[hackerspaces] DARPA Sponsored Hacker Space Assessment

Jacob Appelbaum jacob at appelbaum.net
Tue Dec 20 11:22:08 CET 2011

On 12/06/2011 10:26 AM, Matt Joyce wrote:
>>From much earlier three threads ago when this all got started:
> I work for a .gov that does open source dev.  TOR was originally a US Navy
> funded project.  OpenBSD was at one point almost sorta maybe DARPA funded.

Please don't try to suggest that Tor is somehow the equivalent of
creating weapons systems such as ArcLight. The day that you get to
control the weapons system of an Aegis cruiser, I'll start to budge on
that point, until then, I think there are some stark differences. :)

Not everything that (the/any) "government" touches is bad - to argue
that over the internet is well, silly. Good might come out of things
that governments fund. Good is not always the intention in a global
sense. Generally, I think "good" is defined as something good for apes
with extremely scary weapons systems in one nation using those same
weapons system's to promote seriously fucked up exploitation.

Government funding is often driven by a need - if you're working on
object tracking software - it's likely to be used for targeting, if
you're working on network flow reconstruction - it's likely to be used
for so called "lawful interception" or spying contexts, and the list
goes on and on.

That does not mean that government funding is all bad. However it also
means that the few good things that come from such funding sources
should not create a wholly favourable view of the funding institution.

ie: Just because they feed their workers, I won't respect their work
product. If they're killing people as their end goal, it's probably
against the hacker ethos that brings me to this list. I really like what
Mars had to say on the subject as it strikes at the heart of this topic
- the banality of evil is quite serious and quite real.

Richard Feynman said it best:
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you're the
easiest person to fool."

He also made a really important related point in "Surely, you must be
Joking Mr. Feynman" where he discussed working on atomic weapons.

Feynman had started to work on the bomb because he feared that Germany
would have it and that Hitler would use it. At some point along the way,
he succeeded in his quest and along with many others, the US hat the
bomb. The war was won. But Feynman was still working on the bomb, he was
even improving it! Why was he still working on it? Why continue to
improve it? When he asked himself this question, he quit and went back
to teaching.

His point with that story and my point for retelling it badly was to
drive home a key point. When you do things, those things cause real
changes and you have to remember why you started in the first place.
Sometimes the things change, sometimes the places change, sometimes the
context changes but almost always - you change.

All the best,


( Also, it's Tor, not TOR. )

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