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Real-time Conference on Cyberpunk
(May 24, 1992)
(C) 1992 by GEnie (R) and Public Forum*NonProfit Connection
This file may be distributed only in its entirety
and with this notice intact.
CYBERPUNK: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier has intrigued
everyone from William (Neuromancer) Gibson to Mitch (Lotus Development)
On May 24 at 9pm ET, author Katie Hafner joined us to talk about the
social consequences of computer networks and the communities that have
grown up around them. The government has both raided local BBSs and
solicited proposals for a "weaponized virus." What rules of the road
would you make for computer networks? Former news editor of Data
Communications magazine, Katie was correspondent for Business Week
specializing in technology and computers. A graduate of the University
of California at Santa Barbara, with an M.A. from Columbia University
School of Journalism, she's now working on a book about German
reunification. The New York Times' John Markoff is co-author of
This RTC is the third in the Public Forum's month-long program on
Technology and Society. Our next RTC is May 31. And don't miss lively
discussion of Science, Technology and Society in bulletin board category
7, and check out the files on technology and society in our library.
See Cat 7/Topic 1 for details.
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<SHERRY.PF> I'd like to welcome everyone to the RTC. Katie, why
don't you say a few words and introduce yourself.
<[Katie] PRESS11> let's see... john markoff (my husband) and i wrote
cyberpunk over a period... of about three years and
it came out last summer. but the book isn't cheap, so
luckily, the papberback is coming out next month
let's see...what else?....oh yes, now i'm living in
berlin... most of the time, working on a second book.
<SHERMAN> Let me explain the process here . . . Before we get
started, a word about the process . . . At the
beginning, only Katie and people asking questions
will be able to talk so that everyone gets a turn . .
If you have a question, type /RAI to raise your
hand. I'll call on you in order. Please type your
question, but DON'T hit <return> to send it. When
you're called on, THEN hit <return> to send your
question quickly . . . so we'll have time for more
questions . . . It's good to use three periods if you
have more to say and to put GA for "go ahead" at the
end of a final phrase . . . So let's see those
/RAIsed hands and I'll start calling on you! GA
<[Darryl] D.JENT> Katie, did you actually meet Kevin Mitnick & the
others in your book ga
<[Katie] PRESS11> yes. i met everyone in the book. the only one who
didn't cooperate with the book was kevin... kevin is
the hacker we wrote about in the first section of the
book... a member of an l.a. gang of phone phreaks and
hackers called the roscoe gang... he wanted to be
paid to talk to us, and i explained to him (and his
grandmother, who was working as his agent...) that
journalists, for obvious ethical reasons, do not (if
they're good journalists, that is)... pay sources fo
<[Gene] G.STOVER> When do you think cyberspace will be available to the
general public? What part will NREN and ISDN play in
<[Katie] PRESS11> it already is... the more bandwidth, the more
<SHERMAN> After a few more people have had a chance to ask
questions . . . I'll give everyone a second or third
or fourthchance . . . <grin> Richard, your question?
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> Who was the publisher for each edition?
<[Katie] PRESS11> simon & schuster did the hardcover, and an imprint of
S&S... called Touchstone is doing the paperback. ga
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> Who was your editor at the publishing house. (Sorry
for my unfamiliarity with the commands)
<[Katie] PRESS11> my editor? a very nice guy who doesn't know a lot
about technology named Bob Bender ga
<SHERRY.PF> Katie, I read _The Cuckoo's Egg_, and was fascinated
-- and appalled. Have The Powers That Be become any
more security conscious, or at least any more willing
to listen in the event something like that happens
<[Katie] PRESS11> it's still pretty bad, security-wise out there...
there are lots of loopholes. everywhere. ga
< eric] E.SHCHNEIDER> did he give you permission to write about him ..... m
<[Katie] PRESS11> no. no one gave us permission. we're journalists, not
movie producers. ga
<[Andrea] A.DUDA> We read about the really sensational cases of
hackers. How much of a problem are they overall? And
in trying to limit their activities, do we lose more
than we gain (since we limit other, legitimate, users
<[Katie] PRESS11> i think that the press reports that blow the hacking
incidents out of proportion.... do a real disservice
to society... that is, i think that now the public at
large has an exaggerated fear of hackers. in the
book... we tried to write very realistically about
what really happened... and i do think that we're
treading aline between restricting access too much
and leaving systems too wide open. ga
<[Darryl] D.JENT> Katie, What was your feelings about the chaos club in
<[Katie] PRESS11> i like them a lot... they're very different from
hackers in the united states, and that was kind of
<[Darryl] D.JENT> How much of their activities did you get to witness
<[Katie] PRESS11> wau holland, the founder of chaos, is an old 60's
radical, and a liberatarian who's categorically
opposed to authority ga
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Katie, did you see Darryl's second qeustion -- how
much of their activities did you get to witness?
