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Andrew Auernheimer
Oðinnsson. Market abuser. Internationally notorious computer criminal.
@doctorow got an important point wrong at #28c3
Cory Doctorow gave a great speech at #28c3 called "The coming war upon general purpose computation" about all the various ways that the establishment is going to fear computers and continually attempt to abridge our freedoms. It is both well-spoken and rousing and I recommend you take a few minutes out of your day to watch it. Doctorow made some very salient arguments for the coming dangers to cognitive and computational freedom from other industries outside entertainment spanning everything from RF to agriculture. Everything he says about the coming establishment threats to your freedom is spot-on.

There's one statement he makes that leads him to a much rosier view than reality, and one which I think distorts the view of the future battlefield. If you take Doctorow's speech at face value you will believe that the battlefield is a bureaucratic one. It isn't. It is going to be a development race, and most of the people that should be running for their lives don't even realize that the starting gun has been fired.

Doctorow makes the statement that we don't know how to make a computer that will run only approved programs. This, sadly, is not even remotely true. These computers have been developed in quasi-secrecy, at great taxpayer expense.

Ever taken a look at the XTS series? The operating system, STOP, has the security subsystem in ring 0 and the kernel in a lower priv'd ring. This was far before the NX bit, which having an external security subsystem be in charge of these days could be catastrophic for programmers' freedom.... Most programs run on STOP systems were compiled for other platforms, but STOP offered a semblance of binary compatibility by having foreign binaries sandboxed in highly restrictive virtual machines. As you can imagine, this pretty much eliminated the malloc funny business. This all funded by the NSA's TPEP/TCB.

And this was the fucking nineties! This was etymology of the term "trusted computing", sourced of the military and intelligence complexes. Microsoft just used the term to conjure the proper images within heads of those in the know.

In addition to the continued development of OS-layer user subversion, there's been a number of additional developments since then that have been similarly funded by the US government at incomprehensible taxpayer expense. Is it possible to have a single processor expose different instruction sets to different hardware channels, thus offering the application developer a computer a crippled processor architecture that lacks the control over memory addressing which is fully accessible to a coprocessor that controls software and hardware signing? You betcha. If you've done any reasonable EE work you can start to visualize it in your head. This is real. Hell, would most developers notice if the processor architecture changed transparently to mechanisms of managed code? What percentage of software developers actually even understand pointers anymore? I'd bet the pie chart of the great mass that doesn't versus the tiny sliver that still does is beginning to look like the distribution of assets and income amongst US citizens. These days if someone knows JavaScript, Ruby and MongoDB they dare give themselves titles like "programmer" and "hacker".

These subversions of computing have been designed, implemented, and mass-produced for the government, perfected over the course of 3 decades and ready for real commercial deployment. Every commercial OS vendor has an application signing process in place, there just needs to be a couple generations of new hardware with the stuff packaged in.

The technology to turn computers into objects of oppression already exist. So why aren't they implemented yet? The reasons are social. Imagine if you told every developer on earth that they had to use hilariously bad new APIs and syscalls that crippled performance, abstracted them away from their ability to write completely in languages they were familiar with and added precious weeks or months until shipment date. There'd be a universal revolt! No developer on earth would write anything for that platform.

If I were an oppressive state machine, I'd drop this bomb in 6 steps:
  1. Start getting people used to devices that they think of first as things less than a computer and more of another sort of device first. Perhaps consumers could be coaxed to think of their computers as devices of more limited scope, like phones. Have people shed local storage for that in some wispy aether on the Internet. Make these devices exceptionally hip and well-advertised to encourage their widespread adoption.
  2. Get developers producing software that's dependent upon an oligopoly of digital distribution points for sales. Make them beg for keys to the distribution channels, and begin subject them to approval processes to sell applications.
  3. Progressively raise the cost of general purpose machines until number of people buying them (engineers, developers) is small enough to keep to a 'potential subversives' list. "Why do you need one of those fancy computers, son? The $TABLET lets you keep in touch with grandma via Facebook just fine!"
  4. Implement subverting technology on the "general-purpose" machines but only make them spy on their users for now, executable blacklists to be activated on a timer at a future cut-off date.
  5. Wait a little bit for the shoddily made modern computer parts with their planned obsolescence to fail. I know people with hard drives from the eighties that still spin. Do you think modern components actually need to be as unreliable as they are? After this nobody can buy non-free hardware.
  6. Flip the damn switch! Now everybody is stuck on approved distribution mechanisms.

