Computer underground Digest Mon May 25, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 23 Editors: Jim Thomas and G

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Computer underground Digest Mon May 25, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 23 Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET) Associate Editor: Etaion Shrdlu, Jr. Arcmeisters: Brendan Kehoe and Bob Kusumoto CONTENTS, #4.23 (May 25, 1992) File 1--Thanks from Craig Neidorf for Support File 2--Resurgance of a Myth ("The Dying Child") File 3--Freedom and Privacy in North American Cyberspace File 4--PREXY CANDIDATE E-ADDRS & update re candidates' ONLINE forum File 5--FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR IFIP/SEC CONFERENCE '92 File 6--BYU Hackers Busted File 7--GEnie Conference on "Virtual Reality" Issues of CuD can be found in the Usenet news group, on CompuServe in DL0 and DL4 of the IBMBBS SIG, DL1 of LAWSIG, and DL0 and DL12 of TELECOM, on Genie in the PF*NPC RT libraries, on the PC-EXEC BBS at (414) 789-4210, and by anonymous ftp from (,, and To use the U. of Chicago email server, send mail with the subject "help" (without the quotes) to European distributor: ComNet in Luxembourg BBS (++352) 466893. COMPUTER UNDERGROUND DIGEST is an open forum dedicated to sharing information among computerists and to the presentation and debate of diverse views. CuD material may be reprinted as long as the source is cited. Some authors do copyright their material, and they should be contacted for reprint permission. It is assumed that non-personal mail to the moderators may be reprinted unless otherwise specified. Readers are encouraged to submit reasoned articles relating to computer culture and communication. Articles are preferred to short responses. Please avoid quoting previous posts unless absolutely necessary. DISCLAIMER: The views represented herein do not necessarily represent the views of the moderators. Digest contributors assume all responsibility for ensuring that articles submitted do not violate copyright protections. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: Craig Neidorf Date: Wed, 20 May 1992 11:52:28 EDT Subject: File 1--Thanks from Craig Neidorf for Support Dear CuD: I would like to thank the many people who have taken their time and their checkbooks and sent me donations to help me cope with the costs of my legal defense. Whenever its been possible, I have personally mailed each individual that has made a donation. All of these people should also have received a letter from Sheldon Zenner. However, there have been a few problems in certain cases in getting the money to the correct place. The law firm of Katten, Muchin, & Zavis is huge. They have 5 offices in the US and their Chicago office alone occupies 5 floors and employs over 300 attornies plus all of the support staff. Over the last couple of months, a lot of checks have come into Katten, Muchin, & Zavis, but they were not addressed to Sheldon Zenner's attention. This has caused many delays and in some cases it is very possible that the money was never credited to my account at all. If you are among the people who did send in a donation and you have not received a letter from me or Sheldon Zenner, then please contact me via email. I know that about 9 people's checks were credited to my account, but Sheldon Zenner was not made aware of the people's names. The checks were mailed to Neidorf Defense instead of Sheldon Zenner and not every one at the firm is familiar with my case, thus causing confusion. For those people who are still considering sending a donation, please follow these instructions. Make your check out to: Katten, Muchin, & Zavis. Write "Craig Neidorf" in the memo. Send your check (or money order) to: Sheldon Zenner Katten, Muchin, & Zavis 525 West Monroe Street Suite 1600 Chicago, IL 60606-3693 (It wouldn't hurt to attach a note). Thank you all. Craig Neidorf ------------------------------ Date: Thu, 14 May 92 16:26 GMT From: Jean-Bernard Condat <0005013469@MCIMAIL.COM> Subject: File 2--Resurgance of a Myth ("The Dying Child") The resurgence of a myth: Craig Shergold If you happen to see a message on your local packet BBS about sending post cards to a dying child, you might wish to consider the following and perhaps even follow up on the BBS message. If you call the "Children's Make a Wish" foundation, you will find that they are not soliciting any form of card for Craig Shergold or anyone else. Better yet, if you call the Guinness people (US publisher is "Facts on File" @ 212-683-2244, ext. 336), you can get this same story confirmed. You will also find that they will no longer endorse or support any effort to break this record. Many years ago, Craig Shergold had a brain tumor, believed inoperable. He sought to set the Guinness record for get-well cards. The call was well-publicized, and he did, indeed set the record (consult a recent edition of the book--he has received in excess of 16 million cards to date; he officially set the record as of 17 Nov 1989). As part of this whole story, his plight caught the attention of John Kluge, the US billionaire, who paid for Craig to come to the US and receive specialized treatment. As a result, Craig has recovered completely from his tumor. He is also no longer seven, but well into his teens (you can see how out-of-date the request for cards is from this--it's like circulating a letter encouraging people to vote for Carter for President). The problem is that the mimeographed sheets and letters seeking cards for Craig have continued to be circulated. As a result, cards