Questions on a Tuesday

I’m back, and ready to begin the 2006 blogging campaign. We’ll catch up with other things later. For now, I have some questions.

First Question.

What ever happened to distributed peer-based digital signatures and public keys using webs of trust? I am reading The Code Book, and today at lunch hit the chapter on the development of public-key crypto and the saga of Phil Zimmerman. I remember quite a fuss in the mid-90s about cypherpunks bootstrapping a decentralized trusted-key infrastructure. It seems quite relevant and do-able today. Has that project met demise and failed to get off?

Next question.

Has anybody done thinking on the epistemological criteria of encryption systems? Is there a formulation for knowledge wandering around which includes encryption? The history of crypto has seen a succession of knowledge-claims about the unbreakability of systems, and a matching set of persuasive counter-examples. Is there work in this area of philosophy? Additionally, what is the status of encrypted information? Is it knowledge, and what affect does the encryption state have on status?

Last question.

In day-to-day practice, I’ve supplanted my previous criteria for precise knowledge (being able to ask a good enough question that I can get a useful answer from someone knowledgeable) with the criteria “be able to formulate a Google search query which returns the desired information.” Is that wrong? What is the qualitative difference between the two?

Please answer below, or in trackbacks. I exist to be enlightened by someone other than myself.

January 3rd, 2006 | Computer, Information, Next, Philosophy, Science, Security, Technology