Cyphernomicon Top
Cyphernomicon 3.4

Cypherpunks -- History, Organization, Agenda:
Beliefs, Goals, Agenda

    3.4.1. "Is there a set of beliefs that most Cypherpunks support?"
           + There is nothing official (not much is), but there is an
              emergent, coherent set of beliefs which most list members
              seem to hold:
             - that the government should not be able to snoop into our
             - that protection of conversations and exchanges is a basic
             - that these rights may need to be secured through
                _technology_ rather than through law
             - that the power of technology often creates new political
                realities (hence the list mantra: "Cypherpunks write
           + Range of Beliefs
             - Many are libertarian, most support rights of privacy,
                some are more radical in apppoach
    3.4.2. "What are Cypherpunks interested in?"
           - privacy
           - technology
           - encryition
           - politics
           - crypto anarchy
           - digital money
           - protocols
    3.4.3. Personal Privacy and Collapse of Governments
           - There seem to be two main reasons people are drawn to
              Cypherpunks, besides the general attractiveness of a "cool"
              group such as ours. The first reason is _personal privacy_.
              That is, tools for ensuring privacy, protection from a
              surveillance society, and individual choice. This reason is
              widely popular, but is not always compelling (after all,
              why worry about personal privacy and then join a list that
              has been identified as a "subversive" group by the Feds?
              Something to think about.)
           - The second major is personal liberty through reducing the
              power of governments to coerce and tax. Sort of a digital
              Galt's Gulch, as it were. Libertarians and
              anarchocapitalists are especially drawn to this vision, a
              vision which may bother conventional liberals (when they
              realize strong crypto means things counter to welfare,
              AFDC, antidiscrimination laws....).
           - This second view is more controversial, but is, in my
              opinion, what really powers the list. While others may
              phrase it differently,  most of us realize we are on to
              something that will change--and already is changing--the
              nature of the balance of power between individuals and
              larger entities.
    3.4.4.  Why is Cypherpunks called an "anarchy"?
           - Anarchy means "without a leader" (head). Much more common
              than people may think.
           - The association with bomb-throwing "anarchists" is
    3.4.5. Why is there no formal agenda, organization, etc.?
           - no voting, no organization to administer such things
           - "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"
           - and it's how it all got started and evolved
           - also, nobody to arrest and hassle, no nonsense about
              filling out forms and getting tax exemptions, no laws about
              campaign law violations (if we were a formal group and
              lobbied against Senator Foo, could be hit with the law
              limiting "special interests," conceivably)
    3.4.6. How are projects proposed and completed?
           - If an anarchy, how do things get done?
           - The way most things get done: individual actions and market
    3.4.7. Future Needs for Cyberspace
           + Mark Pesci's ideas for VR and simulations
             - distributed, high bandwidth
             - a billion users
             - spatial ideas....coordinates...servers...holographic
             - WWW plus rendering engine = spatial VR (Library of
             - "The Labyrinth"
             + says to avoid head-mounted displays and gloves (bad for
               + instead, "perceptual cybernetics".
                 - phi--fecks--psi (phi is external world,Fx = fects are
                    effectuators and sensors, psi is your internal state)
    3.4.8. Privacy, Credentials without identity
    3.4.9. "Cypherpunks write code"
           - "Cypherpunks break the laws they don't like"
           - "Don't get mad, get even. Write code."
   3.4.10. Digital Free Markets
           + strong crypto changes the nature and visibility of many
              economic transactionst, making it very difficult for
              governments to interfere or even to enforce laws,
              contracts, etc.
             - thus, changes in the nature of contract enforcement
             + (Evidence that this is not hopeless can be found in
                several places:
               - criminal markets, where governments obviously cannot be
               - international markets, a la "Law Merchant"
           - "uttering a check"
           - shopping malls in identifiable national or
              regional jurisdiction...overlapping many borders...
