James Stanley

Machines as first-class citizens

Tue 21 November 2017

Throughout history, various groups have been subject to various prejudices which restricted their ability to act freely in otherwise-free societies. Obvious examples include Jewish people, black people, and gay people.

The common theme is that whole groups of people are discriminated against because of something they are rather than some harm they're doing. But does it need to be a group of people for discrimination to be wrong?

Lots of online services use CAPTCHAs on signup forms, login forms, comment forms, etc. in order to prevent automated use. This makes it impractical for machines to use those services without having a human in the loop: blocking machines because of what they are rather than because they're trying to do something harmful.

I therefore contend that machines are unfairly discriminated against. There's nothing inherently wrong with a machine wanting to use any given online service. Machine-owned enterprises will be upon us sooner than we think, and they're going to need to use other services in order to get their work done.

So for what it's worth, SMS Privacy is a machine-friendly business. I don't care if you're black, white, Jewish, gay, or robotic. As long as you can send Bitcoin, and you're not harming anyone, you can use it for whatever you like. And I think that's the way it should be.

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