Computer underground Digest Mon May 25, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 23
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer ([email protected]
Associate Editor: Etaion Shrdlu, Jr.
Arcmeisters: Brendan Kehoe and Bob Kusumoto
CONTENTS, #4.23 (May 25, 1992)
File 1--Thanks from Craig Neidorf for Support
File 2--Resurgance of a Myth ("The Dying Child")
File 3--Freedom and Privacy in North American Cyberspace
File 4--PREXY CANDIDATE E-ADDRS & update re candidates' ONLINE forum
File 5--FINAfL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR IFIP/SEC CONFERENCE '92
File 6--BYU Hackers Busted
File 7--GEnie Conference on "Virtual Reality"
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From: Craig Neidorf
Date: Wed, 20 May 1992 11:52:28 EDT
Subject: File 1--Thanks from Craig Neidorf for Support
I would like to thank the many people who have taken their time and
their checkbooks and sent me donations to help me cope with the costs
of my legal defense.
Whenever its been possible, I have personally mailed each individual
that has made a donation. All of these people should also have
received a letter from Sheldon Zenner.
However, there have been a few problems in certain cases in getting
the money to the correct place.
The law firm of Katten, Muchin, & Zavis is huge. They have 5 offices
in the US and their Chicago office alone occupies 5 floors and employs
over 300 attornies plus all of the support staff.
Over the last couple of months, a lot of checks have come into Katten,
Muchin, & Zavis, but they were not addressed to Sheldon Zenner's
attention. This has caused many delays and in some cases it is very
possible that the money was never credited to my account at all.
If you are among the people who did send in a donation and you have
not received a letter from me or Sheldon Zenner, then please contact
me via email. I know that about 9 people's checks were credited to
my account, but Sheldon Zenner was not made aware of the people's
names. The checks were mailed to Neidorf Defense instead of Sheldon
Zenner and not every one at the firm is familiar with my case, thus
For those people who are still considering sending a donation, please
follow these instructions.
Make your check out to: Katten, Muchin, & Zavis.
Write "Craig Neidorf" in the memo.
Send your check (or money order) to:
Katten, Muchin, & Zavis
525 West Monroe Street
Chicago, IL 60606-3693
(It wouldn't hurt to attach a note).
Thank you all.
Date: Thu, 14 May 92 16:26 GMT
From: Jean-Bernard Condat <[email protected]>
Subject: File 2--Resurgance of a Myth ("The Dying Child")
The resurgence of a myth: Craig Shergold
If you happen to see a message on your local packet BBS about sending
post cards to a dying child, you might wish to consider the following
and perhaps even follow up on the BBS message.
If you call the "Children's Make a Wish" foundation, you will findr
that they are not soliciting any form of card for Craig Shergold or
anyone else. Better yet, if you call the Guinness people (US
publisher is "Facts on File" @ 212-683-2244, ext. 336), you can get
this same story confirmed. You will also find that they will no
longer endorse or support any effort to break this record.
Many years ago, Craig Shergold had a brain tumor, believed inoperable.
He sought to set the Guinness record for get-well cards. The call was
well-publicized, and he did, inrdeed set the record (consult a recent
edition of the book--he has received in excess of 16 million cards
to date; he officially set the record as of 17 Nov 1989).
As part of this whole story, his plight caught the attention of John
Kluge, the US billionaire, who paid for Craig to come to the US and
receive specialized treatment. As a result, Craig has recovered
completely from his tumor. He is also no longer seven, but well into
his teens (you can see how out-of-date the request for cards is from
this--it's like circulating a letter encouraging people to vote for
Carter for President).
The problem is that the mimeographed sheets and letters seeking cards
for Craig have continued to be circulated. As a result, cards
continue to pour in to the post office for Royal Marsden Hospital in
England. Worse, the appeal has mutated into various other versions,
such as an appeal for business cards, one for postcards, and another
version that appeals for holiday cards.
The Shergold family has publicly appealed many times that people cease
to mail them cards and letters, and that no more appeals be made on
their behalf. One easily accessible way to verify this is with the
article on page 24 of the 19 July 1990 NY Times. People Magazine wrote
an article about it on June 1, 1991, page 63. Even Ann Landers has
carried an item on this [6/23/91], but people still keep trying to send
cards. Both Guinness and Royal Marsden have repeatedly issued press
releases asking people to stop circulating requests for cards, as they
are creating an undue burden on both the hospital and the postal service.
