Quote note (#200)

Crypto-core of the XS Moldbug:

Internal security can be defined as the protection of the shareholders’ property against all internal threats — including both residents and employees, up to and certainly including the chief executive. If the shareholders cannot dismiss the CEO of the realm by voting according to proper corporate procedures, a total security failure has occurred.

The standard Patchwork remedy for this problem is the cryptographic chain of command. Ultimately, power over the realm truly rests with the shareholders, because they use a secret sharing or similar cryptographic algorithm to maintain control over its root keys. Authority is then delegated to the board (if any), the CEO and other officers, and thence down into the military or other security forces. At the leaves of the tree are computerized weapons, which will not fire without cryptographic authorization.

Thus, any fragment of the security force which remains loyal to the shareholders can use its operational weapons to defeat any coalition of disloyal, and hence disarmed, employees and/or residents. Ouch! Taste the pain, traitors. (Needless to say, the dependence of this design on 21st-century technology is ample explanation of why history has not bequeathed us anything like the joint-stock realm. It was simply not implementable — any more than our ancestors could build a suspension bridge out of limestone blocks.)

(Emphasis in original.)

Crypto-sovereignty is huge (and on the to-do list here). ‘Formalism’ is a place-holder for crypto-architecture. ‘Sovereignty’ means keys.

November 17, 2015admin 27 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction

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27 Responses to this entry

  • John Morris Says:

    Not one of Moldbugs better thought through ideas. Ponder this: These crypto locked weapons either will or will not operate if disconnected from their command and control system. Either option is fatal in a different way which should be obvious to anyone smart enough to be here. QED.


    admin Reply:

    Clue — you don’t disconnect them from their command and control system.


    Erik Reply:

    Suddenly I’m reminded of Tyson. “Solution there, it seems to me, is to create unhackable computers.”


    admin Reply:

    Crypto is difficult. That’s not so bad, when you consider that almost everything people want from politics is simply impossible.

    Exfernal Reply:

    Immune to EMP? If not, as useful as clubs, if not fitted with a bayonet.

    Alrenous Reply:

    Manichean thinking for both of you.

    “The door either will or will not open if you lose your key. This is fatal to your property either way and you can easily figure out how.”

    But, weird fact – we still put locks on our doors. Perhaps you can also figure out how this works out for us.

    Yeah yeah Moldbug presents it as the One True Security Feature. Moldbug? Exaggerate? Inconceivable!

    A properly designed crypto system increases the price of rebellion more than it increases the cost of security. If it increases the price of rebellion above the expected returns on rebellion, it will deter all rational rebel leaders despite not being indestructible. (Irrational rebel leaders can’t be deterred, but aren’t competent either.)


    John Morris Reply:

    We can call that the “Norman” option after the ST:TOS episode “I Mudd” Take out the one central C&C node and then ignore the unstoppable army. And if you can’t take it out just jam the signals and kill the formerly unstoppable army who suddenly find themselves holding useless weapons before they reestablish the link.

    On the other hand if weapons “fail safe” in the military sense and work, even if in a degraded fashion without the network connection, rebelling troops simply jam the radio links, blow up the C&C or having physical possession, just disconnect the antennas and use the weapons against you.

    Either way the system has failure modes that are fatal and renders the scheme unworkable.

    Crypto fairy dust doesn’t change the timeless military equations. Mercenaries aren’t trustworthy under any circumstance; gimped weapons might prevent them taking over but can’t make them actually fight. Real soldiers won’t remain loyal if you openly distrust them to the extent implied by the proposal.


    wenshuang Reply:

    sounds like you’ve dramatically reduced the number of failure modes. also, at least the parameters are specifiable, or more so than currently


    SanguineEmpiricist Reply:

    wow john you really are a genius. who knew.


