[cryptome] Re: [ExI] chilling effects

  • From: John Young <jya@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Eugen Leitl <eugen@xxxxxxxxx>,cypherpunks@xxxxxxxxxx, cryptome@xxxxxxxxxxxxx,
  • Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 18:44:10 -0400

A useful invention, or discovery, similar to that of public key
enryption, would be to devise a means to communicate such
that no communication, as we now know it, would actually occur.

Consider what ineffable thought led young Whit Diffie to imagine
PKC. He says it came to him at one point, not altogether believable
at first, thinking there must be a fault somewhere, if valid surely
it had been figured out before. As we know, it had been, by
the quiet Brits, and kept top secret.

What else like that is going on, has gone on, will gone on, all
the while evading classification at birth, not patented, not yet
institutionalized in secrecy madhouses hoarding the best and
brightest, as we know those terms of entrapment.

Consider that a non-communication ineffability has been invented,
or discovered, or is gestating in one or more young minds not
yet regimented by too much education, too much experience,
too much jaded skepticism, too little imagination, too much
comfort of reputation, salary, prizes and pensions, too much
blind faith in technology or mathematics, too much secrecy
as we know them to be crushing of novelty and waywardness.

For example, if the non-communication required no physical or
electromagnetic means but was based on say, conviction, or
concepts, or ideas, or imagination. The message would be
intuited, let us say, or grasped by deduction or induction, or
simply was shared without obvious effort except perhaps
an urge or yearning or desire or hunger or passion or insight,
or why not go for it, love.

Turns out this is not all that unusual. It is rather commonplace
if not ubiquitous. Animals do it, so do vegetables, and probably
minerals, though that is hard to say for sure, perhaps a volcanic
eruption or earthquake or asteroid is passing along content
as well as metadata.

Thought, perhaps faith, exchanges content by ineffability.

The arts, perhaps theoretical if not experimental science,
do too.

Brian Carroll has been exploring these possibilities for
some two decades. If he, then others, most of them
little known, not on the list of comsec wizards, not on
lists at all. That could be what keeps working at the level
of the successors to Diffie  -- and the Brits silenced
by the OSA..

At 04:35 PM 10/25/2013, you wrote:
----- Forwarded message from Anders Sandberg <anders@xxxxxxxx> -----

Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 22:25:47 +0200
From: Anders Sandberg <anders@xxxxxxxx>
To: extropy-chat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ExI] chilling effects
Message-ID: <526AD3CB.9000807@xxxxxxxx>
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Reply-To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

On 2013-10-25 20:32, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> Anders, do you remember Assange? He used to post to this list.
> Have you received email from him? Encrypted email? Are you one
> one or two hops away from people that are known targets? Have you
> received packages from any such? Have you had any significant
> exposure to Bitcoin circles? Did you travel to Bitcoin conferences
> as a speaker? Are you a computer security researcher? Are you
> a member of political group even remotely considered daring,
> or are you connected to people like that? Do you travel a lot,
> into diverse countries? &c&c
> If any of these apply, consider yourself a likely target for
> telco surveillance.

Sure. I also get invited to speak to the US and UK government. If they
*didn't* check me out, they would be rather remiss. You wouldn't want
one of the Bad Guys to visit the MoD or NSC shindig, right?

In fact, one intriguing issue is government self-surveillance. When
the Army invites me to a meeting, no doubt the NSA has to check out
the people attending - they are dealing with somebody in the network
of "interesting" people! Ah, yes, obvious Swedish military and crazy
libertarian connections, hey - double second-order links to Assange!
...wait, a third order link to *Saddam*?! And vice versa, by going to
that meeting I am now by definition an "interesting" person and my
government contacts are worth checking out a bit more... The problem
is of course to rein in the spread of who to keep tabs on - and big
data is providing its own apparent solution: "all of them". Plus that
large scale trawling will tend to pick up lots of things just by
default. Which actually means that various agencies are gathering data
other agencies would rather not have gathered. Just ask David
Petraeus. At least humans know better than to spy on the boss, but the
software can't tell the president apart from another suspiciously
well-connected person who is meeting with shady people.

Add to this the normal craziness of intelligence ( http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/10/spook-century.html
) and there is plenty of potential for tragicomedy.

But the upshot of this is not that I should keep silent: *it doesn't
matter*. I am in this mess whatever I do, even if I follow the best
opsec and sigint practice. The risk of me being targeted is less
affected by my actual activities and more affected by arbitrary group

>> Most dire warnings I hear about how the Powers are doing sinister
>> things seem to be more about getting attention and playing human
>> social games than actual intel. And they do damage by their chilling
>> effects - I have met people who are afraid of being associated with
>> cryptography or working for better intelligence oversight because
> They have reason to suspicition that this adds a flag that can
> make a difference in future, but perhaps being flagged a coward
> stings a bit more.

The most worrisome effect is that a certain kind of people take those
putative flags very seriously, and deliberately live amazingly bland
lives. You can see the young politicians who have nearly no net shadow
except party activities, and plan on being electable because they have
no scandals. You can see it among the admin people who aim at
conforming maximally, thinking this is a clever career move. The
problem is that this can lead to a feedback loop: if the officers
vetting you have a perspective of what a proper life is based on their
own conformist lives, they will gather people like themselves in the
institutions of power. Most bureaucracies love bureaucrats, because
they make sense to bureaucrats.

But this is specific problem that is more narrow than the general
problem of *badly founded* fear of omnipresent and omnicompetent
Powers making people conform.

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

extropy-chat mailing list

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