Re: intellectual property (Re: Totalitarian Assumptions in I, Robot)

From: Thomas Buckner (
Date: Sun Mar 06 2005 - 21:19:21 MST

--- Phil Goetz <> wrote:
> --- "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky"
> <>
> wrote:
> > Phil Goetz wrote:
> > >
> > > The general flaws in our system of
> government
> > > are an entirely separate issue from
> intellectual
> > > property. If your reasoning were valid,
> you
> > > could attack any implemented policy by
> pointing
> > > to abuses of it, which always exist.
> >
> > Citing any abuse of an implemented policy is
> a
> > legitimate attack against
> > that policy, which must be balanced by
> showing
> > benefits which outweigh
> > the abuse.
> I thought someone would say that.
> I should have stated myself more clearly.
> It is legitimate to attack a policy by showing
> how
> that policy enables abuse. It is not
> legitimate to
> attack policy A by showing that policy A
> belongs to
> an entire class of policies that can be abused
> because of policy B. That is what the original
> poster was doing.
> - Phil
Very well. I, the original poster you refer to,
did not want to get into the mud of political
dispute in this forum, but I *could* give a
concrete example of how intellectual property as
presently employed does enable abuse in
governance. That is, I could, if I did not
despair of getting the evidence taken seriously
among people not already so inclined. Warning:
big data dump ahead.

About a third of the votes in the last election
were tallied by computers at Diebold, ES&S or
Sequoia, "private corporation(s) founded, in one
case, by a family that believes the Bible should
replace the Constitution; in another case run by
one of Ohio's top Republicans; and in another
case partly owned by Saudi investors", running
'proprietary' software that outsiders are not
permitted to examine. Bottom line: the computer
tallies make lots of 'mistakes' that always seem
to help the Republicans. The Ukraine election was
overturned over suspicion of fraud because the
outcome was out of whack with the exit polls.
November's outcome here, also out of whack with
exit polls, led to no such outcry. Odd, eh? see

Some of the irregularities which have been
associated with this equipment, operated in
""USA Today reported on Nov. 3, 2002, 'In
Georgia, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll
shows Democratic Sen. Max Cleland with a 49% to
44% lead over Republican Rep. Saxby Chambliss.'
Cox News Service, based in Atlanta, reported just
after the election (Nov. 7) that, 'Pollsters may
have goofed' because 'Republican Rep. Saxby
Chambliss defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. Max
Cleland by a margin of 53 to 46 percent. The
Hotline, a political news service, recalled a
series of polls Wednesday showing that Chambliss
had been ahead in none of them.'" Nearly every
vote in the state was on an electronic machine
with no audit trail."
This discrepancy between exit polls and vote
tally has been termed 'mathematically
impossible.' A couple points discrepancy, OK; but
9 points for Chambliss? Balderdash.
For more of the same, last November: "Dr Stephen
F. Freeman from the University of Pennsylvania
calculated that the odds of just three of the
major swing states, Florida, Ohio and
Pennsylvania all swinging as far as they did
against their respective exit polls were 250
milllion to 1."

" * In Georgia, which recently purchased
22,000 Diebold touch screens, some voters touched
one candidate's name on the screen and saw
another candidate's name appear
    * A former news reporter in Florida
discovered that votes were being tabulated in 644
Palm Beach precincts: but Palm Beach only has 643
precincts. An earlier court case in Florida found
the same discrepancy. A reporter in New Jersey
observed 104 precincts with votes in an area that
has only 102 precincts.
    * Baldwin County results showed that Democrat
Don Siegelman won the state of Alabama. However,
the next morning, 6,300 of Siegelman's votes
disappeared and the election was handed to
Republican Bob Riley. A recount was requested and
    * In North Carolina, a software programming
error caused vote-counting machines to skip over
several thousand votes, both Republican and
Democratic. Fixing the error turned up 5,500 more
votes and reversed the election.
    * In Comal County Texas, an uncanny
coincidence resulted in three Republican
candidates winning by exactly 18,181 votes each.
Two other Republican candidates outside Texas
also won by exactly 18,181 votes.
    * In October, election officials in Raleigh,
N.C., discovered that early voters had to make
several attempts to record their votes on ES&S
systems. Officials compared the number of voters
to the number of votes counted and realized that
294 votes had been lost.
    * A report from the Caltech-MIT Voting
Technology Project states that an estimated 1.5
million presidential votes were not recorded in
2000 because of difficulties using voting
equipment and that electronic machines have the
second highest rate of unmarked, uncounted and
spoiled ballots in presidential, Senate, and
governor elections over the last 12 years.

Federally mandated voting machines, almost
exclusively manufactured by ES&S, Diebold and
Sequoia are being constructed and tested under
obsolete FEC recommendations. The US has
authorized spending of over four billion dollars
on new voting equipment, but as Mercuri notes,
"failed to require or enforce adequate security,
usability, reliability, and auditability controls
over the products being purchased." The numerous
flaws cited above ably demonstrate Mercuri's

"There is no known way to ensure that this is not
happening inside of a voting system. Companies
such as Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia, which
manufacture the machines and provide the code
that runs them, simply take a "trust us"

Mercuri also reports that no electronic voting
system has been certified to even the lowest
level of the U.S. government or international
computer security standards such as the ISO
Common Criteria, nor are they required to comply
with such standards. Thus, no current electronic
voting system is secure by the U.S. government's
own standards."
Drag your eyeballs about some of the following
sites: (the people who
blew the story open)

Bear in mind that I am referring you specifically
to the fact that 'proprietary' status helps
protect corrupt use of the software/hardware to
steal elections, by thwarting transparency.
Sunlight being the best disinfectant, as the
saying goes.

When Phil says "The general flaws in our system
> government are an entirely separate issue from
> intellectual property" he founders on the word
'entirely'. It's a variant of 'always', 'never',
'all', a sweeping generalization that has no leg
to stand on. If I were foolish enough to say that
'intellectual property is the whole problem with
our government' that would be a different matter.
It is but one of a broad range of problems; but
it certainly is a problem, in recent years; I
remain firm in my view that intellectual
property, which seemed perfectly reasonable to me
in the past, has grown past its reasonable
limits, like a kudzu vine that might overrun the
whole yard if we let it.
If you do not wish to spend any time looking into
the links I offer, fine; but I will mentally
roundfile any views you offer on the matter. As
for me, I do not expect to see another Democratic
president in my lifetime (I have even told my
daughter that I may die a political prisoner).
With a wee bit of help from intellectual
property, the Right has methodically knocked out
all the checks and balances, even the
vote-counting, and engineered itself a de facto
one-party state, and in the fullness of time you
will see that I am not exaggerating.

Tom Buckner

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