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Author Topic: "the master switch" by tim wu  (Read 1350 times)
paulie_w
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July 11, 2012, 08:32:32 PM
 #1

all who are interested in bitcoin and information trends should read this book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Master-Switch-Information-Empires/dp/0307269930
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Wu[/url]

there are so many lessons from history in here that we should all keep very much in mind while proceeding with this.

tl;dr: all information systems historically have started out optimistic and open, and ended up captured and monopolized by corporate interests. this book talks about why that happens.
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July 11, 2012, 08:40:38 PM
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summarize it for us.  what does this have to do with Bitcoin?
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July 11, 2012, 08:52:22 PM
 #3

my tl;dr summary is probably sufficient, along with the amazon description

what it has to do with bitcoin: the internet may not be as open as we would like soon enough, and bitcoin may find itself co-opted one day. i guess i see this book as a good base of knowledge for how these kinds of things have historically taken place, and what we might do to prevent it from happening to these new technologies.
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July 11, 2012, 08:53:42 PM
 #4

From an Amazon commenter:

Quote
What Wu so sagatiously points out is that that threat of control could just as easily, or actually more easily, come from the private sector, because in fact the existence of the internet and its smooth functioning are dependent, not on the government, but private enterprise. A different kind of monopoly looms ahead of us as a distinct danger, and this present information age presents new policy and regulation challenges.


So apparently the presentation is that, government isn't a problem, but private companies are.

I also note that the book description begins by talking about how all American information systems, starting with the telephone, have become dominated by a company or cartel... apparently ignoring the fact that telephone use in America started under the monolithic control of AT&T, but has so far ended up with not just several telephone companies but actual alternatives to traditional landline telephones.

Unless there's something more appealing to the man's thesis that can be pointed out to me, I think I'll skip the book. No offense to the OP intended.

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July 11, 2012, 09:13:02 PM
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From an Amazon commenter:

Quote
What Wu so sagatiously points out is that that threat of control could just as easily, or actually more easily, come from the private sector, because in fact the existence of the internet and its smooth functioning are dependent, not on the government, but private enterprise. A different kind of monopoly looms ahead of us as a distinct danger, and this present information age presents new policy and regulation challenges.


So apparently the presentation is that, government isn't a problem, but private companies are.

I also note that the book description begins by talking about how all American information systems, starting with the telephone, have become dominated by a company or cartel... apparently ignoring the fact that telephone use in America started under the monolithic control of AT&T, but has so far ended up with not just several telephone companies but actual alternatives to traditional landline telephones.

Unless there's something more appealing to the man's thesis that can be pointed out to me, I think I'll skip the book. No offense to the OP intended.


sensationalism sells books.
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July 11, 2012, 09:25:55 PM
 #6

so what are you afraid of? That the block chain management will eventually be in the hands of a single government or company, or abstractly speaking a single will? The short answer to that is that it will be practically impossible because in all likelihood you will end up having multiple competing fractions with different views on how to proceed with the currency, and they will have comparable mining (voting) power.

Which brings me to the point that the most likely attack vector will be source code control. Somebody has to maintain and develop the bitcoin protocol and unless there are as many efficient bitcoin node implementations as there are linux flavors I see danger.
Currently we have more or less a single client and a few developers which are working on refinements for the protocol. I'd like to see at least 100 developer teams world wide working on a consensus basis on what should go into the protocol and what not. Then it's up to the miners to decide which path to follow...

The funding infrastructure for bitcoin clients would be similar to the pool operators...

Well for now one good and efficient team has to suffice I guess.

The ASICMINER Project https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=99497.0
"The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.", Milton Friedman
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July 11, 2012, 09:29:21 PM
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so what are you afraid of? That the block chain management will eventually be in the hands of a single government or company, or abstractly speaking a single will? The short answer to that is that it will be practically impossible because in all likelihood you will end up having multiple competing fractions with different views on how to proceed with the currency, and they will have comparable mining (voting) power.

Which brings me to the point that the most likely attack vector will be source code control. Somebody has to maintain and develop the bitcoin protocol and unless there are as many efficient bitcoin node implementations as there are linux flavors I see danger.
Currently we have more or less a single client and a few developers which are working on refinements for the protocol. I'd like to see at least 100 developer teams world wide working on a consensus basis on what should go into the protocol and what not. Then it's up to the miners to decide which path to follow...

The funding infrastructure for bitcoin clients would be similar to the pool operators...

