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28c3: The coming war on general computation
0:00:09.099,0:00:09.700
Introducer:
0:00:09.700,0:00:16.250
Anyway, I believe I've killed enough time
... so, ladies and gentlemen, a person who
0:00:16.250,0:00:22.169
in this crowd needs absolutely no introduction,
Cory Doctorow!
0:00:22.169,0:00:24.660
[Audience applauds.]
0:00:24.660,0:00:25.910
Doctorow:
0:00:25.910,0:00:29.640
Thank you.
0:00:29.640,0:00:36.640
So, when I speak in places where
the first language of the nation is not English,
0:00:37.640,0:00:44.269
there is a disclaimer and an apology, because
I'm one of nature's fast talkers. When I was
0:00:44.269,0:00:49.679
at the United Nations at the World Intellectual
Property Organization, I was known as the
0:00:49.679,0:00:55.550
"scourge" of the simultaneous translation
corps; I would stand up and speak, and turn
0:00:55.550,0:00:59.679
around, and there would be window after window
of translator, and every one of them would
0:00:59.679,0:01:06.520
be doing this [Doctorow facepalms]. [Audience
laughs] So in advance, I give you permission
0:01:06.520,0:01:11.350
when I start talking quickly to do this [Doctorow
makes SOS motion] and I will slow down.
0:01:11.350,0:01:17.060
So, tonight's talk -- wah, wah, waaah
[Doctorow makes 'fail horn' sound, apparently
0:01:17.060,0:01:22.060
in response to audience making SOS motion;
audience laughs]] -- tonight's talk is not
0:01:22.060,0:01:28.600
a copyright talk. I do copyright talks all
the time; questions about culture and creativity
0:01:28.600,0:01:33.909
are interesting enough, but to be honest,
I'm quite sick of them. If you want to hear
0:01:33.909,0:01:39.210
freelancer writers like me bang on about what's
happening to the way we earn our living, by
0:01:39.210,0:01:45.020
all means, go and find one of the many talks
I've done on this subject on YouTube. But,
0:01:45.020,0:01:49.990
tonight, I want to talk about something more
important -- I want talk to talk about general
0:01:49.990,0:01:52.689
purpose computers.
0:01:52.689,0:01:57.689
Because general purpose computers are, in
fact, astounding -- so astounding that our
0:01:57.689,0:02:03.189
society is still struggling to come to grips
with them: to figure out what they're for,
0:02:03.189,0:02:09.729
to figure out how to accommodate them, and
how to cope with them. Which, unfortunately,
0:02:09.729,0:02:12.319
brings me back to copyright.
0:02:12.319,0:02:17.800
Because the general shape of the
copyright wars and the lessons they can teach
0:02:17.800,0:02:23.310
us about the upcoming fights over the destiny
of the general purpose computer are important.
0:02:23.310,0:02:30.310
In the beginning, we had packaged software,
and the attendant industry, and we had sneakernet.
0:02:31.690,0:02:38.100
So, we had floppy disks in ziplock bags, or
in cardboard boxes, hung on pegs in shops,
0:02:38.100,0:02:43.780
and sold like candy bars and magazines. And
they were eminently susceptible to duplication,
0:02:43.780,0:02:49.500
and so they were duplicated quickly, and widely,
and this was to the great chagrin of people
0:02:49.500,0:02:51.680
who made and sold software.
0:02:51.680,0:02:58.680
Enter DRM 0.96. They started to
introduce physical defects to the disks or
0:02:59.430,0:03:05.770
started to insist on other physical indicia
which the software could check for -- dongles,
0:03:05.770,0:03:10.660
hidden sectors, challenge/response protocols
that required that you had physical possession
0:03:10.660,0:03:17.330
of large, unwieldy manuals that were difficult
to copy, and of course these failed, for two
0:03:17.330,0:03:23.090
reasons. First, they were commercially unpopular,
of course, because they reduced the usefulness
0:03:23.090,0:03:27.600
of the software to the legitimate purchasers,
while leaving the people who took the software
0:03:27.600,0:03:32.790
without paying for it untouched. The legitimate
purchasers resented the non-functionality
0:03:32.790,0:03:38.240
of their backups, they hated the loss of scarce
ports to the authentication dongles, and they
0:03:38.240,0:03:43.620
resented the inconvenience of having to transport
large manuals when they wanted to run their
0:03:43.620,0:03:49.260
software. And second, these didn't stop pirates,
who found it trivial to patch the software
0:03:49.260,0:03:55.080
and bypass authentication. Typically, the
way that happened is some expert who had possession
0:03:55.080,0:04:00.680
of technology and expertise of equivalent
sophistication to the software vendor itself,
0:04:00.680,0:04:05.820
would reverse engineer the software and release
cracked versions that quickly became widely
0:04:05.820,0:04:11.630
circulated. While this kind of expertise and
technology sounded highly specialized, it
0:04:11.630,0:04:16.750
really wasn't; figuring out what recalcitrant
programs were doing, and routing around the
0:04:16.750,0:04:22.639
defects in shitty floppy disk media were both
core skills for computer programmers, and
0:04:22.639,0:04:27.300
were even more so in the era of fragile floppy
disks and the rough-and-ready early days of
0:04:27.300,0:04:33.660
software development. Anti-copying strategies
only became more fraught as networks spread;
0:04:33.660,0:04:38.840
once we had BBSes, online services, USENET
newsgroups, and mailing lists, the expertise
0:04:38.840,0:04:43.240
of people who figured out how to defeat these
authentication systems could be packaged up
0:04:43.240,0:04:49.640
in software as little crack files, or, as
the network capacity increased, the cracked
0:04:49.640,0:04:53.420
disk images or executables themselves could
be spread on their own.
