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Countably infinite problems

When talking in the Indieweb chat ether, the point that social media and other large corporate entities was brought up. This is a refinement of my response. I'm keen to record it and see how it sits over time.


I wonder what CCPA impact was / is?

I know what the impact of GDPR was and is. I can now demand businesses leave me alone, under threat of a fine. I can now theoretically get a copy of all the data they have on me. Further than that I can theoretically find out how they process that, what third parties it goes to, and so on.


At some point regulation will / must get to a point where pretending to, and realistically owning user data is not desirable?

Given a theoretically large number of users. The expense is always assumed to amortize the cost of acquisition. I've never in 20 years seen anyone attempt to address running costs of securing that data, and surprise-surprise it's the thing people seem to suck at most.

I'm going to be simple-minded and assume more regulation is in our future, as-is the trend of society to make specific rules, rather than easily thought about general rules.

My own personal outlook

I've always been of the mind "please don't tell me, what I don't need to know".

This is mostly because I find it lowers friction between your desires, and my hopes and dreams not knowing everything. I'm generally disappointed, upset and more than a little annoyed if I know too much.

Of course this is not without it's challenges. Not knowing enough is a problem in itself.

It seems many businesses have a 180-degree view.

Using basic maths

I understand mathematically visibility in a broad, fuzzy sense.

It is a sub-set of super-set problem.

You cannot reasonably work out from one item in a fridge, the whole shopping list.


Without everyone's data, about everything, you'll never practically "know", or be able to prove "what you are missing".

This seems to lead to opportunity and fear.

Fear of missing out, or inferred opportunity it's cousin go hand in hand.

  • We know we don't know everything
  • We know we don't always "win"
  • Some infer that the knowledge of the unknown, and sometimes unknowable; will increase our chance to "win"


The ability to secure, action and store a significantly large, or countably infinite stream of data from people seems mathematically illiterate at it's kindest.

  • The more things you do, the less time you have to do them in
  • We have not solved all problems.

Good news

  • De-centralised systems, at the least allow the potential to spread risk.
  • Standardised systems, are another strategy towards that end.


If I have one house. It burning down is catastrophic for me. So if I were to own two that I could afford; I'd generally have another place to go if one burned down.

Similarly if there was one road between my two houses; I'd have no way to travel between them if the road was also destroyed.

Lots of thought has gone into highly-available resources. But the minimum number is 3, with two being a special case of redundant, but not highly-available.


Standards take thought, time and expertise. We all know that isn't always the case; but we're not talking about your dads mates brothers, sisters cousin whack-a-do schemes.

Because they take time and thought, you can imagine they fractionalise or divide time.

5 standards, taking one week a piece on average, could be estimated to have taken 5 weeks serially.

I don't know how long it takes to make an industry standard; but my experience of adoption seems to be in the range of weeks to years.


The intersection of the two limiting mechanisms, could bound the numbers to something more reasonable; or less than the overall countably infinite.


If large companies were able to work on industry or domain-wide standards, with a de-centralised model. Their input costs would likely outweigh their running costs by reducing, even a countably infinite set of data-points and costs.

Again, in plain English

  • Work on standards. Improve or replace the existing.
  • Empower others to share the burden of the infinite or very large.
  • It's impossible to do everything alone.
  • If you don't choose to do it; more regulation will force you to.