Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

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Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed May 25, 2011 8:54 am

Assange thinks all information should be out in the open. Zuckerberg thinks privacy is an outmoded concept. These utopian notions might sound ginchy at first, until one spends 5 seconds thinking through the consequences. As you might recall from reading Orwell in high school literature class, a somewhat free, democratic society cannot exist without some degree of privacy.

And, it's funny but true, the 'INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE' philosophies of Googbook and Facetweetwiki have their origins in the utopian Cyber Theorists of the 1970s, who believed it was humanity's destiny to be uploaded into a computer. The beliefs of this odd digi-cult formed the basis of the Disney film TRON and the subculture of hacktivists; now they guide global media & commerce through their progeny- the major internet firms of Silicon Valley.

This important Topic will explore the origins of this cult, sometimes known as THE SINGULARITY, and its influence on shaping the emerging Goog World Order.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Wed May 25, 2011 9:01 am

Hrm, maybe a few words from Cyber Guru Jaron Lanier.

Jaron, you argue the web isn’t living up to its initial promise. How has the internet transformed our lives for the worse?

The problem is not inherent in the Internet or the Web. Deterioration only began around the turn of the century with the rise of so-called “Web 2.0” designs. These designs valued the information content of the web over individuals. It became fashionable to aggregate the expressions of people into dehumanized data. There are so many things wrong with this that it takes a whole book to summarize them. Here’s just one problem: It screws the middle class. Only the aggregator (like Google, for instance) gets rich, while the actual producers of content get poor. This is why newspapers are dying. It might sound like it is only a problem for creative people, like musicians or writers, but eventually it will be a problem for everyone. When robots can repair roads someday, will people have jobs programming those robots, or will the human programmers be so aggregated that they essentially work for free, like today’s recording musicians? Web 2.0 is a formula to kill the middle class and undo centuries of social progress.

You say that we’ve devalued intellectual achievement. How?

On one level, the Internet has become anti-intellectual because Web 2.0 collectivism has killed the individual voice. It is increasingly disheartening to write about any topic in depth these days, because people will only read what the first link from a search engine directs them to, and that will typically be the collective expression of the Wikipedia. Or, if the issue is contentious, people will congregate into partisan online bubbles in which their views are reinforced. I don’t think a collective voice can be effective for many topics, such as history- and neither can a partisan mob. Collectives have a power to distort history in a way that damages minority viewpoints and calcifies the art of interpretation. Only the quirkiness of considered individual expression can cut through the nonsense of mob- and that is the reason intellectual activity is important.

On another level, when someone does try to be expressive in a collective, Web 2.0 context, she must prioritize standing out from the crowd. To do anything else is to be invisible. Therefore, people become artificially caustic, flattering, or otherwise manipulative.

Web 2.0 adherents might respond to these objections by claiming that I have confused individual expression with intellectual achievement. This is where we find our greatest point of disagreement. I am amazed by the power of the collective to enthrall people to the point of blindness. Collectivists adore a computer operating system called LINUX, for instance, but it is really only one example of a descendant of a 1970s technology called UNIX. If it weren’t produced by a collective, there would be nothing remarkable about it at all.

Meanwhile, the truly remarkable designs that couldn’t have existed 30 years ago, like the iPhone, all come out of “closed” shops where individuals create something and polish it before it is released to the public. Collectivists confuse ideology with achievement.

Why has the idea that “the content wants to be free” (and the unrelenting embrace of the concept) been such a setback? What dangers do you see this leading to?

The original turn of phrase was “Information wants to be free.” And the problem with that is that it anthropomorphizes information. Information doesn’t deserve to be free. It is an abstract tool; a useful fantasy, a nothing. It is non-existent until and unless a person experiences it in a useful way. What we have done in the last decade is give information more rights than are given to people. If you express yourself on the internet, what you say will be copied, mashed up, anonymized, analyzed, and turned into bricks in someone else’s fortress to support an advertising scheme. However, the information, the abstraction, that represents you is protected within that fortress and is absolutely sacrosanct, the new holy of holies. You never see it and are not allowed to touch it. This is exactly the wrong set of values.

The idea that information is alive in its own right is a metaphysical claim made by people who hope to become immortal by being uploaded into a computer someday. It is part of what should be understood as a new religion. That might sound like an extreme claim, but go visit any computer science lab and you’ll find books about “the Singularity,” which is the supposed future event when the blessed uploading is to take place. A weird cult in the world of technology has done damage to culture at large.