This dystopian vision is true in the epistemological sense, and the most probable future scenario. Somebody with an unfathomable amount of wealth has already begun to execute this process. If you think this isn't going to happen you are naive. Let me tell you this: Stallman, despite eating his own filthy toe jam in public is right about everything he's ever said. As jesuitx once said, Stallman is a modern-day Ezekiel (another filthy slob that couldn't keep a decent living arrangement), and everything he's ever said has turned out to be prophetically, nightmarishly true. If you are dependent upon an external party for your NIC or your CPU or your GPU, your very liberty and life are going to be threatened. Any piece of computing architecture that cannot be commonly replaced with a free (as in freedom) version will be used by imperialists furthering their own hegemonies. The community needs to make free hardware versions of these things within the next ten years, because it will be far more difficult to bootstrap these things when we are locked out of the modern computing landscape.

Those who trade liberty for the slickest UI/UX will have neither.
19 comments / leave comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 29th, 2011 07:51 am (UTC) (link)
The whole fucking software infrastructure that I grew to devour and try to love is a tower of teetering flimsy shit. It starts as early as the topic itself, with the creation of a field called 'software engineering': "The required techniques of effective reasoning are pretty formal, but as long as programming is done by people that don't master them, the software crisis will remain with us and will be considered an incurable disease. And you know what incurable diseases do: they invite the quacks and charlatans in, who in this case take the form of Software Engineering gurus" —attributed to Edsger Dijkstra, 1930‒2002.

There is no software engineering - there's engineering science and principles of analysis - and a 4 year degree isn't nearly enough to prepare someone for the high level that software has come to require (http://xahlee.org/UnixResource_dir/writ/why_software_suck.html). Software engineering is the wacky inflatable arm flailing tube man posing as an AVLB that the average man depends on to do his work, while skells like 'oakfosho' skates the system, uses the occupy's donation money to get drunk in new york while fragile women around him get arrested and their dads have to bail them out, and runs internet spam ponzi schemes with his brother gavin mills out of his mother's appartment. At least he didn't mention the fat one's name on air like a true chauvinist, ...

I had xahlee in #ed after you left, I've since left too, people there don't seem to give a shit (and xah too). Dude is 45 years old and lives off 300$/month and attributes all his misery to a group he calls tech geekers, He has me transcribe his psychotic suicide ramblings. gencdo was nice anough to donate 10$, though he doesn't have the confidence to have a conversation with her over skype.

Be safe.
chunkems From: chunkems Date: December 30th, 2011 01:41 am (UTC) (link)
tl;dr. but i forgot we were still lj pals. i saw yr youtube video. it was 'aight.
damnitnicole From: damnitnicole Date: December 30th, 2011 07:21 am (UTC) (link)
So in non-geek terms, I should sit my ass down and properly learn Linux?
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 30th, 2011 08:33 am (UTC) (link)
No, just be discrete about how you operate and what information you publicise. It's death at both ends, in a way. In a more accurate way, dedicated people are working around the clock to avoid the catastrophe ...
magicuddle From: magicuddle Date: January 12th, 2012 07:36 am (UTC) (link)
And if I may, what does "being discrete" look like?
weev From: weev Date: January 12th, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC) (link)
i think it requires being sliced into two or more parts somehow

perhaps being discrete is a reference to amputation fetishism
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 22nd, 2012 08:31 pm (UTC) (link)
I lol'd. Also it's nice to see you posting again. I don't always agree with you, but you invariably make me think.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 30th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC) (link)
This is just another milestone in history; a brilliant, amazing new technology becomes regulated by the government to keep people under control. After hearing that speech it's obvious that the people of this generation are intelligent and informed enough to have a profound influence on the direction the world is going. Maybe it's time to start laying the groundwork for the Internet's successor. And maybe this time we should try implementing encryption from the very beginning.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 30th, 2011 11:37 pm (UTC) (link)
It's already been proven that a bunch of nerds working together can create a free, functional (sort of) operating system. Imagine a fully wireless computer network built and maintained by hobbyists. An entirely new protocol that transfers encrypted data through clandestine radio relays, satellites, even weather balloons, all deployed by hobbyists and interconnected with one another. Anyone could build and deploy a new node and gain access to the whole network, and potentially provide the same service to anyone else in their vicinity. No more dependence on shitty ISPs, no more SOPA, no more DMCA. All of this is possible right now.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 4th, 2012 11:17 am (UTC) (link)
Yes.. in theory.

If the nerd's network doesn't reach common people, it will be just a toy for nerds. Unfortunately that is the most probable future.
Just some clues:
-Encryption exists since long ago, but nobody uses.
-Jabber hasn't replaced msn nor Yahoo.
-Linux, nerd's operating system, hasn't replaced Windows for public.
-Decentralized mail servers have been replaced by gmail, hotmail etc.
-There is an standard VoIP protocol, most people uses skype or msn.
-Google calendar, Google android...

Nerds can do what ever they want, but their inventions will work only in nerd's ghetto. Not a big deal for establishment.

