Encrypted morally grey

While briefly being mentioned earlier, I was curious if the encrypted manual can be decrypted pre-kickoff without bringing shame to the FIRST system. I would guess its ok to guess it Bc in last years hint, they used an anagrams of the password which wouldn’t help anything otherwise.
So in short: did FIRST basically say it was legal to do this? If not, how?
(To be clear, I’m not saying I wish to do that, I’m just attempting to understand why first would (in my eyes) endorse such disgraceful behavior)

I believe that if someone doesn’t want you to look at something you shouldn’t look at it. FIRST encrypts the manual because they don’t want us to see it until Saturday. Therefore it is wrong, in my opinion, to try and break into it. Besides this type of encryption is difficult to crack as the keys are very large. It could take hundreds of years to break with a brute force attack. So trying to do so would likely be a waste of time.

If by chance you have broken it I would suggest keeping the secret to yourself.

I doubt anyone has enough CPU power to do that. And I understand as well as agree with you. I was just curious what others thought about it so I’m sorry if I offended anyone by posing the question.

No problem. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.

Last year? I think you mean 2008, where “vet hurdling FIRST tetra” became “drive straight turn left.” While that was the major part of the key (which had some added punctuation), it was also a description of what the robots had to do on the field. I believe that the game description was what the hint was supposed to mean, not to give us a hint at the password.

Sorry. First year kind of meshes with all my other years. I wasn’t allowed to do much that year. But that makes more sense. Thank you for the clarification!

Just for fun, I threw a brute force password cracker at it with all letters caps and lowercase, numbers, and special characters. Even after setting the password start length to 18 (a guess based on last year’s password) I had an estimated crack time of over a year. I think 128 bit AES is going to be more than enough to hold people out for a few days.

You shouldn’t try to crack the code with the intention of getting an advantage for the build season. There are at least 1000 teams that will kill you because of it (and the rest will probably just build robots better than yours anyway).

If you guessed the code and opened the packet, but didn’t do anything with it, we’d never know and couldn’t judge you. The moral issue is more about how you use the decrypted manual than the decryption itself.

How could you not gain an advantage from that though? Just by opening it, you’d know more than anyone else way ahead of time, regardless of what you do.

Not necessarily. The first page of the manual is just a table of contents, which reveals very little beyond a vague sense of the game’s theme, so you probably won’t get much out of it that will give you a leg up.

However, if you think just opening the manual gives you an advantage, then it isn’t fair (and therefore unethical) to open the manual.

Why is this discussion coming up so much this year? I havent ever seen so many people wondering about breaking the encryption before.

I’d rather this didn’t become a thread on breaking the rules of Chief Delphi, from what I hear on other threads, you can’t discuss such things. Just the morality of it.

Im not suggesting that he cracks it, but learning for learnings sake and learning for malicious intent are two different things.
I dont encourage anyone to actually try to see the game manual early, I simply like to speculate.

Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe they don’t mind what your intent is, just what you can say on their forum.

For the sake of avoiding a pointless dispute i have modified my questionable post. You may now sleep easy :rolleyes:

You’re not wrong at all.

(emphasis mine)

People are free to do whatever they want to the manual (I would discourage that they try to crack it - it’s encrypted for a very good reason), but as long as they don’t post about it here, there’s nothing we can do. In the past, the discussion is usually okay if it focuses on the theory of encryption and breaking them, but once it crosses into actually trying to break the password is when we move towards the wrong side of the grey area.

…just my $0.02 and interpretation of the rules

Thank you. But no I can’t. I’ll be up all night with anticipation for saturday.

If there’s no way you could rationally expect to be able to break the password,1 is it really wrong to try (or to talk about trying)? No—because we can say with scientific rigour that you will not succeed, and thus no direct harm will come to the competition.2 (Note that if you actually could break the encryption, this would be a different moral quandary.)

But that doesn’t mean that people who don’t understand the difficulty, or who understand but don’t agree, will happily go along with your conclusion. FIRST could get mad at you (even in failure) and sanction you. That’s not in the rulebook, but obviously FIRST has some practical capability to do things administratively.

In actual fact, the idea (adapted from the ChiefDelphi rules quoted previously) that breaking the encryption represents stealing copyrighted material is kind of specious. There’s a fairly complicated and nuanced legal argument to be had, but the basics are that you can’t steal what you already possess lawfully,3 and that even if circumvention of effective technical protection measures can be a DMCA violation, it’s distinct from stealing.

Despite this, it’s nice to be nice to the people running the forum, even if (in that one case) their wishes are kind of unreasonable and unfounded.

1 Assuming FIRST doesn’t do anything foolish like make the password an anagram of the game hint. (They won’t do that again, at least until institutional memory of why they don’t do that anymore has faded.)
2From a slightly bigger perspective, what’s the net result of you trying (and of course failing)? You know more about breaking encryption—maybe you’ll use that skill for good or evil later in life. We spend more time discussing your moral failings—now we’ve used time and resources that could have been otherwise allocated. We can propose all sorts of possible consequences, but I think it’s fair to say that the impact of your actions in this case would be minimally negative, if at all.
3 For example: someone provides you with a locked box. (There is no key provided.) You decide you want it, and take it home. They can’t say you stole the box, nor can they say you’re trying to steal the contents of the box by prying the lock open. But if the box contains the FIRST game rules, then the copyright to those rules remains with the author, even though you own the container and the physical media on which the rules are printed.

More reason as to why it would be VERY VERY difficult to break the encryption

If you are able to break 128-bit AES encryption in a matter of days, you should be expecting a job offer from the NSA any minute.