Re: The Freedom of Digital Information

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Thu Jul 27 2000 - 22:06:56 MDT

> This argument is getting boring... "You can't own it, you can't
> track it, you can't control it, so why even bother?"
> Which is a defeatist attitude. There are two distinct issues here:
> a) is it -desirable- to own it? and b) is it -possible- to own it?
> Arguing against 'b' is not a good way to argue against 'a.' If it
> *is* desirable then we should get more imaginative about making it
> possible. If it's *not* desirable, then you should argue that position.

You apparently reading different arguments than I am. I agree, of
course, that if something is desirable we should work toward it rather
than resigning ourselves to its opposite. As an Extropian, after all,
I'm fighting against the ultimate cliche inevitabilities of death and
taxes; why would I not fight against information sharing if I thought
it too was evil? Clearly, I don't think that, and I don't use
inevitability as a reason for supporting my ethical point of view.

> If we decide we want to be able to protect something that comes out of
> our own head, then we look for ways to do so.

I've never argued against that either, so long as the methods are
technological rather than government force.

> You claim that encryption will be only a minor annoyance
> in the future: if that's true, then we've got some big issues.

Who has claimed this? Certainly not I, or anyone I remember in
this discussion.

> My vision of a desirable future includes a fully networked frictionless
> information matrix and lots of secure nodes of (nearly?) absolute privacy.

Sounds good to me. I haven't heard anyone arguing against that.

> Individuals should be empowered with the means to control their own
> information, including the ability to release it into a frictionless
> medium and let it replicate indefinitely.


> They should be able to make the determination of what stays
> private and what becomes public.

Absolutely. But once they make it public, /they shouldn't be able
to change their decision/ and enforce that change of mind with guns.

> And in the absence of good technological security, do I think that
> we should collectively agree to protect that information through legal
> means? Absolutely.

I don't like arguing counterfactuals since there /will/ be technological
means, but I'm still not clear what you mean by "protect" here. Do you
mean some way of creating the legal fiction that a certain piece of
information has never been "released" (an odd concept, but one I might
be able to support) or the state of current IP law, which tries to have
it both ways, both publically released and "protected" from competition?

> People always get up in arms about this: "I don't want government
> bureaucracy interfering with my freedom!" But humans have always
> understood the importance of social contracts, ever since the first time
> we figured out that the right of your fist ends where the right of my
> nose begins.

How is a social contract necessary to redress torts like this? Doesn't
civil law (which can be privately produced) address this well?

> A recent farcical 'fairytale' posted to this list perpetrated the idea that
> we needed to return to simpler times-- if only we were to get rid of all
> those stuffy "laws" then we could live in peace and harmony with each other,
> and dance with unicorns and what not. (Hello entropy?)

You'll have to give me a pointer to that one...never saw it.

> I anticipate us requiring more intricate rule sets to enable us to
> successfully interact with each other in the future and this is simply a
> testament to the increasing complexity and depth of those interactions.

Complexity does not /necessarily/ indicate progress. Sometimes simpler
is better. Sometimes it's not. But that statement, whether made by you
or me, has no content until you talk about /specifically/ which
complications you favor and /why/.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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