Soundbyte 391: Dear Brother

22 April 2019

I’m sitting here and enjoying the last rays of the best Easter sun we’ve had for years. And I must admit that I really enjoyed it. It just shows how much I enjoy the change of seasons here in The Netherlands. I am so looking forward to the long and warm days of summer. And, coincidentally, that also applies to a lot of other things: looking ahead into the future with all kinds of surprises; some cool and some quite alarming…

Don’t trust anyone. Or?

One of the not so nice surprises I expect in the near future is the upcoming ‘China Strategy’ of the Dutch government. Obviously with the IP theft of ASML and the potential lockout of Huawei from the Dutch 5G network a lot is happening under the scrutiny of the public eye, but I wonder wether there’s anything new we need to be afraid of.
It appears we are always looking for states we can trust, but the question is wether that is feasible or true in the current day and age. I could even argue that people who are looking for other states they can trust suffer from the ‘Just world hypothesis’. Everybody body is talking about China and Russia, up to and including the definition of a somewhat useless ‘China Strategy’, but there have been sufficient cases where our trusted allies have proven to be not so trustworthy. For example: have you ever heard of the company TextLite and the PX1000 (the first encrypted portable telex)? In the recent past, a couple of journalists have proved that the NSA wasn’t really taken with the fact that a DES encrypted device, developed by TextLite, was shipped throughout the world. It prevented the NSA from being able to spy on anyone they wanted to (check the report on Philips, TextLite and American espionage -in Dutch- from the radio program Argos). Another recent story was the hack of Belgacom by British GCHQ (how the British GCHQ hacked into the Belgacom infrastructure) the last secure mobile service provider. Yet another example of how difficult it is to distinguish between friend and foe. I’m not trying to cause a panic, point fingers or, even worse, frighten people, this is about the question if one can trust a state in general and wether it makes sense to have something like a national ‘China Strategy’. I think that history has proved time and again that states are inherently difficult to trust. Stronger even, that is why we have a constitution: to protect us from our own state. So, let’s not act as if this can be solved in an easy way…

DevCon 2019 about Trust

Whom to trust was exactly one of the points that was made by Marleen Stikker in the opening keynote of the 2019 version of the Luminis Devcon. Once again, I really enjoyed the DevCon. Talking to so many like-minded people is always a great experience. Just look at this aftermovie to catch a glimpse of the event:

But let me get back to an essential part of Marleen’s keynote presentation. The Internet was originally conceived as a medium between people that trusted each other. And to change this so that people who don’t trust each other or stronger even to change so that states can spy on their citizens is a wrong strategy to pursue. And this represents exactly one of the biggest discussions we are wrestling with nowadays. Unfortunately, spying and theft are nothing new as history shows. The Internet, however, represents something new in terms of human history, and it is important that everyone understands how it was conceived and what value it could bring to society. Another interview with Marleen Stikker (in Dutch) on this topic is quite impressive as well…

Nahko and Dear Brother

Trust and the future of humanity are pretty big in the songs of Nahko (or Nahko and Medicine for the People). I first heard his music when Elvire and I were over in Belize. We were having diner in Rick’s Cafe, the sort of hangout you can find on Lonely Planet. Apart from the limited menu with great food and a good chat, we were really awestruck by the music of Nahko. I hope you enjoy this just as much as we did (by the way: while writing this Soundbyte, I found out that he is playing in Paradiso in July and I have got tickets ;-)) …

And as far as trust goes, I have only one simple advice: only trust people you known personally. And even then…





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