There Is No Magic

Increasingly, I find myself concluding comments to blog posts with the words "there is no magic".

I don't mean magic as in witchcraft, either. Rather, it's about this worrying tendency of people to forget or ignore the fact that the laws of physics apply equally to everyone and everything. There are no shortcuts and no tricks.

Now, if I told you there is no way to make a fire that can heat but not burn, you'd just nod and say it's common sense, right? Then why is it so hard to understand that the same principle applies in other situations as well?

  • There is no way to make a gun that can only be fired in self-defense.
  • There is no way to make a lock that can't be broken or bypassed.

If you can open a door, someone else can, too.

  • There is no way to make a DRM system that only stops illegitimate uses of media.
  • More generally, there is no way to make a DRM system that works at all. If I can watch a movie on a screen, I can capture it somehow.

The one thing that can be done is to encourage and inspire a majority of people to do the right thing in most situations. But that won't work perfectly either, as people often disagree on what is the right thing. So yeah, you have to live with it.

After all, if you can inspire people, others can too. There is no magic, remember?