continue to pour in to the post office for Royal Marsden Hospital in England. Worse, the appeal has mutated into various other versions, such as an appeal for business cards, one for postcards, and another version that appeals for holiday cards. The Shergold family has publicly appealed many times that people cease to mail them cards and letters, and that no more appeals be made on their behalf. One easily accessible way to verify this is with the article on page 24 of the 19 July 1990 NY Times. People Magazine wrote an article about it on June 1, 1991, page 63. Even Ann Landers has carried an item on this [6/23/91], but people still keep trying to send cards. Both Guinness and Royal Marsden have repeatedly issued press releases asking people to stop circulating requests for cards, as they are creating an undue burden on both the hospital and the postal service. The Guinness people have discontinued the category to prevent this kind of thing from ever happening again, and are doing their utmost to kill any further mailings. The Royal Marsden Hospital is at a loss what to do with the cards that continue to arrive--most are being sold to stamp collectors and paper recyclers, and none go on to Craig. This appeal for Craig, as well as many urban legends, regularly appear on electronic bulletin boards around the world, and in many organizational newsletters and bulletins. It is both heartening and unfortunate that there are so many well-meaning people who continue to propagate these stories. It is too bad that so many people are unwilling to verify their information before passing such things along, especially when a simple phone call will suffice to do so. In this case, opening a recent copy of a book carried by nearly every library and bookstore would illuminate the situation. If you would still like to do something for a dying child, consider making a donation to a charity such as UNICEF or to the International Red Cross (Red Crescent, Red Magen David). Many thousands of children are dying daily around the world from disease and starvation, and countless millions more are suffering from the ravages of war, famine, disease, and natural disaster. Think how many of them might be helped by the millions of dollars in postage spent on cards to Craig Shergold... Also, I encourage you to save this announcement, in either electronic or hard copy form, and to post it to any bulletin board you've seen the original plea on. If you see it in the future, as you probably will, you can attach a copy of this announcement. Wouldn't it be great to finally kill this story, which spreads like a virus? - JBC] Forwarded by: Dr Jean-Bernard Condat Chaos Computer Club France [CCCF] B.P. 8005 69351 Lyon Cedex 08, France BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. PR Newswire: "Young Recipient of Millions of Greeting cards undergoes successful surgery." March 5, 1991, 585 words; 2. PR Newswire: "Requests for cards and letters for Craig forwarded to Make-A-Wish Foundation (Craig Shergold)." April 5, 1990, 350 words; 3. "Youth who set card record takes vacation." in: Sun Sentinel (FL), Nov. 6, 1990, page 17A, 158 words; 4. Rose BOCCIO: "Deluge of cards swamp sick boy, give him record." in: Sun Sentinel (FL), April 4, 1990, page 4B, 528 words; 5. Jane SEABERRY: "Boy gets more than get-well wishes: life virginia billionaire pays for his surgery." in: San Francisco Chronicle, March 22, 1991, page B3, 748 words; 6. "Get-well cards; enough already." in: San Francisco Chronicle, August 9, 1990, page B4, 538 words; 7. Ann LARDERS: "English Boy with tumor will be fine." in: Akron Beacon Journal (AZ), June 23, 1991, page E8, 643 words; 8. Jane SEABERRY: "Fairy-tale ending for get-well-card king." in: Akron Beacon Journal (AZ), March 21, 1991, page A1, 943 words; 9. David GROGAN: "Miracle in the mail; little Craig Shergold's recovery was in the cards; brain tumor patient goes for world record in get-well cards." People Weekly, vol. 35, page 63(2), June 10, 1991; 10. Robert ALBRECHT: "Get-well cards continue after "Guinness" record try has ended." in: Colombus Dispatch, May 3, 1991, page 8C, 494 words; 11. News Editors: "Make A Wish: Update on Craig Shergold and erroneous chain letter." March 4, 1992, 433 words; 12. "Don't keep those cards and letters coming, folks." in: Orlando Sentinel, June 20, 1990, page A6, 421 words; 13. Paula MONAREZ: "Well-wishers help sick boy attain guinness record." in: Daily News of Los Angeles, April 8, 1990, page L3, 563 words. ((Moderators note: The ease of electronic communication helps spread urban legends rather quickly. Despite subsequent disclaimers, they often continue to spread. Two recent examples include the "chocolate chip cookie recipe" and the "FCC modem tax". Perhaps somebody could write a short article on "urban legends and computer dissemination)). ------------------------------ Date: Fri, 15 May 92 08:22:40 -0400 From: sross@CRAFT.CAMP.CLARKSON.EDU(SUSAN M. ROSS) Subject: File 3--Freedom and Privacy in North American Cyberspace ((Moderators' note: Susan M. Ross is doing interesting research comparing Canadian and U.S. rights in cyberspace. She recently received a grant to pursue the topic, and we asked her to send a copy of the original proposal along for those interested in the topic. If you have ideas, bibliographic items or other information of interest, you should contact her directly)). Freedom and Privacy in Cyberspace, Accessed Through North America: Comparing and Contrasting the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United States Bill of Rights with respect to