So individuals aren’t making money on their own work – but someone is. Who generally profits from the content that the collective creates for free?

The only business model for aggregated or collectivized information- information that isn’t bought and sold directly- is the routing of advertising. Everything but advertising becomes free. It isn’t the advertisers who become rich in the long term, because there are fewer and fewer things to be sold, other than ads. It is the owner of the ad exchange that becomes rich. At the moment this means Google for most purposes, though in the financial sphere there are other parties playing an analogous role. (I should say that I personally know the Google folks, and like them. They didn’t have an evil plan- but they did find themselves in a niche that is problematic.)

Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth. The body starts consuming itself. That is what we are doing online. As more and more human activity is aggregated, people huddle around the last remaining oases of revenue. Musicians today might still be able to get paid to make music for video games, for instance, because games are still played in closed consoles and haven’t been collectivized as yet.

As I stated above, as technology improves, and robots can do more and more things, the whole economy becomes more and more a cultural activity. Therefore, what we do to our culture today is what we do to our whole economy, and civilization, someday soon.

You talk about the inherent dangers in cloud computing – what exactly is it, and why is it so problematic?

Cloud computing as a technology is not the problem...What IS a huge problem is the use of cloud computing to support the fantasy that information is alive in its own right, and that the activities or expressions of individual people are nothing but one form of computing resource, targeted for aggregation. This is, unfortunately, an approximate statement of the latest ideology that has taken hold of the cloud.

How did cloud computing contribute to the financial crises in 2008?

Money is a form of information- the oldest form. The combination of money and cloud computing has yet to be sorted out in a way that can allow capitalism to function in the long term. Hedge funds and the like are essentially mirrors of Google that search for money instead of advertising opportunities. And they find it. The financial services industry expanded vastly when cloud computing became available in the last decade, and provided no improved service in return. (The service provided by that sector is supposed to be risk management and what can one say?)

The core issue is that when someone owns a key node of the network through which everyone’s information flows, the position is so advantageous that it undermines the very notion of an economy. It is like owning everyone’s blood.

In YOU ARE NOT A GADGET, you argue that the idea that the collective is smarter than the individual is wrong. Why is this?

There are some cases where a group of people can do a better job of solving certain kinds of problems than individuals. One example is setting a price in a marketplace. Another example is an election process to choose a politician. All such examples involve what can be called optimization, where the concerns of many individuals are reconciled.

There are other cases that involve creativity and imagination. A crowd process generally fails in these cases. The phrase “Design by Committee” is treated as derogatory for good reason. That is why a collective of programmers can copy UNIX but cannot invent the iPhone.

In the book, I go into considerably more detail about the differences between the two types of problem solving. Creativity requires periodic, temporary “encapsulation” as opposed to the kind of constant global openness suggested by the slogan “Information wants to be free.” Biological cells have walls, academics employ temporary secrecy before they publish, and real authors with real voices might want to polish a text before releasing it. In all these cases, encapsulation is what allows for the possibility of testing and feedback that enables a quest for excellence. To be constantly diffused in a global mush is to embrace mundanity.

You say you love the internet and are part of the “loyal opposition” within the industry you’re criticizing; you even currently work with Microsoft. So what’s the way forward? If you could re-route the metaphorical boat, where would you point it?

The architecture of the internet must support a global, universal micropayments capability. In this way, anyone could charge for information made available online, whether it is music or a program for a future robot. A silly YouTube-like prank might generate a windfall for a silly teenager, while a scholar’s writing might be only occasionally accessed, but over a long period might still generate enough income to be of use. People could then re-create the best social formula that has been achieved thus far in human experience. Middle class people could own something- the information they produce- that would give them sustenance as they have children and age.

In order for this scheme to work, there would have to be some structural changes introduced gradually, as I explain in the book. This direction is the only way to create a human-centric internet, instead of one that serves the cultists who believe in information more than people. It would not attempt to make information free, but instead make it affordable. It is worth noting that this is exactly how the web would have developed if the initial design proposal for it, dating back to the 1960s, had been carried out. (This was Ted Nelson’s vision.) It is the obvious way to design the network if people are your top priority.


http://www.jaronlanier.com/gadgetwebresources.html


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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  precinct14 on Wed May 25, 2011 9:09 am

Orwell couldn't have predicted that we'd actually manage to spawn (with a lot of help from John de Mol) a generation of morons that would watch over Big Brother, rather than vice versa.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  eddie on Wed May 25, 2011 11:46 pm

Er...I'm not clear what ATU's legal position would be if we posted the name of the UK Premiership footballer who has taken out superinjunctions preventing the details of his marital infidelity becoming known.. "in case he gets booed by fans".

