“I’m sorry to bother you again, Mr. Rosenberg…”
It was Dorie. I was hoping that she hadn’t had a problem with her program.
“Things are going well enough, I hope?”
“Oh, yes,” she said. “Everything’s coming together well… but I have another issue. Can you please meet me again?”
I paused for a moment.
“Listen, I know you’re busy, and I’ll try never to do this again, but it would help a lot of people – at least potentially – if you could give me just half an hour of your time.”
I agreed and set it up at lunch time, two days later.
To my surprise, Dorie walked into Jay’s with a ten year old boy, who she introduced to me as her son. I went through the pleasantries and said, “Dorie, you must have had him as a child.”
She smiled. “I started having children at 19… and I have three.”
I was impressed. And as it turned out, she was including the boy in her project for his education, and especially so he’d learn how to work.
We talked about kids for a bit, then I asked why I was there.
“It’s about privacy,” she said.
That, of course, interested me, after spending nearly twenty years of my life in the privacy business.
“That’s a bit of a stretch from a med-bot system,” I said.
“Not entirely, Mr. Rosenberg…” I sat silently. “One thing led to another with our AI system.”
“Please go on.”
“One of the criterion for the system was communication between the DAO and its members, and we allowed our AI access to it.”
“And it started charting preferable communication paths, based upon the most current information.”
“Oh my,” I gasped. “That’s something.”
And it is something. Consider this:
We have multiple communication systems running all the time: Mail, email, other Internet methods, messengers (car and bike), text messages, several phone networks, ham radio, CB radio and pager networks. Long distance traders and shipping operators deliver information end to end. In rural areas bus drivers deliver messages and small packages. And the list goes on.
Given any particular situation – how fast the communication must be, what obstacles are in the way and so on – an intelligent program could design, at virtually zero cost, highly secure and effective methods of private communications.
As I was running all these things through my mind, she interrupted and said, “It seems like a fairly deep rabbit hole, and one that you can see better than we can.” I nodded. “And so we’d like your thoughts.”
I sat there for a moment, nodding, smiling at her son, and asking for some paper and a pen. Then I started scribbling some notes. All I really said was, “A fine rabbit hole indeed.”
I asked for a second sheet of paper, and came up with something like this, which I wrote a bit more legibly:
- Include everything you can, being sure not to ignore ethnic and immigrant networks (cooperative ones, obviously), informal bankers, whatever Hawala networks remain, and so on.
- Be very careful with Tor. (As I previously explained to her brother.) Also to use hardened servers.
- Try to prefer XMPP chat with OMEMO encryption (Jabber with OTR) over Telegram, etc.
- The GPG encryption should be used everywhere possible, and that once they reached some size, building a serious anonymity network would be very much in their interest.
- That at some point they’d end up surveiling the surveillors, and that this was a dangerous thing to do. By doing so they would likely disrupt those networks (simply being seen would disrupt them quite well), and that this is what Wikileaks did. It could lead to serious repurcussions.
- To be prepared; that they should see a 2011 paper on The Network of Global Corporate Control. They should know that the big boys and their agencies (US State Dept., etc.) were staking a great deal on controlling such networks.
- That mass surveillance was now the primary tool of spy agencies and statecraft worldwide: not only to see, but to obscure, blind, influence and control.
That last point, I emphasized, was a big one. They’d be bumping up against large players, and if they weren’t careful, they would end up swimming in their pond… and they don’t like trespassers.
I recommended that they setup another DAO for this venture, and that they should be prepared to turn it into decentralized protocol and set it free to run on its own. I stressed that there were risks to doing so, but that if they were careful, it was probably the best thing to do. Maximizing profit is not more central than maximizing human life strategies.
I very much enjoyed my conversations with Dorie, but I do rather hope there are no more of them.