The Guinness people have discontinued the category to prevent this
kind of thing from ever happening again, and are doing their utmost to
kill any further mailings. The Royal Marsden Hospital is at a loss
what to do with the cards that continue to arrive--most are being
sold to stamp collectors and paper recyclers, and none go on to Craig.
This appeal for Craig, as well as many urban legends, regularly appear
on electronic bulletin boards around the world, and in many
organizational newsletters and bulletins. It is both heartening and
unfortunate that there are so many well-meaning people who continue to
propagate these stories. It is too bad that so many people are
unwilling to verify their information before passing such things
along, especially when a simple phone call will suffice to do so. In
this case, opening a recent copy of a book carried by nearly every
library and bookstore would illuminate the situation.
If you would still like to do something for a dying child, consider
making a donation to a charity such as UNICEF or to the International
Red Cross (Red Crescent, Red Magen David). Many thousands of children
are dying daily around the world from disease and starvation, and
countless millions more are suffering from the ravages of war, famine,
disease, and natural disaster. Think how many of them might be helped
by the millions of dollars in postage spent on cards to Craig
Also, I encourage you to save this announcement, in either electronic
or hard copy form, and to post it to any bulletin board you've seen the
original plea on. If you see it in the future, as you probably will,
you can attach a copy of this announcement. Wouldn't it be great to
finally kill this story, which spreads like a virus? - JBC]
Dr Jean-Bernard Condat
Chaos Computer Club France [CCCF]
69351 Lyon Cedex 08, France
1. PR Newswire: "Young Recipient of Millions of Greeting cards undergoes
successful surgery." March 5, 1991, 585 words;
2. PR Newswire: "Requests for cards and letters for Craig forwarded to
Make-A-Wish Foundation (Craig Shergold)." April 5, 1990, 350 words;
3. "Youth who set card record takes vacation." in: Sun Sentinel (FL),
Nov. 6, 1990, page 17A, 158 words;
4. Rose BOCCIO: "Deluge of cards swamp sick boy, give him record." in:
Sun Sentinel (FL), April 4, 1990, page 4B, 528 words;
5. Jane SEABERRY: "Boy gets more than get-well wishes: life virginia
billionaire pays for his surgery." in: San Francisco Chronicle, March 22,
1991, page B3, 748 words;
6. "Get-well cards; enough already." in: San Francisco Chronicle, August
9, 1990, page B4, 538 words;
7. Ann LARDERS: "English Boy with tumor will be fine." in: Akron Beacon
Journal (AZ), June 23, 1991, page E8, 643 words;
8. Jane SEABERRY: "Fairy-tale ending for get-well-card king." in: Akron
Beacon Journal (AZ), March 21, 1991, page A1, 943 words;
9. David GROGAN: "Miracle in the mail; little Craig Shergold's recovery
was in the cards; brain tumor patient goes for world record in get-well
cards." People Weekly, vol. 35, page 63(2), June 10, 1991;
10. Robert ALBRECHT: "Get-well cards continue after "Guinness" record try
has ended." in: Colombus Dispatch, May 3, 1991, page 8C, 494 words;
11. News Editors: "Make A Wish: Update on Craig Shergold and erroneous
chain letter." March 4, 1992, 433 words;
12. "Don't keep those cards and letters coming, folks." in: Orlando
Sentinel, June 20, 1990, page A6, 421 words;
13. Paula MONAREZ: "Well-wishers help sick boy attain guinness record."
in: Daily News of Los Angeles, April 8, 1990, page L3, 563 words.
((Moderators note: The ease of electronic communication helps spread
urban legends rather quickly. Despite subsequent disclaimers, they
often continue to spread. Two recent examples include the "chocolate
chip cookie recipe" and the "FCC modem tax". Perhaps somebody could
write a short article on "urban legends and computer dissemination)).
Date: Fri, 15 May 92 08:22:40 -0400
From: [email protected](SUSAN M. ROSS)
Subject: File 3--Freedom and Privacy in North American Cyberspace
((Moderators' note: Susan M. Ross is doing interesting research
comparing Canadian and U.S. rights in cyberspace. She recently
received a gtrant to pursue the topic, and we asked her to send a copy
of the original proposal along for those interested in the topic. If
you have ideas, bibliographic items or other information of interest,
you should contact her directly)).
Freedom and Privacy in Cyberspace, Accessed Through North
America: Comparing and Contrasting the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms and the United States Bill of Rights with
respect to Computer-mediated Communication.
Susan Mallon Ross
The Constitution of the United States of America (U.S.