The gentleman's name has already been widely publicised on Twitter, Facebook etc- not to mention under the parliamentary privilege bestowed by revealing all the grisly details on the floor of the House of Commons.

Nonetheless, I feel I should tread cautiously here, and merely replicate the image already published on the front page of Scotland's Sunday Herald newspaper. That covers us legally, I believe.

Here we go, then:





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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  eddie on Wed May 25, 2011 11:54 pm

^

Obviously, I have absolutely no idea who took out the legal superinjunction against publication of details of the gentleman's adultery, but if I were standing at a bus stop in Arbroath and I were a Manchester United supporter, it might possibly occur to me to remark to my friend Jimmy stood next to me in the queue that him in the picture looks a bit like Ryan Giggs.

I'd almost certainly be wrong, though.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu May 26, 2011 6:42 am

Because some privacy laws are silly, therefore any concerns about privacy are bogus... is that the flawed logic you're employing, or is this just a humorous tangent?



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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu May 26, 2011 7:08 am

Interesting 'Frontline' TV program on Brad Manning and Wikileaks last evening.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/wikileaks/

New York Times was given the story first by Wikileaks, but when NYT declined to link to the Wikileaks website because the names listed there of civilians could result in civilians being attacked or killed, Assange responded, "where's my respect" and decided to let The Guardian paper break the story. When The Guardian also raised concerns about published names of civilians potentially resulting in death, Assange said "serves them right," according to Guardian employees. The Guardian then neglected to scoop the NYT, and excerpts of Wikileaks' data dump were eventually released simultaneously by numerous newspapers. Assange's top Wiki-associate has left Wikileaks to start his own "Transparency" group, basically because Assange (whose personal motto is 'crush the bastards') is an arrogant egomaniac.

It's funny though, with all the adulation and outrage directed at Assange, what really has he accomplished:

1) caused minor annoyance to the world's diplomats
2)helped USA by revealing security flaws in low-level military intelligence analysis
3)through a massive data dump of private correspondence and day-to-day operational details, has revealed USA to be notably less cynical, and more well-intentioned than the Eddie radicals of the world suggest



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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  precinct14 on Thu May 26, 2011 7:18 am

There ain't no civilisation to fall, where these tabloid interweb tales venture, so no need to fret. These people are happy enough to take Hello's considerable coin, and invite them into their homes to paint an impossibly perfect- and gaudy- picture of their married, newly or otherwise, convivial bliss. No point in bleating, then, when the 'new media' flexes its muscles in the opposite direction, and the truth outs.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Lee Van Queef on Thu May 26, 2011 7:22 am

Bodministrator wrote:
3)through a massive data dump of private correspondence and day-to-day operational details, has revealed USA to be notably less cynical, and more well-intentioned than the radicals of the world suggest

To a certain extent, I agree with this. Resisting Isreal's calls to attack Iran was welcome news. Bugging UN officals - not so good... but no doubt many countries are doing that.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu May 26, 2011 8:40 am

Lane Coutell wrote:many countries are doing that.


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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu May 26, 2011 9:05 am

Lane Coutell wrote:Resisting Isreal's calls to attack Iran was welcome news.


As Bob Gates has said, USA will not be engaging in any more massive Asiatic land wars for the foreseeable future. I might agree with Bernard Lewis, who said USA should've gone alphabetically, and toppled Iran before Iraq. If post 9-11 hysteria was to be leveraged to topple one Middle East Thugocracy, Iran would seem to be the best choice. Of course, Iranian demographics make it clear that it's just a matter of time before Iran gets its Arab Spring, or rather, Persian Flowering. Tho Iran's Thugocrats are much more entrenched than their Arab counterparts, so their Magical Spring is going to be bloody as all heck. Should make for some good CNN watchin.







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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Thu May 26, 2011 9:55 am

The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy: The Case of WikiLeaks
By Jaron Lanier
from The Atlantic magazine
December 2010


The degree of sympathy in tech circles for both Wikileaks and Anonymous has surprised me. The most common take seems to be that the world needs cyber-pranksters to keep old-school centers of power, like governments and big companies, in check. Cyber-activists are perceived to be the underdogs, flawed and annoying, perhaps, but standing up to overbearing power.

