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

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Tue Sep 11 2001 - 15:55:21 MDT

Anders Sandberg wrote:
> On Tue, Sep 11, 2001 at 12:12:46PM -0700, Samantha Atkins wrote:
> > Anders Sandberg wrote:
> > >
> >

> > Yes. Although DMCA has nothing to do with detecting or
> > preventing any sort of terrorist activity.
> True (although M$ and RIAA might disagree). But it is part of the same
> meme complex: information must be controlled. The originating reasons
> are of course different, but the basic problem for all the interests
> behind these systems is that if information is power, then it must be
> controlled so that they (and those groups they work for, including of
> course civilian governments) can retain it.

Actions must be monitored and controlled. But this does not
automatically mean that information must be. Music and DVDs are
hardly a munition in any stretch of imagination. :-)

> > >The
> > > 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.
> The transparency option needs a big number of what Brin calls
> "antibodies", those people brave and tenacious enough to keep poiting
> out abuses and demanding their rights. Without enough of them it will of
> course not work. This is why the transparency option needs more than
> just small cameras, it needs a cultural awareness of the need for
> freedom and the need to stand up for one's rights.

Yes. I agree with this completely.
> >
> > 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.
> True. Of course, totalitarian states tend to breed terrorists too, so
> you will not even be safe in that case.

In a totalitarian state the terrorists often really are the
freedom fighters, as for instance, the French Underground in
> In the end abuse has to be citizen-defined, and it needs to be defined
> in such a way that the power of definition cannot be taken away from the
> citizenship. How to achieve that is an important question, I really
> hope we can rise to the challenge and come up with creative answers that
> can be implemented.

Of course the question comes up of where we find these citizens
wise enough to define this well. It certainly cannot be a
majority in a world dominated by colossal ignorance.

> > 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.
> I agree, but the worrying trend right now is in the other direction. I
> noticed yesterday that brain fingerprinting is now admissible in US
> courts, although I guess that is hard to do on a resisting subject. This
> right to informational integrity is important, and despite the awful
> implementations of it here in the EU, at least some parts of it is
> getting into law (unfortunately, just parts and there are many
> contradictions with equally sweeping police rights). Of course, this is
> an area where crypto can help a bit, but we still need the legal and
> ethical infrastructure to make the use of crypto legal.

Crypto could grow out of seeing our computational resources as
extensions of our own person and therefore as legitimate to
protect from involuntary search and seizure.

> >
> > 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.
> It is a feedback loop: in a somewhat transparent society, anybody
> meddling with your rights is more easily exposed, and meddling doesn't
> pay as much as before. That helps make the society more transparent. On
> the other hand, the reverse is also true. That is why we need those
> antibodies.

I accented the "in both directions" because of some court
rulings and legislation in the US prohibiting citizens from
recording the actions of public officials although the public
officials claim every right to snoop on and record private
citizens and transactions. Transparency cannot be a 1-way

> > 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.
> I think the first; to my knowledge (which is admittedly near zero) it is
> not possible to completely override manual in airplanes. This event
> might however lead to the reverse: what if planes could be remote
> controlled in the event of hijacking? I can envison a cryptographically
> secure remote control system that could in certain emergencies override
> the pilot. This is likely a Bad Idea - both a hacking opportunity par
> excellence (even if it is based on some clever hardware scheme there are
> always mistakes), and it would undermine the trust of the pilot and
> plane. However, some might think it might be worth it.

If ground could take control in a hijacking this might deter
would-be hijackers. Or simply offer them a different means as
you mention.

- samantha

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