'Smart Computers For Stupid People' (was Re: HTML: woes)

Wed, 11 Mar 1998 06:25:58 -0800 (PST)

Michael Lorrey [mike@lorrey.com] wrote:
>And using Netscape's browser, if you have your security flags set, you are >always
>prompted before intrusive javascript, cookies, or other privacy and security
>penetrating actions are taken.

Only if you choose to set it up that way; AFAIR when I installed Netscape
4 (before I decided it was too bloated and went back to 3.01) I had to
spend an hour or two hunting down all the different option settings to make
it secure.

It also doesn't neccesarily help. There's an interesting discussion starting


of the perils of IMG tags in email, and how they can be used to trap nyms.

Another example of how dangerous this could be to an individual is that I
could put:

<IMG SRC="http://www.kiddyporn.com/nuclear-terrorist-kiddy-porn.jpg">

in an email message and Netscape will happily go off and download the
illegal image. Not only will the Feds who run kiddyporn.com have a
record of your download, but your boss will see it on your screen as
he walks past.

Any kind of active content in email is risky, but unfortunately the
trend today seems to be towards 'smart computers for stupid people'.
At home I run Linux, a nice, friendly operating system which does
what I tell it. At work I have to put up with Betas of Windows-98,
which is continually putting up panels saying 'I really don't think
you want to do that, do you?', as though it knows better than me. I
have no clue as to what is going on behind the web-linked desktop
nonsense, which could be uploading or downloading all kinds of things
without my knowledge.

To me this is troubling, because by putting the 'intelligence' outside
the individual (human or SI) we have a potential for catastrophe when
the computers go wrong (most obviously the current year-2000 bug issues)
or someone exploits a hole in the system.