It doesn't seem so to me. I actually take seriously the idea that the Internet can make non-traditional techie actors powerful. Therefore, I am less sympathetic to hackers when they use their newfound power arrogantly and non-constructively.

This is an interesting difference in perception. How can you tell when you are the underdog versus when you are powerful? When you get that perception wrong, you can behave quite badly quite easily.


Every revolutionary these days must post a video online. So the group Anonymous, which avenged the perceived enemies of Wikileaks by ganging up on sites like MasterCard and PayPal, released theirs, a scratchy cyberpunk scrawl. In it, a digitized announcer condemns the attacked companies for the "crime of cutting people off from the global brain." This might seem like an odd bit of propaganda for those who aren't familiar with the world of nerd supremacy.

The ideology that drives a lot of the online world -- not just Wikileaks but also mainstream sites like Facebook -- is the idea that information in sufficiently large quantity automatically becomes Truth. For extremists, this means that the Internet is coming alive as a new, singular, global, post-human, superior life form. For more moderate sympathizers, if information is truth, and the truth will set you free, then adding more information to the Internet automatically makes the world better and people freer.

The one exception to be carved out is that technically skilled programmers are celebrated for erecting digital privacy curtains around themselves. Thus we didn't necessarily get to know where Mr. Assange was at a given moment, before his detention on rape-related charges, or what Facebook or Google know about you.

But leaving hypocrisy aside, is there something to the idea? If the number of secrets falls with each passing minute and gradually approaches zero, what does that do to the world? Would a world without secrets be fairer, or more compassionate? More efficient? Does it matter if some secrets are revealed before others?

It is often the case that microstructure influences macrostructure. In the case of digital systems, where the microstructure is bits that are either completely on or completely off, it is easiest to build big things that tend to peg completely one way or another. You can easily be completely anonymous online, or utterly revealed, but it is hard to find an in-between spot.

The strategy of Wikileaks, as explained in an essay by Julian Assange, is to make the world transparent, so that closed organizations are disabled, and open ones aren't hurt. But he's wrong. Actually, a free flow of digital information enables two diametrically opposed patterns: low-commitment anarchy on the one hand and absolute secrecy married to total ambition on the other.

While many individuals in Wikileaks would probably protest that they don't personally advocate radical ideas about transparency for everybody but hackers, architecture can force all our hands. This is exactly what happens in current online culture. Either everything is utterly out in the open, like a music file copied a thousand times or a light weight hagiography on Facebook, or it is perfectly protected, like the commercially valuable dossiers on each of us held by Facebook or the files saved for blackmail by Wikileaks.

The Wikileaks method punishes a nation -- or any human undertaking -- that falls short of absolute, total transparency, which is all human undertakings, but perversely rewards an absolute lack of transparency. Thus an iron-shut government doesn't have leaks to the site, but a mostly-open government does.

If the political world becomes a mirror of the Internet as we know it today, then the world will be restructured around opaque, digitally delineated power centers surrounded by a sea of chaotic, underachieving openness. Wikileaks is one prototype of a digital power center, but others include hedge funds and social networking sites.

This is the world we are headed to, it seems, since people are unable to resist becoming organized according to the digital architectures that connect us. The only way out is to change the architecture.

The Internet as it is, which supports the abilities of Anonymous and Wikileaks, is an outgrowth of a particular design history which was influenced in equal degrees by 1960s romanticism and cold war paranoia. It aligned the two poles of the bit to these two archetypal dramas. But the poles of the bit can be aligned with other things. The Internet can and must be redesigned to reflect a more moderate and realistically human-centered philosophy.


end of part 1

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  pinhedz on Thu May 26, 2011 1:29 pm

user wrote:It's funny though, with all the adulation and outrage directed at Assange, what really has he accomplished:

1) caused minor annoyance to the world's diplomats
2)helped USA by revealing security flaws in low-level military intelligence analysis
3)through a massive data dump of private correspondence and day-to-day operational details, has revealed USA to be notably less cynical, and more well-intentioned than the Eddie radicals of the world suggest
Quote from a European diplomat, who will remain nameless (the pinhed is not big on transparency):

"No worries, old chap. You should hear what we say about you behind your backs Razz"

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  eddie on Thu May 26, 2011 11:56 pm

When I was a young man I was foolish enough to want to become rich and famous, and I thank whatever good fairy overlooked my nativity that neither of these horrors ever happened.

If I'd become rich at an early age, I would almost certainly be dead by now- my many youthful vices and indulgences would have finished me off long ago.

