Apple vs FBI: The unspoken Truth on Encryption

While one can admire Apple for ‘defending’ it’s customers privacy, while also benefiting with the positive advertising. It is probably a moot, and hollow victory as the NSA and the CIA have already broken Apple security.

Not that it shouldn’t be of high importance, the resources required to do the cracking of any particular extraction of an encrypted message sent with a iPhone would most likely exceed the budget of a small country. Which is exactly the point of encryption, making it hard, and expensive to decrypt. Imagine the joviality at the NSA/CIA after the hours of decryption, that the ‘Important’ message turns out to be a high priority, top secret Cookie Recipe from you mothers cookbook.

And thereby is the unspoken truth of encryption the first one is this: you must either decrypt everything, to find what is being said, because if you can only choose strategic messages, choosing the right ones are tantamount.

During WWII monitoring enemy communication was aided by observing the frequency of communication traffic, when frequency increased, something important was being communicated. Modern military communications is continuous and unbroken, transmitting meaningless message traffic, and therefore not highlighting any particular message in the traffic stream that would be required to be decrypted. This would now be a requirement to decrypt everything, in the military traffic stream.

The second Truth is this; The assumption that you can decrypt all the messages is the hight of arrogance and ignorance. Anyone, yes anyone can create an encryption that will be impossible for a machine of any sort to decrypt, and many of these can be hidden to the point that even a human expert directly observing the message can not decipher.

Imagine hiding messages in the continuous email stream called Spam, which now constitutes more that 80% of all email traffic?

Thoughts like this keep the NSA/CIA/FBI up nights, and no matter what Bull Shit they might tell you about the need to have back doors and encryption keys it will NEVER catch all the potential secret messages that terrorists might choose to pass to each other.

Because the simplest of truths: It isn’t possible.

Programming as Hotdog vending


Yesterday while talking with a colleague, I was trying to get across the idea the most ‘programmers’ don’t understand what goes on inside a computer. And his response was, “Does it matter any more?” and while it took me back, I had to respond, “No!” After sleeping on it, I came to a revelation of sorts.

Current IT is equivalent to being a Hot-dog vendor on the street.

And while we IT/CS folk might try and elevate our profession to that status of demigod status we are merely vendors of what the computer can DO!‘ We don’t create the computer, we splash condiments on the hot-dog, and sell it as computing. We don’t even make the condiments anymore, call them libraries, functions written by gnomes in dark caves. And don’t even mention the buns, the dressing ,the cover, beyond us.

In the early days of computing, the common question was, what do I use my computer for. And the first answer often was, you could put your cooking recipes in it. Creating the first cookbook you needed to plugin. The computer is still the same, just that the cookbook has gotten more sophisticated.

I have harped for years that the ‘hardware’ of computing has crippled real advances in computing, more and more systems are opting for generic in their selection of Hot-dog instead, choosing to dress it up with more and intriguing spices and toppings, things like AI and Neural Networks. While these latter are more sophisticated and sexy, they are more or less toppings on the same Hot-dog.

Man in the Stars

Throughout Science Fiction there is always a belief that man will be ‘Mankind’ while evoking a rational and reasoning mind. And it’s disturbing to think that reason, and considered actions will be how Humans will be perceived. If there is a considered, planned rational approach to traveling among the stars, it will be from an AI consciousness not a Human one, and there by hangs ‘humanity’ if we show who we are, we may not survive, but if we survive without all the elements that make us human, emotions, excitement, joy anger and sadness and wonder, it won’t be us. It will be ‘them’.

AI (Artifical Intelligence)

There are a number of AI movies arriving in the near future, and the thought that seems to run through them all is that AI, Artificial Intelligence is depicted as being contained within humanoid constructs, frequently Female Humanoid. It brings up several interesting notions;

  • If one of the defining characteristics of AI is being ‘Self Aware’ can a computer, an AI contained within a box become self aware?
  • Does it need sensors to see, hear and touch itself to become aware of it’s existence?
  • Would a box be more or less likely to to identify with Humans if it identified itself as a box that thinks it’s alive?
  • Does an AI contained in a Female humanoid framework Identify with Female Humans? (and maybe hates Male Humans?)

All interesting things particularly in the event of an AI operating IoT (Internet of things) within a persons house. How would it ‘identify’ with the Humans, cats and dogs residing therein?

More than enough Ideas to make movies about.

Could an AI really be that angry about not having reproductive sex?