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Woz Compares the Cloud and PRISM To Communist Russia 549

Posted by timothy
from the privacy-and-private-are-not-unrelated dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Some journalists ran into Steve Wozniak at the airport and asked him about iOS 7 and PRISM, where he made an interesting comparison about how the US is becoming what it once feared most. In communist Russia 'you couldn't own anything, and now in the digital world you hardly own anything anymore (YouTube video). You've got subscritpions and you already said ok, ok, agree and you agree that every right in the world belongs to them and you got no rights and anything you put in the cloud, you don't even know,' says Woz. 'Ownership was what made America different than Russia.'"
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Woz Compares the Cloud and PRISM To Communist Russia

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  • Concept of Ownership (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @04:55PM (#44001415)

    Ownership follows power. If you don't have more brute force strength than the next domestic house ape, you own nothing. Scribbles on a piece of paper like the constitution are not power.

  • Re:And... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @05:24PM (#44001681) Homepage Journal

    He's right.

    Of course he is; he's "The Wizard of Woz." ... and I say that as a fairly ardent Apple Hater.

    That there aren't millions of people storming the halls of government with torches and pitchforks is more telling than anything else of how oppressed the USA has become.

    Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but as "storming the halls of government" would require the resources to make a 2000 mile journey (one way), as well as very likely costing me my source of income, my home, my family... not really feasible.

    Now, you coastal folks who can hop on a train and be to DC in a couple hours? YOU have less excuse.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @05:28PM (#44001749) Homepage Journal

    I just wanted to see where this was and who was Woz talking with.

    Anyway, he is right that the common people don't think about these things, common people don't think about pretty much anything in their lives, they just take things for granted as things happen, they don't think about affecting anything, changing anything.

    However Woz is wrong that 'trouble comes from the top', the trouble starts from within. It's exactly the problem with the modern era that 'common people' and (his words) 'high thinkers, intellectuals, philosophers' are given the same vote. That's how the problems start, common people provided with the power to set policy via their majority vote and then they vote for long term destruction of the country by voting for politicians that promise short term gain (stealing from minorities and redistributing) and as freedoms of minorities erode first, eventually government grows big enough to take away everybody's freedoms.

    Now, how does this process start precisely, whether it starts at the top that some canning politicians have this long term strategy or maybe canning businessmen that work with canning politicians have this long term strategy... I think it's not even that. I think all such strategies are fairly short term (5-10 years), but it happened periodically in USA that powers were given to government but apparently at first there are enough checks and balances that if a 'right' type of intellectual is found in position of power (a right type of POTUS for example) then this can be reversed.

    That's why the current Fed is not the first central bank in USA. But eventually the combination of the exactly wrong (Teddy Roosevelt) POTUS comes to power and the wrong types of ideas (anti-trust laws, then IRS and the Fed) are pushed through.

    This quickly corrupts the entire power structure, because it does give government much more power and the apparatus grows very quickly, if it's not killed off at the very beginning, in the first 10 years say, then it's going to be successful and kill the system based on idea of individual freedom.

    That progression was clear in USA, from anti-trust laws and beginning of the destruction of private property rights in the case against Standard Oil, to the creation of IRS (initially targeted only top 1-2% for maximum of 7% income) and the Fed (printing money) and then in less than 5 years the Fed is given the power to monetise gov't debt and manipulate interest rates.

    That's what it took for USA the last time. Eventually it led to the Fed causing one bubble after another with all the inflation (1921, 1929, 1971, etc). The presidents became bolder and bolder, especially starting with Hoover and FDR, who caused the Great Depression to arise from the recession with all the intervention.

    Then the space race and cold war and the related spending, the Medicare and SS to buy more votes, which gave green light to allow prices to start going up because clients were no longer price sensitive. Then all the other departments, from energy to education, again more gov't intervention, subsidies (wars for energy, loan guarantees for education), agriculture of-course, then destruction of real money, shifting the world to fiat currency that allowed massive inflation around the world on an unprecedented scale.

