Re: GENE/SOC: Playing Devil's Advocate

From: phil osborn (
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 22:53:29 MDT

>Subject: Re: GENE/SOC: Playing Devil's Advocate
>Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 13:38:49 EDT

>It's the prospect of some Deep Green, terrorist, hacker, or government
>installing a back door that gives me the willies. Eventually, somebody
>can design a "people-killer" in a skunkworks with the knowledge of
>super-ribosomes (or whatever), ecological design, and such that a
>"world clean-up" program would require. Such a day will come, I know,
>but I'd prefer to delay it as much as possible to maximize defense
>opportunities such as redesign/diversification of humans/transhumans,
>uploading, space colonization, and the kinds of hygenic measures I

On a side note, this reminds me of something I meant to post last week and
then forgot. It occurred to me that if I were Bill Gates or some equivalent
- or just a really good hacker - then simply promulgating a virus that
reported on a random but statistically significant percentage of stock
purchase orders, or the equivalent, by passing the information on to a
anonymous third party destination, let's say, would give me a major
day-trading edge. Just knowing a few minutes or hours in advance of major
market moves would obviously be of tremendous value.

The reason Gates came to mind of course is the opportunity provided by being
the producer of Windows and a host of related products (unlike those
pathetic "Netscape Weenies"). It would not be necessary to put in actual
"back doors," in Windows or Word or Excel, etc. It would only be necessary
to know exactly what everything did, having access to the source code,
natch, while everyone else was kept in the dark. Even if the source code
itself were made public, trying to figure out WHY a particular subroutine or
class contained particular elements, when it was likely to be called by a
thousand different other routines would be the job of many, many man
lifetimes, for all the calls possible, if in fact it could be done at all
with any assurance of not missing something.

And what would be missed might not even be there! If it took a binary virus
type of access to activate the hidden functions, with the actual processing
machine erasing all traces of itself afterwards, and of course the
cooperation, perhaps, of the MicroSoft server software in a similar manner,
then it would likely take the next generation of software to even notice
that anything was going on, and then it might look perfectly innocent,
unless you had a really, really good inference engine looking at all points
along the information path.

Bottom line is that with such a system in place, the ability to consistently
beat the market by just a few points would make the fortune of those with
access. They could even deliberately introduce noise in their decisions,
just to throw off any surveillance, and STILL take over the whole ball of

Other similar strategies come to mind as I consider this. One might sell
advanced stock analysis programs to major players, for example, with similar
reporting features. With a large amount of information, one could scale
back ones actions to stay close to the noise level and still be a major
winner. With smaller amounts of information, then one could play games with
third party investments.

Not that anyone of Bill Gates integrity could possibly be involved in such a
scheme... But then, there were those MicroSoft engineers who got a little
frisky with Word - all on their own incentive, of course.

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