0:04:53.420,0:05:00.420
Which gave us DRM 1.0. By 1996,
it became clear to everyone in the halls of
0:05:00.480,0:05:06.130
power that there was something important about
to happen. We were about to have an information
0:05:06.130,0:05:13.070
economy, whatever the hell that was. They
assumed it meant an economy where we bought
0:05:13.070,0:05:19.960
and sold information. Now, information technology
makes things efficient, so imagine the markets
0:05:19.960,0:05:25.150
that an information economy would have. You
could buy a book for a day, you could sell
0:05:25.150,0:05:29.740
the right to watch the movie for one Euro,
and then you could rent out the pause button
0:05:29.740,0:05:35.210
at one penny per second. You could sell movies
for one price in one country, and another
0:05:35.210,0:05:41.230
price in another, and so on, and so on; the
fantasies of those days were a little like
0:05:41.230,0:05:46.880
a boring science fiction adaptation of the
Old Testament book of Numbers, a kind of tedious
0:05:46.880,0:05:52.080
enumeration of every permutation of things
people do with information and the ways we
0:05:52.080,0:05:54.020
could charge them for it.
0:05:54.020,0:05:58.870
But none of this would be possible
unless we could control how people use their
0:05:58.870,0:06:04.419
computers and the files we transfer to them.
After all, it was well and good to talk about
0:06:04.419,0:06:10.090
selling someone the 24 hour right to a video,
or the right to move music onto an iPod, but
0:06:10.090,0:06:15.220
not the right to move music from the iPod
onto another device, but how the Hell could
0:06:15.220,0:06:19.850
you do that once you'd given them the file?
In order to do that, to make this work, you
0:06:19.850,0:06:24.340
needed to figure out how to stop computers
from running certain programs and inspecting
0:06:24.340,0:06:29.669
certain files and processes. For example,
you could encrypt the file, and then require
0:06:29.669,0:06:34.000
the user to run a program that only unlocked
the file under certain circumstances.
0:06:34.000,0:06:40.990
But as they say on the Internet,
"now you have two problems". You also, now,
0:06:40.990,0:06:45.050
have to stop the user from saving the file
while it's in the clear, and you have to stop
0:06:45.050,0:06:49.639
the user from figuring out where the unlocking
program stores its keys, because if the user
0:06:49.639,0:06:53.820
finds the keys, she'll just decrypt the file
and throw away that stupid player app.
0:06:53.820,0:06:58.370
And now you have three problems
[audience laughs], because now you have to
0:06:58.370,0:07:02.020
stop the users who figure out how to render
the file in the clear from sharing it with
0:07:02.020,0:07:07.060
other users, and now you've got four! problems,
because now you have to stop the users who
0:07:07.060,0:07:11.710
figure out how to extract secrets from unlocking
programs from telling other users how to do
0:07:11.710,0:07:16.830
it too, and now you've got five! problems,
because now you have to stop users who figure
0:07:16.830,0:07:20.680
out how to extract secrets from unlocking
programs from telling other users what the
0:07:20.680,0:07:22.070
secrets were!