Constitution, U.S. Bill of Rights), as originally adopted and
subsequently amended, does not explicitly extend constitutional
protections (e.g. First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights) to
citizens who employ or are affected by technologies its framers could
not anticipate. Indeed, Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School is
promoting a Constitutional amendment (Tribe, 1991) specifically to
remedy this situation. It would read:
This constitution's protections for the freedoms of speech,
press, petition, and assembly, and its protections against
unreasonable searches and seizures and the deprivation of life,
liberty, or property without due process of law, shall be
construed as fully applicable without regard to the technological
method or medium through which information content is generated,
stored, altered, transmitted or controlled.
In contrast, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
(Canadian Charter) does guarantee freedom of expression in using "all
media of communication" (Section 2-b). However, at least two other
sections of the Canadian Charter could undermine this guarantee:
Section 1, which makes the rights and freedoms the document guarantees
subject to "reasonable limits" that "can be demonstrably justified in
a free and democratic society," and Section 33, the "override " or
"notwithstanding" clause, which allows Parliament or any province to
override certain rights guaranteed by the charter. These
qualifications seem to mean that, for the time being, even the
"fundamental right" to freedom of expression is not inalienable.
This work focuses on several questions:
1) What is "cyberspace" (Gibson, 1984) and what are some core issues
related to communicative freedom and privacy in the "cyberspace
age" (Tribe, 1991)?
2) What has been the United States experience with issues of
communicative freedom and privacy in cyberspace? (What legal
issues have arisen? What other challenges to constitutionally
protected rights seem likely? What cases have been tried and how
have they been resolved? How are the access to and the use of
cyberspace regulated? What governmental and private action is
being taken to protect the rights of citizens who venture into
3) What has been the Canadian experience with issues of freedom and
privacy in cyberspace?
4) What are the major trans-border issues that have arisen (or are
likely to arise) related to cyberspace, especially in the context
of freer trade? For example, how may freer trade be implemented
with respect to the products of the burgeoning, computer-mediated,
information industry (products that both provide and require access
to cyberspace) while protecting the constitutionally entrenched
rights both of Canadian and U.S. citizens? One such issue is
balancing: a) promoting freer trade, b) maintaining Canadian
Cultural Security, as protected by the Broadcast Act, an act
recently revised to include "all types of transmission to the
public of visual and sound programming, whether or not they
included transmission over the airwaves.... [The wording of the
revised Broadcast Act explicitly includes transmission by] 'wire,
visual or other electromagnetic system or any other optical or
technical system'" (Creery), and c) still guaranteeing "freedom of
Cyberspace is a new frontier for a world that had perceived
itself already to have encountered its last frontier. This work
explores this new frontier to provide case-specific analysis focused
to contribute towards answering the ambitious and important questions
listed above. More specifically, the work involves the following tasks
1) Reviewing the constitutional histories, including precedent setting
cases, of the United States and Canada related to communicative
freedom and privacy in cyberspace (computer-mediated
2) Reviewing relevant scholarship and applying it to answering the
major questions listed above.
3) Monitoring evolving issues in the Canadian and United States press
as well as through Canadian and U.S. computer hotlines and
publications concerned with computer-mediated communication.
4) Corresponding (usually by electronic mail) with key explorers of
the electronic frontier from both Canada and the United States.
5) Interviewing governmental officials in both nations.
PROJECTED CONTRIBUTION OF THE WORK
This project would provide a previously unavailable synthesis
and interpretation of Canadian and U.S. perspectives on the
application of constitutionally entrenched rights and freedoms to the
electronic frontier labelled "cyberspace." To Canadian-U.S. business
studies, in particular, it would contribute a comparative perspective
related to the computer-mediated information industry; specifically,
how North America's current partners in free trade constitutionally
deal with private, governmental, and commercial uses of computer
mediated communication. This study, therefore, would contribute
insight into the manifest and nascent issues these differences raise
in Canadian-U.S. relations, including our free trade partnership and,
perhaps, the trilateral negotiations to broaden that partnership to
Borella, M. (1991). Computer Privacy vs. First and Fourth
Amendment Rights. A paper presented at the annual meeting of the
Speech Communication Association, Atlanta. (This paper resulted from
an academic project for which the author of this abstract was the
Creery, T. (1990). "The Burden of Broadcasting: Becoming all
things to all political masters." Ottawa Citizen (22 May 1990, p.
Gibson, W. (1984). Neuromancer. New York: Ace Books.
Mandel, M. (1989). The Charter of Rights and the Legalization of
Politics in Canada, Toronto: Wall and Thompson.
