Polycephalous Panarchic Networks Re: Truth Machins and Open Networks

Clay Draper (mdraper@utc.campus.mci.net)
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 14:49:23 -0700 (PDT)

[Sent to me, so I'm forwarding it -- Damien R. Sullivan]

Bruce Sterling's "Maneki Neko" in Fantasy and Science Fiction attempts
to recount a world not far from our own when artifical intelligences
use/work with human networks to manipulate political and economic
systems. The discussion you've been having on open networks has been
really interesting to me, but the dialogue has always seemed to assume
that it will be the individual and the national political establishment
battling each other for secrecy control. John KClark assumes that
Tempest technology will not be as effective as quantum cryptography,
while you cite that the physcial infrastructure can always be tapped and
exploited. Codes can be broken by distributed computing and Java is
already being drafted to tap unused cycles on host machines connected to
the world wide web, so I tend to fall on the side of the pessimist when
it comes to secrecy. But having read Sterling's story, as mentioned
above, I began thinking that it might be possible to join a neo-tribal
communications group. I know the idea sounds far out, but Brin's
watchdog seniors and Sterling's anonymous network agents seem to be the
best possible ways for dealing with increasing encryption and
surveillance. These groups balance the power of the state and the
individual in ways that seem constructive. I foresee problems like "My
clique cracked your clique's codes: Nahhh!!" and even possible tribal
warfare like the Hatfields and McCoys or even Scottish clan structure,
whereupon the state would be caled in to finalize the dispute. And if
individuals are hassled by a larger power structure like the federal
government or a criminal syndicate, the tribal group could be called
upon for protection. The individual and the state are not surmounted by
the tribal identity, only complemented. Of course, the federal
government starts tapping everyone now (which John K Clark says is
unfeasible), before these organizations develop, then I'm just whistling

With thanks, Clay Draper