Besides this, nerd's network will use NICs manufactured by companies that could block encrypted communication.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 8th, 2012 06:20 pm (UTC) (link)
Radio Radio Radio! (Ham radio)

To send html data over the waves is not that unimaginable. I often think about it.
A sender should continuously spam the ether with signal until it get's spammed back to stop sending sh1t

The only thing one should do is to make a radiorcvd and radiosndd daemons and a common infrastructure for interpreting frames as html tags. you could imagine the interpreter as a tree and the frames flowing down a AST tree...

Of course a multitude of ham radios with cheap linuxes & BSDs could build a mighty network of ground relays that would spread thousands of documents 'round
You don't even have to encrypt the shit, who cares what is written in the god damned documents when all the parties have them... let the establishment have the documents... the idea is to send & recv :)

*hic* cheers
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 6th, 2012 04:31 am (UTC) (link)
I'm going to go against the grain here and suggest that what we're seeing is a stratification of computing rather than a wholesale power grab. Let's bring in Google's fully automated car as an example.

A friend of mine thought it was a great idea. I was more worried about the control issues. If a car is fully automated, you might own the car, but the control is completely gone. My friend pointed out that while this would be a concern, the positives offset the negatives. The problem with cars today is that people have complete control over them, yet continue to use them unsafely or ineffectively. People go too fast or too slow, drive under the influence or just don't pay attention, affect traffic and end lives. Faced with this, he felt that it would be better to deal with an automated car than a non-automated one.

He's also a big fan of Apple. Loves Apple products. He's not stupid or in the dark about privacy and control issues by any means. This guy is product analyst for our company and was a tech analyst for another. He's aware of the issues. Ultimately he's pro-Apple for many of the reasons that the tech crowd dislikes Apple. Control? Walled garden? Reliability, he answers. In the end, he really does want an appliance. He's too busy with his work to fiddle with his Macbook, iPhone or iPad. In the end, he wants a tool that gets out of his way while he does his job. Most people are like that. I don't know anything about trains, for example. I just want convenient transport from point A to point B. I shouldn't have to know how to take apart a train car in order to do that.

For most people controlled computing will become the norm. They want it that way. I've met tons of people who say "Well, if Google is spying on me, that's the way it is." This isn't happening because of lies, brainwashing, or other conspiratorial acts. It's happening because of one of the golden rules of marketing: people always trade rights for convenience. If you have a product that makes someone's life easier and happier, but in return it spies on their activities, you will find customers that don't care. Their lives are easier and better now. It's an easy choice to make.

The tech crowd will be marginalized, to be sure. But then, it was always marginal. How many heart surgeons are there compared to the rest of the population? Or fountain pen enthusiasts? These interests are marginal and still have industries that cater to them. So will it be with hackers. Things might get pricier, outlets might be fewer, but there will always be a way to get what you're looking for.

SOPA is bad, to be sure. I don't know anyone familiar with it who thinks it's not a disaster on jet fuel. That stated, it may be too bad to work as intended. Even if not, it doesn't mean the end of the world. SOPA will be very selectively. Forcing the issue would cause so many lawsuits that it would be rendered null and void. As it is, SOPA will spend years in a court before being fully unleashed onto the public. That's plenty of time for an information campaign, if it's necessary at all.

The point of SOPA isn't total control the Internet. There's a point of diminishing returns here. The **AA know most people just want computable appliances. They just want to make sure those appliances are properly locked. It's not cost effective to get the whole 100%. As long as the minority remains properly marginalized, the **AA don't have to worry about them. No one cares if a mouse or two takes a few grains from the storage room. Everyone cares if it's a family of mice or a colony.

To sum up, the world of computers is stratifying. The main population will get controlled computable appliances and be under the control of whomever has their data and makes their hardware. They won't care because they're getting what makes them happy. SOPA will probably either get beaten to death legally, or be so drastic that it is ineffective out of practicality alone. Or something in between. And that's it. Maybe. Hopefully.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 14th, 2012 07:41 pm (UTC) (link)
Couldn't Apple make controlled devices that grant all the conveniences to the users but also allow the user control it if he wants so?

I agree that an appliance can be controlled, as long as they are controlled for the convenience of the user. Unfortunately, a lot of times the power is also used to lock the customer, to fight against competitors, to make user a target of marketing etc.

Most people don't care. I understand it: They say that if you put a frog in a pot and you heat the water slowly, the frog won't be aware that it's being boiled until it's too late.

I am afraid that we are now in the pot. The problem is that most people don't understand or underestimate the price they are going to pay for those appliances. And when that people realizes it may be too late. And what say only confirms me that they will win.

From: (Anonymous) Date: January 19th, 2012 04:38 am (UTC) (link)
I used to make arguments similar to yours, but I've started recently to temper that part of myself down. It's not that you're wrong, it's that there's a combination at work here. Some people know but don't care, some care but don't want to know, some know and care, but more for how it benefits them than anything else. I used to think that educating people on the subject would get them to see things my way, but most of the time they just responded with apathy, acceptance, or interest on how to get in on the action.

