OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Leviathan

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  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Idiot Savant,

    I'll vote for any party which goes after our spies with a red-hot castration tool.

    All the spies I know personally are women, so that shouldn't bother them in the slightest.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    provided one doesn’t care to check it for correlation with reality

    Even if one cared to, one can't. Because if there actually was some oracle that could tell us how much terrorism there is that we're missing, we'd use that and forget about the data mining.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney,

    Hobbes Leviathan " He that complaineth of injury from his sovereign, complaineth of that whereof he himself is author and therefore not to accuse any man but himself " I have finally got the link that is what Key thinks every time someone accuses him of anything..".no its you not me !"

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    In a place where there was an actual terrorist/insurgency campaign going on, like 80's Northern Ireland or Iraq today, you could reasonably feed such a system with (historical) collected intelligence and use actual incidents as "training data".

    When the number of incidents tends to zero, that process becomes a lot less useful.

    (Mind you, all intelligence is often less than useful in predicting one's opponents actions. See John Keegan, Intelligence in War - even the level of knowledge available through Ultra didn't help most WW2 generals, with the exception of the Atlantic anti-submarine campaign, where the Germans were following repeated similar tactics using central C3, which the Allies had of course substantial visibility into).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    It's kinda obvious, really. Intelligence is really only hugely useful if some antagonist doesn't know you've got it, or can get it. They can just as easily feed false intelligence, which, if believed, has a negative effect, and doesn't even involve the antagonist actually doing anything. We had a prime example on Tuesday. You can cost an industry millions just by saying you'll poison it. Endless millions of dollars of this datamining budget can be wasted by people just sending bullshit terrorist threats around to bogus people, particularly if they send it encrypted just weakly enough that a lot of supercomputer time could actually crack it. If they want to really challenge the supercomputers, they could just send files that are full of random bytes, which are then strong encrypted. These would not only be uncrackable, they'd also be uncompressable, unindexable, and unsearchable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Lawrence Serewicz,

    Keith,
    Thanks for a thought provoking post. I have posted a response on my site that offers a different perspective on the issue. Perhaps, we are paying too low of price for the Leviathan and what it provides. If we paid a higher price, we might think that it had failed to deliver what it promised.
    https://lawrenceserewicz.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/a-response-to-keith-ng-on-hobbess-leviathan/
    I would be interested in your views and comments on it.

    Thanks

    Lawrence

    northeast UK • Since Feb 2012 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Lawrence Serewicz,

    My only comment, Lawrence, was that your first paragraph's segments referring to "Western Christendom" and what Christ would or wouldn't do, made me extremely dubious about where the rest of it was going to go.

    For anyone else who might be tempted, as I was, to read no further, I will say that that's the only specifically religious reference in there, so if you find general discussion of dead philosophers interesting, read further without fear.

    I am not one of those people, so I couldn't tell whether the rest of the piece was simplistic, or whether I was just prejudiced after the Christ bit, or whether I just found it dull because I find most of that sort of thing (though not Keith Ng's piece, fortunately) duller than gluten-free dairy-free pizza.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    defining features of liberal democracies, a feature which set them apart from police states. It was important because it set clear boundaries on state power;

    The "state" in many countries stepped out of bounds a while ago. The question is how do we as subjects of any state (which are after all just people who fool themselves into thinking they are doing a job) get it back to being an intergral part of our lives, and in some cases a helping hand, and not an all-consuming beast?
    Donkey and his mates dont have an answer. They are just lackeys for the beast.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    @Lucy, it seemed like an entirely uncritical summary of Hobbes position, rather than godbothering. Which is not what philosophical analysis is really meant to be about. I couldn't really agree with it. From what I could make out amongst the long abstractions Lawrence is pretty much saying that we should put up with being spied on because the sovereign is doing it. Which is what Hobbes might have said. Which is why, in turn, I disagree with Hobbes about most of his political views. They are simplistic, as you note. On this, Lawrence is being accurate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • sean mahoney, in reply to BenWilson,

