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August 22, 2006



Similar: http://austinbay.net/blog/?p=1366 on microfinance

Paul Snively

When you carry this to its logical conclusion, you arrive at Object-Capability Security, which is rather obviously (IMHO) the way forward for secure computing. See http://www.erights.org and http://www.coyotos.org for more information.

Mike Warot

The other approach is to build a system which is itself far less trusting and far more paranoid... I've written about Capability based security quite a few times.
Search URL: http://search.blogger.com/?as_q=capabilities&ie=UTF-8&ui=blg&bl_url=mikewarot.blogspot.com&x=274&y=17

The idea is to only give a program certain abilities, instead of free run of everything.
This approach does work, though its not popular. As I type this in, I see the previous commentor has the same idea.


Dan Lyke

One of my background paranoias is on the lack of diversity in our food supply; we rely an awful lot on soybeans and #2 feed corn. Seems like there might be some transferrable lessons here, with the Irish potato famine as one data point.


About the email spam-- or you just do what a lot of people I know do, periodically get a new email account. Or have several. Or both.


I've had to abandon email accounts due to spam. One account, if you had some error (like a hang up) downloading email, they'd mark it all unread for your next download. It had to be abandoned because they'd hang up after 7 hours online, and at the fastest dialup speed I could get, I could not download it all (in order to delete it) before they hung up on me and I'd have to do it all over again. The customer unhelp line was spectacularily unhelpful.

Dan, the book you're looking for is called "Altered Harvests."
Out of print, but has a pretty scary bit in the begining about the corn blight in 1970 that took out 15% of our corn crop. Similar to the potato blight in Ireland, where the source of all genetic diversity in the potato crop came from 3 potatoes, 80% of our crop that year used Texas Male Sterile Cytoplasm, so a disease that attacked one plant would be able to attack 80% of the crop. If the weather hadn't broken, and lasted about 2 more weeks, we could have lost 80% of our corn crop that year.

phil jones

Presumably the desire to be obscure and different (minority game) has to be balanced by the need to be compatible. There are benefits of being part of large networks (Reed / Metcalfe and all that)

It's gonna be a delicate balancing act. Any network large enough for membership to create value is going to be attractive to parasites.

Maybe you can control the interfaces a bit. But ultimately we're all constrained to be implemented on the same biological substrate. Food, disease, susceptibility to shrapnel : these are things we can't opt out of.

Federalist X

john: excellent post. have you considered the application of this to our federal system?

Robert Cassidy

I always thought this was fairly obvious. The military has worked this way for ages. They've always recognized the distinction between efficiency and effectiveness and leaned toward the latter.

A diverse fighting force is always more effective because if a vulnerability is found against one component, you introduce the next. Helicopters are vulnerable to AA, tanks aren't. Infantry is vulnerable to those biological substrates, but ROVs aren't. The cold war tactic of creating a biological, chemical, and radiological no-mans-land out of a strip of eastern Europe to stop Soviet tanks doesn't work if there aren't people in the tanks.

Security has always been a function of throwing some degree of efficiency out the window for the sake of diversity. And that's the problem with privatization and applying capitalistic thinking to all problems - capitalism *always* favors efficiency.

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