0:07:22.070,0:07:28.910
That's a lot of problems. But by
1996, we had a solution. We had the WIPO Copyright
0:07:28.910,0:07:32.990
Treaty, passed by the United Nations World
Intellectual Property Organization, which
0:07:32.990,0:07:37.930
created laws that made it illegal to extract
secrets from unlocking programs, and it created
0:07:37.930,0:07:42.250
laws that made it illegal to extract media
cleartexts from the unlocking programs while
0:07:42.250,0:07:46.580
they were running, and it created laws that
made it illegal to tell people how to extract
0:07:46.580,0:07:51.720
secrets from unlocking programs, and created
laws that made it illegal to host copyrighted
0:07:51.720,0:07:58.120
works and secrets and all with a handy streamlined
process that let you remove stuff from the
0:07:58.120,0:08:02.729
internet without having to screw around with
lawyers, and judges, and all that crap. And
0:08:02.729,0:08:09.729
with that, illegal copying ended forever [audience
laughs very hard, applauds], the information
0:08:18.710,0:08:23.490
economy blossomed into a beautiful flower
that brought prosperity to the whole wide
0:08:23.490,0:08:29.630
world; as they say on the aircraft carriers,
"Mission Accomplished". [audience laughs]
0:08:29.630,0:08:34.490
Well, of course that's not how the
story ends because pretty much anyone who
0:08:34.490,0:08:39.630
understood computers and networks understood
that while these laws would create more problems
0:08:39.630,0:08:44.180
than they could possibly solve; after all,
these were laws that made it illegal to look
0:08:44.180,0:08:49.149
inside your computer when it was running certain
programs, they made it illegal to tell people
0:08:49.149,0:08:53.550
what you found when you looked inside your
computer, they made it easy to censor material
0:08:53.550,0:08:57.769
on the internet without having to prove that
anything wrong had happened; in short, they
0:08:57.769,0:09:04.420
made unrealistic demands on reality and reality
did not oblige them. After all, copying only
0:09:04.420,0:09:09.050
got easier following the passage of these
laws -- copying will only ever get easier!
0:09:09.050,0:09:14.329
Here, 2011, this is as hard as copying will
get! Your grandchildren will turn to you around
0:09:14.329,0:09:18.420
the Christmas table and say "Tell me again,
Grandpa, tell me again, Grandma, about when
0:09:18.420,0:09:23.550
it was hard to copy things in 2011, when you
couldn't get a drive the size of your fingernail
0:09:23.550,0:09:27.860
that could hold every song ever recorded,
every movie ever made, every word ever spoken,
0:09:27.860,0:09:31.920
every picture ever taken, everything, and
transfer it in such a short period of time
0:09:31.920,0:09:36.300
you didn't even notice it was doing it, tell
us again when it was so stupidly hard to copy
0:09:36.300,0:09:43.300
things back in 2011". And so, reality asserted
itself, and everyone had a good laugh over
0:09:43.490,0:09:47.970
how funny our misconceptions were when we
entered the 21st century, and then a lasting
0:09:47.970,0:09:52.759
peace was reached with freedom and prosperity
for all. [audience chuckles]
0:09:52.759,0:09:57.949
Well, not really. Because, like
the nursery rhyme lady who swallows a spider
0:09:57.949,0:10:02.329
to catch a fly, and has to swallow a bird
to catch the spider, and a cat to catch the
0:10:02.329,0:10:08.850
bird, and so on, so must a regulation that
has broad general appeal but is disastrous
0:10:08.850,0:10:13.929
in its implementation beget a new regulation
aimed at shoring up the failure of the old
0:10:13.929,0:10:18.110
one. Now, it's tempting to stop the story
here and conclude that the problem is that
0:10:18.110,0:10:23.470
lawmakers are either clueless or evil, or
possibly evilly clueless, and just leave it
0:10:23.470,0:10:28.730
there, which is not a very satisfying place
to go, because it's fundamentally a council
0:10:28.730,0:10:33.350
of despair; it suggests that our problems
cannot be solved for so long as stupidity
0:10:33.350,0:10:38.660
and evilness are present in the halls of power,
which is to say they will never be solved.
0:10:38.660,0:10:41.100
But I have another theory about what's happened.
0:10:41.100,0:10:46.220
It's not that regulators don't understand
information technology, because it should
0:10:46.220,0:10:52.819
be possible to be a non-expert and still make
a good law! M.P.s and Congressmen and so on
0:10:52.819,0:10:58.129
are elected to represent districts and people,
not disciplines and issues. We don't have
0:10:58.129,0:11:02.490
a Member of Parliament for biochemistry, and
we don't have a Senator from the great state
0:11:02.490,0:11:09.240
of urban planning, and we don't have an M.E.P.
from child welfare. (But perhaps we should.)
0:11:09.240,0:11:14.610
And yet those people who are experts in policy
and politics, not technical disciplines, nevertheless,
0:11:14.610,0:11:20.029
often do manage to pass good rules that make
sense, and that's because government relies
0:11:20.029,0:11:24.850
on heuristics -- rules of thumbs about how
to balance expert input from different sides
0:11:24.850,0:11:25.790
of an issue.
