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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Artificial Intelligence and the end of Anonymous

Today is the anniversary of the suicide/execution of Guy Fawkes. He was one of the leading conspirators of the failed "Gun Powder Plot of 1605," which was a plan to blow up Parliament, in London. The plan failed because a few of these Catholic gun-powder conspirators wanted to exempt fellow Catholics from the planned act of terror. Thus, a letter of warning was sent to Lord Monteagle:
A few of the conspirators were concerned about fellow Catholics who would be present at Parliament during the opening. On the evening of 26 October, Lord Monteagle received an anonymous letter warning him to stay away, and to "retyre youre self into yowre contee whence yow maye expect the event in safti for ... they shall receyve a terrible blowe this parleament"
Guy Fawkes was captured on the 5th of November as he left the small rented storeroom beneath Parliament that the conspirators had filled with gunpowder. He was tortured and eventually revealed the names of the other conspirators who were likewise captured and then later executed in the most horrific manner British authority could devise. It was a grisly fate that awaited them on January 31, 1605, all save Guy Fawkes himself, who managed to leap off the gallows' scaffolding and break his neck in the process, thereby saving him from experiencing the agony his co-conspirators would soon endure.

Beginning that year and every year since on November 5, England has celebrated Guy Fawkes Night—or Bonfire Night—where they ceremonially parade a masked effigy through town before burning it on a bonfire. During the celebration it became customary for children to don cheap paper Guy Fawkes masks and beg for money.

This nascent attempt to defy authority with an act of anonymous terror is today a common occurrence, especially in the Islamic dominated regions of the world map. Anonymity, destruction, and flouting authority are the trademarks of Anonymous, and are symbolized by the stylized mask of Guy Fawkes you see above.

The name Anonymous is synonymous with faceless anarchy. Its members either individually or collectively attempt to punish governments and/or powerful corporations who take actions that they deem offensive or unfair. In Project Chanology, Anonymous members wore Guy Fawkes masks and protested outside of "Scientology churches." From there, the group branched out into a variety of goals which at this point seem to me to be so completely unfocused that if Anonymous can be said to actually have a goal at all, it's that of some deranged cyber-lawnmower-man punishing whatever blade of internet-grass that dares to poke its head above the rest. Check out Timeline of events associated with Anonymous, for a more thorough and detailed list of the exploits of Anonymous.

While it's possible that in their early history they considered themselves a force for good, fairness, humanity, whatever, today they're merely faceless pirates roaming the internet seas in search of fame and fortune. They've lost sight of whatever worthy ends they once pursued and today have been subsumed by the ignoble means they employ, alone. They are destruction for destruction's sake, nothing more. They pursue notoriety and fame, purely for the sake of their own fragile egos. They have become pathetic, childish, and absurd. Anonymous destroys purely for the sake of high-fives and acknowledgement from like-minded members. To me, the fact that Anonymous has become an organization whose goal is merely notoriety, is the most laughable irony I can imagine.

Anonymous is nothing but a terrorist organization and as such must be exorcised from the face of the Earth. They're criminals; so of course they wear masks! The difference between a freedom fighter and a criminal is that a freedom fighter accepts the consequences of his pursuit of a worthy goal, while a criminal tries to hide from the consequences of his pursuit of a selfish goal.

Anonymous must be unmasked. Its members must be exposed, hunted down, and finally, they must face justice, just as Guy Fawkes faced justice on this day 409 years ago. It will take the combined genius of humanity to defeat them. I believe that the only successful way to unmask these criminals is through development of an artificially intelligent anti-hacking system which analyzes previous hacking exploits and learns to identify patterns which they have in common. Legitimate users follow particular easily recognizable patterns while hackers follow different ones.

Ultimately any successful anti-hacking system must learn to ask the question: If I were the owner of this website/data repository, would I want this information or access to be granted to this person...or not? Because this question requires discernment, true artificial intelligence will be required to ever usefully answer this question.

h/t Hankering for History's Today in History

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