System Status: Software update brings new features. Please report any bugs.


inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #51 of 106: Kirsten Bayes (kirsten-bayes) Thu 6 Dec 01 06:04
    
<pardon the slippage>

I'd be interested to hear what kind of organisations people believe
might become cyberstates.

If the definition of a cyberstate includes a hidden economy, a
sovereign legal system and (I'd suggest) the ability to take executive
military action, it seems to me that there have
historically been three types:

- religious organisations: for example, the pre-reformation christian
Church, which could command crusades, issue excommunications and trade
in prayers for money.

- commercial organisations: for example the British East India
company, a commercial organisation which could field armies and who (at
least in India) was responsible only to itself

- nationalist organisations: for example, the Irish Republican Army
before partition, which had a vision for a nation which exists now, but
didn't then. Again, todays IRA has its own hidden economy and law
enforcement, as well as the more high-profile military-style attacks.

What others might exist?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #52 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Thu 6 Dec 01 06:27
    
Gail asks about the sense in which al-Qaida is "cyber".  That's a good
questions, since key members don't even use cell phones and communicate by
foot messengers.  On the other hand, there are *reports* that al-Qaida has
been using steganography (hiding encrypted messages in image files an
uploading them to high volume locations on the web -- i.e. porn sites).  In
my view the real issue isn't the kind of communication being used, but
rather the organization of the system.  Al-Qaida seems to be organized into
a network with good information gathering and sharing, lots of redundancy,
and lots of authonomous packets that can continue to operate if
communications *are* cut off.  The real test will be to see what happens in
OBL is eliminated.  My guess is that the short term effects on the network
won't be very significant.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #53 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Thu 6 Dec 01 06:40
    
Shannon, in #48, suggests that the Lineage phenomenon is just a case of
people using RW money to buy RW entertainment.  I mostly agree with
Kirsten's response in #49, but I have a thought or two that I might tack
onto what she said.  Notice that this isn't working like typical
entertainment.  If we play monopoly together, the currency has no RW value
and the real estate we buy has no RW value (not even Park Place).  You can't
become rich playing Monopoly, unless, I guess, there is a contest in which a
prize is given to the winner.  This is different.  You can make an honest
living in this virtual space by networking, building tools, and selling them
in the local currency (which is in turn translatable into RW currencies).
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #54 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Thu 6 Dec 01 06:46
    
Bruce keeps asking me to give advice to would-be anthology editors.  The
main advice I have is "don't do it."  It's a big pain in the butt and you
don't get much cred for doing it.  On the other hand, sometimes you can
organize essays in away that tells a story in a more compelling way than you
could tell the story on your own.  I guess that's true here.  Barlow and
Brin and Dery and Barbrook and May and Bey are all much more compelling
writers than I am.  Why should I take all of their ideas and restate them in
boring academic prose.  As with _High Noon_ part of the aim of the project
was to have an eclectic collection that would reflect the discourse of
cyberculture in style as well as content.  The project just had to be done
this way.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #55 of 106: rankincense and myrrh (vsclyne) Thu 6 Dec 01 08:25
    

Re Lineage:  Amazing!  I had no idea there was a such a
RW trading market.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #56 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Thu 6 Dec 01 08:43
    
Well, see, Peter? That's just the kind of helpful advice I was hoping
you could give!

I like Kristen's list.

There's discussion of Lineage in a piece up at Salon that's relevant
to this discussion, too. "The return of Lord British: Banished from his
own Ultima domains, game designer Richard Garriott is making a
comeback, via Korea."
By Wagner James Au <wjamesau>
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/12/04/garriott/index.html

And Julian Dibbell had a dandy piece on OBL and steganography (the art
of keeping communications themselves undetected) in Feed back in
February.
"Pirate Utopia: What does Osama bin Laden's Web porn infiltration have
to do with Napster's fight for life?"
http://www.feedmag.com/templates/printer.php3?a_id=1624
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #57 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Thu 6 Dec 01 11:31
    
I'll check out Waggie's piece.  This is my new favorite subject.

I've read Julian's piece and like it quite a lot.  He actually cites the
_Crypto Anarchy_ collection and draws an independent connection between
steganography and Hakim Bey's TAZs.  Independently, I've done some research
into recent academic writing on Steganography, and it's worth noting that no
one has confirmed the use of steganography by OBL.  One group of researchers
has developed a statistical tool that can identify images that have hidden
steganographic files and they used it to search one million images on e-Bay
(they found nothing).  I'm not clear why they were checking on e-Bay, which
would be one of the worst possible places to post such files IMHO.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #58 of 106: Kirsten Bayes (kirsten-bayes) Fri 7 Dec 01 11:18
    
Of the three broad ways that ObL might have hidden his messages,

- secrecy coding (cryptography)
- channel coding (steganography)
- source coding (pre-agreed code-phrases, shared referential
framework)

steganography is the least likely, I think.

