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

From: Marcus Brinkmann
Subject: Re: bit-split, or: the schizophrenia of trusted computing
Date: Mon, 01 May 2006 18:05:59 +0200
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At Mon, 01 May 2006 12:01:55 -0400,
"Jonathan S. Shapiro" <address@hidden> wrote:
> 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
> well?

Yes, sure.

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

I agree.

> 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*
> criteria:
>   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.

But as you said, it can not be decided purely by technical means.  A
consequence is that in many circumstances, and I have in mind
particularly those circumstances which have a broader public impact,
technical means may not be the appropriate means to enforce encapsulation.
> 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.

Actually, it is likely that it is very hard to demonstrate in such
cases that the beneficial contribution to the general public is
explicit and obvious.

As you said, we will see.


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