    Anyway, there are many chapters here, all leading to bigger and bigger government, more and more 'bread and circuses' mentality with total destruction of self-reliance and initiative, huge increase in feelings of entitlements, more and more obligations shifted to people who still produce. All of this leads to the destruction of productivity and growth of government, as it becomes the biggest economic sector, the biggest employer, the biggest welfare system as well. Every day a number of stories come up how governments want more and more regulations, more and more laws, more and more lawsuits of-course, it seems that this is the status quo of our day and nobody is even noticing the self-destructing trend.

    Nobody, until some inco

  • by avgjoe62 (558860) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @05:37PM (#44001829)
    When I worked in the Pentagon, there was a display case containing three pieces of the Berlin Wall. I never paid much attention to it - it was just something I passed by while walking to and from the office.

    But one day I took some time and looked at the pieces. They were covered with graffiti. I distinctly remember a "Kilroy-was-here" and a lot of so-and-so loves so-and-so bullshit on the wall. Almost drowned out was the name of a young man on the top of one of the pieces, with his date of birth and the date of his death written below. And right below that was the phrase "Endlich frei" (Finally free). This young man was seventeen years old when he was shot for trying to leave East Berlin and travel to West Berlin.

    There was a quantifiable difference in the ways the US and the USSR treated their citizens. And while that gap may be narrowing the fact that we are reading about this in the newspapers and debating this is a good thing. I remember a saying that was said during the aftermath of WWII - "If you want to know what atrocities the Russians committed, look in the graves. If you want to know what atrocities the Nazis committed, look at the receipts. If you want to know what atrocities the Americans committed, look in the newspapers."

    Let's hope that always stays true.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @06:17PM (#44002119) Journal

    Given the ruthless efficiency with which the PRISM system collected communications, I'd compare it more closely to the former East German (DDR) Stasi [wikipedia.org]

    The Stasi were more competent than average; but what arguably makes the 'in capitalist America' system cleverer is how it can function as a (relatively) inexpensive appendage of free market incentives that already exist.

    So much useful data gets generated, and sometimes compiled, purely for the convenience of self-sustaining private sector actors(the phone company routing calls to the correct cell and billing you, your credit card issuer keeping accounts in order, your ISP shepherding the little packets about, advertising weasels scrutinising your behavior to try to sell you stuff, Everything Facebook, people 'checking in' to random shit on foursquare, etc, etc.) You don't need to bother with the (impressive; but rather unsustainably expensive) 'more than 10% of the population acting as at least part-time informants' business. You just copy the data that the private sector generates automatically!

    Now, copying, storage, and analysis aren't free, by any means; but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than having to gather the data yourself and then pay for storage and analysis. Plus(solving a second problem that commies always had trouble with) your intelligence apparatus doubles as your consumer-goods R&D and focus grouping apparatus, since large parts of it are shared between marketing weasels and spooks, so you don't run into those embarrassing bare shelves and unfashionable lifestyles...

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @06:54PM (#44002379)

    Technically, if you believe the NSA has no direct access,...

    You mean, exist in a reality where there are no secret NSA rooms mirroring all the data from major carriers?

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/07/11/09/2040206/ex-att-tech-says-nsa-monitors-all-web-traffic [slashdot.org]

    No. Clapper is a lying POS that needs to spend many decades (his remaining life) inside a super-max cell.

    And he's far from the only one in this government (from both political parties) that belongs in a prison cell for the rest of their lives, and many executed for their crimes against all US citizens of all political/religious/ideological stripes and the betrayal of their Oaths of Office to protect and defend the US Constitution that have been highlighted by the string of scandals and revelations of late, and their outright lies under oath in response to questions.

    This is not a (R) or (D) issue. They don't even bother keeping promises to their own Party's constituents unless it fits their agendas. They lie and betray everyone while defying and destroying the Rule of Law and constantly seeking to further restrict and redefine individual liberty and Constitutional Rights.

    They see themselves as our masters and ALL of us as serfs. History demonstrates repeatedly that this is what happens when a government and those running it gain too much power relative to the people.

    The current US government no longer operates with the will of the governed as expressed by the restrictions placed upon it, and therefor is no longer a legitimate government.