0:11:25.790,0:11:30.269
But information technology confounds
these heuristics -- it kicks the crap out
0:11:30.269,0:11:36.170
of them -- in one important way, and this
is it. One important test of whether or not
0:11:36.170,0:11:40.540
a regulation is fit for a purpose is first,
of course, whether it will work, but second
0:11:40.540,0:11:45.249
of all, whether or not in the course of doing
its work, it will have lots of effects on
0:11:45.249,0:11:51.619
everything else. If I wanted Congress to write,
or Parliament to write, or the E.U. to regulate
0:11:51.619,0:11:56.769
a wheel, it's unlikely I'd succeed. If I turned
up and said "well, everyone knows that wheels
0:11:56.769,0:12:01.980
are good and right, but have you noticed that
every single bank robber has four wheels on
0:12:01.980,0:12:06.449
his car when he drives away from the bank
robbery? Can't we do something about this?",
0:12:06.449,0:12:11.189
the answer would of course be "no". Because
we don't know how to make a wheel that is
0:12:11.189,0:12:16.800
still generally useful for legitimate wheel
applications but useless to bad guys. And
0:12:16.800,0:12:20.959
we can all see that the general benefits of
wheels are so profound that we'd be foolish
0:12:20.959,0:12:26.470
to risk them in a foolish errand to stop bank
robberies by changing wheels. Even if there
0:12:26.470,0:12:31.050
were an /epidemic/ of bank robberies, even
if society were on the verge of collapse thanks
0:12:31.050,0:12:34.999
to bank robberies, no-one would think that
wheels were the right place to start solving
0:12:34.999,0:12:36.149
our problems.
0:12:36.149,0:12:42.470
But. If I were to show up in that
same body to say that I had absolute proof
0:12:42.470,0:12:48.300
that hands-free phones were making cars dangerous,
and I said, "I would like you to pass a law
0:12:48.300,0:12:52.619
that says it's illegal to put a hands-free
phone in a car", the regulator might say "Yeah,
0:12:52.619,0:12:56.499
I'd take your point, we'd do that". And we
might disagree about whether or not this is
0:12:56.499,0:13:00.809
a good idea, or whether or not my evidence
made sense, but very few of us would say "well,
0:13:00.809,0:13:06.519
once you take the hands-free phones out of
the car, they stop being cars". We understand
0:13:06.519,0:13:12.100
that we can keep cars cars even if we remove
features from them. Cars are special purpose,
0:13:12.100,0:13:16.860
at least in comparison to wheels, and all
that the addition of a hands-free phone does
0:13:16.860,0:13:22.829
is add one more feature to an already-specialized
technology. In fact, there's that heuristic
0:13:22.829,0:13:27.480
that we can apply here -- special-purpose
technologies are complex. And you can remove
0:13:27.480,0:13:32.569
features from them without doing fundamental
disfiguring violence to their underlying utility.
0:13:32.569,0:13:38.309
This rule of thumb serves regulators
well, by and large, but it is rendered null
0:13:38.309,0:13:42.869
and void by the general-purpose computer and
the general-purpose network -- the PC and
0:13:42.869,0:13:48.230
the Internet. Because if you think of computer
software as a feature, that is a computer
0:13:48.230,0:13:52.649
with spreadsheets running on it has a spreadsheet
feature, and one that's running World of Warcraft
0:13:52.649,0:13:57.899
has an MMORPG feature, then this heuristic
leads you to think that you could reasonably
0:13:57.899,0:14:02.319
say, "make me a computer that doesn't run
spreadsheets", and that it would be no more
0:14:02.319,0:14:07.029
of an attack on computing than "make me a
car without a hands-free phone" is an attack
0:14:07.029,0:14:12.610
on cars. And if you think of protocols and
sites as features of the network, then saying
0:14:12.610,0:14:18.939
"fix the Internet so that it doesn't run BitTorrent",
or "fix the Internet so that thepiratebay.org
0:14:18.939,0:14:23.709
no longer resolves", then it sounds a lot
like "change the sound of busy signals", or
0:14:23.709,0:14:28.439
"take that pizzeria on the corner off the
phone network", and not like an attack on
0:14:28.439,0:14:30.899
the fundamental principles of internetworking.
0:14:30.899,0:14:36.420
Not realizing that this rule of
thumb that works for cars and for houses and
0:14:36.420,0:14:41.189
for every other substantial area of technological
regulation fails for the Internet does not
0:14:41.189,0:14:45.059
make you evil and it does not make you an
ignoramus. It just makes you part of that
0:14:45.059,0:14:50.679
vast majority of the world for whom ideas
like "Turing complete" and "end-to-end" are
0:14:50.679,0:14:56.839
meaningless. So, our regulators go off, and
they blithely pass these laws, and they become
0:14:56.839,0:15:01.439
part of the reality of our technological world.
