[e-lang] RE: [cap-talk] Firefox breaks the principle of identifiability

marcs marcs at skyhunter.com
Wed Feb 9 15:10:27 EST 2005

> -----Original Message-----
> From: cap-talk-bounces at mail.eros-os.org
> [mailto:cap-talk-bounces at mail.eros-os.org] On Behalf Of David Wagner
> Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 10:41 AM
> To: cap-talk at mail.eros-os.org
> Subject: [cap-talk] Firefox breaks the principle of identifiability
> Marc Stiegler:
> >Looks like, by signing up with this paypal, I will be on a
> system that
> >allows me to exchange bucks with both alice and Bob.
> I'm new to all this, so maybe I'm thinking about things the
> wrong way, but my first impression is that your conclusion 
> above looks like a bit of a leap.  It looks to me like it is 
> succumbing to two fallacies about reasoning about trust: 1) 
> "transitive trust"; 2) the difference between "I trust X" vs 
> "I trust X for purpose P".

You are correct, of course. I wrote an inappropriately short description of
a process that humans handle in a rather sophisticated way (with or without
computers). To find a system that Bob recommends as a money transfer site, I
would ask Bob. If I asked Bob in email or electronic chat, he would just
send me a reference to the site he uses. But if I were talking to Bob on the
phone, he might just say, "Look up PayPal on the search tool I sent you a
reference to, I'm sure that'll take you to the right place." This is using
bob's trust in his search engine to duplicate bob's own answer for this
particular question.

Deciding to engage with a money handling service like paypal is something
that people actually treat like a serious decision. The decision to sign up
with such a service is taken based on large numbers of cues, some
subliminal, in which we are taking in the reactions of the people around us
to the idea of getting such a service, and their reactions to individual
candidate services in that category. I don't think anyone fully understands
the process by which humans accumulate evidence to form a trust
relationship. An interesting way to interact with such sublime parts of the
human mind is to make our computer systems support the human
intuition/deduction systems. Google seems more relevant than Verisign for
such support. 

> To put it another way, maybe this isn't one of those problems
> with a perfect and elegant principled solution.  It might be 
> an engineering problem where no single clean solution 
> suffices, and where workable solutions tend to look messy.  I 
> don't have any proof of that, just a fear that it might be 
> the case.  But we shouldn't let my fears stop us from looking 
> hard for good solutions to this problem, so please don't let 
> these remarks get in the way of the continuing the 
> discussion. 



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