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Re: bit-split, or: the schizophrenia of trusted computing

From: Jonathan S. Shapiro
Subject: Re: bit-split, or: the schizophrenia of trusted computing
Date: Mon, 01 May 2006 12:01:55 -0400

On Mon, 2006-05-01 at 17:34 +0200, Marcus Brinkmann wrote:
> At Mon, 01 May 2006 09:58:19 -0400,
> "Jonathan S. Shapiro" <address@hidden> wrote:
> > My expected outcome was that the ethical issue has nothing to do with
> > whether the artifact is digital. It entirely has to do with the marginal
> > cost of reproduction (to the initial holder) being zero, and the belief
> > that creating artificial scarcity is fundamentally unethical.
> > 
> > I am still not 100% certain, but I think that this is actually where
> > Marcus and I ended up.
> Sounds about right, however, there is an extra dimension, which I
> pointed out and you omitted above.  There must be a public interest in
> the artifact.  Otherwise, it would be impossible to be consistent with
> the above and defend some amount of privacy, too.

I am curious: shouldn't this apply to digitally encoded information as

For example, my medical records can be replicated at zero marginal cost.
I do not believe that you intend that this should be universally

If you agree, then let me point out a tricky problem hiding here: the
decision of what should be freely copyable is now based on *two*

  1. Zero marginal cost
  2. Legitimate right of recipient (including public) interest.

The second point is fundamentally a value judgment, and it cannot be
decided by purely technical means. It implies that there may exist
*some* forms of information encapsulation are not only acceptable, but
may be ethically mandatory.

The main use cases that I bring forward will all rest on this problem.
You may say, one at a time "That case is not of interest to the Hurd",
but I believe that in the end you will have one hell of a tall stack of
socially important cases that are "Not of interest to the Hurd".

We will see.


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