There are suddenly numbers that we aren't
0:15:01.439,0:15:06.290
allowed to write down on the Internet, programs
we're not allowed to publish, and all it takes
0:15:06.290,0:15:11.489
to make legitimate material disappear from
the Internet is to say "that? That infringes
0:15:11.489,0:15:15.809
copyright.". It fails to attain the actual
goal of the regulation; it doesn't stop people
0:15:15.809,0:15:21.119
from violating copyright, but it bears a kind
of superficial resemblance to copyright enforcement
0:15:21.119,0:15:26.959
-- it satisfies the security syllogism: "something
must be done, I am doing something, something
0:15:26.959,0:15:32.790
has been done." And thus any failures that
arise can be blamed on the idea that the regulation
0:15:32.790,0:15:37.859
doesn't go far enough, rather than the idea
that it was flawed from the outset.
0:15:37.859,0:15:42.399
This kind of superficial resemblance
and underlying divergence happens in other
0:15:42.399,0:15:46.999
engineering contexts. I've a friend who was
once a senior executive at a big consumer
0:15:46.999,0:15:50.929
packaged goods company who told me about what
happened when the marketing department told
0:15:50.929,0:15:55.199
the engineers that they'd thought up a great
idea for detergent: from now on, they were
0:15:55.199,0:16:00.059
going to make detergent that made your clothes
newer every time you washed them! Well after
0:16:00.059,0:16:04.869
the engineers had tried unsuccessfully to
convey the concept of "entropy" to the marketing
0:16:04.869,0:16:10.100
department [audience laughs], they arrived
at another solution -- "solution" -- they'd
0:16:10.100,0:16:15.959
develop a detergent that used enzymes that
attacked loose fiber ends, the kind that you
0:16:15.959,0:16:20.259
get with broken fibers that make your clothes
look old. So every time you washed your clothes
0:16:20.259,0:16:25.100
in the detergent, they would look newer. But
that was because the detergent was literally
0:16:25.100,0:16:31.100
digesting your clothes! Using it would literally
cause your clothes to dissolve in the washing
0:16:31.100,0:16:36.949
machine! This was the opposite of making clothes
newer; instead, you were artificially aging
0:16:36.949,0:16:42.829
your clothes every time you washed them, and
as the user, the more you deployed the "solution",
0:16:42.829,0:16:47.489
the more drastic your measures had to be to
keep your clothes up to date -- you actually
0:16:47.489,0:16:50.720
had to go buy new clothes because the old
ones fell apart.
0:16:50.720,0:16:55.129
So today we have marketing departments
who say things like "we don't need computers,
0:16:55.129,0:17:00.540
we need... appliances. Make me a computer
that doesn't run every program, just a program
0:17:00.540,0:17:05.920
that does this specialized task, like streaming
audio, or routing packets, or playing Xbox
0:17:05.920,0:17:10.429
games, and make sure it doesn't run programs
that I haven't authorized that might undermine
0:17:10.429,0:17:16.019
our profits". And on the surface, this seems
like a reasonable idea -- just a program that
0:17:16.019,0:17:22.679
does one specialized task -- after all, we
can put an electric motor in a blender, and
0:17:22.679,0:17:27.059
we can install a motor in a dishwasher, and
we don't worry if it's still possible to run
0:17:27.059,0:17:33.490
a dishwashing program in a blender. But that's
not what we do when we turn a computer into
0:17:33.490,0:17:38.380
an appliance. We're not making a computer
that runs only the "appliance" app; we're
0:17:38.380,0:17:43.870
making a computer that can run every program,
but which uses some combination of rootkits,
0:17:43.870,0:17:48.409
spyware, and code-signing to prevent the user
from knowing which processes are running,
0:17:48.409,0:17:53.049
from installing her own software, and from
terminating processes that she doesn't want.
0:17:53.049,0:17:58.870
In other words, an appliance is not a stripped-down
computer -- it is a fully functional computer
0:17:58.870,0:18:02.299
with spyware on it out of the box.
0:18:02.299,0:18:08.750
[audience applauds loudly] Thanks.
0:18:08.750,0:18:14.190
Because we don't know how to build
the general purpose computer that is capable
0:18:14.190,0:18:18.539
of running any program we can compile except
for some program that we don't like, or that
0:18:18.539,0:18:23.549
we prohibit by law, or that loses us money.
The closest approximation that we have to
0:18:23.549,0:18:29.220
this is a computer with spyware -- a computer
on which remote parties set policies without
0:18:29.220,0:18:34.220
the computer user's knowledge, over the objection
of the computer's owner. And so it is that
0:18:34.220,0:18:37.450
digital rights management always converges
on malware.
