1998-01-13 - Re: (eternity) autonomous agents

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From: Ryan Lackey <rdl@mit.edu>
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Message Hash: f352df3ef2bd9e791dd45e40b8d18141ee31c8fe362139c811d7c6a419a8e479
Message ID: <199801131244.HAA22857@the-great-machine.mit.edu>
Reply To: <E0xs4ia-0006uX-00@heaton.cl.cam.ac.uk>
UTC Datetime: 1998-01-13 12:50:17 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 20:50:17 +0800

Raw message

From: Ryan Lackey <rdl@mit.edu>
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 1998 20:50:17 +0800
To: cypherpunks@cyberpass.net
Subject: Re: (eternity) autonomous agents
In-Reply-To: <E0xs4ia-0006uX-00@heaton.cl.cam.ac.uk>
Message-ID: <199801131244.HAA22857@the-great-machine.mit.edu>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain


Ross Anderson:
> Adam Back:
> > If the participant in the CPU resource market is not expected to be
> > able to vet all source code he runs, this gives the would be eternity
> > operator a chance to distribute his risk.
> It's even better than this - your PC becomes a common carrier and you
> are no longer liable :-)

You would be expected to comply with efforts to stamp out illegal activities.
Laws may be passed (e.g. CDA) which would require technical measures to
prevent illegal activity even if you are a common carrier.  Legal
protection is fundamentally weak if the government does not like you. 

Worst case, a government or other criminal organization could employ
technical twrrorist tactics to take out the entire eternity network, if
possible, even if no illegal activity is taking place.

I agree that building a sufficiently large "eternity network" such that
the 1% or so of traffic which is illegal is impossible to censor without
affecting the other 99%.  I believe the web or the internet as a whole
are now large and important enough to Joe Sixpack that shutting them off
to stop illegal activity is infeasible -- I do not agree that USENET
is.  I think 2 weeks of press in the US about "USENET, the network used
by kiddie porn photographers to trade photos, must be shut down" would be
enough to shut usenet in the US down.

> Tim May:
> > Another science fiction writer, Bruce Sterling, popularized "data havens"

> data service would need some way of resisting pressure from the EU and
> the US government. Most of the tax havens do this by being under a
> colonial umbrella. Is there an alternative? Can we create virtual
> colonies in cyberspace? Can we set up a gateway to Eternity in some
> country like Liberia or Somalia, which is too dangerous even for the
> US Marines? Or do we have to cut a deal with Sir Humphrey?

I believe that the US+UK together could shut off nearly all communications
into or out of Libya or Somalia or Liberia or any other small country.  They
already put a fair amount of pressure on the Seychelles (my current
pick for favorite portential datahaven country outside of colonial reach),
and money laundering can survive with less of an established communications
infrastructure than high speed internet communications, at least from
what I know of money laundering.  A "datahaven country" would have
to be immune to such tactics -- either having its own strong military 
(China as datahaven) to defend its national interests, political
connections (Israel?), or enough trade with the US that shutting off
data commo would be impossible for economic reasons (Singapore?).  

If it comes to actual violence in meatspace, I don't think there's anything
a major power couldn't do to a small cypherpunk project.  One approach
would be quickly allying with interests capable of defending themselves 
against such threats -- organized crime, money laundering, arms trading,
etc. -- but even they for the most part could not stand up to a concerted
attack by a government -- they exist through secrecy and connections.  
> Given the rate at which spam is growing these days, maybe that's where
> to put it. If the only way for Authority to cut mortals off from
> Eternity was to pass effective laws against spam, and the only way to
> stop spam was to have a global non-escrowed public key infrastructure
> so that all mortals could be strongly authenticated, then ...

My bet is on the web.  Billing "Eternity DDS" as a sophisticated fault
tolerant web server, which has market-based protocols for exchanging
data futures.  And also designing the protocol to support "financial
services" conducted through eternity dds futures trading.  Get enough
kosher data into it and you can protect yourself from TA, from 
wholesale shutting down of the system, etc.

The same techniques which protect you from a government shutting down
the service protect you from an enemy of someone storing data
in the system shutting down the system.

The single best thing I've seen recently was Ross Anderson's comment
about 90% of cypherpunks work being on secrecy/etc. and 90% of
the commercial IT money going to fault tolerance.  I believe, at least
for an eternity service, one provides the other, and that's
how it can be "sold" to enough users to make it safe for unpopular

(Steganographic File System sounds very interesting -- will the paper
be available online?)
- -- 
Ryan Lackey

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