Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Not a Long-Term Solution

Former Secretary of State George Shultz discusses a potential effect of WikiLeaks:

… But there is still another side to the problem. In the wake of this affair, the amount of candid written material related to the daily conduct of American foreign policy will surely diminish. We will lose our capacity to learn from our experiences, whether positive or negative. Historical memory will slowly be eradicated.


There is now a widespread, conscious reluctance in our society, whether in business or politics, to create records—and a disposition to destroy them when they exist. What I worry about is our ability to portray history accurately if such records are not at hand and leaders try to rely on their own memory, which is often flawed. …

What if a few decades from now we see routine use of computers implanted in the brain? It might become impossible to turn off recording devices without turning off brains. Even if computing power goes into creating “ems”, a refusal to record might involve discrimination against ems. That's likely to backfire.

On the other hand …

On the other hand, that might be Mr. Assange's goal:

In 2006, Mr. Assange wrote a pair of essays, "State and Terrorist Conspiracies" and "Conspiracy as Governance." He sees the U.S. as an authoritarian conspiracy. "To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed," he writes. "Conspiracies take information about the world in which they operate," he writes, and "pass it around the conspirators and then act on the result."

His central plan is that leaks will restrict the flow of information among officials—"conspirators" in his view—making government less effective. Or, as Mr. Assange puts it, "We can marginalize a conspiracy's ability to act by decreasing total conspiratorial power until it is no longer able to understand, and hence respond effectively to its environment. . . . An authoritarian conspiracy that cannot think efficiently cannot act to preserve itself."

I doubt if Mr. Assange's actions will have his intended effect in a society, such as the United States, that is not actually an authoritarian conspiracy. The United States has several distinct factions and, in a WikiLeaks environment, those that are most inclined to secrecy will do something stupid. (This might already be happening. Did the CRU data release produce a culture of secrecy that resulted in the notorious “exploding kids video”?).

Meanwhile, given the authoritarian nature of the WikiLeaks organization, maybe we need WikiLeaksLeaks, an organization dedicated to revealing everything WikiLeaks is trying to keep secret.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

George Shultz is babbling. The documentation of history will continue to be promulgated with technology that I cannot even imagine (perhaps others can). I wrote about Wikileaks and the more I think of it, I conclude that it will have unintended positive effects. Truly government needs some secrecy to function and the fact that the number of confidants will need to be reduced will naturally lead to smaller government. IOW, efficiency will be a side benefit of secrecy measures. BTW, Skynet or AI will never succeed because they lack creativity, haven't a soul, and they can't dream without a suggested program.

Mr. Assange will become a footnote is any discussion on governmental secrecy. Future technology will be the straw on the camels back. The interesting factor is that all governments will be subject to this great equalizer.

10:15 PM  

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