Computer-mediated Communication. Susan Mallon Ross Clarkson University BACKGROUND The Constitution of the United States of America (U.S. Constitution, U.S. Bill of Rights), as originally adopted and subsequently amended, does not explicitly extend constitutional protections (e.g. First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights) to citizens who employ or are affected by technologies its framers could not anticipate. Indeed, Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School is promoting a Constitutional amendment (Tribe, 1991) specifically to remedy this situation. It would read: This constitution's protections for the freedoms of speech, press, petition, and assembly, and its protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and the deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, shall be construed as fully applicable without regard to the technological method or medium through which information content is generated, stored, altered, transmitted or controlled. In contrast, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Canadian Charter) does guarantee freedom of expression in using "all media of communication" (Section 2-b). However, at least two other sections of the Canadian Charter could undermine this guarantee: Section 1, which makes the rights and freedoms the document guarantees subject to "reasonable limits" that "can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society," and Section 33, the "override " or "notwithstanding" clause, which allows Parliament or any province to override certain rights guaranteed by the charter. These qualifications seem to mean that, for the time being, even the "fundamental right" to freedom of expression is not inalienable. FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS This work focuses on several questions: 1) What is "cyberspace" (Gibson, 1984) and what are some core issues related to communicative freedom and privacy in the "cyberspace age" (Tribe, 1991)? 2) What has been the United States experience with issues of communicative freedom and privacy in cyberspace? (What legal issues have arisen? What other challenges to constitutionally protected rights seem likely? What cases have been tried and how have they been resolved? How are the access to and the use of cyberspace regulated? What governmental and private action is being taken to protect the rights of citizens who venture into cyberspace?) 3) What has been the Canadian experience with issues of freedom and privacy in cyberspace? 4) What are the major trans-border issues that have arisen (or are likely to arise) related to cyberspace, especially in the context of freer trade? For example, how may freer trade be implemented with respect to the products of the burgeoning, computer-mediated, information industry (products that both provide and require access to cyberspace) while protecting the constitutionally entrenched rights both of Canadian and U.S. citizens? One such issue is balancing: a) promoting freer trade, b) maintaining Canadian Cultural Security, as protected by the Broadcast Act, an act recently revised to include "all types of transmission to the public of visual and sound programming, whether or not they included transmission over the airwaves.... [The wording of the revised Broadcast Act explicitly includes transmission by] 'wire, visual or other electromagnetic system or any other optical or technical system'" (Creery), and c) still guaranteeing "freedom of expression." METHODOLOGY Cyberspace is a new frontier for a world that had perceived itself already to have encountered its last frontier. This work explores this new frontier to provide case-specific analysis focused to contribute towards answering the ambitious and important questions listed above. More specifically, the work involves the following tasks and processes: 1) Reviewing the constitutional histories, including precedent setting cases, of the United States and Canada related to communicative freedom and privacy in cyberspace (computer-mediated communication). 2) Reviewing relevant scholarship and applying it to answering the major questions listed above. 3) Monitoring evolving issues in the Canadian and United States press as well as through Canadian and U.S. computer hotlines and publications concerned with computer-mediated communication. 4) Corresponding (usually by electronic mail) with key explorers of the electronic frontier from both Canada and the United States. 5) Interviewing governmental officials in both nations. PROJECTED CONTRIBUTION OF THE WORK This project would provide a previously unavailable synthesis and interpretation of Canadian and U.S. perspectives on the application of constitutionally entrenched rights and freedoms to the electronic frontier labelled "cyberspace." To Canadian-U.S. business studies, in particular, it would contribute a comparative perspective related to the computer-mediated information industry; specifically, how North America's current partners in free trade constitutionally deal with private, governmental, and commercial uses of computer mediated communication. This study, therefore, would contribute insight into the manifest and nascent issues these differences raise in Canadian-U.S. relations, including our free trade partnership and, perhaps, the trilateral negotiations to broaden that partnership to include Mexico. SOURCES Borella, M. (1991). Computer Privacy vs. First and Fourth Amendment Rights. A paper presented at the annual meeting of the Speech Communication Association, Atlanta. (This paper resulted from an academic project