0:18:37.450,0:18:41.200
There was, of course, this famous
incident, a kind of gift to people who have
0:18:41.200,0:18:47.130
this hypothesis, in which Sony loaded covert
rootkit installers on 6 million audio CDs,
0:18:47.130,0:18:52.399
which secretly executed programs that watched
for attempts to read the sound files on CDs,
0:18:52.399,0:18:56.269
and terminated them, and which also hid the
rootkit's existence by causing the kernel
0:18:56.269,0:19:00.820
to lie about which processes were running,
and which files were present on the drive.
0:19:00.820,0:19:05.960
But it's not the only example; just recently,
Nintendo shipped the 3DS, which opportunistically
0:19:05.960,0:19:10.130
updates its firmware, and does an integrity
check to make sure that you haven't altered
0:19:10.130,0:19:15.299
the old firmware in any way, and if it detects
signs of tampering, it bricks itself.
0:19:15.299,0:19:20.389
Human rights activists have raised
alarms over U-EFI, the new PC bootloader,
0:19:20.389,0:19:25.179
which restricts your computer so it runs signed
operating systems, noting that repressive
0:19:25.179,0:19:30.279
governments will likely withhold signatures
from OSes unless they have covert surveillance
0:19:30.279,0:19:30.850
operations.
0:19:30.850,0:19:35.179
And on the network side, attempts
to make a network that can't be used for copyright
0:19:35.179,0:19:40.710
infringement always converges with the surveillance
measures that we know from repressive governments.
0:19:40.710,0:19:47.700
So, SOPA, the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act,
bans tools like DNSSec because they can be
0:19:47.700,0:19:52.519
used to defeat DNS blocking measures. And
it blocks tools like Tor, because they can
0:19:52.519,0:19:57.760
be used to circumvent IP blocking measures.
In fact, the proponents of SOPA, the Motion
0:19:57.760,0:20:03.120
Picture Association of America, circulated
a memo, citing research that SOPA would probably
0:20:03.120,0:20:08.600
work, because it uses the same measures as
are used in Syria, China, and Uzbekistan,
0:20:08.600,0:20:12.389
and they argued that these measures are effective
in those countries, and so they would work
0:20:12.389,0:20:13.880
in America, too!
0:20:13.880,0:20:20.279
[audience laughs and applauds] Don't applaud
me, applaud the MPAA!
0:20:20.279,0:20:26.039
Now, it may seem like SOPA is the
end game in a long fight over copyright, and
0:20:26.039,0:20:30.639
the internet, and it may seem like if we defeat
SOPA, we'll be well on our way to securing
0:20:30.639,0:20:36.320
the freedom of PCs and networks. But as I
said at the beginning of this talk, this isn't
0:20:36.320,0:20:42.649
about copyright, because the copyright wars
are just the 0.9 beta version of the long
0:20:42.649,0:20:47.490
coming war on computation. The entertainment
industry were just the first belligerents
0:20:47.490,0:20:52.340
in this coming century-long conflict. We tend
to think of them as particularly successful
0:20:52.340,0:20:58.610
-- after all, here is SOPA, trembling on the
verge of passage, and breaking the internet
0:20:58.610,0:21:04.519
on this fundamental level in the name of preserving
Top 40 music, reality TV shows, and Ashton
0:21:04.519,0:21:06.929
Kutcher movies! [laughs, scattered applause]
0:21:06.929,0:21:13.100
But the reality is, copyright legislation
gets as far as it does precisely because it's
0:21:13.100,0:21:18.980
not taken seriously, which is why on one hand,
Canada has had Parliament after Parliament
0:21:18.980,0:21:23.940
introduce one stupid copyright bill after
another, but on the other hand, Parliament
0:21:23.940,0:21:29.639
after Parliament has failed to actually vote
on the bill. It's why we got SOPA, a bill
0:21:29.639,0:21:36.639
composed of pure stupid, pieced together molecule-by-molecule,
into a kind of "Stupidite 250", which is normally
0:21:37.509,0:21:44.110
only found in the heart of newborn star, and
it's why these rushed-through SOPA hearings
0:21:44.110,0:21:48.679
had to be adjourned midway through the Christmas
break, so that lawmakers could get into a
0:21:48.679,0:21:55.029
real vicious nationally-infamous debate over
an important issue, unemployment insurance.