           + caveat emptor (though rating agencies, and other filter
              agents, may be used by wary customers....ironically,
              reputation will matter even more than it now does)
             - no ability to repudiate a sale, to be an Indian giver
           - in all kinds of information....
   3.4.11. The Role of Money
           - in monetarizing transactions, access, remailers---digital
   3.4.12. Reductions on taxation
           - offshore entities already exempt
           - tax havens
           - cyberspace localization is problematic
   3.4.13. Transnationalism
           - rules of nations are ignored
   3.4.14. Data Havens
           - credit, medical, legal, renter, etc.
   3.4.15. MOOs, MUDs, SVRs, Habitat cyberspaces
           - "True Names" and "Snow Crash"
           - What are
           + Habitat....Chip and Randy
             - Lucasfilm, Fujitsu
             - started as game environment...
             - many-user environments
             - communications bandwidth is a scarce resource
             - object-oriented data representation
             + implementation platform unimportant...range of
               - pure text to Real ity Engines
             - never got as far as fully populating the  reality
             - "detailed central planning is impossible; don't even try"
             - 2-D grammar for layouts
             + "can't trust anyone"
               - someone disassembled the code and found a way to make
                  themselves invisible
               - ways to break the system (extra money)
             + future improvements
               - multimedia objects, customizable objects, local turfs,
                  mulitple interfaces
               - "Global Cyberspace Infrastructure" (Fujitsu, FINE)
               + more bandwidth means more things can be done
                 - B-ISDN will allow video on demand, VR, etc.
               - protocol specs, Joule (secure concurrent operating
           - intereaction spaces, topological (not spatial)
           + Xerox, Pavel Curtis
             + LambdaMOO
               - 1200 different users per day, 200 at a time, 5000 total
             - "social virtual realities"--virtual communities
             - how emergent properties emerge
             - pseudo-spatial
             - rooms, audio, video, multiple screens
             - policing, wizards, mediation
             - effective telecommuting
             - need the richness of real world markets...people can sell
                to others
           + Is there a set of rules or basic ideas which can form the
              basis of a powerfully replicable system?
             - this would allow franchises to be disctrubed around the
             - networks of servers? distinction between server and
                client fades...
           - money, commercialization?
           - Joule language
   3.4.16. "Is personal privacy the main interest of Cypherpunks?"
           - Ensuring the _right_ and the _technological feasibility_ is
              more of the focus. This often comes up in two contexts:
           - 1. Charges of hypocrisy because people either use
              pseudonyms or, paradoxically, that they _don't_ use
              pseudonyms, digital signatures
   3.4.17. "Shouldn't crypto be regulated?"
           - Many people make comparisons to the regulation of
              automobiles, of the radio spectrum, and even of guns. The
              comparison of crypto to guns is especially easy to make,
              and especially dangerous.
           + A better comparison is "use of crypto = right to speak as
              you wish."
             - That is, we cannot demand that people speak in a language
                or form that is easily understandable by eavesdroppers,
                wiretappers, and spies.
             + If I choose to speak to my friends in Latvian, or in
                Elihiuish, or in
               - triple DES, that's my business. (Times of true war, as
                  in World War
               - II, may be slightly different. As a libertarian, I'm
                  not advocating
               - that, but I understand the idea that in times of war
                  speaking in code
               + is suspect. We are not in a time of war, and haven't
               - Should we have "speech permits"? After all, isn't the
                  regulation of
               + speech consistent with the regulation of automobiles?
               - I did a satirical essay along these lines a while back.
                  I won't
               - included it here, though. (My speech permit for satire
                  expired and I
               + haven't had time to get it renewed.)
               - In closing, the whole comparison of cryptography to
                  armaments is
               - misleading. Speaking or writing in forms not readily
                  understandable to
               - your enemies, your neighbors, your spouse, the cops, or
                  your local
               - eavesdropper is as old as humanity.
