Wednesday 2012-01-25

With the MegaUpload prosecution, we get a media story of a hacker with criminal record, who's making tons of money in a new industry that people don't know much about. Talking with people, it seems that people hearing this story have switched away from innocent-until-proven-guilty to assuming that he's guilty.

We saw a similar effect with Cisco when they accused a Nigerian who used to work for Cisco with hacking them 97 times. People heard that story and just assumed that Peter Alfred-Adekeye was guilty. Only he wasn't; Cisco trumped up all the charges against him.

However, despite my belief that Kim Schmitz is innocent until proven guilty, I believe he will be found guilty. In today's world, it seems quite difficult to be 100% law-abiding, so while Cisco couldn't make anything stick on one of their engineers, I'm fairly confident that the various Security Squads in the US will be able to find something.

Likewise, back in the early 80's, IBM could have easily depicted Apple as two loser hippie felons who built illegal weapons of mass phone fraud. Those charges would have stuck and we would not have the 2nd most profitable company of all time (and perhaps #1 by next quarter).

Since every Accused likely has some dirt on them, maybe it is correct that everyone has optimized their brains by updating their defaults to Guilty-of-Something.

What happens when we take the next step and we all assume that everyone is guilty?

For example, Stanley Ho operated Macau's gambling monopoly for many years, and has passed control on to his daughter, Pansy. Trying to expand to the US, the Nevada Gaming Commission granted her a license, while New Jersey denied her due to "extensive ties" to Organized Crime. Which implies that all the New Jersey casinos are just so much cleaner that it's like night and day.

In everyone-is-guilty, we know that she's corrupt, the Gaming Commission's corrupt, everyone's corrupt, so just give her the license.

Similarly, we know that Politicians have to know as much as possible about the motivations of their various constituencies, legal or otherwise. When we observe Organized Crime in our cities, we should fire our Politicians because either they were effective, knew about it, and did nothing, OR they were ineffective, didn't know about it, and should be fired on those grounds alone.

It seems like both innocent-until-guilty and everyones-guilty work; it's just the current halfway position of guilty-with-a-slight-chance-of-innocence which doesn't work.