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View Diary: Anonymous gives warning to Karl Rove (249 comments)

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  •  Anon's capabilities are vastly exaggerated. (1+ / 0-)
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    They can watch Web traffic, but their resources in the underlying telecom infrastructure are doubtful, as is their ability to analyze such information.  Most of them are script kiddies with Matrix fantasies.

    Voter suppression is treason.

    by Troubadour on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 10:59:28 PM PDT

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    •  none the less, they are occasionally effective. (3+ / 0-)
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      Troubadour, MichaelNY, cotterperson

      Exhibit A:  H.B. Gary.

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Sun Oct 28, 2012 at 11:26:12 PM PDT

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      •  Lulzsec paid a high price for that. (1+ / 0-)
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        The moment they proved to be a real threat to established power, that power came down on their heads like a falling sky.

        Voter suppression is treason.

        by Troubadour on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 12:13:07 AM PDT

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        •  but you can't kill all the bees in the swarm. (5+ / 0-)

          Some of them went down over that, some went down over something else.  But there are more, and they keep coming.  And the decentralized structure & absence of rockstar leaders makes it more likely that they'll keep reconstituting themselves and doing stuff.

          "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

          by G2geek on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 12:54:08 AM PDT

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          •  We can hope, but that's not how it really is. (2+ / 0-)
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            MichaelNY, G2geek

            Truly skilled people don't just pop up.  They're a scarce resource, and law enforcement crackdowns really hurt them.

            Voter suppression is treason.

            by Troubadour on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 01:20:53 AM PDT

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            •  read John Robb about these subjects... (3+ / 0-)
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              MichaelNY, Troubadour, cotterperson

              ... and you'll also also conclude that there's no way to kill a swarm or a hive-mind.

              It evolves, it passes natural selection tests as it goes (or it doesn't, as the case may be), and it gains skills as it goes.  Those skills diffuse through the network rapidly.

              I'm on the side of LE about many things, but Anon is an exception at least when they go after private-sector evil doers.  

              LE can take down orgs that have clearly identifiable leadership and structure, and that work with physical "stuff."

              Much more difficult, verging on impossible, to take down something that's a brand identity and a meme-set, because it's made of information, and information is orthogonal to thermodynamics.  Remember John Barlow's immortal saying, "information wants to be free"?  

              It turns out that, per the laws of physics, information, in the sense of semantic meaning if not in the Shannon sense, is free: there is no entropy penalty for any given configuration of ordered bits as compared to any other.

              An entity that is made of information is the closest thing we have in physical reality, to a "spirit" or a "ghost."  

              So, who ya' gonna call?, Ghostbusters?

              "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

              by G2geek on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 02:44:25 AM PDT

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              •  What is a swarm of script kiddies worth (1+ / 0-)
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                compared to five people who know what they're doing?  Talent and insight do not diffuse.  Even in liberal politics, there hasn't been another MLK, JFK, or RFK - once they were gone, their light was extinguished completely.  No one followed them.

                Voter suppression is treason.

                by Troubadour on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 03:12:49 AM PDT

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                •  there's a difference. (2+ / 0-)
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                  Troubadour, cotterperson

                  An effective political leader needs a large range of skills.

                  An effective engineer or technician needs a much smaller range of skills, and the same case goes for hackers.  

                  Technical skills are far more easily taught and learned than political leadership skills.

                  For that matter consider pure science, and the cutting edge of physics:  There hasn't been another Newton, or another Einstein... but there were Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Wheeler, et. al., and more recently, Hawking.  We don't know who's next after Hawking, but someone will emerge.

                  Lastly, a swarm of script kiddies can serve as subordinates to, or even as cover for, a small number of master hackers.  

                  To win a war you only need a relatively small handful of senior officers, and a much larger number of mid-grade and lower grade officers, and then a much larger number of soldiers/sailors/aviators/Marines as the case may be.

                  "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

                  by G2geek on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 04:18:18 AM PDT

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                  •  Let's not delude ourselves. (0+ / 0-)

                    It takes a lot more than technical skill to be truly dangerous in that arena, and those who proved they were have been neutralized by prosecution.  They're on the standard track of hackerdom - prosecution--->prison---> six-figure salary consulting job for government and corporate America.