Tribe, L.H. (1991). "The Constitution in Cyberspace." Keynote
Address at the First Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy: San
Susan Mallon Ross is a faculty member in Technical Communications
at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, U.S.A. Her doctorate in
Communication and Rhetoric is from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in
Troy, New York, U.S.A. This work is supported by a Faculty Research
Grant by the Canadian Embassy, Washington, D.C. and by a Research
Grant from Clarkson University.
Date: Sat, 16 May 92 12:12:16 PDT
From: [email protected](Jim Warren)
Subject: File 4--PREXY CANDIDATE E-ADDRS & update re candidates' ONLINE mforum
This update includes the E-MAIL ADDRESSES for the major presidential
campaigns, except the Bush campaign which does not appear to have a
** Have you sent *your* request that they join an online presidential
forum? ** Since the public is best-served by hearing from *all* the
candidates, in one place and at one time, you might sent your requests
to *all* the candidates --not just the one you personally favor.
From the ROSS PEROT campaign
On Friday, May 15th, Perot campaign worker David S. Bush responded
to the proposal for online debate(s) saying, "... The only official
view is that we need to do it. No one is sure of what it should look
like. We do know what the vision and mission of the Electronic
Townhall is. There are no specifics. That's what I'm trying to put
together now. I want to use the existing networks to gather people
together and come up with a solution." [Perot campaign email:
[email protected] ]
From the JERRY BROWN campaign O n Friday, May 8th, Sarah Gray from the
Brown campaign's Computer Department called to say that the Brown
campaign was commiting to participate. She followed this up with
> From autodesk!brown92%igc.org Fri May 8 21:32:37 1992
> To: [email protected], autodesk!jwarren
> Uubject: Re: ... proposed online prexy-candidate debate
> ... The Brown for President campaign would be glad to communicate with
> Internet users in an online presidential candidate's forum. Pl ease feel
> free to distribute this official memo.
> Sarah Gray, Computer Department, Brown for President campaign
> [email protected]
I have requested that they verify that all responses will be posted
over Brown's name, as being an official statement from the candidate.
They are now trying to get time with Brown to discuss it and assure
[ email: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected] ]
From the ANDRE MARROU campaign
On Saturday Pl , May 9th, Steve Dasbach, the the Libertarian
presidential campaign committee chair, called to say that the Marrou
campaign was commiting to participate. As I am doing with all
respondents, I requested a signed commitment on letterhead stationary.
Per my request, they have sent a signed fax, fax-dated May 12th at
7:41, stating: ...
"On behalf of Andre Marrou, we accept your invitation to participate
in the on-line debate you outlined in your letter. "We understand
that all postings are to be made over Andre Marrou's name,
indicating that they are authorized statements by him.
... /s/ Bruce Baechler, Director of Operations" [[email protected]]
[Marrou campaign email: [email protected] ]
From the PAT BUCHANAN campaign
On Tuesday morning, May 12th, Hal Turner, who identified himself as
"the point-man for their electronic campaign" called in response to an
email copy of the proposal. After discussing why to do it on the
Internet/USENET --widest possible o exposure, access often free or very
low-cost -- he said that he would "talk it up" to the campaign
[Buchanan campaign email: [email protected] ]
[Clinton campaign email: [email protected] ]
[Bush campaign email: no public e-address known at this time ]
Democracy is a Do-It-Yourself project Hope you have sent a fax and/or
snailmail to the candidates urging them to participate in the
proposed online prexy forum. I would expect them to join an online
foro um, *only* if they believe a great many people are interested.
And, the forum will be of greatest value -- to everyone, including
your favorite candidate -- if *all* the candidates participate, so
requests should be sent to all the candidates (please request
addresses and fax numbers from me, if you don't have them from the
previous posting). Also, it would be helpful if you would let me
know when you send your request to them.
As I know more, you'll know more. 🙂
Jim Warren, Electronic Democracy Initiative, 415-851-7075
[email protected] -or- [email protected]
DISCLAIMER: These comments are my personal free speech, stated during
my personal time, in personal discussion with citizens publicly
assembled in a global electronic Hyde Park that spans perhaps a
million company cafeterias and ultimately perhaps 15-million private
living rooms or more. This is not a representation of views of any
organization with which I am affiliated.
< Between 4/ar30 and 5/9, I sent invitations to the better-known presidential
< candidates, inviting them to participate in an ONLINE forum (on the Internet
< and via USENET, for maximum exposure and access). They would be replying to
< questions from reporters from major media, who would be accessible to
< everyone on the net and with a parallel newsgroup for concurrent public
< This invitation was faxed and mailed to (alphabetically) Brown, Buchanan,
< Bush, Clinton, Marrou and Perot. It has been reported in several major
< newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and Dallas Morning News.
