[Cryptography] End to End ideology is causing us to fail to meet real needs.

Robert Hettinga hettinga at gmail.com
Mon Apr 18 12:31:44 EDT 2022

> On Apr 11, 2022, at 4:20 AM, Ralf Senderek <crypto at senderek.ie> wrote:
> E2E is deliberately private communication. There is no way for lawful
> access. If you want accountability, E2E is gone for good.

Phill, at least since he came to the first Digital Commerce Society of Boston meeting at the Harvard Club in 1995, has always been for statism and hierarchy, dominance and otherwise. :-)

That is not an insult. I count him as a friend. It may not be mutual, though. :-) The perils of crackpottery, not to mention dotage, is the declining roster of admitted known associates… 

The entire universe really does seem to be going Phill's way though, viz, the ubiquity of book-entry protocols, even novel creations like Bitcoin (not for nothing Tim May called it the greatest innovation since double entry bookkeeping) and ‘blockchain’ (whatever that is), the dominance, if you will, of x.blabla hierarchies and its descendants: The entire ‘certificate authority’ infrastructure, ‘keys to the internet’, ICANN etc. The collapse of freedom on ’social’ networking to such a degree that Jordan Peterson’s lobsters would blush if they could; except Elon Musk, of all people, may stick his finger in that dike for a while (no, not *that*; pervert). And, of course, neigh unto, yes, I’ll say it here, the abolition of non-transferrable *and* anonymous public-election voting. (The only way to get both is with a single event with paper ballots; they're anonymous, they're non-transferrable, they scale, they're counted in hours, and they’ve been done for centuries. Okay, millennia, more or less exactly, plus or minus an ostracon.) I remember noting, after the Financial Cryptography 01 conference played ouroboros with itself all through lunch after GWB ’stole’ the ’00 election, that in *finance* you *want* to be able to sell your vote, and to vote it anonymously, all possible with pre-bitcoin financial cryptography protocols. Hell, I could even declare financial privacy a fundamental human right with a straight face, but that won’t sell even in places like here anymore… Yes, I know you’ve heard that story. And, yes, Bob Is Old. Probably you are too… 

What Phill and his friends, and, yes, I would tar a majority of people here with that brush whether they like it or not, fail to notice is that the cost of being a firm keeps falling, that it is only law, itself a lagging indicator, that keeps it from falling faster, and the limit of that cost collapse, to Coase’s Floor, wherever that is, is far below that of the individual (sovereign or otherwise), to devices themselves. And, yes that’s dependent on Moore’s law, which, which like most of the codgers resident here, ain’t what it used to be, but is probably not, as Gibson says about the future in general, evenly distributed yet. 

The paradox, and I stopped believing it myself until quite recently, is more firms, more nations (states and otherwise), thus more laws, more middlemen, more transactions, more intermediaries, more geodesic (you knew I was gonna say it, why are you surprised…) networks, causing more geodesic protocols, yes E2E protocols (what happens if, just to troll the universe, Elon opens the Twitter source, reducing it to protocol, IETF or otherwise…), and, ultimately, yes, more geodesic culture, bajillion-year-old evolved animal dominance hierarchy or no.

Whatever that looks like. 

At the moment, for instance, and we don’t know for how long, it looks like there’s a geodesic war being fought on Europe’s doorstep as we speak. Ten years ago, maybe more, I stopped trying to write something jokingly (it’s a common trope, even Mao used it) called ‘On Geodesic War’, but stopped because we hadn’t really had the ‘war’ part yet. At least Clausewitz had seen Napoleon do it industrially, and Mao had, well, seen Mao do it protractedly. So, well, maybe, we’re seeing it now.

So, ignoring the fear of anonymity, privacy, and by extension, peer-to-peer, end-to-end protocols, is liberty, as various of us cypherpunk internet millenarians thought thirty years ago, slouching towards Bethlehem? Or are we looking at TEOTWAKI, ala Tim May's Y2K “datequake”? Lions and Tigers and Freedom, oh my.

Shit. You know what I’m gonna say here…

"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’



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