The Colonization of Cypherspace

Jim Hart (
Mon, 13 Apr 1998 00:52:04 PDT

Imagine we could change the laws of physics, so that we could make a
material with the following properties: cheap as concrete, and tough
enough to withstand the blast of a supernova. Out of this we could make
walls, safes, locks, armor light enough to coat vehicles
and wear as clothes, envelopes impervious to snooping or
tampering, and a wide variety of other devices to defeat violence
against individuals and their property. The security possible for
individuals in our current physical world would be put to shame.

I know of a frontier where these kinds of materials are available.
Specifically, one-way functions, trapdoor one-way functions, and the
other building blocks of cypherspace. Offensive computations could
quite literally consume the energies of supernovae, and still not crack
codes generated by a lowly Intel chip. These codes are currently
available. In the future with quantum cryptography, security against
computers and quantum computers of even infinite energies is possible.

Out of these ultratough materials of cypherspace, we can really
build a Galt's Gulch: heretofore merely a metaphorical
ideal or a hopeless dream about physical security.

There has been a lot of hype about colonizing space, the oceans, and
other physical frontiers. American culture and perhaps even human
instinct equate freedom with the physical frontier. Some government
bureaucracy finds 1% water at a lunar pole and some libertarians,
recalling those old entertaining industrial-era yarns about a dreamy
future on the Moon (a.k.a. heaven), go gaga. I have more water, and
more of almost everything else useful, in my literal backyard!

Supposedly, mere physical distance, the mere increase of a constant
factor in the energy and time needed to get across the oceans
or into space, is supposed to provide some protection from the thieves
and parasites who first steal our livelihoods through taxes, then steal
our very lives by harassing practitioners of advanced medicine. But the
increased cost of a physical barrier is the same for both the offense
and the defense. Such a barrier offers no significant improvement to
those wishing to defend their freedoms. Only a barrier of great
asymmetry, where defense is vastly more efficient than offense, turns
the tides towards freedom. Freedom in cypherspace, first for our
communications, then for our financial transactions, then for the free
flow of research and services from unlocatable medical laboratories.

An extropian evolves beyond the stage of entropic griping or whining
about our current condition of human slavery, and beyond the stage
of participation in the human tribal rituals of political bickering. We
evolve beyond the naive belief that what passes for "politics" in our
public-school-brainwashed and licensed-media-saturated culture
constitutes any sort of effective political action. An extropian
evolves beyond wishful thinking inspired by those entertaining
TV escape fantasy shows. We transform our human desires to conquer the
physical frontier into transhuman action which
conquers the secure frontier of cypherspace. We seize the liberty at
hand! I salute those extropians working on the colonization of
cypherspace, and encourage many others with a knack for computers,
mathematics, law, or business to join in. Ad BlackNet Per Perspera!

James Hart

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