Re: Security and Bad Tech (was Re: LIST: the Gooies)

Gina Miller (
Tue, 20 Apr 1999 00:28:02 PDT

These are valid concern's most likely everyone on this list has contemplated them at one time or another. Here's the thing, there are legislative groups such as a science court called the "Scientific Adversary Prodecure". Also a more direct "Task force of the Presidential Advisory Group on Anticcipated Advances in Science and Technology".You're right,these are most likely not relevant to the mainstream public unless you are sitting in the congress house. However there are other approaches. For instance, my interest, as you call it in NT (naughty technology-cute) particularly is nanotechnology. Although I forsee a awesome benifit to society with the evolutin of nanotech, I am not blind the dangers. This thing is utopia or doomsday! So, I am involved in groups that relate to my subject of concern (and support) Foresight is an example, I have become a senior associate and intend to attend meetings. Some of these meeting's ie. the Gathering in May are "brainstorming" sessions, and may involve policy issues. I myself keep tabs on the news and groups striving towards the advances of the science. You better believe I'll be sitting there to voice my public concerns when it reaches that level, where ever that may be. You just have to get involved, raise your voice. You don't have to sit back if you don't want to.

As far as the government, well they do most of the funding for research and university, institutes etc. They have grant's for purposal's, they involve these communities in their own work. It's a hand in hand mission. Without them, it may or may not happen, any old Joe could come up with the next greatest break thru.

Nanotechnology could be much worse in damages than a nuclear bomb. You could have nasty silent viruses, and the grey goo problem which involves replicating assemblers. However, these will only do what is programmed, this is the crux of the issue with nano.

Emlyn, pick a favorite and join some groups of your concern. Gina "Nanogirl" Miller

>But what should be done about NT? All kinds can spring up: seed AIs
that go transhuman, nanotech, timetravel?. Have I missed some? Nuclear weapons count. Computer viruses?
>Is it a concern to discuss these things in an open, public forum?
Much criticism of the nuclear industry + arms race derives from the
>behind-closed-doors nature of most of it. Luckily it appears to be
very expensive, so every little tinpot country hasn't got its own nukes (until now!). Nevertheless, we have lived in the shadow of total
>annihilation for a significant period of time. Would it have helped
to hide the science, sweep discoveries under the carpet? Probably not, because it was an idea whose time had come. This kind of knowledge will come out. So with the future technologies, do they get locked away and never looked at? Legislated against? Held protectively by a small group of"guardians" (whomever that might be). Published a bit, but made to look boring and trivial? Or flaunted publicly, openly.
>My guess is that, no matter what you do, the information will come
out. That doesn't help if you're worried about being eaten by grey goo. Maybe the information can come out slowly, to give people (who?) time to prepare antidotes ahead of the plague. But how is this handled? Who gets to be trusted with the future of humanity? Scientists (there's a scary thought)? Industry (there's a scary thought)? Government (there's a
>scary thought)? How about ten people chosen at random through the
>I think even the complex answers to this complex question are wrong.
Butthe nuclear arms race is surely some comfort to those worried about NT.
>It hasn't been pleasant, and it still isn't, but we're not dead yet.
>It's pretty similar - one slip, and BLAM! Actually, grey goo must be
>slower than total nuclear war, which is some help.
>I remember reading Andrew Tannenbaum on Computer Security. He had
>numerous case studies of systems where the main security was in the
ideathat no-one knew how the security system worked, and so no-one knew thebackdoors. This, of course, is a fantastic fallacy, because people will
>find out, and you wont be ready for it. You must always assume that
>everyone (all the bad guys) knows how your security system works, and
>make sure that they can't get in anyway.
>Similarly with NT, I don't think that you can hide it away in secret
>government files, and hope to keep the world safe. You could try, but
>you must always assume that everyone knows all about it anyway. That
>way, there are no surprises.
>Maybe a combined approach - hide the info, but work as though you've
>published it on the 'net. Ultimate paranoia. But then, should such
>paranoiacs be in charge of such dangerous info? What other options
>Then what do you do if someone else less diligent discovers the same
>technology seperately. Send them a stern e-mail? Nuke-em? Sick grey
>on 'em?
>You know that if you developed a fully software AI that could run on
>someone's Pentium (or Mac or unix thingy), rewrite itself, and
>around the 'net (singularity!), and you wanted to actually put it to
>in the world, that it would be impossible to guard it properly. Soon
>enough, the source, or similar source, or wildly different source
>similar/better results, would turn up on someone's homepage, with a
>under their resume, next to a picture of their dog.
>I don't think you can hide this stuff, but I don't think you can
>seriously distribute it widely either, especially if it is cheap to
>Is someone still working on that Mars colony? I've changed my mind,

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