    Strat

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @07:09PM (#44002505)

    consider that the United States is the only country to nuke another country

    A different means to the same end - we actually killed more Japanese in the conventional bombings. If you're going to criticize that (and there is certainly good reason to do so) please discuss how you would have conducted the war instead.

    Additionally discuss how several million Germans died towards the end and after WWII because the USSR decided to shrink the eastern part of Germany.

    We engaged in propaganda in the extreme, rewriting our pledge of allegiance to include "under god" and printed the same on our money as a propaganda war against "godless communism."

    That silly "under God" thing is your idea of extreme propaganda? No, blatant lies are extreme propaganda. Please discuss the relative extents of US and USSR use of such techniques, and the number of people sent to death prisons for disagreeing with the official line.

    We engaged in witch hunts, like McCarthy appearing before Congress to say he "held in his hands" a list of known communist co-conspirators.

    McCarthy victims lost their jobs, which was an injustice. How many were sent to something like the gulag?

    We publicly executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953 ... the principle charge against them, the reason they were executed -- passing secrets about how to build the atom bomb, they were innocent of. They had only passed on low value information that was already duplicated elsewhere... mostly hand-drawn sketches.

    They weren't innocent (at least not Julius), Sobel didn't say they were innocent, and there are many reasons other than his confession to believe that Julius was guilty [wikipedia.org]. The reason they only passed on "low value information that was already duplicated" was because Ethel's brother Greenglass was a lousy spy. Greenglass and Julius were traitors - just not very effective ones. Ethel was a slightly different story. She probably wasn't guilty of much beyond not ratting out her husband and her brother. I think that may still have qualified for the death penalty, but in the interests of justice I don't think it merited it.

    I'd be happy to entertain any significant act that you feel the USSR undertook that didn't have a parallel from the USA.

    Does killing tens of millions of your own citizens in forced collectivization, forced relocations, artificial famines and camps that worked their prisoners to death count for anything?

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @07:47PM (#44002793) Journal

    Woz is from the same generation as me, and people like us who had been through the Vietnam war and the Watergate era, do not trust anything

    On the other hand, with the advent of FB and all the social-media thingy, the younger generations (Y/Z/Z+1) tend to accept everything everybody tells them, and they do not mind everybody knows what they do at any given moment

    Case in point --- http://pooptheworld.com/ [pooptheworld.com]

    Some of them actually BOUGHT an app so that they can tell the world when they poop !!

    That is why I ain't at all surprised at the result of a poll that was taken not that long ago, about the majority of the American people are okay with their government spying on them, as long as they feel that their government is fighting terrorism for them

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @07:54PM (#44002851)

    For all its flaws and mistakes the U.S. was nothing like the Soviets, not even close, not even now.

    Can you provide an example of something that the Soviets did that the United States has not done?

    Read up on the Stalin era. Even later Soviet leaders were disgusted.

    While you're formulating your answer, consider that the United States is the only country to nuke another country.

    And in the odd perverse mathematics of war may have saved lives compared to blockade and starvation or invasion and mass casualties by conventional weapons. The simple fact was that Truman was expecting 500,000 American dead and 5 million Japanese dead if the war continued through conventional means. The atomic bombings were a tragedy, the problem is that the other options may have been far worse. A classic negative-negative decision, all your likely options are bad.

    The casualties from mass fire bombings in Tokyo were comparable to an atomic bombing. Read Eugene Sledge's "With The Old Breed" for an account of the fighting on Okinawa. President Truman had such accounts in his mind when he made the decision. Also note that civilian casualties on Okinawa were comparable to an atomic bombing. I realize it is popular today to say that Japan was going to surrender anyway but the historical facts are that the surrender after the atomic bombings and after the emperor's decision nearly failed when a military coup was attempted. The plotter's had to "rescue" the emperor from the bad advice his ministers were providing and prevent his surrender message from going out. We have no idea what would have happened without the atomic bombings, imminent surrender is hardly a foregone conclusion. Again, Truman faced a negative-negative decision, he had no good option, rather one option that may produce fewer casualties (military and civilian) than the others.

    We used our own prisoners and citizens as guinnea pigs to conduct experiments in nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare.

    Agreed, terrible.

