Re: Brin's World

Mark Grant (
Sat, 21 Dec 1996 18:01:12 +0000

On Fri, 20 Dec 1996, Sean Hastings wrote:

> I question the ability of the people of Anti-Brin to determine that you
> do NOT have a secret. I maintain (and so do you) that a secret can be
> held secret up until it is acted upon.

Whether or not you know they have *a* secret is really immaterial. If
someone publishes their company's plans for the next year and their
competitors use that information to beat them then noone's likely to care
that the 'open' person has a secret Pam Anderson .GIF collection. The
point is that some secrets are *useful* and your social status will depend
on how well you can keep the useful secrets. A completely open person will
be unable to keep any secret and stuck with very low-level work.=20
> What is a secret if not a piece of intellectual property surrounded by
> metaphorical barbed wire?

Actually, crypto-anarchy intersects this thread in an interesting manner.=
On the one hand it allows people to keep their own secrets absolutely
secure, yet on the other it allows anyone to spread any information with
no possibility of physical retribution. So it's a society where secrets
are secret, but as soon as anyone finds out your secret you can't keep it
secret any longer. A strange combination of complete privacy and complete
openness; the biggest problem in such a society would not be keeping
secrets, but determining what revealed information is actually true.
> Yes, but if the eventual effects of the secret are never felt by anyone,
> then the advantage to having the secret was nullified. If they are felt,
> then the secret can be inferred.

How? Suppose I have inside information that allows me to make a 100:1
profit on the futures market. You accuse me of insider trading, but I can
point to all the surveillance cameras and point out that you have a=20
complete record of my actions and I was just lucky.

> Ooh, I just had a flash. Perhaps Brin=92s
> world has people accusing each other of holding secrets the way people
> were once accused of witch-craft!

Or as innocent people today are anonymously accused of dealing drugs... of
course they will.=20


"[Hollywood's] way is so slow and expensive that you'll find yourself
falling asleep on the set and forgetting to say 'action'."
=09- Robert Rodriguez, 'The Ten Minute Film School'

|Mark Grant M.A., U.L.C.=09 =09 EMAIL: |