personal manifesto (comments appreciated)
jdblair at nextsrv.cas.muohio.EDU
jdblair at nextsrv.cas.muohio.EDU
Mon Mar 28 00:21:44 PST 1994
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The following is my manifesto of net.beliefs. I recognize their lack of
precision, their foundation in principles of faith, and their lack of a
clear vehicle for realization. I do not profess them to be a statement
of cypherpunk beliefs. I do submit them for discussion, criticism,
suggestion, rant, or flame. If you disagree this is your chance to
educate a misguided individual with hopelessly antiquated beliefs. If
you agree, this is your chance to point out badly constructed arguments,
awkward sentences, repetition, and poor word choice.
I cannot work for something unless I know what it is IUm working for.
1) My vision of the Net is utopian, or I would not spell it as I do,
with a capitol N. While the most likely possibility is that the Net
will simply mirror current society, a Net of this structure would fail
to realize its potential as an agent of social change.
2) The Net has the potential to become the greatest de-centralizing
force in the history of humanity. The potential ability of the
individual to cheaply reach, and organize, vast numbers of like-minded
individuals is unprecedented.
3) Current arguments for regulation of cryptography by government
agencies depend on the argument they are maintaining their current
abilities in the brave new world of cyberspace. I argue that even if
this were the case, we have a responsibility to do more than simply
maintain the status quo. This argument can be mapped to possible future
objections by authorities.
4) It is the responsibility of the information haves to spread their
knowledge to the information have-nots. A Net which allows the economic
exploitation of information have-nots by those with the information is,
while perhaps profitable, immoral. Information wants to be free.
Knowledge which is not of a personal nature should be freely accessible.
5) Along with these positive potentials, it is possible for the Net
to be constructed in such a way as to allow the formation of the most
powerful authoritarian societies the world has ever seen. The potential
for the death of the Individual, just as for the empowerment of the
Individual, is very real. We must work to prevent totalitarianism.
6) The Net is no better than its users. Current crises of economic
inequality, of homelessness and hunger, will not be affected by the Net
unless we work to change them in pre-Net society. People cannot
participate in a democratic society if they are not educated to a minimal
level required for functioning in that society. This is the crux of our
societal problems, as well as the crux of possible problems with the Net.
7) It is better to help oneUs fellow human than to hurt. It is
better to give than to receive. Equally, one human has an enormous
capacity to injure and exploit another human. We must decide which
ability we wish to empower, and judge which we actually do.
8) There are fundamental problems with the structure of society.
Realizing the democratic vision of the Net is a way to re-structure
society. My hope is that this restructuring will create a better
society than the one I know. I recognize it can be worse-- much worse.
With vigilance, it will not be.
9) My beliefs are hopelessly utopian. I have faith in democratic
principles to shape society into a more just social hierarchy. This
faith must not be confused with certainty. It is impossible to predict
the shape of the society which will be created. A few risks are of the
tyranny of the majority, and the willful formation of totalitarian
dictatorships (hyperlink Weimar Germany). The will of the people is
impossible to define, much less judge, gauge, measure or regulate. We
must be satisfied with approximations.
10) All actions have moral implications. Ignoring these implications
is irresponsible and, yes... immoral.
John Blair: <jdblair at nextsrv.cas.muohio.edu> voice: (513) 529-4877
PGP public key available upon request. KILL YOUR
Privacy in the information age is a right, not a privilage. TELEVISION
Information = Power = Control. Fight the centralization of information.
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