You Want a Totally Unregulated Free-Market? Okay.

April 19th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on You Want a Totally Unregulated Free-Market? Okay.)

Some thoughts on why I think the utopia of left-leaning libertarians is the most likely outcome of the current power struggle.

Imagine what would happen if right-wing libertarians actually got what they wanted – a totally free and unregulated marketplace (something I’m in favor of by the way). After all they keep telling us it’s the government that keeps getting in the way of free enterprise. Lets give it to them – lets have free enterprise without government. So what does that mean? For starters it means no more copyright laws. For without government or some other centralized monopolization of force, who would enforce copyrights? It also means no more patents. For without regulation (enforcement), who would enforce patents? It would also mean no more licensing restrictions, fees, permits or other artificial entry barriers  keeping the little guy from competing head on with the big guys. For without fees and permits, anybody can participate in the free market. It also mean no more monopolies. For without laws enforcing “intellectual property”, how could a company corner the market on anything? So no more big companies either. For without government backed market protection or fictional “corporate personhood” laws, how could big companies compete against thousands of little companies innovating faster and more diversely than any large company ever could? If you think patents and copyrights promote innovation rather than stifle it, think again.

Also, no more centralized currencies. For without government backed currencies and centralized banking laws, how could anyone corner the market on freely proliferating and competing currencies? So goodbye to Goldman Sachs and other vampire financial firms. No more patents stifling innovation, and thus no more restrictions keeping anyone from creating super amazing stuff and putting it out on the internet for free, and so fast that any kind of enforcement will be too little, too late. It means hand-held devices that do everything and operate on any frequency. This in turn means rapid decentralized global deployment of totally free and unregulated broadband communications for everyone. No more cell phone companies charging exorbitant fees – actually no more cell phone companies period. No more censorship or information control either. No more mainstream media, and other domineering propaganda channels. No more secrets. No more conspiracies. No more monopolization of power.

I suspect this is not what the current “deregulation crowd” had in mind. They want there to be some kind of centralized enforcement branch to protect their “intellectual property rights”. I think the best argument against this kind of right-wing libertarianism is this – if they insist that at least one centralized institution remain to enforce intellectual  property rights (through threat of incarceration or violence of course), what is to keep that central point of failure from being hijacked by the most rich and powerful to create protection rackets for themselves and thus eliminate their free market? I challenge them to tell me then how such a scenario won’t happen, and an how it is any different than what we have now. From where I’m sitting their “free” market is not really free, but an untenable fantasy. You can’t have it both ways. Either we have a free market and all that implies (above) or you’re back to some kind of oppressive system – in this case corporate feudalism. So here is the naked truth – any right-wing libertarian who says they want a free-market with enforced intellectual property rights, is either deluding themselves or damned liars who are the very tyrants they warn us against.

Of course some would call this anarchy, and what may seem like an inevitable bazaar of violence emerging to dominate it (predicted by people like Bruce Sterling and John Robb). However that problem, as troublesome as it is, is also not sustainable, as more and more of that kind of power flows into the hands of individuals. Because the truth is this – good intentions out number bad ones 20 to 1. The beauty of this logic is simple – the network magnifies good intentions exponentially faster than the bad ones. As the power of the network grows, individuals can create network collectives of transparency and prosperity that far out compete (and out number) any stupid, criminal, secret, malicious or parasitic conspiratorial system. This means that over time the good guys will out compete the bad guys at every turn. Until then expect more medium-size players taking on large incumbents, such as the Mexican cartels taking on the Mexican government. But that unfortunate trend is only temporary as power continues to shift to the edges. Already smaller towns in Mexico have made it nearly impossible for criminal elements to take over their communities. After all, if everything is unregulated, how could criminal/corporate/political cartels ever survive? They won’t.

I should add that the more enlightened right-wing libertarians feel property right contracts should be voluntary and never forced on anyone. They believe that those who choose such contracts will create an economic bloc that will be superior to other types of collectives. I’m fine with that, and their welcome to try. However, they’ll quickly discover they cannot compete when everyone else is not honoring those contracts and remixes and re-engineers any and all innovation to ever higher heights.

Meanwhile trends continue to nip away at “intellectual property” all over the world. China has gotten where it is in largely by ripping off everyone else’s intellectual property, particularly the West’s innovative capital. How’s that working out for the West? Not well. The genie is out of the bottle when it comes to information, so we’re going to see more innovation coming through open information channels, and less through the traditional copyright and patent system. Those who want to create a property rights nirvana are living in a dream world that can no longer exist in a world where anyone can remix and “steal” any electrons and duplicate that knowledge around the world in seconds.

