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Re: on the nature of trust

>On Thu, 12 Feb 1998, Carl Ellison wrote:
>-> >From: Ed Gerck <egerck@laser.cps.softex.br>
>-> >To: MCG <mcg-talk@novaware.cps.softex.br>
>-> >Subject: Towards a real-world model of trust
>-> >Today's protocols such as X.509, PGP and others, take a leap of
>-> >on what trust is and start by defining means to convey it. Such
>-> >is not even empirical, it is indeed arbitrary. To justify this leap of
>-> >ignorance, standards such as X.509 have statements to the effect that
>-> >such will be defined in the CPS, which is not a part of this
document." --
>-> >as if assumptions could be defined after the theorems that use them.
>-> Ed,
>-> that was a beautifully written paragraph!

I don't think its quite fair to describe the developers of X.509 to be
leaps of ignorance. Unless of course one is claiming that we are all poor
ignorants in the face of the great unknown.

If on the other hand the author was accusing others of an ignorance of
which he himself was not affected by then the statement sounds more
like flame bait.

The whole point of layered abstraction is to ignore the inessential
details. The great advance in PKI came when the X.509 group
STOPPED attempting to dictate trust policies and left people to
develop them for themselves. PGP was a key part of this process
providng a timely and well chosen rebuttal of the monolithic ideas
embodied in PEM.

Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky but the sort of technical
discussion I tend to enjoy is when someone takes some idea that
has hitherto appeared to be complex and makes it appear to be
simple, comprehensible. Like listening to Feynman lecture.

I'm trying to follow the definition of knowledge employed here.
There is in fact a very simple definition of knowledge available,
knowledge is information that can be used. This definition is usefull
because it conforms to most 'common sense' definitions of

According to this definition knowledge certainly can be exchanged,
indeed I am not aware of any statement by Shannon to the effect
that it cannot.

The statement that there is absolute knowledge is followed by a series
of curious examples. If one is serious about claiming that there is
absolute knowledge in the philosophical sense then surely the
question of number is a valid one? If so then assertions of absolute
knowledge of those numbers appears premature.

The problem posed cannot be answered within a system which
recognizes only 'absolute', objective knowledge and subjective
knowledge. Try looking at the work of living philosophers such
as Habbermass, I believe that intersubjective is the term you are
trying to define.