As for fame, it would be too easy to quote Bowie/Lennon, so here instead is part of the UK Poet Laureate Andrew Motion's poem on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales:

Your life was not your
own to keep
or lose. Beside the river,
swerving under ground,
your future tracked you,
snapping at your heels;
Diana, breathless, hunted
by your own quick
hounds.


Yep- a deadly commodity, Fame.




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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  precinct14 on Fri May 27, 2011 12:30 am

Jaron uses his hands when expressing himself, more than almost anyone else I've ever seen. Only Hitler comes close. Jaron has lovely long dreadlocks. Jaron peers into the future, and says that in less than 10 years, unless kids can make their own Avatar in an afternoon, their dates will drop them.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  eddie on Fri May 27, 2011 1:08 am

What the heck, why not...?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfeaNKcffMk
Fame- David Bowie.

It done for John, of course.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  ISN on Fri May 27, 2011 1:20 am

Strawberry Jam wrote:

But I tend to think that what's going on with all those new-fangled virtual reality things is just the continuation of a development that's inherent in capitalism anyway - reduction of humans to commodities.

naturally my response is more emotional than learned......

but I don't think this vision that was born in the last few decades of automation, robots, cyborgs, androids and prosthetic brains etc - not to mention aliens, space travel, new worlds - is really capitalism taken to the extreme.....although humans have become commodities in lots of other ways unrelated to science-fiction's predictions and prescience......

I think it was an attempt (futile?) of grasping for a future utopia......even the sci-fi books that painted future dystopias were concerned with warning us about where things were heading

the Terminator - a glammed up film about machines gone mad

but we had Mad Max before that - the post-apocalyptic nightmare that we've all dreamt about since nuclear warfare became a viable threat to the world

The Matrix - plot derived from many influences - is actually an anarchist's take on our own current society....from my perspective......

this materialistic world where people willingly hand over everything to Big Brother in order to live a life of the least discomfort (whether it's real or not - and who knows, maybe it's not) - a bit like the Truman Show.......

I don't know about the singularity cult - perhaps I should have looked it up first......

but I really think the people who envisioned a virtual reality/internet reality future imagined it as a kind of utopia

where the machinery clicked along and humans were freed from the capitalist trap.......

but I haven't given it much thought like SJ......

so I will go and ponder........

OK, I have heard of the Singularity cult - as propounded by Ray Kurzweil

it was very popular on a geek forum my ex used to own and where I spent much of my time in the last 10 years - left about 3/4 years ago....

I suppose I am a member of that group of people that is looking forward to a future like that........

I am absolutely charmed by the different visions of the future I've glimpsed whilst reading sci-fi

androids, super-human people with augmented minds and bodies etc - I'm totally charmed by it.....

whether the reality will be quite the picnic I envision remains to be seen, but it probably won't be as exciting as it seemed to me a couple of years ago


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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  eddie on Fri May 27, 2011 1:28 am

Lord Peter Wimsey wrote:I will go and ponder........

Food for thought:


Damned to Fame- James Knowlson's biography of Samuel Beckett.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  ISN on Fri May 27, 2011 1:35 am

Strawberry Jam wrote:
Lord Peter Wimsey wrote:but I haven't given it much thought like SJ......
Well, neither have I so far. I really have to read up on that stuff. And Marxism is in no way anti-technological, of course. Marx had the hope that technological progress would help free us from having to work all the time and thus overcome alienation and enable us to do what makes us human. Perhaps some virtual reality utopias chime in there. But I really don't now enough.

yes, that's the utopian future that figures a lot in books by Iain Banks and others.......societies of leisurely scholarly people......

with the bangs and whistles of space travel - and alien races.....(not very realistic)

but the future was envisioned by these guys as having computers that evolved - artificial intelligence that evolved alongside and sometimes within human (bodies)

there are awful scenarios where the computers and machines (robots etc) become more advanced than their creators (kind of like Frankenstein monsters) and turn on them

the genre of science fiction is so vast - but my particular favourite (cyber-punk) was around before the internet became ubiquitous and I really think we are very close to the worlds within the pages of the books that fascinated me

anyway, in conclusion, I love that shit....heheheh

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  ISN on Fri May 27, 2011 2:04 am

as for Assange - not driven by greed - not driven by fame - (he actively guards his privacy - I don't think his motivation was fame)

as for Assange - I admire him

I've heard he's a complete tosser - but being a tosser need not reflect on the ideas and actions that for a short while almost liberated our consciences.....and our consciousnesses

tell me the Arab spring wasn't influenced by Wikileaks - it surely must have been to some degree.......(Facebook and Twitter enables us all to be Paul Revere)

even if it wasn't, Wikileaks revelations have blown a gaping hole in the shield the rich have built around themselves......

a simple person was able to breach the defences of the pugnaciously secretive and piglike greed of the wealth-cocooned overlords.....

it's a true victory for the common man......