                    Voter suppression is treason.

                    by Troubadour on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 04:38:33 AM PDT

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                    •  heh... (1+ / 0-)
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                      .... when I was a naughty phone phreak the stakes were hardly so high.  Getting in trouble for most of us was a comparative wrist-slap by the Bell, with no risk of actual prosecution, though that was quite enough to scare us into going straight; and then the track was into some kind of decent telco-type job in interconnect.  

                      I'll take my worker-bee income any day, in exchange for not having had to face actual charges for my misdeeds.  But then I've never been a gambler either...

                      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

                      by G2geek on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 08:04:38 AM PDT

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              •  Just to digress a moment on entropy... (2+ / 0-)
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                G2geek, cotterperson

                I find your thoughts very interesting.

                But does not all information require a physical instantiation of some sort - a bead on an abacus moving, an electron gate opening or closing, a neural connection forming, a passage of photons from an event to an observer?  A keystroke, a printing press striking, a sound wave propagating?

                While I'd love to stick it to the Second Law of Thermodynamics as much as the next guy (more, even...the Second Law is weird and I'm convinced that understanding it at a deeper level is the secret to our next big revolution in science), I struggle to understand the concept of information independent of physical embodiment.

                What would that look like, information that does not leave a physical 'imprint' of any sort on the universe and is freed of the implications of the Second Law?

                You couldn't load a pistol with dormitive virtue and shoot it into a breakfast-roll - CS Pierce

                by Mr Raymond Luxury Yacht on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 07:22:55 AM PDT

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                •  Yes, all information requires a physical... (2+ / 0-)

                  .... instantiation, as you said (at least for the physical universe as presently understood).  So here are some thought experiments:

                  You have two electromechanical teletype machines on a circuit.  These we use in preference to computers because they are straightforward, have no processor overhead, the correlation between bits transmitted/received and power consumed is easy to make, and power consumption is relatively high so therefore more sensitive to measure than the lower power consumption of two laptops on a LAN.

                  You have a teletype tape: punched paper tape with ascii characters.

                  You insert the tape facing in one direction into Machine A, and Alice sits at Machine B and reports what she sees printed out.   She reports that she sees unintelligible gibberish.

                  Now you insert the tape facing in the opposite direction in Machine A, and Bob sits at Machine B and reports what he sees printed out.  He reports that he sees Shakespeare.  

                  The bits on the tape are identical.  You check your recording voltmeter and recording ammeter, do some quick math, and determine that the power consumption for the Alice run and the Bob run were in fact identical.

                  The only thing that changed was the configuration of the same set of ordered bits over time.

                  Each configuration had the same Shannon entropy.

                  But there was no additional entropy penalty when the ordering of the bits was semantically meaningful.  

                  Now try it with a text file sent via modem, LAN, or wireless network.  Same result:  sent "forward" from beginning to end, you get semantically meaningful information.  Sent "backward" from end to beginning, you get semantically meaningless gibberish.  Power consumption each way is identical.

                  Now try a phonograph: an oldschool record player.  Rotate the turntable backward, out comes semantically and musically meaningless gobbledegook.  Rotate the turntable forward, out comes music, or a speech, or whatever, semantically and otherwise meaningful.  Power consumption of the phonograph is identical either way.

                  The key to this is the distinction between "Shannon information," that is, bits, and "semantic information," that is, meaning conveyed.  Semantic meaning is conveyed by a certain ordering of the bits.  But no ordering is privileged over any other ordering, so long as the quantity of bits is the same.  All the other stuff that goes on is also the same: photons bouncing off the page and reaching the retina, etc.  

                  And there is no measurable change in the caloric energy consumed by the human organism while reading intelligible text as compared to attempting to read gibberish.  There may be changes in EEG, but those changes by themselves have no energy cost, as compared to any other randomly chosen changes in EEG patterns.

                  Further, semantic meaning may also be conveyed in a manner that conserves Shannon information.  Consider the word "car" and the word "automobile."  Three bytes as compared with ten: thus approx. 1/3 the energy consumed, but the semantic meaning is identical.   Humans do this all the time by compressing words and inventing slang and so on.  Telephone >> phone.  Television >> TV.  Automobile >> car.  Etc.  The military famously loves acronyms and contractions, as does NASA, and every other professional field has its own lexicon of those.  

