In the article, Obama defends the idea that building backdoors into computers should be an acceptable compromise.
If you build in backdoors into phones (or other computers) because you want to make sure that tax inspections can check if:
… everybody is walking around with a Swiss Bank account in their pocket …
In that case:
… preventing people from disrupting the financial system or our air traffic control system or a whole other set of systems that are increasingly digitized …
will not be possible, because the attackers will be using these very same backdoors.
My conclusion so far is that you cannot take an absolutist view on this.
and Obama’s conclusion is wrong.
Software only obeys Aristotle’s non-contradiction policy. A bug is a contradiction and a contradiction is a bug. That is an absolutist rule.
You cannot benefit from the fundamental advantages of using software and at the same time insist on compromises that will lessen its fundamental disadvantages. It is an all or nothing proposition. Software that reflects that kind of contradictions will simply fail to work.
We can generalize this. The idea that “everything is relative” is wrong, because then the rule itself would be relative too. That would be a contradiction. Obama would probably shrug that off, but this is not a debate. These are computers running. Elaborate verbiage and assorted debating skills, even of the president of the United States, are of no weight whatsoever in this context. The billion-dollars Obamacare website will still fall flat on its face. It is non-contradictory source code that rules computers, and it is computers that rule the modern world.
In this time and age, the existence of absolute values and absolute rules may indeed come as a surprise to quite a few people.
But then again, president of the United States or not, Obama should stop taking the man-made laws that he and his Congress so happily invent, so seriously. He should stop worshipping the statues that he has carved by himself out of wood, and instead, sink on his knees for the absolutism of the laws of God and nature.