OK - I have no idea if that made any sense, but I think it made some kind of sense to me......

the establishment has tricky and sneaky ways of trying to tap into the zeitgeist......(whether past or present)

today I saw an abhorrent ad - POWER to the PEOPLE and their money - (some bank) - which taps into baby boomer fears.....with evil, twisted intent and malfeasance hijacking and subverting the genuine movement that made such a difference to the world (albeit short-lived)

I hope to see the end of capitalism forthwith......

why should we be molly-coddled like sheep to become the consumers that pad the pockets of the rich.....that pay for their extravagances and that are blindly herded up

it does my head in

why do we fall for this shit? again and again?


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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  precinct14 on Fri May 27, 2011 2:39 am

Never mind Avatar in an afternoon, suck on summa dis auld-time information super-highway magick, Mr. Dettol 'Speed of Light' Linoleum:

How they Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix

I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he;
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
‘Good speed!’ cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;
‘Speed!’ echoed the wall to us galloping through;
Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
And into the midnight we galloped abreast.
Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

’Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near
Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see;
At Düffeld, ’twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime,
So Joris broke silence with ‘Yet there is time!’

At Aerschot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray.

And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye’s black intelligence,—ever that glance
O’er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!
And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon
His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, ‘Stay spur!
Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault’s not in her,
We’ll remember at Aix’—for one heard the quick wheeze
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees,
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

So we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
’Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;
Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
And ‘Gallop,’ gasped Joris, ‘for Aix is in sight!’

‘How they’ll greet us!’—and all in a moment his roan
Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets’ rim.

Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,
Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all,
Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer;
Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good,
Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.

And all I remember is, friends flocking round
As I sat with his head ’twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)
Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent.

precinct14
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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Fri May 27, 2011 6:49 am

precinct14 wrote:Jaron uses his hands when expressing himself, more than almost anyone else I've ever seen.

A fairly common trait amongst Jewry.



Lanier, inventor of VIRTUAL REALITY, flaunts his cyber goggles


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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Fri May 27, 2011 7:33 am

The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy
continued

It is possible for tiny actions to occasionally have huge consequences on the Internet -- like the creation of a Facebook or a Wikileaks by tiny teams -- because many thousands of people over decades set up the underlying structure of that seeming magic trick.

It seems to cost nothing to send an email, so we spend billions of dollars on spam. The existing Internet design is centered on creating the illusion of no-cost effort. But there is no such thing. It's an illusion born of the idylls of youth, and leads to a distorted perception of the nature of responsibility. When there seems to be no cost, the idea of moderation doesn't seem sensible.

Openness in itself, as the prime driver of events, doesn't lead to achievement or creativity.

One problem is that information in oceanic magnitudes can confuse and confound as easily as it can clarify and empower, even when the information is correct. There is vastly more financial data set down in the world's computers than there ever has been before, including publically accessible data, and yet the economy is a mess. How can this be, if information is the solution?

A sufficiently copious flood of data creates an illusion of omniscience, and that illusion can make you stupid. Another way to put this is that a lot of information made available over the internet encourages players to think as if they had a God's eye view, looking down on the whole system.

A financier, for instance, might not be able to resist the temptations of access to seemingly endless data. If you can really look down on the whole market from on high, then you ought to be able to just pluck money out of it without risk, which leads to the notion of a highly computerized, data intensive, brobdingnagian hedge fund. This is fine, for a while, until other people start similar funds and the whole market becomes distorted.

The interesting similarity between Mr. Assange and a typical financier who overdid it is that both attempted to align themselves with a perceived God-like perspective and method made possible by the flow of vast information on the Internet, while both actually got crazy and absurd. Wikileaks and similar efforts could do for politics approximately what access to a lot of data did for finance in the run up to the recession.

Whom does Cablegate harm? This issue has been debated extensively elsewhere, but I do want to point something out about how to interpret the question. The details that are prematurely revealed in Cablegate are not essential knowledge for me, since I am not immediately involved in the events, and the contents of the leaks thus far haven't disrupted my worldview or my politics.