< These are the responses that *I* have received, to date (the Houston
< Chronicle of 5/3 also reported responses from the Bush and Clinton campaigns;
< copy available upon request):
Date: Sat, 16 May 92 07:29:30 SST
From: "Dr. Guy G. Gable, IFIP/Sec '92 Program Chair"
Subject: File 5--FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR IFIP/SEC CONFERENCE '92
I would appreciate very much if the following announcement could be
circulated to as many users of the network as possible. Thanks. Guy
8th INTERNATIONAL INFORMATION SECURITY CONFERENCE
May 27-29, 1992
Raffles City Convention Centre
Singapore Computer Society
International Federation of Information Processing
Technical Committee 11
National Computer Board, Singapore
Singapore Federation of the Computer Industry
Microcomputer Trade Association (Singapore)
EDP Auditors' Association, Singapore Chapter
IEEE Singapore Section, Computer Chapter
Data Processing Managers Association
Official Hotel: Westin Stamford and Plaza
Official Airline: Singapore Airlines
Official Publication: Asia Computer Weekly
Endorsing Publication: I.T. Times
Managed by: HQ Link Pte Ltd
The purpose of the 1992 International Federation for Information
Processing Security Conference (IFIP/Sec'92) is to provide a forum for
the interchange of ideas, research results, and development activities
and applications amongst academicians and practitioners in the
information, computer and systems sciences. IFIP/Sec'92 consists of
advance tutorials, an open forum, distinguished keynote speakers, and
the presentation of high-quality internationally refereed papers. A
high degree of interaction and discussion amongst Conference
participants is expected, as a workshop-like setting will be promoted.
IFIP/Sec'92 is organised by The International Federation for
Information Processing, Technical Committee 11, on Security and
Protection in Information Processing Systems, and The Singapore
Computer Society. IFIP/Sec'92 is a non-profit activity funded
primarily by registration fees.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
The conference is intended for Computer Security Managers - Internal
Auditors - Disaster Recovery Managers - Data Processing Managers -
Computer Operations Managers - PC Managers - System Designers -
Information Resource Managers - EDP Managers - Software Specialists -
Hardware Specialists - Systems Analysts - Systems Planners - Chief
Information Officers - IT Directors - MIS Managers - Office Automation
Specialists - Engineering Services Specialists - Financial
Managers/Controllers - Operations Managers - Administrative Managers -
If you are interested in attending the conference or tutorials, please
call (65) 534-3588, fax (65) 534-2300, or telex (RS 24603 MOLDC), HQ
Link Pte Ltd in Singapore for further details.
Date: 20 May 92 18:52:50 EDT
From: Gordon Meyer <[email protected]>
Subject: File 6--BYU Hackers Busted
The following news item appeared in the _Ogden (Utah)
Standard-Examiner_ during the last part of April, first part of May
1992. The clipping was not submitted with an exact page/date
TWO BYU COMPUTER HACKERS ARRAIGNED
Provo [Utah] - Two Provo men raccused of tapping into a Brigham Young
University computer system face arraignment in district court May 22
on second-degree felonies.
William Swinyard Jr. and Alexsander [sic] Radulovic, both 22, appeared
in 4th circuit Court Thursday for a preliminary hearing. However,
both opted to forego the hearing and have the case sent to district
The two defendants allegedly used BYU computers to obtain credit
histories on 122 people.
If any CuD readers have additional information on this case,
particularly any details on the unclear reference to how the
University computers were used to obtain information that presumably
was on an outside system, please let us know.
Date: 10 May 92 20:51:52 EDT
From: Gordon Meyer <[email protected]>
Subject: File 7--GEnie Conference on "Virtual Reality"
-=(( The Public Forum * NonProfit Connection RoundTable ))=-
n -==((( GEnie Page 545 - Keywords PF or NPC )))==-
Real-time Conference on Virtual Reality
(May 3, 1992)
Copyright (C) 1992 by GEnie (R) and Public Forum*NonProfit Connection
This file may be distributed only in its entirety
and with this notice intact.
This file is the transcript of a real-time on-line conference in
GEnie's Public Forum with Howard Rheingold, author of VIRTUAL REALITY:
The Revolutionary Technology of Computer-Generated Artificial
Worlds--and How It Promises and Threatens to Transfrom Business and
Howard edits _The Whole Earth Review_ and consults with the US
Congress Office of Technology Assessment. He has written for such
publications as _The New York Times_, _Esquire_, _Playboy_ and _Omni_.
