Re: The Freedom of Digital Information

From: phil osborn (
Date: Sun Jul 30 2000 - 23:17:32 MDT

>From: "Jason Joel Thompson" <>
>Subject: Re: The Freedom of Digital Information
>Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 11:54:14 -0700
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
>desirable, then you should argue that position.
>Okay, so maybe I'm just not a fan of "it's impossible, it's can't be done,
>don't even bother," statements, I -am- a transhumanist after all, and
>somehow I don't think that the "law of information must be free," is as
>immutable as the speed of light barrier. (Oops, did we break that one?)
>People who say its going to be "impossible" to protect information in the
>future need to stretch their imaginations a little.
>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. You claim that encryption will
>only a minor annoyance in the future: if that's true, then we've got some
>big issues. Being able to protect information is only going to become more
>and more important. I wonder if the "information must be free" advocates
>include personal data and private communications in their manifesto?
>Do you think I'm going to put my -brain- online when any mad hacker kid can
>come along and tinker with it? "Check it out doodz, I hacked Jupiter Brain
>K777 into a raving lunatic. -And- he does my accounting!"
>If it becomes possible for me to easily read your mind would you advocate a
>means of protecting -that- information? Or would you shrug and say, "it's
>information! It's like air! I can't control it."
>My vision of a desirable future includes a fully networked frictionless
>information matrix and lots of secure nodes of (nearly?) absolute privacy.
>In my opinion, the technology for protecting your personal information IS
>going to be possible-- I don't share the defeatist attitude expressed
>I think the concept of -absolute- freedom is bunk... the concept of freedom
>only exists in a world with barriers to freedom-- "un"freedom creates the
>value in "freedom."
>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. And in the
>absence of good technological security, do I think that we should
>collectively agree to protect that information through legal means?
>Absolutely. People always get up in arms about this: "I don't want
>government bureaucracy interfering with my freedom!" But humans have
>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
>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
>and dance with unicorns and what not. (Hello entropy?)
>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.
> ::jason.joel.thompson::
> ::wild.ghost.studios::

Good post. I've suggested multiple times that a thoroughly practical and
likely inevitable solution to these kinds of problems would be to make that
nebulous social contract into a real legal document that someone could sign.
  We already have a vast experience with things like the common law or the
uniform commercial code, so a simple web contract between each signatory and
all other signatories to use a particular system(s) to resolve disputes,
backed in practice by bonds, escrow, letters of credit, threat of exclusion,
and all the private, non-state mechanisms that businesses have evolved to
deal with other businesses in different jurisdictions, would likely result
in a practical system - if there is one - of protecting intellectual
property, as well as incidentally eliminating the state itself in fairly
short order, I suspect.

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