On 7/9/16 1:27 AM, Steve Furlong wrote:
And empowered by freedom and free speech invented and protected by The West, and the US in particular. It seems likely that the degree of free speech in other Western countries came about, was extended, and/or was protected because of the US First Amendment. There was some existing precedent, and some countries have had various restrictions, but the impenetrable First Amendment provided the most firm model. Every aspect of interpretation had to be fought about, especially including encryption and encryption technology, sometimes with kind of funny results. The fact that electronic source code was restricted while the same code printed in a book couldn't be restricted at all kind of broke some arguments.
Everything about the Internet could have been worse, and would have been had it evolved any other way. It's not just because it started in the US, but because of the people involved, the peculiar restrictions of DARPA funding, think tank goals, and the telecommunications monopoly that ATT had at the time, along with their inability to believe that packet switching had any value over circuit switching. We are very lucky, and we owe a lot to a small set of people who made many great choices.
The US, and much of the West, fought all this out 20 years ago.
Let's expand this idea, which I posted on the 6th:
Cypherpunks could only have survived and thrived and made a difference by being predominantly based in the US. On the other hand, it was helped along and strengthened by international participation, which probably tipped the balance in a number of cases. The balance of powers, freedom vs. Federal / police control, public vs. private, etc. all tend to come down on the side of the state and against the individual or group if a country doesn't have airtight constitutional protections. For instance, while France is generally a nicely free country, it had been illegal to use encryption in a lot of cases in France until fairly recently:
Encryption and privacy is like tax law: You should understand what your rights are, where the lines are, and you're within your rights to go right up to the line. And, when something isn't right, you should be able to explain why precisely and work to fix it. We keep knocking down laws that, if they survived, would become templates for other countries. A few things that slipped through have proved that.
Which isn't to say that the US is perfect. In many ways, the US is always imperfect, always in a squabble or fight about rights and limits, land grabs or monopoly and healthy commerce; that's part of the design of the system and what enables it to generally work and improve long term. Things tend to go in the right direction eventually, catching up with or adopting best practices from elsewhere. It is a model of stable instability, noise that causes eventual escape from disoptimal minima / maxima. A lot of other systems are similar, but seeing some of them go bad, I wonder how many are missing the complete model of balance of powers needed for more permanent stability and resiliency. The quality of people involved can keep any system working somewhat for a while, or conversely they can break a fairly good system. The interesting measure, and the real measure of comparison, is whether a system is elastic and resilient enough to handle extreme torque, failing in little ways gracefully while never failing overall, and still keep going.
One apparent exception, by many people's standards, is guns where historical decisions have a long throw. As yet another resiliency strategy, a kind of defense in depth at the state level, it may or may not still have some of the same effect. We'll just have to solve the problem of effective prevention of mental illness (and very bad meme sets) while suffering some attrition on that front. Solving those is hard, but extremely important and valuable. Determined people don't need guns to kill other people, so I'm skeptical that gun control helps much. We're entering the age of building anything on demand starting only with information and/or imagination, so the impulse of controlling the existence of things is going to rapidly become less effective. Seems like we're almost ready to seriously work on maintaining the quality of mental health and emotional health and culture.
This book, perused last night, seems to be on the right track, exploring that direction:
Natural Security: A Darwinian Approach to a Dangerous World