for which the author of this abstract was the sponsor.) Creery, T. (1990). "The Burden of Broadcasting: Becoming all things to all political masters." Ottawa Citizen (22 May 1990, p. A11). Gibson, W. (1984). Neuromancer. New York: Ace Books. Mandel, M. (1989). The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of Politics in Canada, Toronto: Wall and Thompson. Tribe, L.H. (1991). "The Constitution in Cyberspace." Keynote Address at the First Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy: San Francisco. AUTHOR'S BIOGRAPHY Susan Mallon Ross is a faculty member in Technical Communications at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, U.S.A. Her doctorate in Communication and Rhetoric is from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, U.S.A. This work is supported by a Faculty Research Grant by the Canadian Embassy, Washington, D.C. and by a Research Grant from Clarkson University. ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 16 May 92 12:12:16 PDT From: jwarren@AUTODESK.COM(Jim Warren) Subject: File 4--PREXY CANDIDATE E-ADDRS & update re candidates' ONLINE forum This update includes the E-MAIL ADDRESSES for the major presidential campaigns, except the Bush campaign which does not appear to have a public e-address. ** Have you sent *your* request that they join an online presidential forum? ** Since the public is best-served by hearing from *all* the candidates, in one place and at one time, you might sent your requests to *all* the candidates --not just the one you personally favor. >From the ROSS PEROT campaign On Friday, May 15th, Perot campaign worker David S. Bush responded to the proposal for online debate(s) saying, "... The only official view is that we need to do it. No one is sure of what it should look like. We do know what the vision and mission of the Electronic Townhall is. There are no specifics. That's what I'm trying to put together now. I want to use the existing networks to gather people together and come up with a solution." [Perot campaign email: ] >From the JERRY BROWN campaign On Friday, May 8th, Sarah Gray from the Brown campaign's Computer Department called to say that the Brown campaign was commiting to participate. She followed this up with this email: > From autodesk! Fri May 8 21:32:37 1992 > To:, autodesk!jwarren > Uubject: Re: ... proposed online prexy-candidate debate > ... The Brown for President campaign would be glad to communicate with > Internet users in an online presidential candidate's forum. Please feel > free to distribute this official memo. > Sarah Gray, Computer Department, Brown for President campaign > I have requested that they verify that all responses will be posted over Brown's name, as being an official statement from the candidate. They are now trying to get time with Brown to discuss it and assure his approval. [ email:;; ] >From the ANDRE MARROU campaign On Saturday, May 9th, Steve Dasbach, the the Libertarian presidential campaign committee chair, called to say that the Marrou campaign was commiting to participate. As I am doing with all respondents, I requested a signed commitment on letterhead stationary. Per my request, they have sent a signed fax, fax-dated May 12th at 7:41, stating: ... "On behalf of Andre Marrou, we accept your invitation to participate in the on-line debate you outlined in your letter. "We understand that all postings are to be made over Andre Marrou's name, indicating that they are authorized statements by him. ... /s/ Bruce Baechler, Director of Operations" [] [Marrou campaign email: ] >From the PAT BUCHANAN campaign On Tuesday morning, May 12th, Hal Turner, who identified himself as "the point-man for their electronic campaign" called in response to an email copy of the proposal. After discussing why to do it on the Internet/USENET --widest possible exposure, access often free or very low-cost -- he said that he would "talk it up" to the campaign hierarchy. [Buchanan campaign email: ] [Clinton campaign email: ] [Bush campaign email: no public e-address known at this time ] Democracy is a Do-It-Yourself project Hope you have sent a fax and/or snailmail to the candidates urging them to participate in the proposed online prexy forum. I would expect them to join an online forum, *only* if they believe a great many people are interested. And, the forum will be of greatest value -- to everyone, including your favorite candidate -- if *all* the candidates participate, so requests should be sent to all the candidates (please request addresses and fax numbers from me, if you don't have them from the previous posting). Also, it would be helpful if you would let me know when you send your request to them. As I know more, you'll know more. :-) --jim Jim Warren, Electronic Democracy Initiative, 415-851-7075 -or- --- DISCLAIMER: These comments are my personal free speech, stated during my personal time, in personal discussion with citizens publicly assembled in a global electronic Hyde Park that spans perhaps a million company cafeterias and ultimately perhaps 15-million private living rooms or more. This is not a representation of views of any organization with which I am affiliated. < Between 4/30 and 5/9, I sent invitations to the better-known presidential < candidates, inviting them to participate in an ONLINE forum (on the Internet < and via USENET, for maximum exposure and access). They would be replying to < questions from reporters from major media, who would be accessible to < everyone on the net and with a parallel newsgroup for concurrent public < discussion. < This invitation was faxed and