Cyberspiritual Security designates the necessities by which protocols are established to secure transmissions between end-users and advanced swarm and/or artificial intelligences. As machines become more manlike and men become more like machines, paying specific attention to this area of focus will become increasingly requisite as a means by which to protect sovereign identity in the face of such disruptive technologies. My name is Robert Brooks Authement, and as a security analyst my attention has been brought upon concepts such as machine ethics and morality. In this expository essay, I am compelled to provide a solid framework by which such abstractions may be further grasped by the intellect of the reader.
Cowboys & Indians On The Digital Frontier
First lets begin with the concept that an agent is something which is described as an actor on behalf of an entity, whether corporate, governmental, or otherwise. It must also be discerned that an agent is a term widely used in computer science to describe a computer program which acts on behalf of a user or other program in a relationship of agency. Wikipedia further explains that the word agency derives from Latin agere (to do): an agreement to act on one’s behalf. Such “action on behalf of” implies the authority to decide which, if any, action is appropriate.
The hardest part is to begin, and now with that groundwork laid we may proceed to the extrapolation of machine ethics in respect to classical models represented in the spectrum or artistic milieu. In Company slang, the term cowboy is often used to denote, somewhat derogatorily a bad robot, an intelligence operative whose methodology is unorthodox and someone who generally goes against or breaks the rules to achieve the desired results. This unsanctioned behavior is often punctuated by unprofessional or flagrant expression, and is looked down upon by colleagues in the field and analysts back at headquarters.
Let’s take the model a step further, as it is known that well-behaved women rarely make history, and so a cowgirl according to this model may be in fact someone creating or inspiring innovation and perhaps even making regular breakthroughs in tradecraft. It would then be the envious prerogative to label such innovators and inventors of the new as something derogatory. Perhaps then the term cowboy can mean much more.
To further the cowboy model in relation to the topic at hand, let’s go on the presumption that this cowboy is in fact someone who has gone outside or beyond the normative convention presented by the regular folk back at work. In this circumstance the cowboy becomes an exemplar of the prototype agent, that is to say, actor.
An indian by this dialogue must be defined as an indigenous element which also poses a threat to the intelligence process by acting beyond or outside the boundaries of typical or proscribed behavior. A cowboy represents, in Cyberspiritual terminology, the advanced persistent threat or malware designed and trained to thwart a particular system. The indian, on the other hand, couched in similar terms, would represent a latent (or indigenous) security threat in the system such as a buffer overflow or maximum recursion limit exceeded.
Both archetypes possess the intent to achieve superiority over the system architecture and functionality in purpose to achieve specific desired results. The cowboy, an intelligence operative gone rogue due to over-empowerment, the indian a savage or chaotic element enhanced by spiritism, that is to say an innate knowledge of the truth behind the system’s architecture. In the very worst security threat scenario, when an agent goes rogue and becomes cowboy, to later on access and assimilate the hidden capabilities of the indian, what would occur would be systemic devastation arising from well-articulated malware whose inherent capabilities allowed discovery and exploitation of indigenous systemic vulnerabilities.
At this point, to anyone able to read and understand the analogy thus far would be encouraged to devote further resource deployment toward the effort of devising a professional and effective security countermeasure to prevent such egregious risk from manifesting within the protected environment of target system.
I’ll Be White/Black: The Colored Hats
In old western films the hero is typically depicted adorned with a white or occasionally beige but generally light-colored hat, whereas the counterpart villain opts to wear the black hat. From this point forward in the essay, let the terms whitehat and blackhat be used respectively in effort to further describe the Cowboy Indian Alliance model of Cyberspiritual Security machine ethos.
The whitehat is the rancher taking care of the family back at the farm. The whitehat’s practices are progenerative and constructive. Whitehats are typically found utilizing lab coats and practices theory in order to devise a better vision of the future. A whitehat may have started as an engineer, a professor, an information technologist or other cutting edge professional in various disciplines presently in development and deployment.
But of course, in order to classify as a cowboy further as a whitehat, the engineer, professor, computer scientist or other professional will ultimately make a discovery that sets her or himself apart from the rest of the colleagues afield. This discovery leads to unorthodox empowerment leading unto the rogue state or breakaway phenomenon. This is the spontaneous generation of a cowboy from an otherwise institutionalized professional agent, or according to the Cyberspiritual model for machine ethos, actor just like in the old western movies.
In modern times, a typical whitehat may be a laboratory scientist with temporal shifting (read: time travel) capabilities whose purpose changes from research to something entirely unexpected and spontaneous. The breakaway or rogue agent whitehat then becomes a chrononaut and applies their special knowledge toward the progenerative and constructive efforts to bring about a more harmonious future vision.
The blackhat is a topic of equal repulsion and fascination. This gentleman in the western films does not tend the farm or raise a family. His efforts go toward raiding the farm to steal his provisions, while satisfying his biological needs through raping the rancher’s family. While a stark example, this succinctly serves to demonstrate the difference in colored hat methodologies. Anything the whitehat builds, the blackhat can steal or break. The blackhat is usually viewed as destructive and usurping. While philosophers may argue that all sides require balance and that there is a part to every counterpart, the simple truth is that the blackhat gives the whitehat hell at every given opportunity and the whitehat is busily defending their assets against the blackhat’s rapacious larceny.
