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Study Finds US Is an Oligarchy, Not a Democracy

SLi Let me add fuel to the flames (794 comments)

This seems to be a rather natural result of a two-party, winner-takes-it-all system, or rather an electoral system that favors such systems.

I know this isn't going to be liked here, but I want to say it anyway:

One of the eternal prides of the American people is their freedom of speech. You are comparatively free to incite whatever kind of racial/ethnic/religious hatred, and the beautiful theory is that enough good speech will nullify the effects of bad speech.

I say (and have said before) this only works precisely because you don't live in a democracy, but in a system where the actual ruling class have the power do not let the government to be swayed by such popular sentiments and moreover control the sentiments by controlling media. I believe it is fair to say that historically having such freedoms in actual democracies very much tends to lead to genocides and otherwise really bad results.

2 days ago

ICANN's Cozy Relationship With the US Must End, Says EU

SLi Re: "Must" does not mean what you think it means (193 comments)

It's quite simple really: The US cannot prevent losing control, but they can have it happen in an orderly way and perhaps get a better position in the resulting system.

You see, it's not like there is some magical Key To the Internet which is stored in a bunker in Oregon and which you can choose to either hand over or not. It's also not something you really can defend with guns to prevent other countries from having it.

It's rather more like having control over the rules of international air traffic. If you do it well and neutrally enough, it might be that few countries are annoyed that they don't have a say in the process you have set up for writing the rules. But you have no way of really enforcing those rules except inside your own borders.

Currently ICANN which drafts the rules (and works as the judges) for the Internet is for historical reasons set up as a US entity. It having control over the Internet means no more and no less than all countries deciding to implement their decisions.

The reason why ICANN still has control and the reason for this statement by the EU is that other countries are still hoping for a negotiated solution, because that's generally the way the civilized world works. The US might be in a slightly better position to negotiate than other countries, but if it refuses to negotiate, it will surely lose that advantage. An orderly solution would be in everybody's interests, while more unilateral action would harm everyone.

The orderly way to proceed would be to continue with ICANN, just internationalized. The disorderly way might be setting up a parallel organization and start disregarding ICANN.

Still you must realize it's a pipe dream that a single country with a few percent of world population could keep the right to make the rules for much longer. So sad you Americans feel offended about this. The rest of the world doesn't really think it's even asking for anything that in any meaningful sense belongs to you when they ask to have a say.

about 2 months ago

Finnish Police Board Wants Justification For Wikipedia's Fundraising Campaign

SLi Re: Tyranny (252 comments)

They ohappens y won't be easily able to go after Wikimedia Foundation itself, but they might be able to go after volunteers who live in Finland. I think particularly vulnerable would be the person who translated the fundraising notice to Finnish, if he happens to live in Finland.

Not that I really expect this to lead to much. I think it's entirely plausible that even if he got charged and found guilty, the court would decide to not punish him (and quite certainly he wouldn't get more than a small fine in the tens or hundreds of euros range).

about 2 months ago

Half of Tor Sites Compromised, Including TORMail

SLi Two-party system, three-party system (583 comments)

I think there is a practical difference between a 2-party system and a n-party system where n > 2. It's not what you think, though, and I'm not sure which one is really better in practice.

At least from my observations, a two-party system produces heavy polarization. Nowhere have I seen such a polarization as the one in US between Democrats and Republicans. Everyone is sure that their POV is the good one and cannot comprehend how someone can possibly support the other party. As you say, you can choose your flavor of police state.

A system of three roughly equally big parties, however, seems to emphasize consensus. As none of the three parties can hope to form a government alone, they will need to secure the cooperation of at least one of the two other. None of them can afford to become the lone different party, because that would just result always in the other two parties forming a government (unless the winning party manages to persuade enough smaller parties to join a coalition government with the two other parties left out). The result is that you have three basically identical parties that are more or less only differentiated by how they market themselves. Of course there are politicians in the parties that would like to be different, but in order to secure a government with another of the parties, you will need to make concessions, which usually excludes the points of view that are unique to one party.

So, the end result is that you can choose from three flavors which are not really that different. Not that consensus policymaking would necessarily be bad - it's not.

In my country a fourth big party has recently emerged. It will be interesting to see how this affects the dynamics as we've only seen something like two elections where this was the case.

Of course it also depends on the system used in elections. I think the US-style "winner takes it all" system basically forces only two big parties to emerge.

Still, as someone who lives in a country with more than two big parties, I don't think I'd ever want to see a government effectively controlled by only a single party, not for any period of time.

about 8 months ago

Computer Scientists Develop 'Mathematical Jigsaw Puzzles' To Encrypt Software

SLi Re:Deciphering != Reverse Engineering (245 comments)

Well, that's exactly the new thing here. You can think it this way:

The program being interpreted is a black box function, taking in an encrypted state and outputting an action to execute and the resulting encrypted state (this is accomplished using homomorphic encryption). The state can include things like values for variables, but it also includes the program counter. What the interpreter does is it loops this function over and over, at each step executing the action it outputs. Because you cannot observe the state (as you never have it in decrypted form), you cannot deduce anything beyond the actions.

Note that any program can be expressed in this form: Essentially, in a conventional processor the black box boolean function you are executing is the function from a state to the next state (to the next instruction or next clock cycle, however you wish to view it).

As to how it's possible to keep the state and the computed function secret, that's the thing done using homomorphic encryption, and nobody claimed that to be easy, but there's no reason why it should be theoretically impossible, and it in fact turns out to be possible. The thing is, you *do* have the state, including the program counter, but it's only available to you in a form which you cannot read.

about 9 months ago

Computer Scientists Develop 'Mathematical Jigsaw Puzzles' To Encrypt Software

SLi Re:Seems improbable (245 comments)

And how easy do you think watching in a debugger an interpreter execute a program is, even if nothing there is obfuscated?

Here, the interpreter is not obfuscated. You do not need to run it in a debugger, you can read the source code. But the program being interpreted is such that you can only deduce what it does to an input by running it on that input, and you gain no additional information of its workings.

about 9 months ago

Computer Scientists Develop 'Mathematical Jigsaw Puzzles' To Encrypt Software

SLi Re:make a crackme (245 comments)

Even not being new to Slashdot, I'm completely baffled by your talk about "an article with little details", considering it links to the paper that will be presented in a conference that has all the details you would want.

about 9 months ago

Computer Scientists Develop 'Mathematical Jigsaw Puzzles' To Encrypt Software

SLi Re:Deciphering != Reverse Engineering (245 comments)

Consider an (non-JITing) interpreter. The interpreter is a standard piece of software, which is not obfuscated. The program being interpreted can be obfuscated, and no part of it will ever be run directly on the CPU - every machine instruction that runs is part of the interpreter.

about 9 months ago

Computer Scientists Develop 'Mathematical Jigsaw Puzzles' To Encrypt Software

SLi Re:I Call BS (245 comments)

Yeah, like the range of useful inputs for a C compiler.

about 9 months ago

Judge Rules In Favor of Volkswagen and Silences Scientist

SLi Re:This is why we have a first amendment. (254 comments)

Yes, and the subject of this Slashdot article was not a permanent restraining order either, but a temporary measure. I *really* fail to see the difference.

about 9 months ago

Judge Rules In Favor of Volkswagen and Silences Scientist

SLi Re:This is why we have a first amendment. (254 comments)

Yeah, I'm sure nothing like this could ever happen in the US due to your ah-so-fantastic First Amendment.

That case, by the way, is very close to this one. MBTA was granted a Temporary Restraining Order that prevented the researchers from discussing their findings in the conference where they intended to do it. Which is *exactly* what has happened here so far.

about 9 months ago

Citing Snowden Leaks, Russia Again Demands UN Takeover of Internet

SLi Re:And why would the US do this? (275 comments)

What makes you believe the US needs to agree to this for other countries to take the control? As far as I know, there is nothing that would prevent other countries from just ignoring US protests and taking the control.

about 9 months ago

NVIDIA To License Its GPU Tech

SLi Re:Translation: (111 comments)

But that still don't explain why in the fuck Intel don't get busted, after all Apple and Linux were around when the DoJ busted MSFT's ass and if anything Intel has a tighter lock on the market than MSFT ever did. so I want to know who is cashing the checks, who is getting paid off, as i smell some dirty dealing which as we saw with the kickback scandal is SOP for Intel.

Because the crime is not being in a a monopoly position, but abusing it. Keeping a competitor alive and at 20% market share, while quite an interesting tactic (if true), actually tends to also prevent the worst monopoly abuses.

about 10 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Start Reading Other's Code?

SLi Re:Doxygen (254 comments)


Doxygen has for years been my tool of choice for grokking complex, undocumented code bases in any of the languages it supports. Give it a try. You will be surprised how much good documentation can be automatically generated even without document comments.

about 10 months ago

Seeking Fifth Amendment Defenders

SLi Re:Contempt of Court (768 comments)

Wrong. He's just presumed innocent until proven guilty. If he possessed child porn, he was and is guilty from the moment he began to possess child porn.

about 10 months ago

SCOTUS Says DNA Collection Permissible After Arrest

SLi Re:I knew it would be 5-4 (643 comments)

This seems to me to be a result of the society as a whole putting way too much emphasis on the Constitution, and believing that it necessarily must equal all the basic rights.

The protection for privacy in the Constitution is notably rather weak, even more so when compared to many other modern democracies. I cannot say that this is a fault in the Constitution per se: The issues today simply are not the same as those in 1787.

The reasonable way forward would be to recognize that, while the drafters of the Constitution certainly possessed exceptional insight, they were not the gods they all too often are elevated in American political discussions and that the Constitution is no scripture that could definitively prescribe the important rights for all times. At some point, a mature society needs to recognize that it needs to make its own decisions and enact laws (or even change the Constitution) to, for example, protect privacy instead of trying to read something into a 200-year-old document that to an honest mind simply is not there.