They are, however, potentially consequential to American diplomacy, which is often, if we are to believe the cables, both trickier and better intentioned then we might have feared. The contents might be extremely consequential, even deadly, to a hapless individual on the ground -- and we'll once again invoke the canonical unfortunate fellow in Afghanistan who translated for a US diplomat and counted on the USA to keep it secret. I don't know if he exists, but it seems to me that there must be analogs to him, at least.

Julian Assange, in defending his actions sees a vindicating contradiction in this difference: How can information be both dangerous and inconsequential, he asks? He sees information as an abstract free-standing thing, so to him, differences in perspective and circumstance mean nothing. This is how nerd supremacists think.

Wikileaks isn't really a "wiki," but it is designed to look and feel like the Wikipedia. It aspires to emulate the practical philosophy of the wiki movement. The Wikipedia professes to get humanity as a whole to arrive at the one truest truth.

The Wikileaks design, by invoking Wikipedia, creates the impression that some universally negotiated, balanced unveiling of human affairs is being approximated; that what was formerly hidden is being fairly unhidden. But that is not true.


If you are a fan of Wikileaks, you might have trouble seeing this, so you would do well to consider Wikileaks-like activities performed by people of opposing ideological persuasions. The comparison will probably enrage some Wikileaks supporters, but if you are one of them, I ask you to try it on as an exercise to test your own internal degrees of bias.

Two cases from the United States come to mind: In one, personal information about abortion providers was posted online, and an "X" was drawn over the information about a specific provider once that provider was murdered. In another, which occurred in Utah in 2010, vigilantes published personal details about undocumented Hispanic immigrants, in an apparent bid to encourage harassment.

In the first case, there were deaths, while the second was all noise and fear mongering with no action, so far as I know. The activists who listed abortion doctors never pulled a trigger, didn't know the people who pulled triggers, and so perhaps had "nothing" to do with the murders.

These actions were related to what goes on in Wikileaks, though people with different politics performed them. Defenders of Wikileaks will probably feel that the comparison is unwarranted, so I would like to address some of the rationalizations I have heard.

It is often pointed out that Wikileaks didn't leak all the diplomatic cables it had, but only a small percentage that was filtered through traditional news organizations, as if this were a sign of deliberation and moderation.

But it did use all of the cables for blackmail. Encrypted copies were sent around the world, creating what is known as a "dead man switch." It was claimed that the encrypted cables contained genuinely dangerous information. Under certain circumstances the key would be released. Is this not similar to the case of the abortion doctors? "Either do what I want or I will expertly use my Internet skills to enable creepy third parties I don't even know to harm you."

It seems that our perceptions of the two cases are strongly colored by how we feel about the targets and where we find the underdog. At the very least, the comparison demonstrates that there is no such thing as a neutral Internet leak organization. Anyone who plays the game brings biases into the work.

The same critique can and should be applied to militaries and other traditional players who have become cyber-fascinated. It is true that the U.S. military faces a moral hazard in the use of drones. An anonymous operator a world away can direct an attack, and there is an inevitable danger of forgetting the seriousness of the decision. But consider: Anonymous Wikileakers attacked anonymous drone operators, sniping from snug perches in front of computer screens. Wikileaks published the names of Afghans who were put at risk, potentially becoming collateral damage.

Isn't it clear that we tend to become like what we mock and fear?

Another common rationalization favoring Wikileaks is that we don't have documentation of individuals, such as the canonical example of liasons in Afghanistan, who were killed as a result of a leak.

I wish I could find comfort in this line of thinking, but bad behavior doesn't become ok just because we don't know if anyone's been hurt yet. Did anyone ask the individuals who were named for permission to leak their names? I don't think any of the undocumented immigrants in Utah were killed, but does that excuse what happened? Assange has stated that if there were deaths from leaks, it would be acceptable because of the bigger picture. The ideological framework and rationale for collateral damage has been made explicit.

To me, both right wing extremist leaks and Wikileaks are for the most part resurrections of old-fashioned vigilantism. Some of the targets of vigilantism in the Utah of the 19th century, say, might have unquestionably been "bastards," and yet there are, to say the least, some tremendously attractive things about the rule of law. Vigilantism has always eroded trust and civility, but what's new online is the sterile imprimatur of a digital ideology that claims to offer automatic betterment.

Vigilante information violation is a form of assault that degrades society for everyone. If we are to experiment with giving up some degree of privacy, we have to do it all at once, including even the hackers.

