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New twists, was Re: No false holographs
On Mon, 30 Mar 1998, George Ross wrote:
> Ed Gerck wrote:
>> But, and here you should really abandon such use, the name
>> "holograph" is totally misleading for "a document wholly in the
>> handwriting of its author or the handwriting itself" because a true
>> "holographic" property of an object has the characteristic that any
>> part of the document can represent the whole object -- which is
>> clearly NOT the case here.
>I think you'll find it's established legal terminology, at least in some
>jurisdictions. Indeed, in Scots law someone signing a typewritten or
>printed document can dispense with the need for witnesses by handwriting the
>words "adopted as holograph" above their signature. Handwritten documents
You (and the other lawyers that have been kindly enlighting me on
that) are correct and I was being too narrowly focused. The word
"holograph" has taken a whole new dimension (literally) in recent
times and that has biased me too much.
Now: two new twists.
1.Holographic property is preserved also in holographs
In a sense, as I pondered on the subject, maybe the word "holograph"
would make perfect sense as applied even by a physicist to designate
a document wholly in the handwriting of the author ... because if
you shred it to pieces, still you could detect the author's
handwriting from one piece and hence link it with some degree of
confidence to the person that actually wrote it.
This is a true "holographic" property as defined in laser physics
for a hologram because not only can the hologram represent the 3D
aspect of the object (ie, with different perspective views as a
function of the observer's position) but also and most importantly a
hologram can represent the whole object even if shred to pieces.
This is strikingly different to a photo where, if shred to pieces,
each part of the photo does NOT represent the whole object but that
particular part of it.
BTW, the counterpart of a photo (ie, not a hologram) is also present
here, because so would happen with a "non-holographic" document (eg,
typewritten) and just signed by the author. If, like a photo, it is
shred to pieces, you could say nothing about a person's presumed
authorship from the typewritten part, of course.
But the similiarity does not end there. In a hologram, the only
noticeable problem you see when the hologarm is shred to pieces is a
reduction in the observation angle (and, some grainess). The whole
object is there but it's like looking at it through a smaller window,
where you can't enjoy the same wide range of different perspective
angles to see it as if you see it from a panoramic window. This means
that you could for example, misidentify an object if you depend on a
sharp wide range of side views to distinguish it from another similar
object. For a "non-holographic" document, you also have a reduction
on your identification capability, of course, because you have less
data to compare with the presumed author's handwriting.
But, one property does not correspond and that is content. A
holographic document (ie, legally) will not be much useful if shred
to pieces and just one piece is recovered -- regarding its content.
A hologram, OTOH, would still allow the whole content to be
2. Digital signatures are not holographic.
Clearly, because if you shred the document to pieces then you cannot
check it's authenticity by the signature of it. As anyone that uses
e-mail notices once in a while ...
3. Lame excuse -- strong motivation
The reason for my previous too miopic biasing on this subject (which
may explain my initial lack of empathy for the use of holograph in
the legal sense, while not being more than a lame excuse) is that I
have been working for some years now on a quantum mechanical
cryptographic system which allows digital signatures to be
holographic in the full meaning of physics.
Which, thanks to this discussion, I now see that it is not only a new
digital signature system as I have been thinking, which also
immediately solves such problems that may need MIME, armored-ASCII or
other tricks to protect digital signatures. It indeed recovers a nice
3D-world property of signatures which was entirely lost in the
The new system also allows a completely different encryption
technology, which mixes steganography with cryptography. I will be
releasing a public account of this, shortly.
Thank you all for enlighting me on the legal use of holographs and
may I offer my remarks #1 and #2 as my techno-legal contribution in
Dr.rer.nat. E. Gerck email@example.com
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