0:21:55.029,0:22:01.840
It's why the World Intellectual Property Organization
is gulled time and again into enacting crazed,
0:22:01.840,0:22:07.090
pig-ignorant copyright proposals because when
the nations of the world send their U.N. missions
0:22:07.090,0:22:13.070
to Geneva, they send water experts, not copyright
experts; they send health experts, not copyright
0:22:13.070,0:22:17.730
experts; they send agriculture experts, not
copyright experts, because copyright is just
0:22:17.730,0:22:24.730
not important to pretty much everyone! [applause]
0:22:27.179,0:22:34.179
Canada's Parliament didn't vote
on its copyright bills because, of all the
0:22:34.490,0:22:40.169
things that Canada needs to do, fixing copyright
ranks well below health emergencies on first
0:22:40.169,0:22:45.440
nations reservations, exploiting the oil patch
in Alberta, interceding in sectarian resentments
0:22:45.440,0:22:49.799
among French- and English-speakers, solving
resources crises in the nation's fisheries,
0:22:49.799,0:22:54.929
and thousand other issues! The triviality
of copyright tells you that when other sectors
0:22:54.929,0:23:00.559
of the economy start to evince concerns about
the internet and the PC, that copyright will
0:23:00.559,0:23:06.630
be revealed for a minor skirmish, and not
a war. Why would other sectors nurse grudges
0:23:06.630,0:23:11.659
against computers? Well, because the world
we live in today is /made/ of computers. We
0:23:11.659,0:23:15.899
don't have cars anymore, we have computers
we ride in; we don't have airplanes anymore,
0:23:15.899,0:23:22.899
we have flying Solaris boxes with a big bucketful
of SCADA controllers [laughter]; a 3D printer
0:23:24.409,0:23:30.380
is not a device, it's a peripheral, and it
only works connected to a computer; a radio
0:23:30.380,0:23:36.200
is no longer a crystal, it's a general-purpose
computer with a fast ADC and a fast DAC and
0:23:36.200,0:23:37.269
some software.
0:23:37.269,0:23:43.200
The grievances that arose from
unauthorized copying are trivial, when compared
0:23:43.200,0:23:49.269
to the calls for action that our new computer-embroidered
reality will create. Think of radio for a
0:23:49.269,0:23:54.149
minute. The entire basis for radio regulation
up until today was based on the idea that
0:23:54.149,0:23:59.179
the properties of a radio are fixed at the
time of manufacture, and can't be easily altered.
0:23:59.179,0:24:03.389
You can't just flip a switch on your baby
monitor, and turn it into something that interferes
0:24:03.389,0:24:08.610
with air traffic control signals. But powerful
software-defined radios can change from baby
0:24:08.610,0:24:13.720
monitor to emergency services dispatcher to
air traffic controller just by loading and
0:24:13.720,0:24:18.590
executing different software, which is why
the first time the American telecoms regulator
0:24:18.590,0:24:23.879
(the FCC) considered what would happen when
we put SDRs in the field, they asked for comment
0:24:23.879,0:24:29.200
on whether it should mandate that all software-defined
radios should be embedded in trusted computing
0:24:29.200,0:24:34.779
machines. Ultimately, whether every PC should
be locked, so that the programs they run are
0:24:34.779,0:24:37.330
strictly regulated by central authorities.
0:24:37.330,0:24:42.259
And even this is a shadow of what
is to come. After all, this was the year in
0:24:42.259,0:24:48.370
which we saw the debut of open sourced shape
files for converting AR-15s to full automatic.
0:24:48.370,0:24:53.629
This was the year of crowd-funded open-sourced
hardware for gene sequencing. And while 3D
0:24:53.629,0:24:57.750
printing will give rise to plenty of trivial
complaints, there will be judges in the American
0:24:57.750,0:25:02.730
South and Mullahs in Iran who will lose their
minds over people in their jurisdiction printing
0:25:02.730,0:25:09.509
out sex toys. [guffaw from audience] The trajectory
of 3D printing will most certainly raise real
0:25:09.509,0:25:13.409
grievances, from solid state meth labs, to
ceramic knives.
0:25:13.409,0:25:17.950
And it doesn't take a science fiction
writer to understand why regulators might
0:25:17.950,0:25:23.889
be nervous about the user-modifiable firmware
on self-driving cars, or limiting interoperability
0:25:23.889,0:25:28.789
for aviation controllers, or the kind of thing
you could do with bio-scale assemblers and
0:25:28.789,0:25:34.240
sequencers. Imagine what will happen the day
that Monsanto determines that it's really...
