Re: The image of transhumanism

Eugene Leitl (
Tue, 7 Jul 1998 18:39:02 +0400 (MSD)

Dwayne writes:
> This is true. When I brought up the PunkNet idea
> ( on the cypherpunks list some years ago,

Interesting, thanks for the URL. Unfortunately can't access it just now as darned local DNS is down, again :(

> there was quite a bit of discussion regarding how to set up an
> unbreakable communications network over intercontinental
> distances. There weren't a lot of decent responses, as the
> problem is non-trivial.

In the first iteration, you can simply use existing communication matrix: cellular, two-way pagers, wire telephony and the Internet (soon from the skies?), overlaying them with a crypted higher-order protocol (heck, even using ssh or its free GNU clone would suffice just now). Afaik encryption is not tolerated in HAM circles, so using existing packet radio infrastructure won't be possible. Of course things like that will be down in course of a true calamity, so a minimal backup capability will be certainly necessary. (This is always assuming the calamity is serious, but transient. In case of quantitative holocaust there is obviously little need to maintain connectivity).

> But local nets, yes, are a good idea. I'm working on doing
> something on a metropolitan scale across Melbourne, Australia,
> I'll let anyone interested know how it pans out.

You talked about spread-spectrum cellular, which sounds very interesting. Quite a time ago on this list networking-relevant results of Stu Kauffman's work were mentioned: there is a minimal, low connectivity beyond which a randomly connected net experiences a phase transition into a single contiguous domain. PV-driven (supercapacitor-buffered?) cheap spread-spectrum cellulars (think about NEMP when designing these!) capable of routing TCP/IP(ng) should be of considerable interest to the mainstream wireheads as cheap, low-bandwidth/long-latency Internet infrastructure. If enough enthusiasts will be operating these (difficult to make such a movement supercritical: you need a cheap available kit and a minimal density to make the coverage useful for anything), you'll have an alternative communication infrastructure. Microwave and line-of-sight diode laser links could be also useful.

Albeit this is ridiculous to contemplate just now, lauching your very own LOSL palmtop relays into LEO should become not too expensive in a few decades.

> [...]
> I think that looking at the history of the last 200 years will
> give anyone rational food for thought.

Right. For starters, getting germtight suits into mass production and into everybody's living room and making sure the majority can use them (remember the suffocated children in Israel during the Gulf war?) would mean a lot (well, a great deal more than a working protection against random asteroid impact). They would also offer excellent protection against fallout (how many have sturdy basements, a supply of clean water, dehydrated food and a basic medical kit, atropine, a dosimeter and iodide tablets included?), and limited protection against C weapons. Of course this is semiuseless against a sneaky attack with long-latency engineered bioweapons (which will need sniffers, and continuous population screeing on viral DNA kinetics), and certainly useless against a Gray Goo incident as in case of a (spontaneous, or engineered) Blight.

In any case will the effort not be wasted, just think of MDR epidemics and reactors gone China.
> Um. Why is it possible to find this list in hotbot? Why isn't it
> closed to search engines?

This is meant as an open discussion/education forum. A fashistoid robot.txt would render the archives websearch-invisible, which would seem to defy their purpose.

> I find the prospect of having my postings readable by the whole
> internet quite disturbing, as I may well feel free to say some
> things here which I might not want to be known about by the
> general public.

Well, start a list which distributes only signed, crypted stuff (is there a hacked majordomo which does this?), and is open only to known members. You're virtually certain to draw interest from the wrong type of people, then, security included. The latter has started to be pretty paranoid since the Aum et al. type of thing.

> Dwayne