Well for now one good and efficient team has to suffice I guess.

i guess my "fears" are more in the realm of network control (which is also what this book is about)-- what is allowed, what is not allowed. there seem to be legions of people who are paid as full-time jobs, to try and disrupt free information flow.

another thing, if you look at the direction that the hardware business is generally moving, it's all about signed binaries and centralized distribution, just like tim talks about in the book. if we continue along that path, what hardware is even going to run bitcoin?
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July 11, 2012, 09:30:50 PM
 #8

From an Amazon commenter:
Quote
sensationalism sells books.

i guess it is fair to say that, but the book is really about historic examples, and many of them. it's really worth a read, you'll find the parallels very real.

ps i don't work for tim wu or his publisher Smiley
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July 11, 2012, 09:39:53 PM
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i guess my "fears" are more in the realm of network control (which is also what this book is about)-- what is allowed, what is not allowed. there seem to be legions of people who are paid as full-time jobs, to try and disrupt free information flow.

another thing, if you look at the direction that the hardware business is generally moving, it's all about signed binaries and centralized distribution, just like tim talks about in the book. if we continue along that path, what hardware is even going to run bitcoin?

Got ya. And I agree there - network control is another issue. This may force bitcoin to either rely on a routing software (e.g. TOR) to disguise traffic or implement its own. And I don't think in any decently free society running e.g. TOR is a reason to prosecute someone...
So the worst thing which can happen there is that bitcoin moves into the underground.

But if that's the case the society has a bigger problem than just money...

The ASICMINER Project https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=99497.0
"The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.", Milton Friedman
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July 11, 2012, 11:00:24 PM
 #10

my tl;dr summary is probably sufficient, along with the amazon description

what it has to do with bitcoin: the internet may not be as open as we would like soon enough, and bitcoin may find itself co-opted one day. i guess i see this book as a good base of knowledge for how these kinds of things have historically taken place, and what we might do to prevent it from happening to these new technologies.

Open and decentralized systems like bitcoin and namecoin have themselves arisen in response to
the problem you mention. They don't need to be protected as much as they 'are' [ a part of ]
the protection and solution.

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July 11, 2012, 11:01:42 PM
 #11

my tl;dr summary is probably sufficient, along with the amazon description

what it has to do with bitcoin: the internet may not be as open as we would like soon enough, and bitcoin may find itself co-opted one day. i guess i see this book as a good base of knowledge for how these kinds of things have historically taken place, and what we might do to prevent it from happening to these new technologies.

Open and decentralized systems like bitcoin and namecoin have themselves arisen in response to
the problem you mention. They don't need to be protected as much as they 'are' [ a part of ]
the protection and solution.

not if the  network are centrally controlled and censored, and not if there is no hardware to run the necessary softare on.
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July 11, 2012, 11:22:32 PM
 #12

my tl;dr summary is probably sufficient, along with the amazon description

what it has to do with bitcoin: the internet may not be as open as we would like soon enough, and bitcoin may find itself co-opted one day. i guess i see this book as a good base of knowledge for how these kinds of things have historically taken place, and what we might do to prevent it from happening to these new technologies.

Open and decentralized systems like bitcoin and namecoin have themselves arisen in response to
the problem you mention. They don't need to be protected as much as they 'are' [ a part of ]
the protection and solution.

not if the  network are centrally controlled and censored, and not if there is no hardware to run the necessary softare on.

There are enough of us OSS nerds that there will always be a market for hardware that can run custom software.  The only way all hardware will be locked down is if the government requires it.  That day I will become a politician.

https://www.bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
While no idea is perfect, some ideas are useful.
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July 12, 2012, 02:20:49 AM
 #13

my tl;dr summary is probably sufficient, along with the amazon description

what it has to do with bitcoin: the internet may not be as open as we would like soon enough, and bitcoin may find itself co-opted one day. i guess i see this book as a good base of knowledge for how these kinds of things have historically taken place, and what we might do to prevent it from happening to these new technologies.

Open and decentralized systems like bitcoin and namecoin have themselves arisen in response to
the problem you mention. They don't need to be protected as much as they 'are' [ a part of ]
the protection and solution.

not if the  network are centrally controlled and censored, and not if there is no hardware to run the necessary softare on.

Are you seriously worried about someone, some evil government or whatever, taking control of all the networks and
hardware on the planet?  Keeping people from using whatever hardware they already have or could easily acquire;
keeping them from writing/using whatever software they want; keeping people from using any network they want...
mesh networks... phones... hell, you would have to even keep people from having face to face interactions. 
Bitcoin doesn't require an internet...

I tell ya, this new technology you seem interesting in protecting 'is' the answer to the problem of centralization
of power and control.   


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July 12, 2012, 02:26:24 AM
 #14

People in jail dont have access to hardware.

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July 12, 2012, 02:35:30 PM
 #15

People in jail dont have access to hardware.

Ya right.  And if that evil government decides to make it illegal to use this or that type
of hardware or software I am sure it will be a great success just like the war on drugs.   Cheesy

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