    Posted on November 17th, 2015 at 10:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • wenshuang Says:

    Now this is exciting and reminds me of why nrx is appealing. The fascist larping needs to go. Frankly, I always thought that, while necessary, two legs of the trike were non operationalizable, at least not currently if ever. While all legs are emergent adaptations, we can conceivably reverse engineer them. It seems we can with mechanically formalizing commerce, but we aren’t yet there with genetic technology. Not even close with non commercial social technology in the sense of testable models, validation processes, and engineering expertise. To my mind, the whole point of “n” in nrx is that (1) it may be possible to formalize and mechanize the conditions of civilization rather than waiting for civ to appear or play dress-up (reaction and fascist reaction respectively); and (2) we use empirical evidence as input (reaction because history is a source of evidence, not shame contra progressivism). In any case, formalized hierarchical authority, private property and freedom of association are operating principles of commerce, and cryptography is an enabling technology. Until we have (mechanical) technologies to discipline the other legs, tech Com is the only bet and anything else is a cargo cult. Better to let theonomy and ethno nationalism emerge slowly but robustly, if at all, than to fabricate superficial simulacra.


    Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 12:06 am Reply | Quote
  • Scott Alexander Says:

    Crypto-sovereignty seems like exactly the situation for which they created the saying “The difference between something that can go wrong and something that can’t possibly go wrong is that when the thing that can’t possibly go wrong goes wrong it’s really hard to fix.”


    Steve Johnson Reply:

    Said the advocate of polyamory.


    Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 12:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Aeroguy Says:

    Cryptolocks on missiles are practical, on guns it’s scify until proven otherwise.


    frank Reply:

    The key element in the crypto-sovereignty design is to predicate sovereign function and authenticity on share holders’ private keys. You don’t have to lock all guns. In fact you can have 2nd amendment. But all major arms of the sovereign, tanks, automated tanks, missiles, battle ships, jets, heavy artillery, robot soldiers should be crypto-locked. These weapons already have mission critical electrical components on them, so crypto-locks don’t change anything with respect to EMPs. Also, these same keys authenticate every transaction of the sovereign, without them, you don’t have access to sovereign data, including all the crypto-currency held by the sovereign, database of all the past transactions concerning subjects and other sovereigns –who owns what, what amount each employee gets paid, critical foreign intelligence, etc. As a coup conspirator, you can have the computers making the sov-corp function wiped clean and rebooted, but you lose ALL DIGITAL INFORMATION, which probably makes capturing control of the sov-corp not so appealing – especially if sov-corp’s major holdings are in crypto-currencies. There are also finer things that will make a potential coup more worthless, consider the following: We can assume that pretty much all work that can be done with an IQ below 106 will be automated. For example there will be farming robots, fully automated. How do those robots work? They learn their craft and get better and better in what they do. So they also heavily depend on past information. This applies to every automated system that improves through machine learning. And all those past information will only be accessible through sovereign keys. You stage a coup, and all those information are gone. So what makes private key holders the true sovereigns more than anything is INFORMATION. Sov-corp itself is a feedback loop that derives a major part of its value from past experience stored in encrypted databases. Just ask Nokia share holders how much in control of their company they were after they lost the private key that signs their OS.


    Lex Corvus Reply:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s noticed this. Some people treat the impracticality of small-arms crypto-locks as a fatal flaw in Moldbug’s design, but it’s obvious that (a) any significant piece of hardware has enough computers that it could be retrofitted with crypto-locks and (b) any military that has tanks, jets, aircraft carriers, etc., will defeat one that doesn’t.


    frank Reply:

    I think my other point is potentially more important. I mean, even if you don’t lock heavy weapons, if the major industrial and financial computers get their firmware updates through a server that’s authenticated by the sovereign key, it’s almost enough to make the key holder sovereign, especially in a heavily automated future where many vital sov-corp functions will depend on these equipments. What’s the point of toppling the share holders if it means destroying everything? Ok so you overthrew the sovereigns, and nothing functions, all critical electronics are bricked and no one remembers how to farm, how to cast iron, how to keep the water running, how to keep sewers functioning, etc. What now? The Nokia example I mentioned exemplifies this perfectly, if you don’t exclusively own the private key, it doesn’t matter even if you own everything else: you are not the true sovereign. You either bow down to the private key, or you start from scratch.

    admin Reply:

    “… if you don’t exclusively own the private key, it doesn’t matter even if you own everything else: you are not the true sovereign.” — Exactly. Every other definition of ‘ownership’ is a fuzzy metaphor. (Relevant.)

    frank Reply:

    Thanks for the link, admin.

