Vas' reviews and other stuff2019-01-12

Kill all programmers

I am paranoid. It’s not to the level of psychosis, but it’s definitely to an abnormal degree. If you’ve any interest whatsoever in computer security, privacy settings, cryptography and the like, you almost definitely are paranoid as well. I can’t offer you any data, but if you don’t believe me, spend any time whatsoever in computer security-related communities; you will find no shortage of people so paranoid they can’t even socialise like normal human beings. I can relate, and I can even see myself becoming as dysfunctional as they are. I loathe spyware with a burning intensity. I wish death on the people who write it, for they enable abject oppression; they are the enemies of humanity, and I don’t sympathise at all with rationalisations about their profit motive—my human rights are more important than your income. After a decade of learning how to protect myself from all those out to get me, I realised I’d lost before the fight had begun.

If you use a computer, you have no privacy.

Just like a secret known to two people is no secret, if your computer is or has ever been connected to the internet in any capacity, you have no secrets. Your operating system is spying on you, safe for a tiny minority of hipsters. Your web browser is spying on you—yes, even Firefox. Random applications, like Discord or League of Legends, are spying on you. Your router might be spying on you, but your ISP definitely is. Your social media is spying on you, your search engine is spying on you, your phone is spying on you, your TV is spying on you, and these days even your fridge is spying on you. In fact, if you’re using a modern ARM or x86 CPU—as in released in the last decade or so—your processor itself has in theory the capacity to spy on you baked in hardware regardless of what software you run.

All of the people and agencies involved are aware of these security “vulnerabilities”. They aren’t really vulnerabilities, because they’re intentional design decisions, and often not malicious whatsoever. They aren’t getting resolved because on the scale of privacy versus ease and features, the balance is all the way on the latter, and the former might as well be air. You might think that’s dumb and that normies are idiots for liking it that way, but if I told you the kind of things you’d have to do to scrape away legitimate privacy, you wouldn’t do it because it’s fucking ridiculous.

It wouldn’t matter anyway because it would only guarantee privacy from that point onward; everything you’ve leaked up to that point is free game. Even then, it’s only under ideal conditions, because if you run the wrong script (or run into the wrong privilege escalation bug), all your efforts are null and void. Guaranteeing your privacy means constant vigilance, and fucking it all up means clicking on the wrong thing by accident cause you’re drunk, or tired, or human. Nobody’s that perfect. It isn’t even a matter of intelligence, it could just be muscle memory, and professional athletes who spend years honing their finesse still make mistakes: you are no match.

If you’ve angered the right person, and they’re out to get you, rest assured they’ve already got you. To argue otherwise is ridiculous: how can you claim you’ve never seen or heard or accessed anything illegal? You’ve never pirated any software, you’ve never listened to copyright-infringing songs on YouTube, you’ve never shared your cool findings with your online friends, you’ve never made a meme, you’ve never enjoyed any pornography that someone, somewhere might consider obscene, you’ve never accidentally clicked on a troll’s bit.ly leading to any of the above.

The truth of the matter is you’re a criminal almost as soon as you do anything enjoyable online. Your information is already logged in some database, and at best they’ve run out of disc space and they deleted it (they haven’t). Even if you become a privacy God tomorrow, those things aren’t going away, and the Facebooks and Googles and Microsofts of this world cooperate with your government every day. A perfect application of the law would mean everyone’s a criminal: that’s a feature, not a bug. The only reason you’re free is cause it would be inconvenient imprisoning all humans.

On the plus side, most legal systems in history have been that way or worse; the inconvenience factor is at an all time high. Being aware that you’re constantly at risk is extremely stressful, but you’ll get used to it. You must get used to it, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to function; if black men were as paranoid about their safety as we are about computer security, they’d rather shoot a white woman than say hi to her.

You can help yourself by not sticking out too much, but that is a balancing act; how many experiences do you want to exclude yourself from, how many friends do you wish never to meet, how human can you afford not to be before you’re surviving out of obligation rather than for the joy of it? I don’t have any online privacy, and neither do all my friends, but nothing has happened despite there being dedicated groups who want to shove us in gas chambers; the price of zero privacy has so far been nothing. I’ve accepted that it’s possible my life will be over tomorrow, that I’ll have things so traumatic ahead of me that suicide will be my best option; I’ve had to make peace with my nightmare fuel so I can wake up in the morning.

Sometimes I worry that the wrong person will get hold of my chat logs or my browsing history or things I’ve written and then I’ll be an unperson my entire life. Maybe. But refraining from the things I like is a fate worse than death, so much that even if I could wake up tomorrow a perfect NPC with inoffensive tastes and sensitivities, I’d choose not to.

The Silicon Valley technofascists want you to conform, to be a worker drone NPC, a faithful customer for their Juiceros and their iPhones, never thinking a bad thought, never rocking the boat. They weaponise tribalism, ingroup/outgroup dynamics, and you will never be able to beat them with technology. You can’t fight human biology with better cryptography. Fight back like a Chad.

Regulate software to the ground. The software industry has produced mostly garbage for the past couple of decades, and it’s clear the free market cannot find a solution. It’s time for intervention: make computer technology as regulated as nuclear energy, so that no programmer can write a single line of code without signing forms in triplicate. Programmers have violated your human rights; why should you respect theirs? Put up or gulag.