As post-event analysis has apparently revealed, many of the messages
associated with the Sept-11 attacks were sent in clear, in Arabic.

And why not? After all, anonymous or one-time e-mail boxes are easy to
set up, and the people sending messages to each other would have so
much in common, that they would find source coding much easier to do. 

All it would take would be to make references to obscure parts of the
Koran in Arabic, and all the readers of a note would know instantly
what the message meant, while the NSA's scanning computers would just
pass the message by. 

Or they could just refer to past shared experiences. As Star Trek fans
would say, it would be like "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra"...
http://www.chaparraltree.com/sflang/referen.shtml
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #59 of 106: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 7 Dec 01 12:21
    
Deep esoterica coding?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #60 of 106: Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Fri 7 Dec 01 13:16
    

   I've wondered for some time now whether the claims that these folks
were using steganography were some kind of attempt to drag the encryption
bugaboo into the argument in the complete absence of proof.  Since the
overzealous law enforcement and anti-privacy types couldn't point to any
smoking guns (encrypted messages) and made the mistake of admitting such,
maybe they felt that they really needed somehow to have an unprovable but
conceivably plausible encryption-related claim which they could repeat to
the press and public until gradually the meme would be established that
ObL et.al. had used "some kind of encryption" -- and then, of course, after
a suitable delay to allow memories to blur they could resume their same old
tired and fallacious arguments for outlawing encryption and probably get a
lot of benefit from that remembered association.

   Paranoid conspiracy theory?   Maybe so, maybe so.

   Run-on sentence?  Definitely.     ;-)
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #61 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Fri 7 Dec 01 13:28
    
I'm with Kristin and Bob. Some number of pre-9-11 stories used OBL as
a hook for a stego or crypto story. "These guys could be using
steganography. What's that? It's [insert story here]."

Ashcroft came on all tough about crypto and privacy when he was a
senator looking for additional modica of support for his presidential
aspirations. Now that he is the nation's law enforcer that kind of talk
gets your patriotism questioned.

Peter: you've said above that you're more concerned about abuse of
users by overzealous sysops than about a lack of means of enforcement
within cyberspaces or -states. Could you say a little bit about due
process in cyberspace, where things stand, how you think things might
or ought to develop?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #62 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Sat 8 Dec 01 11:41
    
About #60, I've also wondered whether the OBL+steganography story wasn't
being floated as a way to discredit crypto in general, although I couldn't
see what is supposed to be gained by such stories (anti-crypto legislation?
-- but the genie is out of the bottle).  Steganography software is trivially
easy to use so I supppose OBL *could* have used it, but why would he/they
bother?  The only thing I can think of would be it's potential value in
screwing up traffic analysis.

About due process in cyberspace, it tends to be a mixed bag, doesn't it?
Here on the WELL, for example, it's not really clear if there is a set
process for booting problematic users.  I'm also not clear on whether there
is an appeal process.  Other place have had executive councils, but these
have met with limited success (here I'm thinking of MediaMOOs experiment
with this) or with ballot initiatives (LamdaMOO).  One thing that is clear
is that the person who owns the machine seems to have the last word.  One
other point to consider is that in cyberspace, the possible laws and
enforcement mechanisms tend to be constrained by the software running on the
system, so that there is no clear distinction between legal decisions and
technical decisions (I guess this was the lesson learned on LambdaMOO,
forcing Haakon to reintroduce wizzardly fiat.)  There's other stuff going on
(for example, as far as I know the Virtual Magistrate project is still up
and running) but I'm not sure how much success they've enjoyed.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #63 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Sat 8 Dec 01 15:02
    
Here's a pretty interesting review:
http://www.popmatters.com/books/reviews/c/crypto-anarchy.html
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #64 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Sun 9 Dec 01 15:53
    
"The person who owns the machine seems to have the last word." Which gives
leverage by the boatload to powers in the political jurisdication in RL
where the machine resides. (I'm thinking, for instance, of penet.fi and the
contrast between the Bavarian govt. leaning on CompuServe some years back
and the ongoing French case over Yahoo! and Nazi memorabilia.)

Although it doesn't surprise *me*, of course, some people might be surprised
to find work like this being turned out by a guy in a philosophy department.

