[cryptography] motivation, research ethics & organizational criminality (Re: Forward Secrecy Extensions for OpenPGP: Is this still a good proposal?)

David D david at 7tele.com
Sat Sep 14 12:49:06 EDT 2013


Quote, "Personally, I don't feel that the threat justifies what has been
done<snip>"

Your feeling is supported by data.

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/terrorism/wrjp255a.html   

The above link is a formatted list of total deaths by terrorism (in the USA)
dating back to 1865.    


You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a
terrorist attack
You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist
attack
You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a
terrorist plot involving an airplane
You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a
terrorist attack
You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack
You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack
You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a
terrorist attack
You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than
from a terrorist attack
You are 9 times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in
a terrorist attack
You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a
terrorist             
You are 8 times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a
terrorist attack
You are 6 times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist
attack

Terrorism is not a threat that should be used to justify much of anything...





 


-----Original Message-----
From: John Kemp [mailto:john at jkemp.net] 
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 2:49 PM
To: Adam Back
Cc: David D; cryptography at randombit.net
Subject: Re: [cryptography] motivation, research ethics & organizational
criminality (Re: Forward Secrecy Extensions for OpenPGP: Is this still a
good proposal?)

On Sep 13, 2013, at 8:10 AM, Adam Back <adam at cypherspace.org> wrote:
> 
>> “In the 1960s students at MIT protested strongly against having a 
>> classified research laboratory on the campus and MIT said we will 
>> divest it, so it won’t be part of MIT anymore,” said Leslie.  “It 
>> still exists in Cambridge, but it’s not officially connected.” Leslie 
>> also points to Stanford, where they made the decision for their 
>> Stanford Research Institute to disaffiliate and become an independent
non-profit.
> 
> Psychopaths are a minority, and people on the top end of crypto/maths 
> skills are sought after enough to easily move jobs even in a down 
> market - so the "must collect pay-check" argument seems unlikely.

I agree that psychopaths are rare, but there is perhaps another person who
might take such a position; a principled person who believes that this kind
of activity is needed in order to prevent terrorist attacks.

Personally, I don't feel that the threat justifies what has been done, but I
do know gifted and intelligent people who do -- who feel that their work is
justified because people want to be kept safe from terrorism (and there is
little argument, I think, that people, by and large, _do_ want to be
protected from terrorism.) 

> So I stand by my argument
> that they probably scored an own goal on the retention and motivation 
> front. I think for the majority of people - they wont like to go to 
> work, or will feel demotivated, feeling the world is sneering at their
employer as a quasi-criminal org.

Mostly, I'd agree, there would be such an effect on people previously
unaware that, say, their research had been used for quasi-criminal
operations. But there are also people who just like to break things - whose
motivation comes from that alone, and who are excited to be paid to do that.


And finally, there is another group of potential employees - people who
might otherwise have been in jail, but are not because they are now
"gainfully employed".

I would note that there is historical precedent for all of this - cold war
double agents, for example - many of whom were incredibly principled people
or people who were being blackmailed for one reason or another. Humanity has
not outgrown political naiveté and exploitation of vulnerable people has it?


- johnk

> 
> Adam
> 
> On Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 11:05:58PM +0200, David D wrote:
>> Quote, " You've got to think (NSA claims to be the biggest employer 
>> of
>> mathematicians) that seeing the illegal activities the US has been 
>> getting up to with the fruits of their labour that they may have a 
>> mathematician retention or motivation problem on their hands."
>> 
>> You mean like the principled mathematicians working on cluster bombs, 
>> drones, and other "cool shit"?
>> 
>> Everyone at the NSA knows exactly what they are doing.
>> 
>> I suspect, like most that suck off the military-industrial complex 
>> tit, there is surprising low turnover.
>> 
>> Paychecks only go so far with the principled, but spineless will 
>> collect a check forever and do whatever it takes to keep it coming.
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> cryptography at randombit.net
> http://lists.randombit.net/mailman/listinfo/cryptography

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