If collecting DNA this way is wrong, it's not wrong because it's against the Constitution; that's backwards. Rather, the Constitution should prohibit it because it is wrong. If it does not clearly prohibit it (and it does not), you should change it. And if you cannot change it because of the political landscape, it's still not honest to try to pretend it speaks any more about privacy than it really does.

about 10 months ago

IBM Researchers Open Source Homomorphic Crypto Library

SLi Re:Sounds impractical (130 comments)

The summary doesn't really explain this that well... the benefits here (if I'm reading this correctly) are that someone with a HUGE block of ciphertext and the encryption key can modify slices in situ without having to decrypt the large block and re-encrypt. They can just swap out the old data for the new, based on the index.

This begins to have significant benefits when applied to hosted computing (called Cloud Computing this decade), where, say, all your email is stored encrypted, as is the email index, and you just want to add/remove something without decrypting the entire blob. It also means that cloud hashing becomes significantly easier, as does filesystem-level encryption (since we no longer need to depend on block ciphers, but can use a homomorphic stream cipher and then chop it up after the fact).

Err, no, you are actually reading it completely wrong.

The point is actually that you can give encrypted data, say, some of your company's vital statistics, to an outsider (for example, a consulting agency); that agency can do a computation on that encrypted data (say, their super-secret algorithm that analyzes your company and tells you how to get rich fast) and get an encrypted result, which it then gives back to you. Only you can then decrypt the result.

You get to keep your data secret, and the company doing the computation gets to keep the function they compute secret; the only thing revealed to you is the function applied to your data, and nothing is revealed to the consulting agency.

The big stumbling block to this point has been that the speed gains achieved by homomorphism have been offset by the overhead in implementing the homomorphic algorithms in the first place -- meaning that it's faster to decrypt, modify, re-encrypt.

Homomorphic encryption most certainly is not about speed gains.

about a year ago

Federal Magistrate Rules That Fifth Amendment Applies To Encryption Keys

SLi Re:Last Sentence (322 comments)

I suspect that it work just like a warrant. When the cops get a warrant for searching a property, it's scoped to specific evidence. If they find something which is out of scope, they can't collect it as evidence.

No. If they stumble on something which is out of scope without specifically looking for it, it can be used. Google for "plain view doctrine".

about a year ago

Game Site Wonders 'What Next?' When 50% of Users Block Ads

SLi Load the ads, but don't show them (978 comments)

I would like an ad-blocker that loads the ads and is otherwise undetectable for the site I'm reading, yet does not display the ads. If that were the norm, we probably wouldn't even be seeing this article, because the site in question wouldn't know which percentage of its users blocks ads and would only have to assume it's roughly the same as for every other site.

This would strangle the most the parties that I loathe the most, i.e. the advertisers. The site would still get their cut for the viewed ads. Granted, it might slowly make web ads a less lucrative business for everybody as advertisers no longer sell anything, but at least it would transfer the harm from the sites I access, which seems backwards to what I want, to the entire web ad business. Yes, it would come with a small cost to me in wasted bandwidth, but I don't mind, especially not when on a good connection.

about a year ago

Fox News: US Solar Energy Investment Less Than Germany Because US Has Less Sun

SLi Re:Just the numbers, Jack... (644 comments)

Hours don't have much to do with this. An entire month of sunlight in North Pole is going to generate next to no electricity. There's a reason why the articles use kWh/m/year.

about a year ago



University Chooses "Trendy" Logo, Students

SLi SLi writes  |  more than 4 years ago

SLi (132609) writes "The leading Finnish technological university, which is changing its name, has chosen a new "trendy" logo that "appeals to the young" — by inserting "techy" characters like ?, " and ! inside the words "aalto university" (see link for picture) — I'm sure you agree it will appeal to the science community! Students and researchers alike are now in arms, and the new logo quickly inspired parodies. Wouldn't you love to study in such a trendy university? Of course the winner of the logo competition also got a prize of 10000 euros ($14000)."
Link to Original Source

Finnish police censors a critic of censorship

SLi SLi writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Censored (132609) writes "The Electronic Frontier Finland group reports that the Finnish police have added to the national child porn block list the site of a vocal critic of the block list, whose name is fully known and whose site resides on a Finnish server. The site includes no photographic images or even descriptions of child pornography. What it does include, however, is an excerpt of the supposedly secret list, found by simply testing addresses of porn sites. The site reveals that a large portion of the blocked sites appear to include no legally objectionable content. Using the block list is "voluntary" for Finnish ISPs."

SLi SLi writes  |  more than 7 years ago

SLi (132609) writes "According to this story in the BBC News, hundreds of protesters in the French city of Nantes were saying 'non' to 2007 in the New Year. They waved banners saying "No to 2007" and "Now is better!". The arrival of 2007 did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm: The protesters began to chant: "No to 2008!". The marchers called on governments and the UN to stop time's "mad race" and declare a moratorium on the future."


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