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Re: Trust vs. accountability

Ed Gerck wrote:
> So, this also highlights that accountability does not imply trust, whereas
> before we saw that trust did not imply accountability.
> So, that's why accountability has no place in the focused layer we are
> working in -- and we are focusing exactly so that we can deal with the
> least number of variables we need to.
> Cheers,
> Ed

This philosophical discussion is fascinating. But as someone interested
in building products, I'd like to see some discussion on the real world
application of these concepts. 
It seems to me that the whole SPKI movement got started on the premise
that, for e-commerce, trust is pretty well irrelevant, and what you need
is accountability. Whereas in non-commerce environments like
interpersonal communication, and (the extreme example) warfare, what you
need is trust, and accountability is pretty well irrelevant.

Examples: in accepting a credit card payment, the merchant is not really
interested in considering whether he trusts the customer or not. He
cares that the credit card company makes good on the payment. (How many
sales clerks actually check your signature? How many would have the
moral courage to decline the sale if they smelled a rat?) The credit
card company also is less interested in "trust" than in quantifiable
risk: what is their expected profit from this customer, versus expected
risk. Does the risk profile for this customer fit the interest rate and
expected fraud model?

Extreme example: drug deals. No-one trusts anybody else. But plenty of
business gets done. Accountability is everything.

Warfare: you make a binary decision on whether to trust the authenticity
of the message or not. It's all about trust. If the message is bogus,
and causes you to order the Charge of the Light Brigade, accountability
is irrelevant.


Bill Buffam
Unisys, Malvern PA

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