Re: Planetary Defense for profit
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 22:19:52 -0700

Spike Jones, <>, writes:
> Naahh Robert, that would make Lock.heed.Martin an extropian
> oriented company, which is almost a contradiction in terms. {8^D
> We have a study/proposal group that is working on exactly this,
> but perhaps for a different reason. For profit. {8-]

Maybe this could be a scenario for the next James Bond movie. Bad guy builds telescope array and detects asteroid scheduled to crash into Earth. Refuses to divulge location until ransom is paid.

The hard part here (from the blackmail point of view) is proving that the asteroid is real and not just some doctored data. There's some kind of crypto protocol for this, but I forget the details. The outsiders send a qualified guy in as an observer. He gets convinced by the bad guys that the threat is real. He is then kept incommunicado but is allowed to send one bit out, "yes" or "no", cryptographically authenticated. The bad guys filter his output to make sure he doesn't covertly include some other data (like the location of the asteroid).

This one doesn't work perfectly in the real world, because the observer could be coerced into sending a false message, but maybe with some kind of tamper-proof AI observer it could be done.