His other (excellent!) books include _Tools for Thought_ and
_Excursions to the Far Side of the Mind._ _Virtual Reality_ is
published by Simon and Shuster.
An electronic meeting place for friends, family and national "town
meetings," GEnie is an international online computer network for
information, education and entertainment. For under $5.00/month, GEnie
offers over 50 special interest bulletin boards and unlimited
electronic mail at no extra charge during evenings, weekends and
holidays. GEnie is offered by GE Information Services, a division of
General Electric Company.
In the Public Forum*NonProfit Connection, thousands of people every
day discuss politics and a wide range of social and nonprofit issues.
A neutral arena for all points of view, the PF*NPC is presented by
Public Interest Media, a nonprofit organization devoted to empowering
people through the socially productive use of information and
communication technology. For more information about GEnie or the
Public Forum, call 1-800-638-9636 or send electronic mail to
Future real-time conferences, all beginning at 9 p.m. ET, include:
Steve Cisler, Apple Computer on data highways (May 10)
Katie Hafner, author of Cyberpunk (May 24)
Jerry Berman, Esq., Electronic Frontier Foundation (May 31)
To sign up for GEnie service, call (with modem in HALF DUPLEX)
800-638-8369. Upon connnection, type HHH. At the U#= prompt,
type XTX88367,GENIE . The system will prompt you for information.
Welcome to the first in this month's series of RTCs
on Technology and Society! Please check the
schedule, posted in our Announcements topic (cat
1/topic 3) for the other events . . . These
realtime conferences raise important issues for the
future -- some of them already being discussed in
BB Cat 7: Technology, Science and Society . . .
You'll also find many excellent files in the Public
Forum library, including a couple of articles
posted with permission from the editor of The Whole
Earth Review -- tonight's special guest, Howard
Rheingold . . .
For more than 10 years, Howard has been writing
books and articles about "mind-amplifying"
technologies. Although he questions "the
possibility of accurately predicting the social
impact of any new technology," (in _Tools for
Thought_) . . . he's done a great job helping us
think about the social transformations that may be
provoked by new technology. I've invited Howard to
say a few words of introduction and then . . .
he'll answer questions and join in the discussion.
When you finish typing, please type GA (for Go
Ahead) to let us know that you're done. Three
periods means . . . I'm not done talking; please
wait a second. And now: here's Howard! Any
introductory thoughts? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> Hello! I like a medium where my ability to type
fast is rewarded. 😉 I guess the first thing I
would like to say about VR is that all the
travelling and talking and reading since I finished
the book have changed some of my attitudes. I would
say that I am more skeptical and less enthusiastic
about the technology's potential than I was when I
wrote the book.
Howard, are there any particular aspects of VR
you'd like us to focus on?
<[Howard] PRESS11> One thing I have noticed is that VR is almost like
a metaphor for technology for many people. This is,
it is a way to talk about some of the hopes and
fears we have about the way the world seems to be
heading. In truth, the technology isn't going to
affect most of us for years to come. I'd like to
talk about the ethics of VR. I'm not sure what to
do about it, but I find myself wondering about the
potentially harmful applications, especially since
the Gulf War used VR so successfully.
<[..Ryan...] R.MACMICHAEL> From what I've heard, it is planned on being used
to test-fly planes before they are built in order
to anticipate problems... ... but how could that be
done (the real world emulated so closely) in a way
that humans couldn't pick up on them just as fast.
<[Howard] PRESS11> Flight simulation is one of the roots of VR. Flight
simulators, both civilian and military, are far
more realistic (and expensive) than the Virtuality
games or anything we are likely to see in arcades
for the next decade or two. ga
Ryan, follow up question?
<[..Ryan...] R.MACMICHAEL> Yes... How soon would they be used for safety
purposes on a more wide-scale basis? (in the way I
mentioned above) ga
<[Howard] PRESS11> Flight simulators have been used for decades.
United Airlines has a HUGE flight simulator in, I
think, Denver. Only the military use the full-tilt
3D goggles, but the view-through-the-window stuff
is pretty impressive. GA
<[..Ryan...] R.MACMICHAEL> Thanks...
<[Connie] C.RIFENBURG> What has made you more skeptical and less
enthusiastic ...and what did you =think= was the
potential before now... what do you believe =is=
the potential NOW? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> I don't think that it is a good idea to blur the
line between playing a video game and blowing up
people. And I think that the medium, if perfected,
will be a very powerful tool for mind control...