How'd you end up in philosophy, <ludlow>? What do your colleagues make of
this wacky cyber stuff you've been up to?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #65 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Sun 9 Dec 01 18:45
    
The power resides with the person who owns the machine, but not with the
powers that be in  the RL political jurisdiction where the machine resides.
After all, the machine *can* be moved anywhere (or the software and data
can, which is all that matters).  The only effective way to deal with an
evil sysop is through virtual attacks on the system, and users could do this
just as easily as a terrestial power.

Ending up in philosophy was easy;  it's the only thing I could do well.  I
only got into cyberspace ethics issues when a Stony Brook Dean attempted to
"detrack" me (i.e. remove me from tenure track).  As far as I can tell, the
Dean's motivation was that my work was, and I quote...

"mechanistic, realistic, monistic, reductionistic, empiricistic, and
methodologically behavioristic...and in profound logical and conceptual
conflict with contemporary religious doctrine concerning human morality."

Did I forget to mention that he was a Jesuit priest?  Anyway, some months into
this situation, the Dean decided that I had hacked into the university e-
mail system and was reading his e-mail (why he thought this is beyond me).
Anyway, it taught me a lot about techno-paranoia and how it leads to false
accusations and harrassment.  I subsequently wandered onto the WELL and the
eff conference, where I think the first person on the WELL to talk to me was
Steve Jackson.  I hung out in that conf., and learned a lot.  Later, I was
in Italy when the Italian Hacker Crackdown broke (this is discussed in an
appendix to _High Noon_.

Um, that's how it started.  Now it's just something I do.  Since the attempt
to detrack me (back in 1991) failed, people at Stony Brook have let me do
whatever I want, and, truth be told, I think they like this stuff better
than my "straight" philosophy.  Or at least they understand it better.  On
the whole, however, these books don't count for much in the philosophy
community, which is something that doesn't really bother me.  This is just
something I do.  It doesn't really take philosophical training.  Just
thought.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #66 of 106: Mike Godwin (mnemonic) Mon 10 Dec 01 12:38
    

"mechanistic, realistic, monistic, reductionistic, empiricistic, and
 methodologically behavioristic...and in profound logical and conceptual
 conflict with contemporary religious doctrine concerning human morality."

Of course, he couldn't help but say that.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #67 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Mon 10 Dec 01 14:00
    
If only I had thought to tell him that!
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #68 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Mon 10 Dec 01 14:06
    
You couldn't help but fail to.

Mike made me smile.

You've got some pieces in the book, Peter, that come down hard on the
ideology said to be behind (to have been behind?) Wired magazine. Can you
give the gist of them for those following at home? Why was it important to
you to include them?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #69 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Mon 10 Dec 01 14:26
    
I wasn't trying to pick on _Wired_, it's just that _Wired_ was spewing the
bulk of the extant utopian rants, and consequently drew a lot of fire.  Or
rather, the authors of those rants drew fire.  I guess the two essays that
you're thinking of are the ones by Purdy and Jacobs.  Barbrook's target is
more general, and Dery is very specifically aiming at Negroponte.  Dery's
essay is without question the toughest of the bunch.  Here's one of my
favorite passages from his essay:

>
>

Troubling thoughts of social ills such as crime and unemployment and
homelessness rarely crease the Negroponte brow.  In fact, he's strangely
uninterested in social anything, from neighborhood life to national
politics.  Despite his insistence that the Digital Revolutiontm is about
communication, not computers, there's no real civic life or public sphere to
speak of, in his future.

There, most of the communicating takes place between you and talkative
doorknobs or "interface agents" such as the "eight inch-high holographic
assistants walking across your desk."   In the next millennium, predicts
Negroponte, "we will find that we are talking as much or more with machines
than we are with humans."   Thus, the Information Age autism of his wistful
"dream for the interface": that "computers will be more like people."
Appliances and household fixtures enjoy a rich social life in Negroponte's
future, exchanging electronic "handshakes" and "mating calls": "If your
refrigerator notices that you are out of milk," he writes, "it can 'ask'
your car to remind you to pick some up on your way home."   Human community,
meanwhile, consists of "digital neighborhoods in which physical space will
be irrelevant": knowledge workers dialing in from their electronic cocoons,
squeezing their social lives through phonelines.
>
>
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #70 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Tue 11 Dec 01 04:26
    
Yes. That's on a line with the Brin and Barbrook essays from the first
section, where Brin closes with (roughly) "I am a member of a
civilization. Try saying it aloud sometime." (I just looked it up, and
am interested to note that I recalled it as "of a community," which is
different than "of a civilization.")