Because of the new reality of free information, great efforts are now being expended to maintain the old system – SOPA, PIPA, CISPA (expect more nth derivatives), and new threats of violence and incarceration in things like the NDAA (which makes it “legal” to incarcerate or assassinate anyone without due process). The trend however is that monopolization of violence is rapidly vanishing as well. The transition to these new utopias I’m afraid will be quite rocky for a time as both the old power elites do whatever they must to maintain their power, while newer more nimble thugs make a go at at it. But that is a transitional trend not an endpoint, thankfully.



With all of the talk about censoring the internet with things like SOPA, PIPA and now ACTA, comes the possibility of creating an entirely new free internet immune to censorship – high-altitude geostationary solar-powered dirigible wireless server drones. Already DIY drones are taking off everywhere – see this video for a good idea of how citizens can counter the increasing surveillance of the state by spying back on them. Ideally these drones would all be connected to each other in a self-healing mesh-network, should any of them fail, get lost or be “shot down” by unfriendly forces.

Now comes this news about Pirate Bay’s intent to create “Low Orbit Server Drones”:

The Pirate Bay, the file-sharing site, has, at this point, generally accepted the fact that their front-end servers are perpetually at risk of being confiscated by some government or other that they’ve ticked off with their “crazy” ideas of freedom of information. Whether or not you agree with The Pirate Bay, you can probably understand the seriousness of what they’re up against, so it’s not really that surprising that they’ve been looking for a place a bit more out of reach to stash their hardware. Their latest idea? Low Orbit Server Drones.

A Low Orbit Server Station (or LOSS), as best as we can tell, would be a small customized robotic blimp of some sort that would float “some kilometers” up in the air, keeping station with GPS. On board would be a microcomputer (TPB mentions the Raspberry Pi, a cheap ARM Linux box, as one possibility) and a radio transmitter. A ground station could talk to the blimp at 100 Mbps from up to 50 km away, acting as a remote, distributed proxy system. The idea here is that in order for anyone to raid the aerial proxies, they’d have to launch an aerial attack of some sort on the robot blimp network. As TPB puts it:

“This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.”

We’re not sure about the legal aspects here, or if there are even any precedents for something like this. But, it’s certainly an interesting (and potentially incendiary) approach that The Pirate Bay is looking to take. And not just looking: this is apparently going to happen for real, and the first drone in the network will take station somewhere in international waters. Probably a good plan.



World of Ends

March 7th, 2003 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on World of Ends)

Doc Searls and David Weinberger have put up a new website succinctly outlining the basics behind the end-to-end paradigm of the stupid network. May our Congress get a clue, stop repeating their mistakes, and understand this basic simple message:

  1. The Internet isn’t complicated
  2. The Internet isn’t a thing. It’s an agreement.
  3. The Internet is stupid.
  4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
  5. All the Internet’s value grows on its edges.
  6. Money moves to the suburbs.
  7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
  8. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it
  9. Some mistakes we can stop making already
  10. The Internet’s three virtues:
  • No one owns it
  • Everyone can use it
  • Anyone can improve it



Peer to Peer Television?

December 18th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Peer to Peer Television?)

Tired of being mislabled a consumer? The MPAA and other broadcaster are probably not going to be happy if this software becomes open-sourced and widely distributed on the net. Last week, I referred you to an article by David Weinberger called The End of the Broadcast Nation in which he talks about how decentralized media distribution will not only undermine traditional broadcasters but empower us to become less consumptive and more participatory. With P2P Streaming Video, anyone could become their own TV station.


Promising Developments in Open Software/Radio

December 18th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Promising Developments in Open Software/Radio)

A story in Business 2.0, The Penguin Takes Flight, talks about a new project called Mo-no, that could revolutionize Linux software development and finally give Microsoft a run for their money.

Here’s why Mono is hot: First, it promises to make translating most new Windows programs into Linux fast and easy. That means someday soon anything from Quicken to your company’s supply-chain software could be ported over to Linux with the double click of a mouse. Second, Mono could speed up the development of new Linux applications by as much as a factor of three. “Those are two big battles,” Icaza says. “We are going to win at least one.”

And a story from Salon called Free Software Radio.

Call them hackers of the last computing frontier: The GNU Radio coders believe that any device with a chip should be able to do, well, anything. OK, now imagine the looks of terror on the faces of existing machine makers. Imagine if the only thing stopping your handheld PDA from simultaneously being a GPS receiver, phone, radio or miniature TV was your willingness to download and install some free software program.

Main Website: GNU Radio.


The End of the Broadcast Nation

December 14th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The End of the Broadcast Nation)

In David Weinberger’s white paper, he writes:

We are not in the age of information. We are not in the age of the Internet.

We are in the Age of Connection.

Being connected is at the heart of our democracy and our economy. The more and better those connections, the stronger are our government, businesses, science, culture, education.