0:25:34.240,0:25:39.000
really... important to make sure that computers
can't execute programs that cause specialized
0:25:39.000,0:25:44.940
peripherals to output organisms that eat their
lunch... literally. Regardless of whether
0:25:44.940,0:25:50.070
you think these are real problems or merely
hysterical fears, they are nevertheless the
0:25:50.070,0:25:54.440
province of lobbies and interest groups that
are far more influential than Hollywood and
0:25:54.440,0:25:59.600
big content are on their best days, and every
one of them will arrive at the same place
0:25:59.600,0:26:04.929
-- "can't you just make us a general purpose
computer that runs all the programs, except
0:26:04.929,0:26:10.019
the ones that scare and anger us? Can't you
just make us an Internet that transmits any
0:26:10.019,0:26:14.929
message over any protocol between any two
points, unless it upsets us?"
0:26:14.929,0:26:18.879
And personally, I can see that
there will be programs that run on general
0:26:18.879,0:26:24.100
purpose computers and peripherals that will
even freak me out. So I can believe that people
0:26:24.100,0:26:28.370
who advocate for limiting general purpose
computers will find receptive audience for
0:26:28.370,0:26:33.740
their positions. But just as we saw with the
copyright wars, banning certain instructions,
0:26:33.740,0:26:39.470
or protocols, or messages, will be wholly
ineffective as a means of prevention and remedy;
0:26:39.470,0:26:45.590
and as we saw in the copyright wars, all attempts
at controlling PCs will converge on rootkits;
0:26:45.590,0:26:51.480
all attempts at controlling the Internet will
converge on surveillance and censorship, which
0:26:51.480,0:26:57.179
is why all this stuff matters. Because we've
spent the last 10+ years as a body sending
0:26:57.179,0:27:01.639
our best players out to fight what we thought
was the final boss at the end of the game,
0:27:01.639,0:27:06.100
but it turns out it's just been the mini-boss
at the end of the level, and the stakes are
0:27:06.100,0:27:07.340
only going to get higher.
0:27:07.340,0:27:11.509
As a member of the Walkman generation,
I have made peace with the fact that I will
0:27:11.509,0:27:17.090
require a hearing aid long before I die, and
of course, it won't be a hearing aid, it will
0:27:17.090,0:27:22.480
be a computer I put in my body. So when I
get into a car -- a computer I put my body
0:27:22.480,0:27:27.580
into -- with my hearing aid -- a computer
I put inside my body -- I want to know that
0:27:27.580,0:27:32.399
these technologies are not designed to keep
secrets from me, and to prevent me from terminating
0:27:32.399,0:27:39.399
processes on them that work against my interests.
[vigorous applause from audience] Thank you.
0:27:43.139,0:27:50.139
Thank you. So, last year, the Lower
Merion School District, in a middle-class,
0:27:53.450,0:27:57.539
affluent suburb of Philadelphia found itself
in a great deal of trouble, because it was
0:27:57.539,0:28:02.570
caught distributing PCs to its students, equipped
with rootkits that allowed for remote covert
0:28:02.570,0:28:07.059
surveillance through the computer's camera
and network connection. It transpired that
0:28:07.059,0:28:12.549
they had been photographing students thousands
of times, at home and at school, awake and
0:28:12.549,0:28:17.990
asleep, dressed and naked. Meanwhile, the
latest generation of lawful intercept technology
0:28:17.990,0:28:23.990
can covertly operate cameras, mics, and GPSes
on PCs, tablets, and mobile devices.
0:28:23.990,0:28:30.039
Freedom in the future will require
us to have the capacity to monitor our devices
0:28:30.039,0:28:36.419
and set meaningful policy on them, to examine
and terminate the processes that run on them,
0:28:36.419,0:28:41.590
to maintain them as honest servants to our
will, and not as traitors and spies working
0:28:41.590,0:28:47.179
for criminals, thugs, and control freaks.
And we haven't lost yet, but we have to win
0:28:47.179,0:28:52.669
the copyright wars to keep the Internet and
the PC free and open. Because these are the
0:28:52.669,0:28:58.299
materiel in the wars that are to come, we
won't be able to fight on without them. And
0:28:58.299,0:29:04.299
I know this sounds like a council of despair,
but as I said, these are early days. We have
0:29:04.299,0:29:08.710
been fighting the mini-boss, and that means
that great challenges are yet to come, but
0:29:08.710,0:29:15.580
like all good level designers, fate has sent
us a soft target to train ourselves on -- we
0:29:15.580,0:29:21.360
have a chance, a real chance, and if we support
open and free systems, and the organizations
0:29:21.360,0:29:28.360
that fight for them -- EFF, Bits of Freedom
[?], Edrie [?], [?], Nets Politique [?], La
0:29:28.740,0:29:33.450
Quadrature du Net, and all the others, who
are thankfully, too numerous to name here
0:29:33.450,0:29:38.440
-- we may yet win the battle, and secure the
ammunition we'll need for the war.
0:29:38.440,0:29:45.440
Thank you.
0:37:48.880,0:37:55.880
[sustained applause]
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