Jacobs responds to a series of quotations from Kevin Kelly, Doug
Rushkoff, Barlow, Louis Rusetto, "What redistribution of power? I can't
believe Kelly, Rushkoff, Rosetto, and Barlow don't know better. I
can't believe they don't understand that the electronic culture in
which they operate is still laregely run by white men . . . and still
dominated by big corporations such as ATT, Microsoft, and Sony."

That seems to me to be at the heart of some of the biggest beefs with
a lot of Internet utopianism: that it promises a new world in which
meatspace marks of privilege don't matter and in which the free
association of each allows the flourishing of all, but it can't
deliver.

Is that something worth ranting about, or is this just whining? Is the
Net "woman-friendly" or "race-blind," or do those questions even make
sense? Is it a surprise how RL power plays out in virtual spaces?
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #71 of 106: Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Tue 11 Dec 01 12:30
    

  That's pretty obviously just the same old tired whining that certain
people have stuck with for decades.  In point of fact the Net has been
adopted by and become available to the non-rich and non-white far FASTER
than any technological innovation in history, and if we can keep the
existing meatspace power elites from regulating and taxing and controlling
it out of existence then it's going to be the greatest equalizing force
in history as well.  (I suspect that some of those elites know that very
well indeed, and it has them seriously frightened for their positions.)
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #72 of 106: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Tue 11 Dec 01 15:03
    
(Reminder for those following this discussion who are not members of
The Well: If you want to ask a question or comment, you can communicate
with the hosts by sending email to inkwell-hosts@well.com .)
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #73 of 106: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 12 Dec 01 17:19
    

Hi, Peter.  What a lot of fun it must have been to collect the people
and pieces for this book.

I've been thinking about what you said about machines being portable.
I think in the context of legal or unnoticed activities, that's pretty
true, and the owner or one in physical posession plus root password
possession has a lot of power.

There is some community power based on contracts with users, when there 
is one, but those are usually one-sided, since they are typically 
modifyable by the site owner at any time.

But governments can seize machines, and threaten, fine, jail, or even
kill people who are seen to be a threat.  "Just move the box" is not at
the level of a law of nature or a basic human right, even if it works
when nobody is concerned.

And even if the act was pre-emptive, it might be stoppped.  Exporting a 
pirate community might be a move a government would want to defeat.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #74 of 106: democracy being a left thing, anyway (ludlow) Wed 12 Dec 01 18:37
    
Gail, you're right to press on this point, since machines *do* have to be
somewhere in meatspace, and setting up a new one after being busted is not a
trivial matter -- especially if the terrestial power is persistent.  But on
the other hand, there is nothing to stop the members of a virtual community
from reuniting elsewhere on somebody else's machine, and any government that
wants to squash a virtual community out of existence will be chasing it for
quite a while.  For example, if you shut down Napster, gnutella rears its
heads (it's like trying to slay a hydra).  There's no reason why a virtual
community like the WELL needs to be located on a single system.  It someone
tried to pull the plug on it and all other servers we could always go to a
distributed architecture (like fidonet).  Then the gov. is in this
impossible possition of having to bust every single user.  As the Italian
government learned in it's fidonet bust some years ago, this is not easily
done.

As for the nasty sysop who changes the rules on the community members, well
the community members can always move to another location with more
favorable rule sets.  This is an idea that's is considered in the essays by
Post and Johnson -- one might get a kind of competition among rule sets,
with the sysops offering the most equitable rules getting the
customers/citizens.  Virtual migration, if you will.
  
inkwell.vue.133 : Peter Ludlow: Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias
permalink #75 of 106: Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Wed 12 Dec 01 19:32
    
The main problem I have with that argument is that it seems to imply
that a virtual community is somehow invincible.  That just seems like
idle boasting - there are countermeasures to everything.  If an
organization is sufficiently determined they can probably keep it
together, but at what cost?  It has to be a pretty important cause for
their members to be willing to pay the price.  It's so much easier not
to get into such a conflict to start with.

For example, as I understand it one tactic being used against Gnutella
users is to get their ISP to disconnect them.  Sure, they could get
another connection, but that's already a lot to pay for free music.
  

More...



Members: Enter the conference to participate

Subscribe to an RSS 2.0 feed of new responses in this topic RSS feed of new responses

 
   Join Us
 
Home | Learn About | Conferences | Member Pages | Mail | Store | Services & Help | Password | Join Us

Twitter G+ Facebook