Problem of destruction (Was: Black hole production)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Sep 11 2001 - 11:30:16 MDT

On Tue, Sep 11, 2001 at 06:50:25PM +0200, Eugene Leitl wrote:
> On Tue, 11 Sep 2001, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > [ Combine this with the other events of today, and I get a strong
> > suspicion that we live in a sf novel. ]
> I would like to take this opportunity to voice a formal complaint. The
> storyline sucks. The stuff I get from the realtime newsfeed makes me want
> to puke. Anonymous remailer operators are dropping like flies. Reichstag
> fire legislation will be landing shortly.
> This is a black day for everybody, the victims foremost.


At the same time this is in many ways just a test :-( The problem of
destruction - that the amount of destruction attainable by an
individual is increasing along with technology, and countermeasures
seldom work against irrational agents - is serious and growing.

The big problem is that we don't have any good solutions to it: the
standard response at present is to demand that Big Brother save us
through Echelon, Carnivore and DMCA - which will not really work,
but will erode civil liberties, add significant risks of abuse and
quite likely make people feel even more alienated against the
government, increasing risks of new attacks. Suggesting a Sysop is
really the same thing, but with the stipulation that this BB really
does work and never gets corrupted - which is easy, since the Sysop
resides in the comfortable realm of future technology. The
transparent society might at least keep some civil liberties and
remain an open society, but the cultural changes needed will be
rather wrenching. Relinquishment simply doesn't work, and besides we
have enough bombs and airplanes already. We can't scatter into space
yet, and besides we all need the greater human society to function
and prosper.

Of these partial solutions, some appear more promising than others.
The transparent society ideas of accountability and the ability to
trace stuff would help discourage the more rational irrationalists,
and might even allow the discovery of dangerous plots before they
are executed. If these traits could be combined with a
self-enforcing structure (legal, economic, software, whatever) that
prevents abuse, much would be won. We need more than just the need
for court orders to bring out keys from escrow, something that can't
be easily subverted by a new regime. Distributed encrypted legal
smart contracts, perhaps?

The risk with disasters like today is that people feel powerless and
stressed, and hence opt for the easiest solutions rather than think
of new ones. We have a huge problem, we need to solve it, and we
need a *good* solution. Otherwise this will happen again and again,
on larger and larger scales.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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