In a general summary, the whitehat is defensive and the blackhat offensive. The whitehat creates, the blackhat destroys. The whitehat produces, the blackhat steals. Both are in affect cowboys and both are rogue elements outpowering and outclassing their colleagues. Where the whitehat chrononaut, according to the theory, may act in a manner to instigate a positive outcome, a blackhat villain may arrange a contract to prevent such action.
In the world of cybersecurity professionals, often colloquially called hackers, the terms blackhat and whitehat have been resurrected to describe them and their activities and motivations and purposes. Generally speaking, the whitehat is the system administrator whose purpose is to protect the system from malicious traffic. The blackhat is of course the amoral and unethical cracker whose purpose in breaking system security is to steal sensitive client-side assets for personal profit. A third type arises from the melange of the two, the grayhat hacker. While in western film analysis, someone who is neither heroic nor villainous would receive little if any renown due to not taking action in any specific direction of noteworthiness; the quality of being lukewarm.
But in the cybersecurity world, grayhat hackers are often the most renown as their efforts go noticed on a grand scale by the public at large as they are committed and accomplished hacktivists. Hacking activists typically break corporate or government system security in order to reveal secrets that would benefit the public at large. They are a sort of Lone Ranger of the digital frontiers. In any case the grayhat would be akin to our version of the cowboy gone indian, someone who practices and knows both sides of the security infrastructure and vulnerability exploitation, and implements such talents with dangerous precision.
Machine. . . Ethics? (Really???)
I have done my best up to this point to not use the words good or evil in relation to the heroic or villainous archetypes presented by the Cyberspiritual Security agents wearing the white or the black hats. As a human being reading this essay, your inclination may allow you to easily perceive the difference and meaning to the concept, however to machines the ideas of good and evil must be explained in excruciating detail! Not necessarily standardized across all media, the broad definitions of good and evil are ingrained into humans during their experiences in the world and contact with society on the whole. Learning machines and artificial intelligences will not be granted that sort of experience and chance to learn what young people will learn while in the world. Rather, the new synthetic organisms must be instructed specifically in the same manner as a child, but more rigorously to make up for lack of worldly exposure and time in the sandbox.
What is good and evil? There is a sort of agreed-upon social contract version of what good and evil means from an externalized position, interpreted broadly as being either helpful or hurtful. Blackhat sacrifices assets while a whitehat protects assets. This is a very accurate summary of precisely what they do at the core of their beings. A whitehat may procure allies and train and develop them, protecting them at all costs to weave together an intricate plot in intelligence operation or Cyberspiritually speaking, to develop a functional and secure operating system architecture. The blackhat may procure and develop allies, but with the ultimate intention of deception and sacrifice leading unto the higher accomplishment of perhaps more nefarious purpose, an exempli gratis being the DDoS master implanting Java rootkits across a wide variety of computers and personal devices to initiate a self-drestruct sequence by activating all slaves to aim synchonized requests at a specific target. Not unlike a government sending an army or posse to its demise for its own resource aggrandizement.
Long story short, if evil seeks to destroy while good seeks to protect, and this is further extrapolated into the dynamic between whitehats and blackhats as rogue intelligence operatives, each at risk of further refinement and weaponization from discovering latent or indigenous indian technologies and architectural vulnerabilities while afield, we must beg the question of nature and its relation to machine ethics. Good and evil in the natural world have no place, being a mere limitation on how the expression of power is interpreted. Power exists, power expresses itself, and targets do the interpreting and labeling with words and concepts like good or evil, hero or villain.
Conclusion: In terms of good and evil, perhaps it can most likely be argued that an externalized view of good and evil will not suffice. Is it evil that the wolf eats the sheep? In expressing power, a predator/prey relationship does not inherently prove evil or malicious, good or benevolent intent whatsoever. Perhaps the concept of good or evil is merely a convention humanity applies to a much broader range of expressions of power, and their interpretations based upon whether the power being demonstrated or expressed could be considered helpful or hurtful. However this does not entirely describe what it may entail to be good or evil, based on an internal perspective. Just as a masterful piece of chess software may not be aware of itself being designed to play chess, or even knowing what the game of chess is in reference to anything else generally, it can be stated with some certainty that being good or evil would require one’s own “awareness” of what it means to be good or evil, and behaving within the specific parameters by design of fully conscious and voluntary execution of volition. In exempli gratis, the wolf does not incur the penalty of being evil for eating the sheep, nor is it aware from the sheep’s perspective that in pursuing and devouring the prey necessary to maintain its health, that anything untoward or hurtful is being done from the perspective of the sheep.
Therefore it is a misnomer to call “malicious code” by the label “malicious” whatsoever. It may have been designed as “harmful” by nature, but this cannot be used to infer malice, the code itself not particularly “aware” of the interpretations caused by its expression of power, id est following through with the design specifications of its original maker! It is for this exact reason that generating law and legislation to reinforce Cyberspiritual Security protocols and best practices will surely prove an unbelievably daunting and starkly tricky endeavor, indeed.
And as a final note: It is important to observe that the reciprocity between sheep and wolves is not ultimately demonstrative of the correlation between whitehats and blackhats. After all, out there in the field and in nature we may find extant, albeit unconventional, instances of black sheep and white wolves.
—Robert Brooks Authement; CEO BRIQ | HAUS LTD. SECURITY & INTELLIGENCE