and more than half of them subscribe to Facebook, 2.8 billion users. And growing,’ he said.
‘No wonder there is such a bewildering number of interests vying for our business, attention and shopping habits,’ I said, putting my phone away. ‘This means that everybody from a toddler on up has a smart device and half of them are on social media. Everybody has a soapbox and is a film star. Does this make for a better world or is it the curse of our modern society, akin to the opium addiction of the 19th century?’
‘It all came about with innovation and the desire to be connected and have information at our fingertips. Nothing wrong with that. But now it’s gone sideways. Smart gadgets have now replaced our ability to read and learn, interact and solve problems.’
We cannot seem to function without Alexa or Siri,’ Camp said.
‘These are staggering numbers but I’m not surprised. More and more this world of ours is a numbers game. How many people can this planet sustain and how much energy do we consume to how much food and water is needed to how many cars do we drive?’ I asked an audience of one.
Camp shrugged. ‘And now we’re all potential victims of cyberattacks. Cybercrime is getting worse as more devices are connected. Trillions of dollars are at stake. I have read of some narrowly avoided fiascos like the Sony Pictures attack in Hollywood in 2014 or Equifax in 2017, when the details of 147m people were stolen. A couple of months ago cyber-criminals shut down the pipeline supplying almost half the oil to America’s east coast for five days. They demanded a $4.3 million ransom to get the oil flowing again. Days later, a similar cyber assault crippled most hospitals in Ireland. And on the eve of the 4th July weekend, a ransomware attack by REvil, a Russian hacking group, hit thousands of businesses. They used software by Kaseya, a Miami-based firm. The attackers demanded a $70 million ransom in Bitcoin for a decryptor key. And on it goes. These days criminals prefer laptops to balaclavas and guns.’
We concentrated on our beers for a beat.
‘I’m always surprised when I check my bank account on line that my money is still there. I have this fear that one day it will just say zero and then nobody picks up the phone.’
‘You could take all your money out of the bank and put it in a shoebox and hide it in your wood shed,’ Camp said.
‘And every time I need to pay for something I’d have to go to the shed but I couldn’t buy airline tickets, order from Amazon or pay B.C. Hydro in cash. In fact, cash is frowned upon at most places since the pandemic. Suddenly everybody figured out that money is the dirtiest thing we handle every day.’
‘Here is another number for you,’ Camp said. ‘99.2 percent of all US covid-19 deaths in June were not vaccinated, Dr. Fauci said last Sunday.’
‘No surprise there, I said. ‘And how many have been vaccinated and how many are not, for one reason or another, seems to be the latest numbers game.’
When Vicky brought our second round, I asked her how much cash she handled these days.
‘Cash? That’s for dope dealers, pan handlers and it used to be for servers but these days it’s all electronic money. Much harder to sneak by the tax man.’
‘I told you, it’s all a numbers game these days,’ Camp said.
We paid up with our plastic cards.