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    With regard to the point about all sub-106 IQ being automated, we’re going to need some sort of generalisable mechanism to ensure that all babies born are above 106 in IQ or otherwise eliminate them.

    Normally I’d recommend dispatching the Morlocks to the mines as per Wells’ novel, but I think we’re anticipating much of mining also being automated by that point.


    Erebus Reply:

    Thought experiment…

    -Electronic firing mechanism. This could be something like the stacked-barrel method that gimmicky “MetalStorm” venture was trying to do, or it could be something akin to the Voere VEC-91, which is much more traditional in its design. In any case, getting this part to work should be easy. It’s old tech.

    -There could be different different ways to unlock weapons. From satellite uplinks — presumably built upon something like the capable MILSATCOM system, or even something like the civilian Iridium system — to physical consoles at Police stations, military headquarters, and mobile command centers.

    -The crypto-lock wouldn’t need to verify each pull of the trigger. Once the weapon is “unlocked”, it should be able to remain fire-ready for a variable period of time, depending on the circumstances at-hand. Could be 1 hour for a very short raid, 2 hours for a longer one, 8 hours for a long patrol or guard-duty stint, etc.

    -Civilian guns could remain on “fire-ready” mode when on their owner’s property. Otherwise, they could be unlockable at gun ranges, hunting areas, and other places where guns are legally used.

    …Anyhow, just thinking out loud, is all. And Frank has got a good point: The important thing is that the heavy artillery & autonomous weapon systems are locked-down.


    Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 5:16 am Reply | Quote
  • OLF Says:

    Aligning the incentives is the way to go, because crypto-locks don’t stop black-market weapon smugglers. The question then becomes how to make SovCorp military loyal exclusively to the shareholders? Solution would entail that military’s paycheck hinge on shareholders somehow.


    Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 11:46 am Reply | Quote
  • The Electric Philosopher Says:

    @wenshuang Much agreed that, for as much as NRx strikes me (as an outsider) as anything interesting or even unique, it’s NRx-as-corporate government, rather than paleo-reactionary moralising corporatism.


    Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 2:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Ancient China had imperial seals, which were needed to send any imperial edict. Nobody dared do anything if the document wasn’t sealed.

    What happened? More often than not the emperor didn’t want to bother ruling and he gave the seal to some eunuch.

    Come on, it’s all been done. Making it electronic doesn’t change the fundamentals, which are who – whom.


    SVErshov Reply:

    it may change fundamentals in case when of all managment works through the system only. in this case if owner of some specific key does not have enough previleges, he will be denied certain administrative functions. and procedure it self can be hardcoded. problem with MM aproach is secrecy, if it is secrete it can be hacked or exploited. if it is on public blockchain it is hack proof 100%


    Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 3:34 pm Reply | Quote
  • Michael Anissimov Says:

    Guns don’t work like this. Not sure what else to say.


    Posted on November 18th, 2015 at 4:28 pm Reply | Quote
  • scientism Says:

    Since you’re a big fan of schisms and we’re now doing the “versions of Moldbug” thing:

    The basic tenets of Techno-Reaction:

    — Moldbug after mid-2009 is over-rated.
    — Capitalism needs to be unleashed.
    — The errors of libertarianism are dwarfed by those of fascism.
    — Anglo-individualism is the core.
    — ‘Atomization’ is a feature, not a bug.
    — Over-thinking is a must.

    BONUS: Hashtag is #TRx, pronounced “T-Rex”, the best dinosaur.


    RiverC Reply:

    Moreover, Upgrading the seals is important, but the seals aren’t sovereignty. The sovereignty is in the executive will which, you may note, cryptographic keys lack.

    Do the thought experiment:

    Cryptographic key government led by:

    1. Hillary Clinton
    2. Donald Trump
    3. Augusto Pinchet

    How would they differ?


    Posted on November 19th, 2015 at 5:18 pm Reply | Quote

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