I'm imagining a world where super-computers are available and moderately affordable to the masses.
In 2017 alone, there have been several cyber incidents that have cost state and private sectors around the world billions of dollars. It's clear that cyber-threat is one potential cost. Jamie Bartlett, a renowned digital technology expert, recently commented on the role of artificial intelligence in a forum held at the Oxford Union. Bartlett made a case that AI would likely help cyber "attackers" more than it would the "defenders." Basically, it would be like "trying to catch raindrops." If the world has 1 billion AI capable systems, that's 1 billion more points of attack. So, I can understand his concern, but only up until a point.
The second part of my premise is to use a close historical analog to analyze potential benefits. In the early 80's the idea of a "personal computer" was virtually an oxymoron -- what on earth would you use it for? At that time, only the scientific elite had the incentives, technical aptitude and budget for a computer (don't forget at that time, they were enormous, room-sized machines). Of course, as technology fell into place, it was no longer cost-prohibitive and the masses became tech-savvy relatively quickly. This essentially created a large demand for PC's within a few decades.
On the one hand, it's true that the risk to infrastructure and data due to disruptive events in cyber-security is an adverse effect of the decentralizing (making them more accessible/affordable) computers. Yet on the other hand, if we never decentralized computers, we wouldn't be in the advanced digital age that we are in now, and the economic loss implied would be incalculable. So who's to say that the masses wouldn't find a revolutionary way to transform the world of business by embracing affordable super-computers much the way they did in the early 90's and 2000's with PC's?
- Cost: Supercomputers are not overly cost-prohibitive (think the middle class can afford them)
- Computing Power: These future super-computers I am imagining are the size of a large desktop PC, but have the computing power of a small data center
Type of Computing Power/Architecture: high parallel processing as well as single task processing
the outcome of the cost/benefit analysis alone will determine policy (no exogenous factors)
citaris paribus (assume people are equally as greedy, innovative, ect in the future as they are now)
*You may or may not agree with these assumptions. These assumptions are merely here to keep the question within a reasonable scope.
Even if super-computers were affordable and available to the masses, there is still the issue of policy. How would a rational state actor perform a cost/benefit analysis of the legality of owning a super-computer? Which tipping points would they look for? Would the tech giants resist? Would the state actor have any vested interests one way or the other?
These questions are all interrelated, you may choose to focus on any one specifically or address the larger picture as a whole.