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Don't blame the tool. Never blame the tool. Knives can do horrific murders, but they are pretty useful for cooking as well. I'm surprised your comment is the top one here.



> Never blame the tool.

We can predict how a tool might be used by various users. We can also look at how similar tools have been used historically.

If, empirically, certain tools tend to be mis-used in familiar ways, it's just ignorant to say "don't blame the tool". It's a straw-man. When people "blame the tool", it's typically short-hand for arguing that the creators and distributors of the tool share some of the blame for its misuse, along with the abusers.

I.e. there's a long history of tool creators playing dumb / innocent about the predictable and likely abuses of the tools they create. There's an equally long history of these abuses, so any such arguments are to maintain cognitive dissonance, or made out of pure ignorance.

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But it's a cost/benefit problem, no? People say this bearing in mind free speech. Sure, free speech makes it ok to say lots of terrible things, but the boon to human rights outweighs by far the evil made possible. People assume that this logic extends to technologies that facilitate free speech. Care to argue that it does not?

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I'm thinking more of engineers who happily work on scramjets and ignore that extra mass budget and those empty payload bays that aren't for cameras.

Someone on here recommended an inspiring TED talk by the head? of Darpa. Rather than finding it inspiring, I found her naiveté or willful ignorance chilling. Somewhat off-topic.

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Many countries have decided that removing free speech rights from, e.g., child pornography is worth it. Why would that logic not extend to the technologies you mention also?

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Because part of the purpose of these networks is to subvert government control. If you can censor one thing (e.g. child porn), then you can censor anything, which makes it useless if you're an anti-government radical in China, for example.

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I'm not blaming the tool. I'm pointing out its inadequacy. I am saying there is an interesting and very hard problem here that severely limits the adoption of these technologies, and that solving it would be both interesting and important.

The darknet problem as defined by most techies is solved, yet almost nobody uses these systems. Why?

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What inadequacy? To say that a tool designed to facilitate anonymous communication is inadequate because people are doing things on it that you don't like seems like a pretty strange position. The inadequacy of a darknet is its uncensorability?

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In freenet at least there is one significant inadequacy that you must commit your resources to supply others with material you strongly disagree with. The difference between having a network which others can use for trading CP and having a network that want's your bandwidth and disk space to serve CP crosses the line for many people.

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I see -- I can understand how that might be a concern. I'm not sure it's really a valid moral issue, but I can certainly imagine it bothering people.

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Your network is trivially vulnerable to a social DOS attack that will instantly drive off 90% of its user-base.

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Interesting. I think most people here on HN also believe in gun rights (as a fundamental right, not that they actually own a gun) and so the saying "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" probably goes over well here.

BUT don't most people here also wish that nuclear weapons could be un-invented? Isn't that the general feeling among those that participated in the development of that technology, that they wish they never did it?

What about the responsible disclosure of zero-days? Don't we agree that those are things we don't want floating around so that anybody can potentially use them before it can be patched?

Or what about an intentional backdoor into an encryption system? Is it only bad if people use it? Or is it bad in of itself?

It is obviously more complicated than "never blame the tool". Some knives are designed for cooking, some knives are designed to inflict maximum damage and pain to human flesh.

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I think most people here on HN also believe in gun rights

What makes you think that?

If I had to guess, I'd say ~30-40% of people on HN support the US concept of "gun rights". "Gun rights" support probably around 50% in support in the US[1], but 80-90% against outside the US. Given the large international audience HN has I think that would move the average significantly.

(I agree with the rest of your comment, though)

[1] http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/07/23/gun-control-po... says in the US 44% support the status quo and 11% support less strict laws.

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> says in the US 44% support the status quo and 11% support less strict [gun] laws.

A solid majority don't know what the laws are so "support the status quo" is interesting.

They tend to believe that the laws are less restrictive than they actually are. When you quiz them about specific "proposals", which happen to be current law, you find that those proposals are significantly less popular than the status quo.

Two examples of this are wrt concealed carry and automatic weapons. On the former, very few people think that police should have complete and arbitrary discretion wrt CCW, yet they do in the jurisdictions with the majority of the population.

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If what you say is correct, and assuming the US Citizens on HN reflect public opinion then that would reduce support on HN even further than I estimate above.

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> assuming the US Citizens on HN reflect public opinion

They're not a very acccurate reflection. For one, their demographics are very different.

> then that would reduce support on HN even further than I estimate above.

Reduce support for what? My claim suggests that the more folks know about US gun laws, the less they support current law and the more they support less strict laws, and I didn't even address the folks who want more strict gun laws. (When you ask them the same questions, many of them have the same reaction as "status quo" folk. They want "more", but they don't want things as strict as they already are.)

BTW - That's why the whole "assault weapon" campaign is political genius. The guns in question are "military" in the same sense that the cars that you can get at a Chevy dealer are race cars (that is, not at all). It plays on ignorance.

Then again, a large number of folks think that "tactical vest" means "bullet proof". (It means "lots of pockets"; think fishing vest, only black or camo fabric.)

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Agreed. I don't mind saying I'm wrong on that; I admit I have a typical American bias. I would say that HN is probably much more libertarian-leaning than the average US citizen but probably not enough to warrant my claim of a majority (of HN users). Can I claim my point is still valid though (re: guns as tools)? :-)

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Well, like I said, I agree with the rest of your comment.

BUT - I think that technology is an amplifier - it makes things easier, quicker and more powerful than before.

Sometimes, building tools that amplify certain behaviours isn't neutral.

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> I'm surprised your comment is the top one here.

At least at the time of writing this, his comment is the only top-level comment. So it's not so much that it's the top-rated comment, but rather it's the only one that can be displayed in that position.

EDIT: Nevermind. I didn't notice that there are multiple pages of comments. Disregard.

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