Re: Truth Machines and Open Networks

Damien R. Sullivan (
Sat, 14 Mar 1998 15:36:54 -0800 (PST)

On Mar 14, 8:56am, John K Clark wrote:
> Subject: Truth Machines and Open Networks

John, you're being at least as dogmatic and simplistic as you accuse Brin of
being. The style of argument you use to demolish free will and souls doesn't
work as well here.

> liking. Since everything is open I know exactly how OTON works and all about
> its security, I can hack in and alter records and make history be anything I
> want. It does no good to make an exception to the total openness policy for

How, when people and watchdog programs are watching you or at least the
records and each other, redundantly? Earlier you talked about splicing into
the network "they can't be watching me all the time". But they can watch the
network cables. For that matter, the cables themselves might be 'smart'.
"Help! I'm broken! Come look at me!"

You've also said it's unstable, because if everyone's being open but you you
have an advantage. But the projected openness isn't based on voluntary
transparency, like altruism; it's based on snooping technology being better
than secrecy technology. How will you use this secret? Insider trading would
be hard to detect, but the extended obtaining of that information would be
high risk. Conversely a new invention could be stored in your brain but would
be hard to implement secretly.

The transparent society (at least one version) isn't fron unanimous surrender
of secrecy; it's the result of extensive and more widespread snooping and
spying. Thirty years ago we caught Nixon's burglaries by accident, and found
out more about him because of his own fetish for recordings; today we argue
over whether Clinton had an affair inside the White House and some police cars
are equipped with cameras. This is stable.

Whereas a world of total encryption might well be vulnerable to a new
algorithm or a quantum computer. _That_ sort of secret would be exploitable
-- to the detriment of everyone else. Call that stable? Hah.

And quantum cryptography isn't a cure-all yet, with its dependence on direct
fiber links, not for the Internet as a whole.

And then there's the TEMPEST arms race.

> from hackers you'd vastly increase the meddling of the truth from world
> leaders, that is, from the network administrators.

More than one network, and they're watchable.

This will be mostly driven by the technology, and a few social decisions.
(Whether private street cameras are illegal, or whether everyone can tap in,
and watch the police station as well. Whether people actually have secrecy at
home, or simply seclusion -- you can be watched at home, but not disturbed,
and perhaps use of that information is restricted somehow.) The result is
unlikely to be all of one or the other, and likely to change over time. RSA
gets cracked; people use overlapping quantum crypto networks; teeny cameras
and TEMPEST see everything your computer does anyway; teeny camera-hunters and
counter-TEMPEST measures strike back; etc.

-xx- GSV The Low Golden Willow X-)

"Aldous Huxley said that an intellectual was a person who had discovered
something more interesting than sex. A civilised man, it might be said,
is someone who has discovered something more satisfying than combat."
-- John Keegan, _A History of Warfare_