Re: Truth Machines and Open Networks

Mark Crosby (
Fri, 6 Feb 1998 07:36:50 -0800 (PST)

It's closing in on 10 years since David Gelernter
first proposed his vision of all-encompassing "Mirror
Worlds". Yak Wax says:
< For instance, if I go and fill my car with petrol
the transaction can be automatically made. This is
because somewhere within the network environment I've
created a piece of information stating that I used
the pump. This just happens to be the way the World
Wide Web is progressing (and if you don't believe me
ask the W3C.) >

I just linked from Amazon to UPS to track my book
order and saw that the package was scanned in my
local post office this morning. This is useful
information but is supported by strictly commercial
interests and it is not available to everyone,
besides, who else would care? When I filled my car
up with gasoline the other night (using a credit card
at the pump), the transaction was sent to the company
via satellite. This data is not likely to be
available on the Web any time soon. When I purchased
my groceries, the company recorded the scanned
information in a private database, which they will
aggregate with millions of other transactions and
sell as purchasing trends information back to the
consumer products companies - they're not about to
make this data freely available.

As David Gelernter puts it at
< in a society where researchers and practitioners
lead wholly different lives, where practitioners are
rich and researchers remain stolidly middle-class --
research will only attract a handful of fanatics. >

Wax waxes about how:
< Eventually, every single thing you do will be
stored on the network. >

Why and where? It's one thing to have 'everything'
being transmitted over 'The Net', it's quite
something else again to have everything *stored*
somewhere that anyone can access. The only thing I
can see that would make Gelernter's 'ideal' a reality
is for a world government to mandate that all
transactions and transmissions by stored centrally -
just think of all the 'optimizing' 'mechanism design'
policies the central planners could then dream up!

On the other hand, read Greg Bear's novel SLANT for
some ideas on who might have commercial interests in
tracking all the urinalysis samples collected by
intelligent toilets attached to the Net...

Mark Crosby

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