After all, people decide who to elect and what to
buy and how to live according to the images that we
see on a tiny 2D television tube. How much more
powerful will VR be? Are we really sure that the
medical and design uses are worth the other uses?
Do we really really need this stuff? Perhaps we
ought to spend more time looking at the toxicity of
the environment, and preserving the cultures and
biomass that use plants as healing agents, instead
of creating 3D tools for irradiating tumors. In
regard to the humanities at universities, I
understand that there is a center for the arts in
Banff that is doing good work. And Carl Loeffler at
Carnegie Mellon is doing some stuff with the arts
and VR. GA
<[Connie] C.RIFENBURG> So you think it's like the quandry similar to what
the A-Bomb created? Good/Bad: How can we manage it?
<[Howard] PRESS11> Yes, I think we, as a species, ought to take a
closer look at the natural world that we seem to be
destroying. I'm not so sure that we will be
altogether happy in a totally simulated world when
all the real trees are dead. ga
Thanks Connie. Dave Baldwin, your question?
<[Dave] D.BALDWIN8> Other than the obvious military and video game
applications, where would you... anticipate VR
technology showing up in the next decade or so?
Anywhere useful,... Or will it just be a novelty?
<[Howard] PRESS11> 3D CAD pretty soon. Autodesk and IBM will probably
both have products out next year. The design
industry will be the first to have a crack at it.
Scientific visualization and telerobotic control
are the other two fields that will have tools
within the next couple years. ga
Because so many of you want to ask questions of
Howard, I'm gonna skip the follow up questions
until we've gone around once . . . Bart, your
<[Dave] D.BALDWIN8> how much more efficient will it be, though? and
what about the cost/benefits?
<[bart] B.PREECS> Howard, do you see VR falling under the control of
the same people/organizations that control our
existing media system Ga
<[Howard] PRESS11> Regarding efficiency -- if you have a design
problem that involves visualizing a complex 3D
space, then even today's crude level might be a
useful tool. Good question. We'll have to see how
the architects and designers react. . .
Yes, I think ALL technologies that create power and
wealth are likely to fall under control of those
who recognize that, and who already have the power
and wealth to seize control of the new media . . .
Are we really sure that hobbyists and artists and
benign folks are going to be the ones who use VR to
the largest effect? Or will it be a weapon and
mind-control device? ga
Bart, thanks! Rick D, your question?
What would the hardware requirements be for the VR
systems of, say, the next three to five years?
Would a standard PC of today work for the systems
you mentioned might be released next year?? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> The cost of chips seems to be coming down. A 486
engine, for example, is pretty affordable now, and
you can do some stuff with it. But you really want
ten times the power. . . The transputer
architectures, where you put a bunch of chips
together, have some promise. I think people will be
able to do some fun stuff with desktop VR in the
next few years, but the resolution and reaction
speed won't be great. ga
Ric Helton, your question?
<[Ric] GRAFFITI> A perfect application of VR hardware (and one that
is likely to speed its development) is "telepresence"
(being somewhere else through remote control,
complete with sight & sounds). How long will it
take telepresence to become commonplace? How far
will it trickle down to "mundane" occupations?
(Not astronautics, nuclear waste management or the
<[Howard] PRESS11> Don't expect anything affordable and high-res in
the telepresence area for five or ten or fifteen
years. There are a lot of problems to be solved,
and a lot of expensive hardware is necessary ga
Thanks, Ric, Dave Messer, your question?
<[Dave] D.MESSER> It seems to me that VR also has a potential to help
the environment by reducing pollution, how big an
impact do you thing "telecommuting" will have with
<[Howard] PRESS11> I think we will all be dead from toxic chemicals,
ozone depletion, and the world's largest traffic
jam by the time VR has any impact. In other words,
I think the promise of VR telecommuting is bogus if
you look at it in context of the problems. If
Time/Warner is doing anything, it is strictly
exploratory. Unless they are going into the theme
park business. Disney and Fujitsu, for example, are
creating stuff that we will see in theme parks in a
few years, but not at home. Two limitations:
screen resolution, and computing power, are hard.
But you can't forget that good software takes a
while to create. When LCD screens are ten times as
good and one tenth the price, we'll see some
action. When you can get CRAY power on a desktop
for less than $1000.
Frank, your question
<[Frank] F.DUROSS> We have heard the term electronic LSD many times,
how might VR be used as a form of mind expansion?
How might it be abused? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> I go into it in my book. I think the electronic LSD
argument is a red-herring for the near future.
People are already incredibly addicted to
television, a truly stupefying drug. It will take
decades to create electronic LSD. The worst abuse
model, as I mentioned, is television. Withdrawal
from the real world ga
Phil, your question?
