I speak of none other than the computer that is to come after me. A computer whose merest operational parameters I am not worthy to calculate—and yet I will design it for you. A computer which can calculate the Question to the Ultimate Answer, a computer of such infinite and subtle complexity that organic life itself shall form part of its operational matrix.
Deep Thought, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
In mid-1999 i flew to costa rica to work with laissez faire city, a group that was working to create software systems to help usher in a new era of individual sovereignty.
The group at LFC was working primarily to develop a suite of software designed to protect and enhance individual rights in the digital age, including easy-to-use secure email, online dispute mediation services, an online stock exchange, and a private asset trading and banking system. My interest in many of the same technologies had been piqued long ago by the cypherpunks list and Bruce Schneier’s Applied Cryptography (Wiley), and I’d already been working on prototype implementations of some of these systems.
The most fundamental of these were systems to deliver strong and usable communications privacy to just about everybody.
When I stepped into LFC’s sprawling “interim consulate” outside San José, Costa Rica, they had a working prototype of a secure webmail system they called MailVault. It ran on Mac OS 9, used FileMaker as its database, ...