Cory Doctorow: "The Coming Civil War over General-purpose Computing" | Talks at Google

By: Talks at Google

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Uploaded on 08/22/2012

Who governs digital trust?

Doctorow framed the question this way: "Computers are everywhere. They
are now something we put our whole bodies into---airplanes, cars---and
something we put into our bodies---pacemakers, cochlear implants. They
HAVE to be trustworthy."

Sometimes humans are not so trustworthy, and programs may override
you: "I can't let you do that, Dave." (Reference to the
self-protective insane computer Hal in Kubrick's film "2001." That
time the human was more trustworthy than the computer.) Who decides
who can override whom?

The core issues for Doctorow come down to Human Rights versus Property
Rights, Lockdown versus Certainty, and Owners versus mere Users.

Comments (4):

By zAy0LfpBZLC8mAC    2017-09-20

> are you okay with me being able to spend two weeks on the dark-web researching how to make and detonate a bomb using totally innocent chemical purchases, and then your spouse, parents, relatives, or you, being an innocent victim of my exploding the results, or would you want me to be stopped at some point after I started doing that?

Yes, of course. Just as I am okay with people being able to spend ten minutes to take a knife from the kitchen and kill me. People are able to do all kinds of bad stuff, doesn't mean they actually do. The only alternative to a world where people are able to do bad stuff is totalitarianism, which is itself bad stuff (if only because I don't get to say what is considered good and what is considered bad), so not actually a solution either.

Also, what you seem to think is just a logical impossibility. Either your communication can be read by third parties or it can not. You cannot build crypto that only leaks nuclear bomb plans, but keeps your medical information uncrackable.

And you might be interested in some of Cory Doctorow's talks (or blog articles or maybe even books) on the general topic of "the war against general-purpose computing", like maybe one of these:

Original Thread

By zAy0LfpBZLC8mAC    2017-09-20

> How does the arbitrariness of those technological restrictions differ from the arbitrariness of the legal restrictions which I'm sure the author would insist upon, should you decide to republish their work?

One of those is decided by a democratic process, the other is dictated by one party.

> but that is a problem of execution, not one of concept.

Actually, it is a problem of the concept. It is asking for computers to be robbed of their defining characteristic, and to be put under dictatorial control.

See also Cory Doctorow's talks on the topic, like maybe this one: (he gave this and similar talks in many places, you can find quite a few of them on youtube, I have no clue whether this particular one is good)

Original Thread

By _nrvs    2017-09-20

Glad this made me remember Cory Doctrow riffing on similar scenarios in 2012 with his talk "The Coming Civil War over General-purpose Computing"

Original Thread

By freedomben    2018-01-13

Always interested in what Cory Doctorow has to say. While this particular blog post isn't about DRM, his work is benefiting everyone (except those who would rather enrich themselves at the expense of humanity). It's probably bigger than you think. I highly recommend reading up on what Cory has to say on DRM and the war on general purpose computing. It may change your mind.

Also watch the various youtube videos of his talks, like this one:

Original Thread

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