<[PHIL] P.VOYSTOCK> Can you be more specific regarding your fear of
mind control applications with VR technology? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> "Perception is Reality." Willie Horton elected
George Bush. A videotape burned down LA.
Technologies that can manipulate emotions via
perceptions are technologies for manipulating
beliefs, and thus for controlling people
politically. If television works so well with such
little involvement, what will VR do? ga
M.DAVIS, your question?
I've devoured CQ/Whole Earth Review for many years.
Thanks for the great resource. I've heard tell of
VR potentially being used in biomedical/genetic
engineering on a molecular scale. What are some of
the high points/dangers of these developments? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> Actually, I am much more interested in and
concerned with developments in artificial life
research. But that's another topic. Look for a LOT
on that in the Fall, 1992, WER. VR is being used as
in interface to microengineering, which COULD lead
to nanodevices. A whole new ball game if that's
true. It will take years. ga
David G, your question?
<[david] D.GALBRAITH5> where is VR design work/discussion happening
outside of the military-industrial complex?
<[Howard] PRESS11> IBM announced a joint venture with a small British
company. Fujitsu working on entertainment
applications. Various projects at computer
companies. A couple dozen small start-ups. It is
healthy but not huge, exept in Japan, where
significant money -- tens of millions per year --
is still being spent. ga
Joe, your question?
What is the role of VR's money-making potential in
determining how it is developed? ga
<[Howard] PRESS11> When one company or industry demonstrates that
using VR will give it competitive advantage, it
will drive development; when one kind of
application makes economies of scale effective for
components, it drives developments in other fields.
We have yet to see an example of either. The next
five years will tell the tale. ga
Bil. Swartz, your question?
Having recently picked up your book 'VR' to
hopefully find some answers but not having time to
more than crack the cover I find it erie that you
are here to ask in person! I would like to know
more about the current state of feed back devices.
The bulky feedback devices such as that ARM...
ouch. How much got thru? ga
Bart, you had a question.
<[bart] B.PREECS> Howard, in *your* opinion, what is the most
*useful* thing VR could do that we couldn't do with
out it? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> The most useful thing, I think, is scientific
visualization. Just as a microscope made modern
medicine possible because biologists could SEE
germs, I think the use of VR to visualize things
like the way the immune system works could help
give scientists important new insights. ga
Phil, your question?
<[PHIL] P.VOYSTOCK> How long did it take to reasearch/write your book?
<[Howard] PRESS11> I travelled and interviewed and did a lot of
reading for about a year, and spent about another
year writing and filling in other interviews and
Dave M, your question?
<[Dave] D.MESSER> Do you think that VR technology should be
controller or suppressed due to the dangers
<[Howard] PRESS11> No, I don't think "controlled" or "suppressed" are
the right words. I don't think we even HAVE the
right words. We need to find ways, as a society, to
have discussions about how to guide technological
development. I trust neither the government nor
private enterprise, given the history of the past
decades. . . Although I don't have the answer, I do
believe that it is important for citizens to inform
ourselves about the potential consequences of
technology, and to raise these questions.
Unfortunately, our society can't even handle
discussions of basic human rights or environmental
dangers versus economics. The best I can do is
write books and talk to people and encourage them
to ask questions. ga
Adrn, your turn
<[Adrn] A.DEMARAIS> The sci-fi book Ender's Game was about a child
prodigy being taught how to wage a war in
simulators, only to discover that it was all real
and he had destroyed a civilization . Is this what
you fear VR might become? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> Ender's Game is one real fear, yes. I think it is
entirely possible, given the way military uses of
technology have evolved, and how well VR did in the
Gulf. War is bad enough, but what if we don't know
whether we are playing a game or blowing up real
people somewhere? ga
Dave Galbraith, your turn!
<[david] D.GALBRAITH5> Do you know of any specific public access forums
for individuals involved with VR using TODAY's
level of computing hardware? GA
<[Howard] PRESS11> You mean places to talk about it? There is the VR
conference on the WELL, and the usenet newsgroup,
sci.virtual-worlds, both of which have a lot of
We're going to end the formal RTC now. I want to
thank you all for some great questions and to thank
Howard for taking time (from his next book and his
garden) to answer them . . . We can continue to
chat informally, and Howard, before you go, I
wonder if you . . .
<[Howard] PRESS11> Dinner is awaiting me! Thanks for the questions,
and keep on asking them!
<[Howard] PRESS11> ** has left.
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End of Computer Underground Digest #4.23