What is the relationship of freedom and secure computing?

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You can’t have political freedom without privacy and freedom of speech. And you can’t have those in the 21st century without a secure basis for computing.

I believe something like that and am happy to see it pronounced (source below). But I don’t know that privacy and freedom of speech are the main ways secure computing secures freedom, especially without freedom without the political qualifier. I also don’t know how important secure computing is for the end of freedom: it could be negligible, important but swamped by other factors, or essential.

Subjugating roving bandits precedes political freedom. Would a world in which computing is the most significant resource but is not secure would be dominated by roving bandits? Plausibly, as both autocracy and democracy depend on some level of security from roving bandits. The bulk of the freedom benefit from secure computing might be from preventing outright theft and extortion, with privacy and freedom of speech as garnishes.

How does secure computing relate to physical security? Computing is getting more important, so is computing security, but it isn’t clear just how important at the margin or what the rate of change is.

You “can’t have” freedom without security, but neither is binary. What is the state of the art characterization and projection of the impact of computer security on freedom, or more broadly on violence, politics, and economics?

One fanciful way to speculate about this would be to posit two futures of computer security over the next 20 years, one high and one low. What are the impacts of each on, e.g., Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and the Mafia?

I claim that intellectual property trades off freedom, equality, and security for spectacle. The magnitude of impact though, I am very uncertain of, mostly relying on intuition that knowledge and particularly computing are ever more dominant to support claim that impact will be huge if it isn’t already. Demonstration of greater dependency among freedom, equality, and security might further support claim, and lack of dependency help undermine the claim.

The quote above is from a discussion about the Rust programming language, which aims to enable very efficient computing while making various classes of bugs easier to avoid, including some which commonly result in security exploits. I suspect Rust will be very important, to the extent it does result in more secure and more efficient information systems and further serves as a widely known proof of commons-based innovation. Rust has been developed in an extremely open manner and is very innovative, at least relative to other languages intended for mass industrial use. Haskell is the best previous example of open innovation in computer languages; I urge anyone interested to read A History of Haskell: Being Lazy With Class (pdf; summary). Innovation by community can produce best-in-industry results, if the community is unified behind a very clear vision, something which both Rust and Haskell have.