                  And the only reason that some genius hasn't figured this out until now (all of this stuff is my own original thinking, and I'm hardly as smart as Obama or more to the point Hawking) is that it takes going across disciplines to get at it.  Not only physics and cognitive science, but information technology.  You have to know enough about each of these areas to put together the thought experiments, at which point the logic is inescapable.

                  And I do agree that circumventing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is the key to some potential future breakthroughs in our understanding of the physical universe.  And I also think that if some working physicists were to go further with my line of reasoning, take it to its logical conclusions, and put some rigorous math to it, they might get on the path toward those breakthroughs.  

                  That or I've missed something terribly obvious and just made a flaming fool of myself.   However there is no such thing as a stupid question, and all of these questions are amenable to empirical treatment, so we shall see.  

                  "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

                  by G2geek on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 08:28:33 AM PDT

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                  •  Thanks for your thoughtful reply. (0+ / 0-)

                    Very interesting stuff.

                    Not sure if you will see this, since I had to ruminate a little bit and it took me a while to get back in front of the computer.

                    Fundamentally – I find the distinction between Shannon information and semantic information to be useful, but I don’t think it provides us with a workaround on the Second Law.  What I do think your thought experiments and related distinctions show is that semantic information is highly, perhaps indefinitely (see below!), compressible in terms of the quantity of its Shannon informational content.  And this is no surprise when you think about the role that context and experience plays in semantic interpretation – what might take a novel-length essay to explain to a neophyte can be conveyed with a simple nod of the head to a close friend.

                    However, as I said, I don’t think this gets us around the Second Law.  The fact that there is no measurable difference in energy consumption in viewing Shannon-equivalent but semantically distinct strings of characters (or bits of music) is an empirical, contingent fact about our evolution and the way we process certain forms of information.  Consider this sentence:

                    Eevn toghuh msot of the lteters in teshe wdros are meixd up, you can pobalbry raed it wtih vrey lttlie ducififtly.

                    Our brain happens to have evolved in such a way that we take in strings of information at a time, as opposed to individual bits in sequence, and ‘decode’ or ‘unscramble’ for meaning.  So the fact that meaning ‘emerges’ when we play the Led Zeppelin record forward or feed the text in the right direction simply means that it’s an efficient use of Shannon information to impart meaning to fellow humans by structuring it in that way for semantic impact; were we to try to convey meaning to a fellow human with a backward sentence, it could/would still create semantic impact, but only after additional energy expenditure to rearrange the physical informational bits.  We don’t get around the Second Law with the emergence of semantic information, we merely avoid paying additional Second Law penalties beyond those we’ve already paid in imparting that information.

                    So we’re still left in the dilemma that all informational conveyance has a Second Law imprint, but that this imprint seems to be something that we can make smaller and smaller and smaller (automobile -> auto -> car, etc.).  Which leads us to a very interesting thought experiment/paradox: suppose there is a lower limit to the compressibility of information.  One equivalent way to think about that is to suppose there is a maximally informationally efficient way to designate an object or idea – a shortest possible name, so to speak.  Think now about the set of, say, natural numbers: each of these numbers has a shortest possible name or designation by our assumption.  However, any measure of these names seems to allow for additional compressibility.  If we measure these irreducible names by number of letters in English, then some will have few letters, some will have many.  If we ask ourselves to find the smallest number namable with less than fifty letters, it will be somewhere on that list.  But the name “smallest number namable with less than fifty letters” itself has less than fifty letters, which contradicts our original assumption of having a maximally compressed name.  So either that string of characters does not in fact name a unique number under this set of assumptions (which I don’t see how it could be the case, given the orderability of the natural numbers), or the idea of ‘shortest possible name’ is fraught with contradiction.  And by extension, semantic information would seem to be infinitely compressible.

                    But…I still think its expression and manipulation in whatever compressed form it takes will not escape the Second Law, and its propagation is still inevitably limited by the Second Law (i.e., it will always take energy to spread information).  It’s compressibility makes it a good medium to work with, though, as it continually reduces the per-bit entropy penalty that you pay.

                    The same disclaimer about missing obvious stuff and being a fool applies to everything I wrote here.

                    Don’t know if you’ll see this since it’s been a little while since the original post, but I appreciate the exchange.

                    You couldn't load a pistol with dormitive virtue and shoot it into a breakfast-roll - CS Pierce

                    by Mr Raymond Luxury Yacht on Tue Oct 30, 2012 at 07:54:27 AM PDT

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