    Hobbes fascinates and disturbs me in equal measure..to be fair to Lawrence you probably could have written more about God in relation to Hobbes Leviathan as he himself spends far too much of the book writing about scripture et al ...

    northland • Since Mar 2015 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to sean mahoney,

    The irony being that at the time it was considered quite an irreligious work, since he opposed the idea of ecclesiastical power separate from the sovereign. But his real contribution was the idea of contract theory. I personally despise contract theory, but have to acknowledge its influence. To me, the whole problem with it is that it fundamentally misunderstands what a contract is – it requires 3 parties – the two making the contract, and an enforcing party, the legal system. You can’t make contracts with the sovereign the way he describes because there is no body over the top of both of you enforcing it. You are powerless to enforce your contract on the sovereign and they are omnipotent to make any change they like to it. What he is talking about is more of a treaty than a contract.

    This is all quite aside from the major point that a contract actually requires you to sign it, to agree to it. This is not the case with the social contract he was talking about. He claimed that the agreement was made long ago as humans emerged from the “state of nature”, and then extended this fictitious contract for all time, and for all people.

    The best cut down of it is succinct: The social contract isn’t worth the paper that it’s not written on. It’s used as a philosophical excuse for taking away rights, by claiming you (or perhaps some inspecific long dead ancestor) made a contract handing those rights over. I think it’s a pretty stink idea really. It only actually makes any sense when powers are separated, quite the opposite of Hobbes schema. It is conceivable to contract to the state if the legal system is separate to the authority of the sovereign. But does anyone? No, which is why the idea is just a philosophers dream.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to andin,

    The “state” in many countries stepped out of bounds a while ago. The question is how do we as subjects of any state (which are after all just people who fool themselves into thinking they are doing a job) get it back to being an intergral part of our lives, and in some cases a helping hand, and not an all-consuming beast?
    Donkey and his mates dont have an answer. They are just lackeys for the beast.

    It brings to mind this 2004 piece from The Stranger:

    In November 1960, a black 6-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges entered the newly desegregated William Frantz Public School in New Orleans. In reaction to her admission, white parents withdrew their kids from Ruby's class and she completed the first grade alone, with instruction from one teacher and support from a child psychiatrist. Ruby's walk to class on the first day of school inspired Norman Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With. In this painting (one of Rockwell's best, as far as we are concerned), a very black Ruby Bridges is escorted to school by four big white U.S. marshals. The image is powerful because it represents the federal government as an institution and enforcer of reason. The white bigots of New Orleans can complain, bitch, and threaten the lives of black boys and girls all they want, but in the end the federal government steps in to ensure that the rights of every American are protected.

    This image of the federal government is now in a coma. The lawmaking bodies that are clustered in Washington, D.C. (the Senate, the House, the Justice Department, the Supreme Court, the White House), no longer form the enlightened center from which reason and justice emanate. During the civil rights era, the federal government could claim to at least aspire to this transcendental order (the Great Society, the War on Poverty, the Voting Rights Act of 1965), but not today. Since the beginning of the 21st century, Washington, D.C., has exerted a force that is not progressive (as epitomized by Rockwell's painting) but oppressive. This is not an exaggeration. For example, the sole reason why the state of California--or more accurately, the cities of California through the agency of the state--turned to its own citizens to establish funding for stem cell research is because the federal government, in the form of the reelected Bush administration, holds a profoundly backward position on the matter.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to BenWilson,

    It's kinda obvious, really. Intelligence is really only hugely useful if some antagonist doesn't know you've got it, or can get it.

    Well, John Key has said that they don't do it so all the "Terrorists" can keep on sending those un-encrypted eMails with all their secrets and plots and the Government won't know anything about it because they don't collect anything, honest!.
    It is such a cunning plan you could pin a tail on it and call it a donkey.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    For anyone else who might be tempted, as I was, to read no further, I will say that that’s the only specifically religious reference in there, so if you find general discussion of dead philosophers interesting, read further without fear.

    Hobbes was fond of his dram...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

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