Re: Problem of destruction (Was: Black hole production)

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Tue Sep 11 2001 - 13:12:46 MDT

Anders Sandberg wrote:

> 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.

You could harden likely targets a bit. Like shooting down off
course aircraft.

> 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.

Yes. Although DMCA has nothing to do with detecting or
preventing any sort of terrorist activity.

> 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.

It is the ultimate Benevolent Dictator or at least the Cosmic
Nannie par excellence.

> transparent society might at least keep some civil liberties and
> remain an open society, but the cultural changes needed will be
> rather wrenching.

The biggest change required is that governments be severely
limited from interfering with individual rights and with any and
all behaviors that do not directly harm or defraud others.
Transparency is not safe unless governments are forbidden to act
on the information received to suppress unpopular attitudes and
activities or to attempt to force compliance with government
endorsed positions.

>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.

But who gets to define what is and isn't abuse? Some of the
current definitions of those in power in the US and elsewhere in
the world would lead straight to a more rigid and horrific
totalitarian state than the world has ever seen. As long as
political theory and practice is highly irrational, our best
protection is in what privacy we have and what inefficiencies
for enforcement of government will that exist now. I will live
(but not happily of course) with the threat of terrorism rather
than under the grim certainty of a totalitarian state.

> 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 Fifth Amendment should cover the right of any and all
persons not to diverge their electronic information. This
information should be seen as a direct extension of the person's
mind. It should be as illegal for the court to order it open as
for the court to order truth-serum to be administered to a
defendant. Nothing less imho will protect us as individuals as
we become more intimately augmented by electronic and
computational devices.

> 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.

I could see a more transparent society (in both directions,
public and private) with and only with severe restrictions on
government and corporate meddling with individual rights.

On today's tragedy, I wonder whether these planes were
simultaneously hijacked in a coordinated matter (difficult) or
whether the automatic guidance systems were somehow subverted
and made impervious to manula override. Just a thought.

- samantha

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