    We engaged in propaganda in the extreme, rewriting our pledge of allegiance to include "under god" and printed the same on our money as a propaganda war against "godless communism."

    Seriously? This is some great and terrible crime?

    We engaged in witch hunts, like McCarthy appearing before Congress to say he "held in his hands" a list of known communist co-conspirators.

    McCarthy was a buffoon. The anti-communist witch hunts wrong. But you are making my point for me. These witch hunts were nothing like those under the Soviets. Read up on Soviet gulags.

    We publicly executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953, and it wasn't until just a few years ago, in 2008, that the transcripts from a court case widely panned at the time as a "witch hunt" revealed major inconsistencies in the testimony of key witnesses against them.

    Decoded 1944 Soviet cables confirmed Julius worked for the Soviets. Nikita Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs that they helped accelerate the Soviet atomic bomb program. Various Soviet officials eventually confirmed that Julius was a wartime spy.

    They had only passed on low value information that was already duplicated elsewhere... mostly hand-drawn sketches.

    Primary source or merely a secondary confirmatory source, large contribution or small contribution, its still wartime espionage. Was the penalty excessive, perhaps, but executing a wartime spy is hardly in the same category as executing those who disagree with a government policy, as we saw in large scale during the Stalin era. Again, you are merely confirming the US and Soviet governments were nothing alike. No one is claiming the US government was without flaws and mistakes, just nowhere near the Soviet level. Enlightened leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev were the exception not the rule.

  • by tftp (111690) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @08:50PM (#44003243) Homepage

    USSR, in their attempts to build socialism, reached the end of the line by 1980's. Nobody was working, but everyone was paid. The industry collapsed. Changes were not just desired, they were mandatory, because the country was about to experience another wave of hunger. Gorbachev started the reforms, but he had no clue what to do. By Putin's time things got sorted out on their own, in a naturally capitalist way. A young capitalist economy, running under minimal control of the government, can be very efficient - more efficient, in principle, than the mature - if not creaking old - capitalism of the USA, bound in seventeen layers of red tape, so that BANANA is the only available industrial option.

    It's the old tale of Phoenix. Empires get born, mature, get old, and then die. Young empires take the lead until it's their turn to get old and die.

  • Re:FIrst Post Maybe? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @10:17PM (#44003725)

    But society has beat it into all of your heads that it's evil and wrong, which in the way the Soviet Union had implemented it -- It is.

    No, it's wrong in the way Marx himself envisioned it. I've read a bit of his work. He openly stated that his Communism would only work if it was implemented across the entire world, and only by force. That's right: he both knew and embraced the fact that the Communist Revolution would be violent. This is why all the serious attempts at his vision have, in fact, been violent: it's an inherent part of the system. Not only that, but since it has to operate world-wide, it must spread itself, again by force if necessary. That is why the US was so scared of Communism: because Communism, as Marx envisioned it, cannot survive unless it destroys its enemies. It's also why the USSR, and other Communist nations, have sought to conquer or convert others. It's inherent in the system. Marxist Communism sought to destroy all other forms of government and social order.

    And if you don't believe me, let me quote the Communist Manifesto [marxists.org]:

    The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

    Any system of government that seeks to force itself upon the world, whether other countries want it or not, is evil and wrong.

  • Re:FIrst Post Maybe? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by femtobyte (710429) on Thursday June 13, 2013 @11:33PM (#44004009)

    Regardless of what Marx wrote, the development of Marxist ideology under the Soviet government strongly and officially diverged on this point. A key tenet advanced by Stalin was Socialism in One Country [wikipedia.org]: that, rather than seeking global domination and revolution, the USSR should work towards making itself into a model Socialist paradise; once its own working class enjoyed a utopian life ahead of the rest of the world, then workers in all other countries would rise up to gain the same paradise for themselves. Of course, the USSR ran into a few problems before completing its internal transition to the happiest, wealthiest, most productive place in the world... but, in the meantime, the official state doctrine was not the "original" Marxist stance of necessary global revolution, despite endless fearmongering propaganda in the West that the Ruskies were just itching to swarm over the border and eat your babies.

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