mailed to (alphabetically) Brown, Buchanan, < Bush, Clinton, Marrou and Perot. It has been reported in several major < newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and Dallas Morning News. < These are the responses that *I* have received, to date (the Houston < Chronicle of 5/3 also reported responses from the Bush and Clinton campaigns; < copy available upon request): ------------------------------ Date: Sat, 16 May 92 07:29:30 SST From: "Dr. Guy G. Gable, IFIP/Sec '92 Program Chair" Subject: File 5--FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR IFIP/SEC CONFERENCE '92 I would appreciate very much if the following announcement could be circulated to as many users of the network as possible. Thanks. Guy ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ THE IFIP/SEC'92 8th INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION SECURITY CONFERENCE May 27-29, 1992 Raffles City Convention Centre Singapore Organized by: Singapore Computer Society International Federation of Information Processing Technical Committee 11 Sponsored by: National Computer Board, Singapore Singapore Federation of the Computer Industry Microcomputer Trade Association (Singapore) EDP Auditors' Association, Singapore Chapter IEEE Singapore Section, Computer Chapter Data Processing Managers Association Official Hotel: Westin Stamford and Plaza Official Airline: Singapore Airlines Official Publication: Asia Computer Weekly Endorsing Publication: I.T. Times Managed by: HQ Link Pte Ltd THE CONFERENCE The purpose of the 1992 International Federation for Information Processing Security Conference (IFIP/Sec'92) is to provide a forum for the interchange of ideas, research results, and development activities and applications amongst academicians and practitioners in the information, computer and systems sciences. IFIP/Sec'92 consists of advance tutorials, an open forum, distinguished keynote speakers, and the presentation of high-quality internationally refereed papers. A high degree of interaction and discussion amongst Conference participants is expected, as a workshop-like setting will be promoted. IFIP/Sec'92 is organised by The International Federation for Information Processing, Technical Committee 11, on Security and Protection in Information Processing Systems, and The Singapore Computer Society. IFIP/Sec'92 is a non-profit activity funded primarily by registration fees. WHO SHOULD ATTEND The conference is intended for Computer Security Managers - Internal Auditors - Disaster Recovery Managers - Data Processing Managers - Computer Operations Managers - PC Managers - System Designers - Information Resource Managers - EDP Managers - Software Specialists - Hardware Specialists - Systems Analysts - Systems Planners - Chief Information Officers - IT Directors - MIS Managers - Office Automation Specialists - Engineering Services Specialists - Financial Managers/Controllers - Operations Managers - Administrative Managers - Company Secretaries. If you are interested in attending the conference or tutorials, please call (65) 534-3588, fax (65) 534-2300, or telex (RS 24603 MOLDC), HQ Link Pte Ltd in Singapore for further details. ------------------------------ Date: 20 May 92 18:52:50 EDT From: Gordon Meyer <72307.1502@COMPUSERVE.COM> Subject: File 6--BYU Hackers Busted The following news item appeared in the _Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner_ during the last part of April, first part of May 1992. The clipping was not submitted with an exact page/date reference. === TWO BYU COMPUTER HACKERS ARRAIGNED Provo [Utah] - Two Provo men accused of tapping into a Brigham Young University computer system face arraignment in district court May 22 on second-degree felonies. William Swinyard Jr. and Alexsander [sic] Radulovic, both 22, appeared in 4th circuit Court Thursday for a preliminary hearing. However, both opted to forego the hearing and have the case sent to district court. The two defendants allegedly used BYU computers to obtain credit histories on 122 people. ==== If any CuD readers have additional information on this case, particularly any details on the unclear reference to how the University computers were used to obtain information that presumably was on an outside system, please let us know. ------------------------------ Date: 10 May 92 20:51:52 EDT From: Gordon Meyer <72307.1502@COMPUSERVE.COM> Subject: File 7--GEnie Conference on "Virtual Reality" __________________________________________________________ -=(( The Public Forum * NonProfit Connection RoundTable ))=- -==((( GEnie Page 545 - Keywords PF or NPC )))==- -=((__________________________________________________________))=- Real-time Conference on Virtual Reality with Howard Rheingold (May 3, 1992) =================================================================== Copyright (C) 1992 by GEnie (R) and Public Forum*NonProfit Connection This file may be distributed only in its entirety and with this notice intact. This file is the transcript of a real-time on-line conference in GEnie's Public Forum with Howard Rheingold, author of VIRTUAL REALITY: The Revolutionary Technology of Computer-Generated Artificial Worlds--and How It Promises and Threatens to Transfrom Business and Society. Howard edits _The Whole Earth Review_ and consults with the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment. He has written for such publications as _The New York Times_, _Esquire_, _Playboy_ and _Omni_. His other (excellent!) books include _Tools for Thought_ and _Excursions to the Far Side of the Mind._ _Virtual Reality_ is published by Simon and