I would totally pay a global tax to the UN to get access to a truly free internet run by them. And I would even pay tenfold to give that same freedom to nine people I don’t know and who might be totally against my values. 1/2

@dredmorbius would that matter? „Truly free“ being quite the identifier.

@jwildeboer So, there's that.

But then, it's easy to solve hard technical, political, or social problems by specifying a proposed solution as problem-free by definition.

That doesn't actually do the hard work of solving the problem.

My question wasn't a hypothetical as IIRC KSA *has been* the chair of the UN HRC, with certain implications for groups associated with religions that are notably not Islamic. (Not calling out Islam itself, merely the ensuing dynamic.)

@dredmorbius Christianity has lead to people killing doctors that do abortion. Need more #whatabputism?

@jwildeboer You've dialed in on *precisely* what I've just said isn't the point.

Please read my objection as "what happens if the human-rights / free-speech organ of your Global Communications Body is taken over by elements fundamentally opposed to providing freedoms/rights to an entire class of people, based on beliefs, affiliations, ideology, or values?"

In politics, creating a system your opponents may control is a chief concern.

@dredmorbius „truly free“ means the opposite of centralised control. My point is that we need something that reflects „global nationalisation“ as the next step of socialism.

@jwildeboer And again, simply *saying a thing has some property* does not in actuality *endow* it with that property.

If you're looking for agreement, then _yes_, I agree, "a truly free tax-supported Internet" would be a good thing.

That doesn't *actually solve the problem* of ensuring "truly free".

If you don't understand, perhaps try restating my objection back to me in your own words.

@dredmorbius I honestly am not attracted to get lost in details of defining the problem, I care a lot more about iterating on solutions. And I’m happy to fail and try again.

@jwildeboer I think considering failure cases is quite useful here. Particularly _demonstrated_ failure cases (or strong risks of same).

UTNR.org may exist. What actual power or authority does it have?

How would you even define power and authority? Does the UN have this? The US? Ukraine? Gaza / Greater Palestine? Southern Somalia? Catalonia? Wallonai?

Again, pronouncing or declaring a thing isn't creating it. I hope that's clear. There's the difference between idea and existence.

@jwildeboer My first inclination was actually to somewhat agree with your suggestion.

But the contrarian in me is an asshole and had to say something, and who am I to deny its right to speak?

The point being that you might want to put some thought into a publicly-provided Internet (excellent idea, IMO), in a structure which *doesn't* create a single, *global*, potentially-compromised controlling entity.

@dredmorbius of you use the UN to enforce the fundamental human rights it’s a win-win. It’s the other way round IMHO. We have no global governance. But we need it. And it can never be a commercial entity like Facebook or Google.

@jwildeboer It seems to me that there is a possible set of solutions which are neither "The UN" nor "Facebook and/or Google".

I'm needling toward noncommercial, social, *and* mutually independent parties, which offers a set of choices to individuals.

It could be argued that this exists _within_ the UN, though it could also be argued that it does not.

See again previous discussion.

@dredmorbius exactly my point. Check my bio. I am a citizen of the United Transnational Republics utnr.org for reasons :) we need global governance and exposing the limits of what we have is a way to find better solutions.

@jwildeboer I've actually known of you for years, well before G+ through the FS/OSS world. I generally find you sensible, if that helps.

@dredmorbius and I’m on your side. So let’s move onward. Find better solutions. Expose the failures. Iterate. Look forward.

@jwildeboer So, a couple of approaches I try to use:

1. Establish common ground or agreement.

2. Identify concerns or disagreeent.

3. Seek to expand 1 and shrink 2.

Which follow.

@jwildeboer Another bit of background that may be useful: a "Hierarchy of Failures" (or if you prefer the inverse: the success chain) in problem resolution:


Note that "awareness that there is a problem" is the ultimate prerequisite.

I've evolved thinking somewhat since writing that. Diagnosis and etiology don't *necessarily* need to be complete, especially in an emergency (e.g., emergent situation). Though at least a working hypothesis helps markedly.

@jwildeboer A first question might be:

What problem are you trying to solve?

E.g., what's wrong with present systems? What do you want to do?

@dredmorbius I’ve said that in this very thread three times. We. Need. Global. Governance. For. Global. Problems. And our current systems do not deliver, as you pointed out. So. What’s next?

