Freedom of technology

Lewis McCarthy lmccarth at
Tue Oct 4 22:59:23 PDT 1994

Black Unicorn writes:
$ Who's to tell me I have to have ABS or the "safety starter" if I don't 
$ want the thing?
$ Who's to tell me that I need a backdoor in my crypto?
$ Where do you draw the line?  Outlaw sugar perhaps?  It would save 
$ consumers millions in dental bills.

Uh-oh. I *really* don't have the time to get drawn into this one, but
I'll offer a brief response.

Choosing the place to draw the line is indeed the crux of the matter IMHO.
I try to draw it at the point where one person's misuse of technology 
starts to hurt another person (which often begs the question, I know !).

Considering some of your examples:
Offhand it seems no-one but the driver could have a direct problem from
using a car w/o the "safety starter", so I'd say that shouldn't be imposed.
I don't drive stick, so I may well be missing a crucial technical point here.

OTOH I can see that ABS could stop a lot of slow/non-alert people from
slamming their cars into me & mine; I trust the technology more than the
people who would be replacing it. I'm happy that it's a fairly standard 
feature, although this seems to be more a result of market demand than 

Your mention of outlawing sugar calls to mind some debates about smoking bans.
Here IMHO the line is clear. When you eat sugar next to me, you're not 
doing me any harm unless I'm forced to pay your dental bills. In sharp 
contrast, I consider smoking in company to be assault with a deadly 
weapon. My choice of self-defense in this case is legislation preventing
anyone from smoking in my airspace. I have no problem with people smoking
in private where the smoke's never going to harm me.

Of course, the explosive success of bullshit litigation (strongly aided
IMHO by our lowest-common-denominator jury selection system) has played
a major role in inducing companies & the govt. to go overboard protecting
people from their own idiocy.  I just want to be protected from other
people's idiocy :)

I won't touch on the question of required backdoor installation....

-L. McCarthy
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