Saturday, February 06, 2016

[xomdcvut] Computer which owns itself

A human sets up a computer, probably a virtual machine, on a cloud computing service and starts a service on it, after which point the computer runs completely autonomously.

Perhaps the human even destroys login credentials so the he or she can no longer control the computer even if he or she wanted to, or is compelled to, for example, by authorities wanting to shut down the service.

Perhaps the initial negotiation between the human and cloud service provider was done through two-way anonymous communication (with communication records now destroyed), so even if the human gets captured, he or she cannot divulge the cloud provider for the authorities to go attack.

Perhaps the service is only accessible through Tor, so authorities cannot locate where the service is hosted by directly querying it.

Perhaps the cloud service is prepaid with some amount of funds and the computer runs until the funds run out.  Alternatively, maybe the service itself has some means of generating revenue, e.g., Bitcoin donations.  It cannot be a normal financial transaction or else authorites could attack it by following the paper trail and freezing accounts and assets.  We need a way for the cloud service provider to be paid in a cryptocurrency.

We need a large number of providers of cloud computing so authorities cannot simply subpoena the few largest ones with high probability of getting lucky.  One tricky problem is a cloud service provider needs to prove that they are not simply reselling (say) Amazon EC2.

Finally, we need a way for the computer to autonomously patch itself with updates, as well as do any other system maintenance.

All of these things seem possible.

Motivation was a free speech platform that cannot be shut down, though there might be better architectures for free speech, e.g., Freenet.

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