1998-07-07 - RE: Junger et al.

Header Data

From: Jim Burnes <root@ssds.com>
To: Ernest Hua <Hua@teralogic-inc.com>
Message Hash: 895eac16071cd151065902a14ef68040ab4260f4f020a4052fe6c6316ae289fc
Message ID: <Pine.LNX.3.96.980707120752.562A-100000@mothra.fastrans.com>
Reply To: <413AC08141DBD011A58000A0C924A6D52C359C@mvs2.teralogic-inc.com>
UTC Datetime: 1998-07-07 18:29:21 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 11:29:21 -0700 (PDT)

Raw message

From: Jim Burnes <root@ssds.com>
Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 11:29:21 -0700 (PDT)
To: Ernest Hua <Hua@teralogic-inc.com>
Subject: RE: Junger et al.
In-Reply-To: <413AC08141DBD011A58000A0C924A6D52C359C@mvs2.teralogic-inc.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.3.96.980707120752.562A-100000@mothra.fastrans.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Hash: SHA1

On Mon, 6 Jul 1998, Ernest Hua wrote:

> I think we are in violent agreement here ...
> Except that it seems odd that speech is no longer 1st amendment
> protected as soon as it can be interpreted by a machine to do something.
> So, then, if I want to deny you first amendment protections for
> something, I can simply write a compiler to turn your words into machine
> executable code, and suddenly, your words are no longer protected
> speech.  How could that be a reasonable interpretation of functional
> versus not?

Obviously there is no difference between 10 lines of PERL and
1500 lines of assembler (or machine code).  Executability is in the
eye of the beholder.  I can create an interpreter to execute english
(and in fact have done so in LISP).  Does that mean english is no longer

By the same argument, DNA is also a device.  The federal government
can now determine who you can reproduce with. (eugenics?)

DNA strands are instructions, code if you will, that describe to
cellular automata (literally ;-), how to (1) create a human being
(that could be dangerous -- they've been known to kill) and
(2) through fantastic complexity generate a fully functioning
human being, with all the behavioral patterns and biological
operations necessary to sustain said human being.

Imputing "deviceness" to code is missing the point.  There is
"deviceness" in all information.  It just depends on the context.

I would argue that it is specifically this "deviceness" that is protected
in the first amendment.  Speech isn't just about yammering on about
abstract concepts.  The imperative form of speech is probably the
most necessary to protect in a free society.

The most sacred form of democratic speech is probably the
vote.  Does it contain "deviceness"?  Absolutely.  The vote
is democratic force.

Is it not protected speech?

Speech in action is code in action.  When they can make code
illegal, they can make comittees to un-elect illegal and they
can make talking about impeaching the president illegal.

Think about that.

PostScript: It seems its not so much speech they don't like.
They don't like us talking to our computers, because there are
some things that computers do that are very powerful.  Maybe
more powerful than the state can handle.

In other words, I can tell Jan Hammer in Germany exactly how
to do what PGP does.  It might take him an infinity to actually
do it, but that speech is protected.  When I tell Jan's computer
how to do it, its illegal.

So speech is ok as long as its ineffective.  If it can actually
effect change then its illegal.

Interesting notion of free speech.


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