<[Katie] PRESS11> oops. sorry... yeah. i hung out with pengo in berlin
for several weeks... and of course i witnessed quite
a bit... he was good (at hacking, that is), but more
of a talker, really, than anything else... the really
talented one in that group was probably markus hess,
the one who was in the berkeley computers and who
gave cliff stoll such a heart attack... and in the
end, they all got scared and ratted on each other and
three of them went to jail (well, hess's parents
bailed him out) ga
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Katie, who do you think is going to draw that line
between too little restriction and too much? What
role does the public play? ga
<[Katie] PRESS11> i guess we have to draw the line... i mean, we are
all sitting in cyberspace right now, and we're pretty
much respecting the rules of the road... and if we
want to keep the feds from telling us what we can and
cannot do in cyberspace then we have to come up with
rules that are acceptable to us and to them. ga
<[Andrea] A.DUDA> How do you think the "rules of the road" will change
when commercial firms become more evident with NREN?
Are they more concerned about security than
<[Katie] PRESS11> in a way it's too bad because anything that goes
commercial takes on a formal flavor that can be
restrictive... but that's not always the case... but
yes, they are concerned about security, particularly
because of all the security firms out there telling
them they should be. ga
<[Andrea] A.DUDA> One of the things I like about the Internet is being
able to go to various computers for information. Do
you think the whole system will become more
restrictive to accommodate the commercial firms?
<[Katie] PRESS11> new technology such as cryptography... will tend to
make commercialization work because it will make
breaking into systems more difficult. ga
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Katie, would you say something about the differences
between European and US regulations governing
security and privacy -- and the potential for
problems with the European Community?
<[Katie] PRESS11> the europeans have always (like in all things) been a
little bit behind the u.s.... in hacking laws. the
most interesting thing about it is that as soon as a
country makes it illegal to break into computers...
then the hacking drops precipitously (or maybe the
underground goes deeper)... the international folks
at the ec are already trying to come up with uniform
laws governing computer security throughout the
european community. yawn. ga
<[Phillip] P.MAY2> katie, do you feel there is a greater potential for
abuse of systems from "insiders", i.e. employees of
companies who implement the systems, or outsiders
like those described in you r book .? ga
<[Katie] PRESS11> of course there is... it's pretty widely known that
almost all of the white-collar crime out there that
uses computers and is most expensive to business is
committed by insiders... but companies get very
embarrassed by that... and they tend not to report
those crimes... they'd rather report crimes that seem
to be committed by juvenile delinquents... not their
own people! ga
<[Darryl] D.JENT> What is nren & Katie what is the new book about. More
hackers or what?... I loved your first book, read it
in two days ga
<[Katie] PRESS11> national research and education network, designed to
send data above a gigabit... and tie all the nation's
supercomputer centers together and it's federally
funded. the book i'm working on now... is about a
particular house in gemrany. just over the glienicker
bride (where all the spies used to be exchanged)...
in berlin. nothing to do with computers.
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Darryl, check out the article from the Whole Earth
Review about data highways; it's in our file library
(with permission, of course :-) Darryl, follow up
<[Darryl] D.JENT> Sounds interesting still, I'll thanks
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> Stock exchanges and currency exchanges are close to
24 hour world-wide operation. How possible will it be
for insiders to undetectable manipulate the
<[Katie] PRESS11> quite possible. have you heard about the $170
million or so that disappeared mysteriously from
volkswagen's books?... this happened a few years
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> No. I haven't heard the VW story. I think the
potential for financial hacking is enormous GA
<[Katie] PRESS11> i think you're absolutely right... and i think we
(the public) only hear about a very small fraction of
the stuff that goes on. ga
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Before we move into open discussion, I want to take a
second to . . . thank all of you for your question
and, especially, . . . to thank Katie for joining us!
<[Katie] PRESS11> it was fun! sorry about all my typing blunders :-)
<[Tom] SHERMAN> And now for the winners of our contest . . . Thanks
to Simon & Schuster, the publishers of CYBERPUNK, for
donating four copies of the book to our contest
winners. Thanks to everyone for submitting such
imaginative entries!. . . The envelope please . . .
For the best scenarios describing constructive uses
of hacking, T.CAMPBELL11 and M.VANCE1. And for
destructive uses, S.CURTISIII1 and D.TAMPLIN.
Congratulations to Tim, Vance, Stan and David! I'll
now open the room so that all of us can type . . .
