This piece is a disturbing study of some of Assange's mental pathologies. As a sympathetic party and partially informed observer, I greatly enjoyed reading O'Hagan's writing about Assange's outlook and concerns. I laughed; I cringed; I would read it again.
That is not a realistic scenario. Not everyone kisses people of the same gender. Not everyone wears religious head garb. Not everyone vomits in the street.
A free society is one where people are free to question social norms, express themselves, and act in ways that don't violate others' rights. A society with ubiquitous surveillance is no longer a free society because people cannot freely and openly question social norms through action, express themselves, or act in ways that may be annoying or unbecoming but which do not violate others' rights. In a surveillance society, even one where "everyone knows", these behaviors are implicitly and globally discouraged by the act of recording all behavior and saving it in perpetuity.
Sure they can. They might choose not to out of paranoia or cowardice, but that already happens today. Chilling effects are the result of vague laws and inconsistent enforcement. Universal surveillance solves that problem, it doesn't exacerbate it. There's much less need to speculate about whether you will be convicted of assault for punching this person when you can review every single alleged assault of the last 20 years and whether each defendant was found guilty.
Or people might not choose to exhibit borderline behavior out of rationality. That is, in the recent past, there were consequences for borderline behavior but the leverage of any single actor was no where near the leverage you are proposing.
If you read the wikipedia article, you will find that chilling effects are not only the result of vague laws and inconsistent enforcement but also the result of any legalistic behavior that might cause others to self-police or self-censor.
As for your assertions about universal surveillance, I find your position has a number of serious conditions:
1. It requires total surveillance of everyone.
2. It requires totally unambiguous laws and norms.
3. It requires total stasis of society.
4. It requires total faith in system by the governed population.
There are two major issues with this position:
1. Society must transition to this system somehow and survive.
2. People and systems in the material world are imperfect and we have no existence proof of any social system which achieves anywhere near the requisite levels of assurance.
I can only see this kind of system working in a society with 0 or 1 people in it. That is to say, I believe what you propose is impossible to enact by its very fundaments.
However, you continue to argue that attempting to create such a system is desirable. Due to this, I can only fathom that either:
1. You are a naive totalitarian.
2. You are a long-playing troll.
Because of this line of reasoning, I must conclude that the attempt to bring your proposed social system into being will not succeed and that the intermediate state will be much worse than the present state as totality will never be reached but concentration of power will corrupt.
If you insist that your proposed system is possible, how will you deal with dissenters such as myself who will refuse to live inside such a system? Doesn't the existence of dissent mean that you cannot reach totality? Or perhaps you believe that such a system can be made to accommodate dissent? What if the resistance is violent? Should the surveillance state kill anyone trying to resist its total surveillance, total laws, total stasis, and total faith? That would surely solve the dissent problem but perhaps the result would be neither stable nor pleasant...
You do have a right not to be followed everywhere you go. Ubiquitous ANPR is essentially a police officer/power broker tailing every car without suspicion. This is more than a violation of visible privacy.
It isn't tracking that is bad but suspicionless, ubiquitous tracking.
Your server analogy is badly flawed because it is analogous to your cop/intersection example. A more appropriate analogy would be universal connection/request logging at the ISP level. It's not OK to have all of your society's unencrypted Web requests recorded and correlated by your government. Do you think it's OK? Why? What benefit does it confer to the people?
At a news conference on Thursday devoted largely to
combating terror threats from the Islamic State,
Mr. Comey said, “What concerns me about this is companies
marketing something expressly to allow people to hold
themselves beyond the law.”
The state and the law are separate entities, Mr. Comey. It concerns me that, in your mind, you have conflated the power of the state with the normativity of the law.
In the twentieth century, the modern state gained the power to destroy all life on Earth. In the twenty-first century, the modern state and the modern citizen gained the power of private machine-assisted telepathy, memory, and computation. The state and its avatars must recognize that it cannot and must not have the ability to exercise absolute power over citizen's thoughts, computations, and communications if it wishes to foster a healthy and free society.
> The state and its avatars must recognize that it cannot and must not have the ability to exercise absolute power over citizen's thoughts, computations, and communications if it wishes to foster a healthy and free society
This sounds lovely, except it's just absolute nonsense. For many thousands of years states have maintained the power to restrict citizens communications and almost since the invention of the telegraph they have been able to be monitored in some form. Despite this we are freer than ever.
Healthy and free societies are not built upon a base of unlimited freedom, that is all but anarchy.
Not nonsense at all, just an idealized view of things that doesn't always mesh with reality.
Freedom is not a static thing; it's a constant conflict between various parties. It's a balance.
Various entities within the government are always trying to wrest more control of individuals, more information about their lives, all with the justification of achieving incrementally better service to society and the world.
We the citizens of industrial societies need to come to a consensus as to how much freedom we should have, versus how much we should sacrifice for the sake of collective safety and security. We are nowhere near an agreement at this time.
Who said anything about unlimited freedom? Keeping a few secrets from the state, namely the contents of your mobile phone, is a very limited and modest freedom, and one worth defending. And having that extra bit of privacy is hardly going to unleash the forces of anarchy and chaos.
We are not freer than ever. The ability to make fundamental change in our political systems is more contained to a narrow and doomed range near the status quo than ever.
"Anarchy." You keep using that word. You are equating the potential for absolute privacy in communication with "anarchy." Do you have an explanation for how that is the vanguard of anarchy?
Freedom: Supposedly enlightened places like the US are governed under a system where the rights of individuals are assumed to be open-ended and expanding as new technologies enable more freedom travel, communicate, etc., and the powers of government are fenced-in until the people consent to extend those powers.
Suppose every person generates 1 billion files a second * 7 billion people * 1,000 years = ~3x10 ^ 28 call it 10^29. For a collusion among non identical files using a good 256 bit hash you get ~1/(2^256) * (10^29) * (10^29) = ~1/(2^198).
Or 1 chance in ~4 * 10 ^ 59 of finding even one collision.
Your math is off a bit but you're right, it's a vanishingly small probability of a single collision. This is fairly academic though, when you're talking about an adversary exploiting weaknesses in the algorithm itself, and not a perfect PRF.
You're missing that OCaml isn't stuck in 1999. OCaml now has an excellent package manager, cool new features, lots of system libraries, and a growing community. What do you find out-dated about it? Check out http://www.realworldocaml.org