Re: Fw: Today's Headlines from Wednesday, July 4,

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Mon Jul 09 2001 - 08:27:54 MDT

lördagen den 7 juli 2001 20:32 Harv wrote:
> On a logical level, Lee makes and excellent case that hiding from the world
> is not the answer. Gays shouldn't have to hide from gay-bashers. Rich
> people should feel safe to walk the streets without being assaulted.
> Governments should be prevented from interfering with their citizens' lives.
> National security should come from a position of strength and defense rather
> than security by obscurity.
> However, I'm not sure that we will ever reach that level. Mike feels safe
> because he has a gun. I feel safe because my computers have firewalls, IDS,
> encryption and anti-virus. Eliezer feels safe because AIs are programmed to
> be friendly. Will we ever be so safe that we drop our guards? Or will we
> always need to keep our safety protocols in place to maintain the safety
> that we desire? I am betting on the latter.

Safety is a statistical concept. Just as I argued for friendly AIs, what we
want is as much safety as we can get, but we will have to accept that it will
not be perfect.

I think Brin makes a good point in the transparent society (which is often
overlooked as we get into the crypto-vs-camera escalation discussions) that
the important think is keeping the society open and healthy. That is the main
goal. Privacy might be important but is really just a means for making a
society worth living in, and there might be reasons to regard other means for
keeping society nice as more important. Accountability is of course the
obvious one; it can to a large extent deal with the above-mentioned problems
on various levels.

Imperfect societies can be made liveable if we add the right feedback loops
to reward nice behavior and punish bad behavior (they don't even have to be
put into place centrally, quite a few are Hayekian spontaneous orders like
unwritten rules of courtesy and neighbourhood relations). This will not turn
them perfect, but change the probabilities of things happening (sometimes to
very large degrees). I'm less convinced about that "barriers", things
intended to prevent certain actions from being taken (like encryptions, locks
and pre-progammed friendliness), can produce the liveable society. In some
situations they work by making costs of ill-doing high (it is harder to read
en encrypted file or pick a lock than it would be without the barrier), but I
can't see them helping to reward nice behavior.

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