Re: The Freedom of Digital Information

From: Zero Powers (
Date: Tue Aug 01 2000 - 01:26:37 MDT

>From: "phil osborn" <>

>>From: "Jason Joel Thompson" <>

>>If we decide we want to be able to protect something that comes out of our
>>own head, then we look for ways to do so. You claim that encryption will
>>only a minor annoyance in the future: if that's true, then we've got some
>>big issues. Being able to protect information is only going to become
>>and more important. I wonder if the "information must be free" advocates
>>include personal data and private communications in their manifesto?

This one does.

>>Do you think I'm going to put my -brain- online when any mad hacker kid
>>come along and tinker with it? "Check it out doodz, I hacked Jupiter
>>K777 into a raving lunatic. -And- he does my accounting!"

Well as with any technology, you have to take the good with the bad. If you
plan to wait until there is an *absolutely* safe way to upload you brain
before you do so, I have a hunch you are going to be waiting a *VERY* long
time. In the meantime, those who are willing to accept the risks of the
technology will inherit the substantial benefits that flow from it. If you
are like me, some of your most personal, sensitive and private information
is stored somewhere on a computer with net access. If you think that your
computer is impenetrably secure, you are deluding yourself.

>>If it becomes possible for me to easily read your mind would you advocate
>>means of protecting -that- information? Or would you shrug and say, "it's
>>information! It's like air! I can't control it."

Personally, I’d say spread the wealth. If you learn how to read my mind,
rather than me demanding that you not do so, I’d rather persuade you to
teach me how to read your mind as well. That way you have no advantage over

>>My vision of a desirable future includes a fully networked frictionless
>>information matrix and lots of secure nodes of (nearly?) absolute privacy.
>>In my opinion, the technology for protecting your personal information IS
>>going to be possible-- I don't share the defeatist attitude expressed
>>I think the concept of -absolute- freedom is bunk... the concept of
>>only exists in a world with barriers to freedom-- "un"freedom creates the
>>value in "freedom."

The above sounds oxymoronish to me. “Frictionless information” and
“absolute privacy” seem to be at exact opposite ends of the spectrum to me.
If you can think of a way to pull *that* off you may well convince me. But
I can’t even begin to imagine how you’d do it.

>>Individuals should be empowered with the means to control their own
>>information, including the ability to release it into a frictionless
>>and let it replicate indefinitely. They should be able to make the
>>determination of what stays private and what becomes public.

Here we agree. I believe that any disclosure of personal information should
be (and will be) mostly voluntary. I simply foresee a future where the
benefits of disclosure will so far outweigh the perceived benefits of
secrecy that people will eventually be as inclined to conceal their data as
they would be to hide from their employers the fact that they showed up for
work and did a great job during the last pay period.


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