@jwildeboer "Global governance" is a means. "Global problems" is ... a problem _domain_.

The reason(s) for choosing the specific means isn't given.

Nor (at least directly) is the _ends_, the goal-state you're seeking to reach.

Consider that you're getting flustered addressing a relatively friendly audience here. Consider the circumstance of a more hardened adversary.

(Which presumes rational argument is effective, but for the sake of, er, argument, I will.)

@dredmorbius tell me about your solutions to the questions I’m asking. I tried to sketch mine.

@jwildeboer We're at a bit of an impass.

Unless your problem is "I want to build a hammer house using hammers", then it's not clear to me what _your_ rationales for choosing your method(s) are.

Again: I start from _problem_ moving through _desired state_, assessing _possible paths_ and _potential partners_, to _methods_. And complete with an assessment / post-mortem of the process.

You seem to be starting at methods. This is ... not particularly natural for me.

With the exception ...

@jwildeboer ... possibly, of having found myself with a _particularly good general set of tools_ that seem to apply themselves widely to a broad set of problems.

Aristotle's Organon, Bacon's Novum Organon.

A set of modular shell tools and scripting languages for a range of computing problems. Basic, adaptable, chefs tools for cooking.

Global unified government is fairly advanced and specific. It's ... oh, say, kind of the systemd of job schedulers, syslogs, or ntp daemons.

@jwildeboer The human race solved numerous social and political challenges from the Dawn of Time until roughly 26 June 1945, with lesser tools. Not always, and not perfectly, but generally sufficiently (except of course where it didn't).

Again: what is/are the problems you're trying to solve? What's the state you'd like to arrive at?

Or are hammers and hammer-houses intrinsically good?

@jwildeboer @dredmorbius

Not clear. That depends upon the properties of the system involved. There is an entire discipline of study around systems and 'global problems need global solutions' is not always true. There is also a whole raft of important structure around sustainable systems (viable systems as Beer calls them).

Simple example - imagine the creation in one location by one group of a dirt cheap ultra capacity battery. That will cause meaningful global change.

Thanks for kicking the log rolling again.

Issues which require _global coordination_, or where there's only an option for a _single_ choice to be made (e.g., resources, outcomes, or committments involve everyone), evidently DO require a global agreement, or ability to act independently and effectively without one. Planetary sunshades, ocean seeding, and BAU are examples, where BAU is independence-absent-agreement.

Gap-jumping can be another. If traversing ...


A to B is possible incrementally -- walking across a field -- then partial progress is a viable method. If there's a gap to be bridged ... you're going to need to assemble the resources to build that bridge.

Coordination challenges are another. Britain, Japan, SA, and Oz can drive on the left, the rest of the world right, without conflict. But within any given traffic regime, you've got to pick one side or the other, not both. The decision's arbitrary but ...


@EtchedPixels ... important.

Back to Jan's proposal, it's not clear to me that a _single_ global comms structure is _either_ inherently necessary _or_ essential, though it's certainly possible. Absent being able to _define_ it as "sufficiently free", the problem of ensuring that whatever system _does_ exist _is_ remains.

And a multipolar / multiparty system could well answer a possible goal "provide answerable publicly-funded free-speech access" better than a unitary one.


@EtchedPixels The key question for me is which (unitary/multiparty) system is more subject to authoritarian capture. My instincts go with the multiparty system.

Though if that is subject to dynamics similar to the US broadband/comms sector, you could well end up with a diversity of small/regional petty dictatorships.

Again: my goal is to think through the solution space. But that requires knowing the problem and goals.


@dredmorbius @jwildeboer They don't necessarily require global agreement. Take railway track gauges in the UK. The adoption of 4' and a bit was not driven by the state. The only bit the state got involved in was meddling later on in the private business war between 7' and 4'8 by backing the technologically wrong side for political reasons. It was driven by local economics and network effects at each state.

@dredmorbius @EtchedPixels I am focusing on one specific set of globally accepted “regulation” - fundamental human rights. And how to globally defend them using, among other means, technology.

@dredmorbius @jwildeboer Another example is ebay. Ebay become a single dominant auction player in the west without any global co-ordination. Network effects alone caused convergence. In the European case network effects drove Sweden to fix the side their cars drive (but not their trains) because the incompatibility became a sufficient size pain in the arse.

