a reply to: Logarock
Indeed, so he said. The way I read this is: "how do you know that what is being said (on the Internet) is the truth?".
Well, I can assure you that all that can ever happen on the Internet is that we ensure technical
(data)integrity. There is no such thing as
absolute truth (nor on the Internet, nor in real life), it is all relative, all context-sensitive. So, like in real life: the only way to know that
something is true (that it is "the truth") is to know and trust the origin of it.
As an example: say I posted right here that I know for a fact that aliens exist. Say that you have known the real me all of your life - so you know my
real name, met me frequently IRL and build a trust relation with me. Say that you even know that I use the nickname "ForteanOrg" on the Internet.
So, there you are, you read this posting of an entity that says it is "ForteanOrg". Do you therefore now believe that aliens exist? Is this "the
truth" to you?
It all depends, but the first thing that matters is that the message was not altered on its path from me to you. Perhaps I originally wrote "I know
for a fact that aliens DO NOT exist" but the words "DO NOT" somehow got lost; maybe an evildoer removed them intentionally from my post, maybe they
never went from my browser buffer into the backend database due to some technical failure, whatever. So, the first worry would be "is the message
integer?" (complete, unaltered). I believe that this is the type of integrity that we can assure and yes, that's the next thing we need to do
(actually, are doing) on the Internet.
Next question: even if you do know for sure - by some technical solution - that the message I sent to you was integer - it is how it was composed -
how do you know it was I
that wrote it? Well, there are various methods to assure this but most of these methods aren't used on-line
(yet). So, that's what Chehadé refers to, IMO.
Also, another fascinating question is that even if we massively employed such methods, though you now may be sure that a person with the nickname
ForteanOrg wrote the message, how do you know that this
ForteanOrg corresponds to the IRL person you know and trust?
And even if you ARE able to determine for a fact that this
ForteanOrg is really the person you normally trust with - say - maintenance of your
car - do you really believe him/her as she/he says aliens exist? Even if you trust your source to be reliable on one matter - is it with the next?
So, integrity as in 'this is true, this is the truth' can NOT be ensured by whatever means applicable on the Internet.
entity-to-entity thing, not enforceable. But we CAN enforce data-integrity and provide certainty about technical and related IRL identity. believe
THAT is what Chehadé is discussing.
In short: truth is only truth if you trust the source and can be sure the message originates from that source and was not altered during transport. I
believe that is the only form of "integrity" we can have on the Internet.
By ensuring that you can be sure that data originates from a source which you trust - you have the truth. YOUR truth, as an absolute truth does not
exist on this planet. I
To put it simple: you just won a million dollars. Do you believe me - and who am I?