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Since you are primed on the question. You should read Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge. It's a near-future sci-fi book that tackles these sorts of questions.

As a bit of a "spoiler" his solution is a covenant with the citizens. The government will hack all of our computers, will own the IME equivalents of every machine, and in return they will only use this power to hunt down terrorists and mass murderers, people who are looking to leverage technology to build nuclear weapons, bio-weapons, etc.

Things like parallel construction would have to stop though. Or be considered an immediate dismissal.




That doesn't sound like near-future fiction. That sounds like 20 years ago but without the part that the government promises to only do this for "good" reasons.


That sounds like a rather dull anti-climax...

Another post on the same site as the root post discusses the surveillance state, he roughly justifies what is happening currently:

https://opaque.link/post/fog_of_cryptowar/

But I disagree on a couple of points, truth is more important than pseudo "pragmatism". A problem with incorrect pragmatism is that we collectively talk each other away from the seemingly impossible... which may in fact turn out to be possible. The study of cryptography (both primitives and protocols and systems) can be viewed as the study of paradoxical possibility. Things that seem to be impossible until they turn out to be possible.

It is in this sense that I wrote:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16947652

Perhaps I should be writing science fiction stories instead...


How could the citizens trust the government to do only that?


I mean, in the book, this is post terrorist cells using nuclear weapons and bio weapons, facilitated by technology like the OP, a solution was required. And this one could be non-dystopian, making it better than other solutions.


It could be nondystopian, as long as a government with effectively unlimited surveillance powers could be trusted not to abuse them.

History suggests that is not long.


A strong judiciary, high bar to change the law, and harsh accountability.

Still a fine line to walk.


People from more or less politically stable countries like the US are very naive in not considering what can happen to the best of governments overnight.

People from Europe have this sort of... experience. Most of us know that trusting the government with our lives is not a good idea.


If we’re gonna pull punches...

The US isn’t naive. In fact, it’s the opposite. It is a country that was so aware of the folly of government that it deliberately inhibited its own government by design. Because it knows damn well what happens when you relinquish control of yourself to another. That’s why the 2nd amendment is so fundamental.

The US doesn’t have to worry about things happening to the govt overnight, because the worry is built in. A successful model exits, it just needs to be followed...


> People from more or less politically stable countries like the US

I would have agreed with that assessment in the past but in the present I really can't.


Come on, if your country can handle _this_ president without collapsing immediately, your political system is really well designed!


Shall we wait until it is over before drawing conclusions? It's already gone downhill a lot further than I would have expected, the degree to which people are apparently willing to enable all this is f'ing scary.


The Patriot Act and Snowden's revelations show how quickly and drastically the government can misappropriate powers granted to it.


Definitely already read it! Great book, and part of where the questions come from.




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