@EtchedPixels In the case of improved battery tech: absent some mechanism for capping overall energy utilisation, improving utilisation effectiveness tends to increase rather than decrease total use.

Imposing a global cap by some means (global coordination) is required. That's effectively the IPCC / Paris / Rio / Copenhagen / Montreal accords problem.


@dredmorbius @jwildeboer Eventually yes - physics turns it into a black body radiation problem although it becomes a problem well before 8)

@EtchedPixels That problem will definitely solve itself. To whose satisfaction is the relevant question.


@EtchedPixels @dredmorbius unless that one group patents it and prices it out of the market or decides to not produce at all. We’ll just have to wait twenty years as with MP3 :) My point however was completely different. An open standard which implementation is “guarded” by a transnational organisation that has global acceptance or better authority. Socialising the tech that fosters the fundamental human rights on a global scale. Without it being a business.

@jwildeboer @dredmorbius No that merely guarantees the organization in question gets subjected to regulatory capture

@EtchedPixels @dredmorbius le sigh. I understand that criticism is needed and helpful, but when it only results in dismissing everything I propose, it’s not really a positive thing. So instead of that - what could work in your opinion? Or should we simply accept the status quo and hand everything to global corps that make their own laws without any oversight?

@jwildeboer @dredmorbius The problem is there's no guarantee that a global solution will end up with the freedoms you desire; most of the world doesn't have that level of freedom, so the likely outcome of global agreement is global agreement to censor.

@penguin42 @jwildeboer @dredmorbius indeed. yes. philisophical hypothetical: what if there were a magical oracle that could tell you exactly what the best global solution to a problem is, infallibly, and the oracle said “dictatorship with tight speech controls”, would you accept it as the correct answer? how would you react?

@zensaiyuki Fundamentally, I have the same problem with your philosophical oracle as I do with Jan's original problem statement. The argument begs its premise (in the correct sense, not the more usual "raises the question" form).

Literally, Jan's system is "truly free" by definition. Literally, the oracle is always correct, by definition.

Even if we accept the premise, but reject the answer because it violates our values, we end with a paradox: it's not optimal.


@dredmorbius @penguin42 @jwildeboer i don’t object to your objection. i am only using the oracle as a shortcut to get to a new premise.

@zensaiyuki I'm willing to relax the conditions further and posit an until-now-fully-reliable oracle. One that's not guaranteed to be perfect, but which has always led us to the correct conclusion in the past.

Again: if the answer it arrives at violates a fundamental value set of mine, I will reject that answer.

From which I would conclude that values, not some demonostrable or probable correctness, has primacy.

Which leads to a second challenge:

Differing values.

@penguin42 @jwildeboer

@zensaiyuki How do you address the situation within some global problem scope (that is, there is only one possible option), where parties can come to no mutual best agreement due to mutually conflicting values.

There are a few possible options.

If you can alternate choices at different time periods, that is an option. It's not always possible though.

You can both elect for your 2nd (or lower) preference, until you arrive at a mutually acceptable one.

Majority vote.

@penguin42 @jwildeboer

@zensaiyuki Random sortition.

You could look to other domains for potential resolutions. Evolution fights things out, without negotiated settlement. Need not involve direct combat, as one option might simply out-compete another, over time.

But that's straying from your oracle. Short answer, is that the best-oracle-solution is a red herring, and that values are ultimate guides, superior to logic or algorithm, at least for volitional choice.

@penguin42 @jwildeboer

@dredmorbius @penguin42 @jwildeboer i’ll show my cards then and just say my position, and argument conclusion is that there does not exist a globally aggreeable system of government. the oracle conceit was an attempt to lead you to this conclusion socratically. yes, people have different values. who are you to imose yours on everyone else?

@zensaiyuki @dredmorbius @penguin42 @jwildeboer
Note that Facebook attempts to impose a single global set of values on all Internet interaction. Need I say more?

@mathew @zensaiyuki @dredmorbius @jwildeboer Yes you should! You should say what the alternative is if when you communicate by facebook you're talking to people in many different countries; how can they do anything other than use one standard?

@jwildeboer The key challenge in virtually any problem resolution is, after deterining _where you want to go_, this:

How do you get there from here.

Identifying paths which _don't_ (or are unlikely) to get you there from here ... can be quite useful.

Pathfinding is difficult and expensive.

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