Discover more from Phil Windley's Technometria
Privacy in the Age of Smart Things; Technometria - Issue #4
A friend of mine just had a drug test. I used to get them in the Navy, years ago, but they were crude by comparison. In looking over the results, he was shocked at how many substances they could test for.
In contemplating this, I was struck by the recurring idea that our technical abilities far exceed our ability as a society to use them properly. As Don Henley says “Space Age machinery, Stone Age emotions.”
Shoshana Zuboff brilliantly makes the case that surveillance undermines our autonomy and democracy in “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.” Google, Facebook, and others have claimed our online experiences as the raw material they mine for their profit.
How long before you have a smart toilet to discover disease (and other things like who’s using drugs or is pregnant)? Who else will see the results? What might parents discover? Do you want the FBI to have a backdoor into your results? Even with a court order? Just a few of the trillions of privacy questions we’re no where close to knowing the answers to.
Fortunately, there’s lots of activity on this topic. The links in this week’s issue revolve around this idea. In Identity, we see technologies that support minimal disclosure and censorship resistance. In Internet and Society, stories about why Facebook (as an example) is too big to solve its own problems and the ongoing attack by the FBI and others on encryption. In Crypto, stories on Visa going deeper in support of cryptocurrencies, programmable money, and the subtleties of decisions in decentralized governance.
This is a two-steps forward, one-step back kind of situation since VCs based on BBS+ don’t, for now, support predicate proofs. Evernym is holding a webinar on Apr 1 on this topic.
BBS+ ZKP signatures: The breakthrough the industry has been looking for to converge on a universal format for privacy-respecting VCs.
ION is a Microsoft-led effort to store Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) on the Bitcoin blockchain. There’s a lot to be said for permissionless networks when it comes to censorship resistance.
ION – We Have Liftoff! Four years ago, we started a journey to help develop and advance decentralized identity, an emerging form of identity technology
Internet and Society
Cory Doctorow makes a critical point in this essay: the problem here is Facebook can’t be fixed. It’s an intractable problem. “The answer to Facebook”, says Doctorow, “is giving the public technological self-determination.”
A monopolist’s first preference is always “don’t regulate me.” But coming in at a close second is “regulate me in ways that only I can comply with, so that no one is allowed to compete with me.”
We can’t address Big Tech by making Bigness a requirement to simply operate online.
Bonus link: How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism
Law enforcement already accesses devices to read encrypted communications when it needs to. Back doors just make us all more susceptible to hacking.
Federal law enforcement has been asking for a backdoor to read Americans’ encrypted communications for years now. FBI Director Christopher Wray did it again last week in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. As usual, the FBI’s complaints involved end-to-end encryption employed by popular…
Doc starts off quoting me, but don’t let that dissuade you from looking at this short, but important piece. Doc’s asking: tell us how we can do that without using browsers?
Phil Windley explains e-commerce 1.0 in a single slide that says this: One reason this happened is that client-server, aka calf-cow (illustrated in Thinking outside the browser) has been the defa…
USDC is a stablecoin, meaning it’s tied to the US dollar. By choosing to settle some of its funds in USDC, Visa is signaling that settlement on Ethereum could be cheaper than traditional means.
Visa unveils an upgrade to its settlement system. The company’s crypto partners will soon be able to settle their obligations with Visa in USDC on the Ethereum blockchain.
Whether Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the rest are long-lived or not, there’s little doubt that digital, programmable money is the future.
“People look at the current iterations of cryptocurrency and they see big energy waste, slow transaction times, volatile prices and they imagine those problems will go on forever. It leads to utterly short sighted backlashes against the technology and fear driven narratives. ”
I love how this article gets into the subtleties of interactions and interdependencies in systems of distributed governance. A question about a seemingly incidental technical feature: “how big should bitcoin blocks be?” is more complex than it first appears.
Sometimes a text comes along that you feel a powerful obligation to read. Jonny Bier’s The Blocksize War is one such book. Bier is the rarely-seen face of BitMEX Research, arguably the most insightful research desk in the industry.
Did you buy an M1 Mac or are considering it? Glenn’s new book provides guides for all the changes from Intel models, large and small, including starting up, backing up, configuring security, running iOS apps & Windows.
This book digs into the new and particular features of Apple silicon Macintosh models with the M1 chip, and how to carry out both familiar and fresh tasks. It offers insight about the important differences between Intel and Apple silicon Macintoshes, while providing all the details you need to configure, back up, and protect your Mac.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading.
Please follow me on Twitter.
If you enjoyed this, please consider sharing it with a friend or twenty. Just forward this email, or point them at my news page.
I’d love to hear what you enjoyed and what you’d like to see more (or less) of. And if you see something you think I’d enjoy, let me know. Just reply to this email.
By Phil Windley
I build things; I write code; I void warranties
In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue