Marc Stiegler's Interests

Science Fiction and Other Writings

The BrainTrust: A Harmony of Enemies
The BrainTrust is my newest novel, coming out in December in Kindle, paperback, and audiobook formats. Here's the paperback blurb:

Her research to prolong human life will destroy her...

The BrainTrust was first built to be home for all the Silicon Valley immigrant engineers expelled by the Red government. Comprised of a fleet of oversize cruise liners floating off the coast of San Francisco, its people have lived in uneasy peace with the dirtside Reds, Greens, and Blues ever since. Now a brilliant young BrainTrust scientist has created the first step toward the Fountain of Youth. No one needs her solution more than the American President for Life. His Chief Advisor will stop at nothing to grab the cure...and the young scientist herself.

The BrainTrust has no Army, no Navy, no Air Force. Their ships have neither weapons nor armor. Yet a key question remains: can a society that has earned the name “BrainTrust” ever be truly defenseless?

You can join the BrainTrust discussion group on Facebook here.

EarthWeb First published in 1999, a second edition will soon be issued, and the first edition will then be available on the Baen Free Library. EarthWeb is a story of liberty, wrapped in a story of the Web, cloaked in a story of evil alien battleships and cataclysmic combat.
The Gentle Seduction
One of the first sf stories about nanotechnology, and still considered by some of the founders of the nanotech field to be one of the best stories about it. 20 years after publication, I still get the occasional email from someone, somewhere, about how, in a time of despair, they were introduced to this story, and its optimistic message gave them a renewed sense of hope and purpose.
The B-2 Lottery A modest proposal for a better way to run huge, expensive government programs, published when  funding of the phenomenally expensive B-2 bomber was a major topic of conversation decades ago. My proposal here is as timely today as it was then, since nothing has changed, unfortunately.
Earth Day in Las Vegas Another modest proposal, this one published in April, 2002, in The American Enterprise Magazine Online. A discussion of idea futures and their application in making Earth Day a real Festival.
Hypermedia Publishing A description of the possibilities of hypertext, published before the term "World Wide Web" was invented. Someday, the Web will enable all the functionality described herein.
Final Exam Yes, this is a final exam for a college course--a course I taught on "The Future Of Computing". Several friends suggested that this Final Exam should be taken by anyone who thinks the way to make the Web a "safe place" is to pass thousands of new government regulations. In this Exam, the student must use advanced Web-tools (currently under development by many different parties) to solve problems without saying, "there ought to be a law." No, there ought to be a choice. 

This item stimulated a 300-comment conference on slashdot shortly after its publication.

Object Capabilities, i.e., "Ocap"

Object Capabilities are a computer security mechanism, a wholly different paradigm, from the authentication-based access control systems universally used by security give us the level of quality of security that we all enjoy today (yes, sarcasm is one of the services I offer). When we actually get tired of endless breaches large and small, ocap is the tech we will use to actually solve the problem.

No Phishing Here
Well, the real title of this paper is "Phishing Prevention with Hybrid Authentication/Authorization", but that is a mouthful. Here is the abstract:

Phishing is now widely recognized as the number one threat to the enterprise.Two Factor Authentication, the supposed solution to this among other problems, has been shown to be less effective than anticipated. Here we present Two Factor Access Control, blending an authentication factor with an authorization factor, to render phishing attacks ineffective.

The JavaScript source for a demo implementation on Node.js is available here.

Rich Sharing and Crowd Sourced Access Control
A potpourri of links to videos, podcasts, technical papers, and live demos, on how to move beyond the password-based login system of today's web, and enable people to collaborate securely.

E in a Walnut
Partial Draft of a concise guide to E programming. A very partial, very rough draft, but nonetheless a useful resource

This draft is synchronized with the 0.8.10 version of E, and is the first version in which all the example code has been tested with an E system, so it is much better than previous versions.

Intro to Capability Based Security An introduction to the concepts of Capability Based Security, the architecture for professional-grade computation that we will all eventually move to after enough hackers break into enough computers, and we finally decide to just fix the problem.
PictureBook of Secure Cooperation
No one really wants security for their computers. If you want security, disconnect your computer from the Internet. What we really need is secure cooperation. This is an easy introduction to secure cooperation, which really is quite different from old fashioned security.
Emily: A High Performance Langue for Secure Cooperation Emily is an object-capability language derived from OCaml. Like OCaml, Emily has performance characteristics similar to those of C++. Like E and Joe-E, it enforces strict confinement by default on every individual object and function, allowing the conference of authority only via the handoff of a reference to an authority-bearing object.
Granma's Rules of POLA The 6 simple rules your grandmother can follow and be safe from trojan horses and computer viruses, once she has a capability secure desktop.
O'Reilly Peer To Peer Conference, Feb. 14-16, 2001. "Governance in Coercionless Societies", in which we explore the technologies for making the Web a coercionless society, its consequences, and the techniques employed for maintaining the advantages of an organized society in the presence of total personal liberty. This presentation is available in PowerPoint format at the O'Reilly Conference Site. (O'Reilly seems to have stopped offering that actual presentations. If you can't get it from O'Reilly, email me).
Other key capability based security sites
  • Home of the E programming language
  • Combex: Capability secure solutions based on E.
  • EROS-OS: The open source capability secure operating system
  • Waterken: Capability based security for the WWW
  • Caplore: Home of numerous items of wisdom from the fountainhead of modern capabilities, Norm Hardy

Other Software

Reversi in Java Play the game, read about the design principles, download the source
Decision Analysis: DecideRight DecideRight was selected as a Byte Best Of Comdex Finalist in 1996, and was selected as Best New Business Software of the Year by the Software Publisher's Association in January, 1997. PC Magazine and the Wall Street Journal both gave it delightful reviews. I have developed an online browser-based version, but it is currently offline due to problems with traditional security experts and their broken concept of certificate authorities.
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