Shuster. An electronic meeting place for friends, family and national "town meetings," GEnie is an international online computer network for information, education and entertainment. For under $5.00/month, GEnie offers over 50 special interest bulletin boards and unlimited electronic mail at no extra charge during evenings, weekends and holidays. GEnie is offered by GE Information Services, a division of General Electric Company. In the Public Forum*NonProfit Connection, thousands of people every day discuss politics and a wide range of social and nonprofit issues. A neutral arena for all points of view, the PF*NPC is presented by Public Interest Media, a nonprofit organization devoted to empowering people through the socially productive use of information and communication technology. For more information about GEnie or the Public Forum, call 1-800-638-9636 or send electronic mail to Future real-time conferences, all beginning at 9 p.m. ET, include: Steve Cisler, Apple Computer on data highways (May 10) Katie Hafner, author of Cyberpunk (May 24) Jerry Berman, Esq., Electronic Frontier Foundation (May 31) To sign up for GEnie service, call (with modem in HALF DUPLEX) 800-638-8369. Upon connection, type HHH. At the U#= prompt, type XTX88367,GENIE . The system will prompt you for information. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Welcome to the first in this month's series of RTCs on Technology and Society! Please check the schedule, posted in our Announcements topic (cat 1/topic 3) for the other events . . . These realtime conferences raise important issues for the future -- some of them already being discussed in BB Cat 7: Technology, Science and Society . . . You'll also find many excellent files in the Public Forum library, including a couple of articles posted with permission from the editor of The Whole Earth Review -- tonight's special guest, Howard Rheingold . . . For more than 10 years, Howard has been writing books and articles about "mind-amplifying" technologies. Although he questions "the possibility of accurately predicting the social impact of any new technology," (in _Tools for Thought_) . . . he's done a great job helping us think about the social transformations that may be provoked by new technology. I've invited Howard to say a few words of introduction and then . . . he'll answer questions and join in the discussion. When you finish typing, please type GA (for Go Ahead) to let us know that you're done. Three periods means . . . I'm not done talking; please wait a second. And now: here's Howard! Any introductory thoughts? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> Hello! I like a medium where my ability to type fast is rewarded. ;-) I guess the first thing I would like to say about VR is that all the travelling and talking and reading since I finished the book have changed some of my attitudes. I would say that I am more skeptical and less enthusiastic about the technology's potential than I was when I wrote the book. Howard, are there any particular aspects of VR you'd like us to focus on? <[Howard] PRESS11> One thing I have noticed is that VR is almost like a metaphor for technology for many people. This is, it is a way to talk about some of the hopes and fears we have about the way the world seems to be heading. In truth, the technology isn't going to affect most of us for years to come. I'd like to talk about the ethics of VR. I'm not sure what to do about it, but I find myself wondering about the potentially harmful applications, especially since the Gulf War used VR so successfully. <[..Ryan...] R.MACMICHAEL> From what I've heard, it is planned on being used to test-fly planes before they are built in order to anticipate problems... ... but how could that be done (the real world emulated so closely) in a way that humans couldn't pick up on them just as fast. ga <[Howard] PRESS11> Flight simulation is one of the roots of VR. Flight simulators, both civilian and military, are far more realistic (and expensive) than the Virtuality games or anything we are likely to see in arcades for the next decade or two. ga Ryan, follow up question? <[..Ryan...] R.MACMICHAEL> Yes... How soon would they be used for safety purposes on a more wide-scale basis? (in the way I mentioned above) ga <[Howard] PRESS11> Flight simulators have been used for decades. United Airlines has a HUGE flight simulator in, I think, Denver. Only the military use the full-tilt 3D goggles, but the view-through-the-window stuff is pretty impressive. GA Thanks, Ryan <[..Ryan...] R.MACMICHAEL> Thanks... <[Connie] C.RIFENBURG> What has made you more skeptical and less enthusiastic ...and what did you =think= was the potential before now... what do you believe =is= the potential NOW? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> I don't think that it is a good idea to blur the line between playing a video game and blowing up people. And I think that the medium, if perfected, will be a very powerful tool for mind control... After all, people decide who to elect and what to buy and how to live according to the images that we see on a tiny 2D television tube. How much more powerful will VR be? Are we really sure that the medical and design uses are worth the other uses? Do we really really need this stuff? Perhaps we ought to spend more time looking at the toxicity of the environment, and preserving the cultures and biomass that use plants as healing agents, instead of creating 3D tools for irradiating tumors. In regard to the humanities at universities, I understand that there is a center for the arts in Banff that is doing good work. And Carl Loeffler at Carnegie Mellon is doing some stuff with the arts and VR. GA <[Connie] C.RIFENBURG> So you think it's like the quandry similar to what the A-Bomb created? Good/Bad: How can we manage it? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> Yes, I think we, as a species, ought to take a closer look at the natural world that we seem to be destroying. I'm not so sure that we will be altogether happy in a totally simulated world when all the real trees are dead. ga Thanks Connie. Dave Baldwin, your question? <[Dave] D.BALDWIN8> Other than the obvious military and video game applications, where would you... anticipate VR technology showing up in the next decade or so? Anywhere useful,... Or will it just be a novelty? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> 3D CAD pretty soon. Autodesk and IBM will probably both have products out next year. The design industry will be the first to have a crack at it. Scientific visualization and telerobotic control are the other two fields that will have tools within the next couple years. ga Because so many of you want to ask questions of Howard, I'm gonna skip the follow up questions until we've gone around once . . . Bart, your question? <[Dave] D.BALDWIN8> how much more efficient will it be, though? and what about the cost/benefits? <[bart] B.PREECS> Howard, do you see VR falling under the control of the same people/organizations that control our existing media system Ga <[Howard] PRESS11> Regarding efficiency -- if you have a design problem that involves visualizing a complex 3D space, then even today's crude level might be a useful tool. Good question. We'll have to see how the architects and designers react. . . Yes, I think ALL technologies that create power and wealth are likely to fall under control of those who recognize that, and who already have the power and wealth to seize control of the new media . . . Are we really sure that hobbyists and artists and benign folks are going to be the ones who use VR to the largest effect? Or will it be a weapon and mind-control device? ga Bart, thanks! Rick D, your question? What would the hardware requirements be for the VR systems of, say, the next three to five years? Would a standard PC of today work for the systems you mentioned might be released next year?? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> The cost of chips seems to be coming down. A 486 engine, for example, is pretty affordable now, and you can do some stuff with it. But you really want ten times the power. . . The transputer architectures, where you put a bunch of chips together, have some promise. I think people will be able to do some fun stuff with desktop VR in the next few years, but the resolution and reaction speed won't be great. ga Ric Helton, your question? <[Ric] GRAFFITI> A perfect application of VR hardware (and one that is likely to speed its development) is "telepresence" (being somewhere else through remote control, complete with sight & sounds). How long will it take telepresence to become commonplace? How far will it trickle down to "mundane" occupations? (Not astronautics, nuclear waste management or the like.) GA <[Howard] PRESS11> Don't expect anything affordable and high-res in the telepresence area for five or ten or fifteen years. There are a lot of problems to be solved, and a lot of expensive hardware is necessary ga Thanks, Ric, Dave Messer, your question? <[Dave] D.MESSER> It seems to me that VR also has a potential to help the environment by reducing pollution, how big an impact do you thing "telecommuting" will have with VR? ga <[Howard] PRESS11> I think we will all be dead from toxic chemicals, ozone depletion, and the world's largest traffic jam by the time VR has any impact. In other words, I think the promise of VR telecommuting is bogus if you look at it in context of the problems. If Time/Warner is doing anything, it is strictly exploratory. Unless they are going into the theme park business. Disney and Fujitsu, for example, are creating stuff that we will see in theme parks in a few years, but not at home. Two limitations: screen resolution, and computing power, are hard. But you can't forget that good software takes a while to create. When LCD screens are ten times as good and one tenth the price, we'll see some action. When you can get CRAY power on a desktop for less than $1000. Frank, your question <[Frank] F.DUROSS> We have heard the term electronic LSD many times, how might VR be used as a form of mind expansion? How might it be abused? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> I go into it in my book. I think the electronic LSD argument is a red-herring for the near future. People are already incredibly addicted to television, a truly stupefying drug. It will take decades to create electronic LSD. The worst abuse model, as I mentioned, is television. Withdrawal from the real world ga Phil, your question? <[PHIL] P.VOYSTOCK> Can you be more specific regarding your fear of mind control applications with VR technology? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> "Perception is Reality." Willie Horton elected George Bush. A videotape burned down LA. Technologies that can manipulate emotions via perceptions are technologies for manipulating beliefs, and thus for controlling people politically. If television works so well with such little involvement, what will VR do? ga M.DAVIS, your question? I've devoured CQ/Whole Earth Review for many years. Thanks for the great resource. I've heard tell of VR potentially being used in biomedical/genetic engineering on a molecular scale. What are some of the high points/dangers of these developments? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> Actually, I am much more interested in and concerned with developments in artificial life research. But that's another topic. Look for a LOT on that in the Fall, 1992, WER. VR is being used as in interface to microengineering, which COULD lead to nanodevices. A whole new ball game if that's true. It will take years. ga David G, your question? <[david] D.GALBRAITH5> where is VR design work/discussion happening outside of the military-industrial complex? <[Howard] PRESS11> IBM announced a joint venture with a small British company. Fujitsu working on entertainment applications. Various projects at computer companies. A couple dozen small start-ups. It is healthy but not huge, exept in Japan, where significant money -- tens of millions per year -- is still being spent. ga Joe, your question? What is the role of VR's money-making potential in determining how it is developed? ga <[Howard] PRESS11> When one company or industry demonstrates that using VR will give it competitive advantage, it will drive development; when one kind of application makes economies of scale effective for components, it drives developments in other fields. We have yet to see an example of either. The next five years will tell the tale. ga Bil. Swartz, your question? Having recently picked up your book 'VR' to hopefully find some answers but not having time to more than crack the cover I find it erie that you are here to ask in person! I would like to know more about the current state of feed back devices. The bulky feedback devices such as that ARM... ouch. How much got thru? ga Bart, you had a question. <[bart] B.PREECS> Howard, in *your* opinion, what is the most *useful* thing VR could do that we couldn't do with out it? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> The most useful thing, I think, is scientific visualization. Just as a microscope made modern medicine possible because biologists could SEE germs, I think the use of VR to visualize things like the way the immune system works could help give scientists important new insights. ga Phil, your question? <[PHIL] P.VOYSTOCK> How long did it take to reasearch/write your book? <[Howard] PRESS11> I travelled and interviewed and did a lot of reading for about a year, and spent about another year writing and filling in other interviews and reading. ga Dave M, your question? <[Dave] D.MESSER> Do you think that VR technology should be controller or suppressed due to the dangers involved? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> No, I don't think "controlled" or "suppressed" are the right words. I don't think we even HAVE the right words. We need to find ways, as a society, to have discussions about how to guide technological development. I trust neither the government nor private enterprise, given the history of the past decades. . . Although I don't have the answer, I do believe that it is important for citizens to inform ourselves about the potential consequences of technology, and to raise these questions. Unfortunately, our society can't even handle discussions of basic human rights or environmental dangers versus economics. The best I can do is write books and talk to people and encourage them to ask questions. ga Adrn, your turn <[Adrn] A.DEMARAIS> The sci-fi book Ender's Game was about a child prodigy being taught how to wage a war in simulators, only to discover that it was all real and he had destroyed a civilization . Is this what you fear VR might become? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> Ender's Game is one real fear, yes. I think it is entirely possible, given the way military uses of technology have evolved, and how well VR did in the Gulf. War is bad enough, but what if we don't know whether we are playing a game or blowing up real people somewhere? ga Dave Galbraith, your turn! <[david] D.GALBRAITH5> Do you know of any specific public access forums for individuals involved with VR using TODAY's level of computing hardware? GA <[Howard] PRESS11> You mean places to talk about it? There is the VR conference on the WELL, and the usenet newsgroup, sci.virtual-worlds, both of which have a lot of We're going to end the formal RTC now. I want to thank you all for some great questions and to thank Howard for taking time (from his next book and his garden) to answer them . . . We can continue to chat informally, and Howard, before you go, I wonder if you . . . <[Howard] PRESS11> Dinner is awaiting me! Thanks for the questions, and keep on asking them! <[Howard] PRESS11> ** has left. -----# Participants #----- <[Adrn] A.DEMARAIS> <[bart] B.PREECS> <[Connie] C.RIFENBURG> <[Dave] D.BALDWIN8> <[david] D.GALBRAITH5> <[Dave] D.MESSER> <[Frank] F.DUROSS> <[Ric] GRAFFITI> <[Missy] M.ALLEN18> <[PHIL] P.NICHOLLS2> <[PHIL] P.VOYSTOCK> <[Howard] PRESS11> <[..Ryan...] R.MACMICHAEL> <[Tom] SHERMAN> ______________________________________________________ | | | The Public Forum * NonProfit Connection RoundTable |______ |______________________________________________________| | | Sysops' GE Mail: PF$ RTC Sunday 9pm EDT: MOVE 545;2 |______ |___________________________________________________________| | | News, Current Events, Government, Societal Issues, Nonprofits | |________________________________________________________________| # # # ------------------------------ End of Computer Underground Digest #4.23 ************************************


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