Re: Shutting the Internet Down.

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Jul 16 2000 - 22:48:09 MDT

Paul Hughes wrote:
> I just read this article by Robert X. Cringley:
> Original Article:
> But I have my own theory about Carnivore. From a network
> architecture standpoint, the best location for Carnivore is right after
> the ISP's router. This puts Carnivore in the path of every packet
> entering or leaving the ISP. It's also a major reason why ISPs might
> not want to install Carnivore boxes -- it's the network's point of
> greatest vulnerability. In this position, Carnivore can act as a
> listening and recording device, OR IT CAN ACT AS A SWITCH. If
> we ever hear a proposal from the FBI in which it plans to install
> Carnivores at all 6000 ISPs in the U.S., we'll be giving the
> government the power to do something it can't do right now.
> Shut the Internet down.


The Emergency Internet Shutdown System should have been implemented a
long time ago. You don't even need AI for the problems to exist,
although (dumber-than-human, but malicious) AI is a problem too.
Sufficiently sophisticated viruses, alife... and the worst problem will
be the one we haven't even thought of yet.

What is the FBI going to do, shut the Internet down because it's free
and therefore evil? Industry would scream their heads off. Besides, if
the government is evil, they can just take a bunch of tanks and blow up
Sprint headquarters. The Emergency Internet Shutdown System seems
unlikely to be used except in a real, genuine emergency.

Besides, just the fact that there's a Big Red Switch out there will lead
people and corporations to plan ahead for Internet problems. I
reeeaally don't think it would be a good idea for society to reach the
point where an Internet shutdown could cause havoc on the same order as
the Y2K problem. As long as the Big Red Switch exists, and everyone
knows about it, people will be just a little more reluctant to build
Internet-dependent elevators and power plants. 'Cause you know that one
of these days there's gonna be a Big Crash.

--    Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Oct 02 2000 - 17:34:45 MDT