[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
CRYPTO ANARCHY/SOCIAL BODY
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Doug Cutrell offered some well thought out speculations on the
social consequences of "crypto anarchy" in an essay he just
posted to the list. I would like to respond to a few of his
comments. Doug wrote:
... it is imperative that cypherpunks,... consider
carefully what social impact these changes may have....
cypherpunks should examine ways to influence the
deployment and patterns of use of strong crypto tools in
society, and not merely consider the construction of the
With all due respect, I think this has already been done by most
Cypherpunks. We have looked at societal trends, seen problems,
posited strong crypto as the solution to some of those problems
and examined the consequences of strong crypto solutions. No one
is writing code just to write code. The Cypherpunks list has
always been ideologically driven. Though Cypherpunks cover the
political spectrum, they have put aside sectarian differences to
work towards the narrow ideology of personal privacy. At the
same time, we have always thought about crypto "side effects."
... man is a social animal. We are evolved to survive
through cooperative interactions with each other....
There are universal properties of interaction which
create the social body in these species, and in all
human societies throughout history. These properties
depend fundamentally on the publicly visible nature of
most social interactions....
Well, here I must disagree. While there is no disputing that man
is a social animal, I find the last claim untenable. There are
numerous historical forms of cooperative interaction that do not
depend--"fundamentally" or otherwise--on a "publicly visible"
interaction (e.g., postal mediated relationships, private clubs
and other private relationships and most aspects of the market).
Individual social animals exist in a relationship to the
social body deriving from the visibility of their
actions to others. This *defines* individuality....
While this is an interesting concept of individuality, it doesn't
jive with any definition I've ever heard. If you were the only
person on the planet, you would be just as much an "individual"
(perhaps MORE so) than you are with 5.5 billion other folks
blocking your view of the parade.
... Strong crypto -- the tools of crypto anarchy --
represents a break in these primal functions upon which
the social body is based.... it is not only a first for
human societies, but a first for all of biological
evolution.... nodes -- "individuals" -- may appear and
disappear over extremely short time periods, as
anonymous identities come and go. All nodes may have
any number of unknowable links, or links which are
unknowable by arbitrarily large sections of the net.
Links may have new properties, such as asymmetry of
identity. Individual nodes may "unknowably" represent
(equate with) entire collections of other nodes. The
point is that the social structure is altered along
dimensions that have been constant since the dawn of the
evolution of social animals.
Here is the crux of the matter. Doug obviously believes that
crypto anarchy represents a paradigm shift or quantum leap in
human interaction. I don't think so. every one of the "unique"
properties Doug claimed existed for crypto anarchy already exists
in the non-crypto society. I won't (unless asked) enumerate such
analogs, but I will give two "clues" as an exercise for the
student: John Paul Jones and Delaware corporations.
 This picture implies the development of something
radically different than what we now think of as a
 It is far more complex, with new types of basic
components and operations.
 There is no reason to expect it to resemble any
society in the history of man, or to bear any
resemblance to any social body which has evolved to
 Only if the picture is correct, which has not been shown.
 Granted, it is more complex, but really "new components" has
yet to be demonstrated.
 I most heartily disagree. Humans are conservative; when they
make progress, it usually looks like an extension of what went
before. (Ever notice how the first autos looked like buggies?
Why do computer graphic interfaces use "desk" and "folder"
metaphors?) There is *every* reason to expect crypto anarchy
will resemble historical social models.
... For my purposes, desirable changes would include an
increased standard of living for all humans, increased
communications ... undesirable changes would include ...
Crypto anarchy is coming whether we like it or not. With it,
your hopes and fears are much more in your hands then they have
ever been before. I hope we all use our super powers for good
rather than evil. In any event, the cat is out of the bag.
... it seems that a reasonable approach would be to
conduct computer simulations of the spontaneous forms of
self organization that occur in populations
participating under various game-theoretic and economic
models, when these populations have access to strong
In my opinion (offered without a shred of proof), (1) it ain't
gonna happen, (2) wouldn't work even if it did happen.
In closing, I want to thank Doug for refocusing discussion of
social implications in such organized and thoughtful way. I want
to reiterate, this is not something that Cypherpunks have not
thought about and discussed before. Nevertheless, it is always
good to go over old ground if it can be done in a reasoned and
S a n d y