Until now, our connectedness has depended on centralized control points that have been the gatekeepers of our economic and political networks. To speak to everyone, you had to be one of the few with access to a broadcast networks. To sell to everyone, you had to be one of the few with access to a global distribution channel. To achieve office, you had to be one of the few with access to corporate coffers and national media.

But we are on the verge of being able to connect to anyone and everyone, whenever and however we want. No gatekeepers. Ubiquitous connection. Connectedness thatís always there and always on.

This isn’t about getting more TV channels. Change the way we’re connected

and youíve changed everything, from the economy to governance. This is how fundamental transformation ccurs.

In this context, spectrum has nothing to do with electromagnetic waves and auctions. It is far more fundamental: Spectrum is connection.

We will connect. The human drive for connection is too strong to be stopped. The market and the electorate are clamoring for this. Consider just some of
the more obvious changes:

When consumers are connected, we turn off the marketing messages and tell one another the truth about what we buy.

When students are connected, they teach each other and work collaborativelyÖeven if they are still being graded as if each assignment were done alone in a cell.

When citizens are connected, we put our money and our votes with politicians who join the fray. Safe, phony words and please-everyone positions sound more hollow than ever. We want our government to recognize and reflect the values connectedness brings.

When an economy is connected, goods and services move faster. Little players get a foothold against the giants. Innovation skyrockets. Risks are taken and investments are made. The old gatekeepers of connection find their treasure is now a commodity. But that commodity fuels an outbreak of economic
growth that will last for decades.

When a society is connected, it becomes more fair. Broadcasting’s lock on the channels of communication is broken, so more voices are heard and people are better able to determine their own individual and collected fates.

The Age of Connection will begin with a fundamental change in metaphors and a basic reframing of the issues.


Web of Trust Audio News Distribution

December 10th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Web of Trust Audio News Distribution)

Orginal Article on Slashdot:

Wearlab (University of Bremen) has designed a cool web of trust voice message routing system with a decaying credibility metric. It supports xmms and winamp. Source available for Linux and win32. “MPN makes it possible to deliver completely decentralized and independent news. Everyone has the possibility to be a reporter, no filtering publisher is required.

Decentralization via software is really kicking into high gear. The recent Supernova conference brought together some of the best minds on this subject. Decentralization combined with unbiquitous computing has the potential of totally changing the way society operates. Imagine a world, that is already totally information based, except that information is managed by applications and infrastructure that is primarily decentralized. My mind is still reeling from yesterdays conference, so stay tuned. I have a lot to say about where this could be heading. Needless to say, I am very excited.


Supernova “Decentralization” Conference Opens

December 9th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Supernova “Decentralization” Conference Opens)

Supernova, a conference on decentralization started by Kevin Werbach and the Pulver organization, has started about an hour ago. You can follow a lot of this via two weblogs:

Conference blog

Group blog

Enormous number of bloggers…

Some Running notes:

Kevin Werbach opened with a nice explanation of why decentralization is important — we can’t scale up without it, he notes — and that there needs to be a market around it.

Everytime power is decentralized, new opportunities arise in all kinds of ways, says Howard Rheingold. He wants to look ahead and see how decentralization may give rise to new forms of collective action.

We’re at the beginning of a technology/development cycle, Howard says. Several technologies are converging to create something with its own unique characteristics, as when video monitor and microprocessor got together at the dawn of the PC era. Then, when PC was connected to phone, we got something new again, the Internet. In both cases the users shaped the medium.


Wearable Computers Create Ad-hoc Wireless Communities.

December 7th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Wearable Computers Create Ad-hoc Wireless Communities.)

Roland Piquepaille writes:

Howard Rheingold is looking at how “wearable computers create ad-hoc wireless communities.” Here is the main idea, introduced by Gerd Kortuem, a 38-year-old assistant professor, who recently moved to Lancaster University in England from the University of Oregon’s Wearable Computing Lab. “As he sees it, the crowds who surround us every day constitute a huge waste of social capital. If you live in a city for instance, there are many who pass within a few yards of you each day who could give you a ride home, buy an item you’re trying to sell, or consider you as dating material. Dynamic networking makes it possible to tap those resources through a momentary alliance among transient interest groups.” Check this column for a summary or the full article if you have more time.

Courtesy of Slashdot


Advances in Decentralized Peer Networks

December 6th, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Advances in Decentralized Peer Networks)

This Story lifted straight from Slashdot:

Peer networks are gaining some attention these days given advances in much more decentralized search architectures and swarming distribution networks. Research has indicated that these decentralized networks are resistant to legaland technological attacks. The continued proliferation of broadband and wireless networking will ensure pervasive deployment of distributed peer networking infrastructure that will drive significant innovations in personal and communitydigital communications services.