   3.4.18. Emphasize the "voluntary" nature of crypto
           + those that don't want privacy, can choose not to use crypto
             - just as they can take the locks of their doors, install
                wiretaps on their phones, remove their curtains so as not
                to interfere with peeping toms and police surveillance
                teams, etc.
             - as PRZ puts it, they can write all their letters on
                postcards, because they have "nothing to hide"
           - what we want to make sure doesn't happen is _others_
              insisting that we cannot use crypto to maintain our own
           + "But what if criminals have access to crypto and can keep
             - this comes up over and over again
             - does this mean locks should not exist, or.....?
   3.4.19. "Are most Cypherpunks anarchists?"
           - Many are, but probably not most. The term "anarchy" is
              often misunderstood.
           - As Perry Metzger puts it "Now, it happpens that I am an
              anarchist, but that isn't what most people associated with
              the term "cypherpunk" believe in, and it isn't fair to
              paint them that way -- hell, many people on this mailing
              list are overtly hostile to anarchism." [P.M., 1994-07-01]
           - comments of Sherry Mayo, others
           - But the libertarian streak is undeniably strong. And
              libertarians who think about the failure of politics and
              the implications of cryptgraphy generally come to the
              anarcho-capitalist or crypto-anarchist point of view.
           - In any case, the "other side" has not been very vocal in
              espousing a consistent ideology that combines strong crypto
              and things like welfare, entitlements, and high tax rates.
              (I am not condemning them. Most of my leftist friends turn
              out to believe in roughly the same things I believe
              in...they just attach different labels and have negative
              reactions to words like "capitalist.")
   3.4.20. "Why is there so much ranting on the list?"
           - Arguments go on and on, points get made dozens of times,
              flaming escalates. This has gotten to be more of a problem
              in recent months. (Not counting the spikes when Detweiler
              was around.)
           + Several reasons:
             + the arguments are often matters of opinion, not fact, and
                hence people just keep repeating their arguments
               - made worse by the fact that many people are too lazy to
                  do off-line reading, to learn about what they are
                  expressing an opinion on
             - since nothing ever gets resolved, decided, vote upon,
                etc., the debates continue
             - since anyone is free to speak up at any time, some people
                will keep making the same points over and over again,
                hoping to win through repetition (I guess)
             + since people usually don't personally know the other
                members of the list, this promotes ranting (I've noticed
                that the people who know each other, such as the Bay Area
                folks, tend not to be as rude to each other...any
                sociologist or psychologist would know why this is so
               + the worst ranters tend to be the people who are most
                  isolated from the other members of the list community;
                  this is generally a well-known phenomenon of the Net
                 - and is yet more reason for regional Cypherpunks
                    groups to occasionally meet, to at least make some
                    social and conversational connections with folks in
                    their region.
             - on the other hand, rudeness is often warranted; people
                who assault me and otherwise plan to deprive me of my
                property of deserving of death, not just insults [Don't
                be worried, there are only a handful of people on this
                list I would be happy to see dead, and on none of them
                would I expend the $5000 it might take to buy a contract.
                Of course, rates could drop.]
   3.4.21. The "rejectionist" stance so many Cypherpunks have
           - that compromise rarely helps when very basic issues are
           - the experience with the NRA trying compromise, only to find
              ever-more-repressive laws passed
           - the debacle with the EFF and their "EFF Digital Telephony
              Bill" ("We couldn't have put this bill together without
              your help") shows the corruption of power; I'm ashamed to
              have ever been a member of the EFF, and will of course not
              be renewing my membership.
           - I have jokingly suggested we need a "Popular Front for the
              Liberation of Crypto," by analogy with the PFLP.
   3.4.22. "Is the Cypherpunks group an illegal or seditious
           - Well, there are those "Cypherpunk Criminal" t-shirts a lot
              of us have...
           - Depends on what country you're in.
           - Probably in a couple of dozen countries, membership would
              be frowned on
           - the material may be illegal in other countries
           - and many of us advocate things like using strong crypto to
              avoid and evade tzxes, to bypass laws we dislike, etc.

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