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  eddie on Sun May 29, 2011 9:31 pm

The Offensive Internet edited by Saul Levmore and Martha C Nussbaum – review

A timely study from the US looks at the questions arising from privacy and a lawless internet

Peter Preston The Observer, Sunday 29 May 2011


Newspaper headlines on 24 May naming the Premier League footballer at the heart of a debate about privacy laws. Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer

Once upon a more hopeful time, technology provided a suddenly empowering means of communication which united friends, families and communities of scholars across the world, blew away clouds of secrecy, toppled autocratic governments (and many other good things). The internet was free, and offered freedom itself; a wonderful tool. And then the law – or, more accurately, lawyers – began to try to catch up.


Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy, and Reputation by Saul Levmore, Martha C. Nussbaum

Enter a formidable core team of experts from the Chicago University law school, with guest players from Harvard, Columbia, Washington, Texas and Yale, all anxious to examine whether too much freedom damages psyches (as well as legal fee systems). It's a fascinating task. We know that spreading paedophilia on the net is like shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. Why shouldn't we be equally repulsed when false rumour spreads across Generation Google and blights an innocent life; when the "gender-objectification" of women (and their "huge fake titties") is dirty bathwater on the worldwide web; when misogyny and anonymity are the digital dishes of every day; when privacy itself lies in pawn to the click of a button?

Professor Brian Leiter (one voice from Chicago) wants the boundaries drawn much tighter. "Is there really an amazing diversity of valuable speech around (these) cyber-cesspools that we should give them safe harbours? We do not protect safe harbours in the traditional media for 'cesspool speech': why is cyberspace different?"

Thus you can feel legal mission creep operating, much as usual. Discover a new problem then discover a legal way of addressing it. Read Professor Nussbaum on the moment "autonomy violation" in women becomes "autonomy denial", which infantilises women and infects internet porn. But these are American professors and research fellows writing for an essentially American audience. That means their common obsession is the existence and meaning of the First Amendment, and whether it covers "low value news" as well as the good Watergate-style stuff, a spot of extramarital rough and tumble as well as the Pentagon Papers. If it does, then many of these zealous efforts to curb net opportunism will be doomed to eventual failure at some umpteenth court of appeal hearing – impossibility looming.

Professor Geoffrey R Stone, editor of the Supreme Court Review and one of the weightiest voices in this collection, adds now widely quoted pragmatism to such basic doubts. Of course there's a strong "strain of nasty" spreading across cyberspace. Of course you can draw modern parallels with Warren and Brandeis's famous, and eternally evoked, law review critique of 1890 newspapers ("The press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and decency. Gossip… has become a trade"). But where, in a world of social networks and rampant tweets, can real lines be drawn?

His hugely influential conclusion deserves to be there at the top of the evidence bundle as our parliament's new Commons and Lords committee meets to find something sustainable in a world where even the prime minister thinks current privacy defences unsustainable. "Just as the law can no longer effectively deal with obscenity because of social and technological change, so too can it no longer deal with non-newsworthy invasions of privacy." The First Amendment plus technical change mean that, "for all practical purposes", the defences of privacy "have been gobbled up completely. To argue otherwise is simply to tilt at windmills".

We may seem a world away from mystery footballers, superinjunctions, Max Mosley and constant tweeting here: but, in fact, that isn't so. Geoffrey Stone sees the only way to protect privacy today can be at source – if individuals "who truly care about it… act carefully and with discretion". No romps with gabby Wbags, no drunken nights on the town, no starring roles in celebrity magazines. And here's where the circle of impossibility finally snaps shut.

The internet may be "offensive", and in some instances so repellent that international pressures can operate. But privacy, with its attendant injunctions, lacks any common definition that works in a global digital context, as this remarkably useful book – detailed, thoughtful debate at a level we haven't begun to approach yet in this country – irresistibly shows. Judge David Eady, sitting in his Strand courtroom, can't change the First Amendment. What he rules, as we now see, any twittering renegade in Baltimore or Boston can flout with impunity – and even the massed ranks of American academia can't change that. Privacy in one country has become as duff an international concept as libel rituals supervised in the same court by the same Judge Eady.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

Post  Yakima Canutt on Sun Jun 12, 2011 9:40 pm

"While you arduously tend your fake self on Facebook, the company compiles a secret dossier about a more real you and everyone else so that access to you can be sold to political campaigns, teeth whiteners, or finance hucksters. You are the product, not the customer."



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Re: Why Assange & Zuckerberg Could Destroy Civilization

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