But anyway, to your points:

> Couldn't Apple make controlled devices that grant all the conveniences to the users but also allow the user control it if he wants so?

No. In practical terms, probably, but otherwise no. Apple doesn't just sell a computer, Apple sells an experience. Not just that, but an experience with a guarantee of consistency and reliability. For something like that you need control, and a lot of it. I imagine it's a loosely similar to some IT departments. The IT department needs to provide certain guarantees in terms of network regularity and computer performance and security, so they lock down company computers to make sure everything operates in a predictable way. The analogy isn't quite perfect, but the mindset is probably close.

> I agree that an appliance can be controlled, as long as they are controlled for the convenience of the user. Unfortunately, a lot of times the power is also used to lock the customer, to fight against competitors, to make user a target of marketing etc.

As it happens, I work in a marketing department. Based on this I can tell you that given the right culture, a citizen will give away any and all civil rights in the name of convenience. Right now America at least is in such a cultural mindset. They're in "Consumer Mode". They want stuff, they want it fast, and they want it with a minimum of hassle. For all the good the Occupy Movement did for national debate, it was still very emblematic of this mindset.

Had the Occupiers put forth a cohesive political strategy for re-aligning our nation, they would have been in engaging in an innovative mindset; that of seeing a problem, identifying a solution, and then driving the idea into reality. They didn't do this. Instead they simply demanded change. This is a very consumerist mentality. They wanted something from the powers that be, and were banking on the idea that complaining in numbers would allow that to happen. That's very different from creating a solution to a problem.

As long as this consumerist mindset exists, the problem of the frog and the pot will never go away. Or, more exactly, the problem of the frog jumping into the pot will never go away. The consumerist mindset is not predisposed to action. That would cause inconvenience, which goes against the whole mentality. As long as Americans operate with this mindset, it would be easy to convince them to do things that aren't in their best interests (unless you push the boundaries too hard. SOPA and PIPA being the most current examples).

Of course, if you work in marketing, that's probably not a bad thing. I've been told that advertising and PR companies are pulling ahead of the pack in terms of income and job growth.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 25th, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC) (link)
the troll is that they should give up their millions of dollars they made hussling an 'IT department experience' in exchange for some kind of moral product, like maybe a tool that will lead to productivity increase in the field of space rocketry, medical surgery, artistic literacy, or internet chattery.

NYPD don't carry puppets on the job to match a puppeteer's starting salary. Apple does't make IT department experiences.

Apple weaseled it's way into the computing market like PERL weaseled it's way into computing science

"I don't know the Jon Orwant guy, but he has written a few other Perl books including 《Mastering Algorithms with Perl》 amazon . Algorithms in Perl? Give me a flying break.
The Perl folks are funny that they giddily bid computer scientists to recognize their language. There's the OOP book and now Algorithm. In Perl groups you'll also read about AI with Perl or such. It'd be fun to see books titled Computer Science with Perl, Logic Programing in Perl, Lambda Calculus with Perl, Advanced Calculus with Perl, Relativity with Perl, Rocket Science with Perl, Spaced Out with Perl, How To Pick Up Chicks with Perl." --xahlee, 2002

Btw there's biology in perl now (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioperl), i can't wait for cosmic morality with perl, apple brand teachings of christ with lacking scriptures, and special class of cops that carry tissues around in their pockets when you get your feelings hurt for driving 60 in a 50 zone
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 28th, 2012 03:45 am (UTC) (link)
Re: moral products
I'm not sure that's a troll so much as the nature of the modern American business. There's always a lot of talk about how businesses should act more socially or morally responsible. To be honest, I think they should. That's not how the system works, though. Businesses only have one purpose, and that is to make money for their owners or stockholders.

That may seem disheartening, but it needn't be. If we know that businesses only care about profit, the the real challenge is to make the morally acceptable profitable as well. Businesses will fall in line very predictably. Obviously easier said than done, but look how Apple moved to disassociate themselves from that factory in China where workers were killing themselves. Look how they tout their eco-friendly unibody construction for their MacBook line. Companies have a very simple and direct psychology. It's just a matter of finding a way to take advantage of it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 31st, 2012 09:48 am (UTC) (link)
oh weev, you can't change the world. you can bring people the truth, you can open their eyes, but you can't make them care. america has always been a nation of greedy, self-centered pigs and it always will be.
weev From: weev Date: January 31st, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC) (link)
truer words never spoken. =[
From: dickmanhard Date: March 9th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC) (link)
Windoze 8 and Ubuntu unity? I hate the move to mobile. It sucks, but they will continue to push it to be "popular". That, and the cloud.

The real let-down was the open sores community via Ubuntu doing it first. It seems antithetical to anyone who would install linux in the first place.
19 comments / leave comment