<[Tom] SHERMAN> No one counts typing blunders, Katie, not in here!
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> RTC spell-checkers. The next cyber-frontier! <g>
<[Andrea] A.DUDA> Are the contest winners all in one place where we can
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Yes, the contest entries are in Cat 7/Topics 16 and
17, except . . . for one that was sent by e-mail
because the author thought it too dangerous to post
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Katie, what do you think about the FBI's interest in
legislation requiring the phone companies to make
digital phone transmission accessible to them? (Did
you see Marc and Janlori on Koppel's program the
<[Katie] PRESS11> it's the stupidest thing i've ever heard of. it will
never work... people will just buy cheap encryption.
<[Darryl] D.JENT> Katie, have you meet meet William Gibson & How
surprised are you at the way his books have become
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Hmmm, say a little more about that, would you?
<[Katie] PRESS11> i've talked to him on the phone. i'd like to meet
him, though. he's extremely tall, i hear ... but what
part has become reality? ga
<[Fomalhaut] J.PAXSON> Darryl, pray that the world itself does not become
<[Katie] PRESS11> you're not kidding.
<[Darryl] D.JENT> I was meaning the way virtual reality is shaping
<[Darryl] D.JENT> Most of what I've read about VR lately was in his
<[Fomalhaut] J.PAXSON> I've had some success with virtual reality using
x-specs and stereo headphones.
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> Experiment surgery has been done for the hearing
impaired, wiring the bones between the ear and the
brain so that some sound can be heard. This is, I
suggest, a rudimentary form of the cyber-wiring that
is certain to come.
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Richard, will they just wire digital jacks where our
ears used to be?
<[Katie] PRESS11> that's been done for the blind, too.
<[Andrea] A.DUDA> Interesting thought, Richard. Imagine what happens if
someone messes with that!
<SHERRY.PF> I heard that on a talk show just this morning,
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> Yes, Tom. Expect that eventually it will be done by
radio receivers, not wires.
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Will there be an OFF switch?
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> Let's hope so, Tom
<SHERRY.PF> That'll depend on whether or not we end up in 1984 or
Brave New World.
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Is this what Gene meant when he said we'd all be on
<[Darryl] D.JENT> Katie, what is the wildest computer lab you have
visited as far as technologically advanced?
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> I've often thought it was just a question of who got
us first---the cyberpunks or the genetic engineers.
Eventually it will be both.
<[Katie] PRESS11> it's a toss-up between the media lab and xerox parc
<[Darryl] D.JENT> It that the media lab at MIT?
<SHERRY.PF> Is that Xerox in Leesburg, VA?
<[Katie] PRESS11> yeah, and xerox parc in palo alto
<SHERRY.PF> I haven't been to Palo Alto, but I've been to
Leesburg. It's pretty wild too. ;)
<[Darryl] D.JENT> hAVE YOU MET mARVIN mINSKY at MIT, He has wrote some
wild books about the brain & AI
<[Katie] PRESS11> yes. he's a wild guy. you should meet his daughter
<[Darryl] D.JENT> Tom, I didn't get a chance to, but will I loved his
book Society of the Mind.
<[Katie] PRESS11> i've never read that.
<[Darryl] D.JENT> It's about using Artificial Intelligence & trying to
mimic the brain
<[Darryl] D.JENT> About how the easiest things we do as humans are the
hardest to get a computer to do.
<[Tom] SHERMAN> Katie's already stayed longer than I asked and so . .
I want to thank her again for joining us and . . . to
remind all of you that Jerry Berman, formerly of the
ACLU and now . . . head of the D.C. office of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation will . . . be our
guest next Sunday! . . . Do join us and, during the
week, . . . take a minute to add your thoughts to our
bulletin board discussion about . . . technology and
society in Category 7 . . . All of you . . . are
welcome to stay as long as you like. Katie. thanks
<[Darryl] D.JENT> Such as moving Thanks, Katie, will have to read your
new book. Good luck
<[Richard] R.GILLIAM3> Thanks Katie, Tom. Enjoyed the RTC. Looking forward
to visiting again.
<SHERRY.PF> You can get to the PF*NPC bulletin board on page
8011;1 -- it's a Basic service.
-----# Participants #-----
< eric] E.SHCHNEIDER>
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________ PF$ PF*NPC Sysops _____________
| |_ | Weekly RTC: |_
| The | | SHERMAN Tom Sherman | 9pm Eastern | |
| PF*NPC | | SCOTT Scott Reed | on Sundays! | |
| Staff: | | CHERNOFF Paul Chernoff | Type M545;2 | |
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