[hackerspaces] will the fruits of our labors be used for, good or for evil?

Ricky Ng-Adam rngadam at gmail.com
Wed Nov 30 07:19:58 CET 2011

Hello Al!

On Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 1:44 PM, Al Jigen Billings <albill at openbuddha.com>wrote:
>  I'm also on the e-mail lists for a number of other hackerspaces and this
> is a debate, on small scale, that many of them are having on their own. The
> DoD money is being discussed quite a bit. So far, I think everyone has made
> pretty much the same observations that I've made here and decided it was
> money best left on the table. Maybe you and your space feel different but I
> know of no one who has actually applied for the DoD money.

 Oh, you're going to love this then:


...or maybe not! And to say that it all got its start from an Hackerspace
in China too...

I actually had a similar discussion with Mitch who had second thoughts on
being part of the proposal. We had included him (with some reservations on
his part at the time) in the RFC answer but also the RFP answer without
seeking further permission... so no reflection on his actual position on
the issue.

It is my understanding now is that Mitch strongly opposes these kind of
grants and argued with me to reconsider.

This is what I said to him in an email reply where he persuasively argued
against working with DARPA:

Our proposal is for a significant short-term injection of half a million
> dollars in the worldwide community of hackerspaces, producing OpenHardware
> and OpenSoftware of benefit to everyone (and yes, also the military) while
> being led exclusively by people from Hackerspaces.

This leads to significant benefits to the worldwide community while
> demonstrating the power of openness and decentralized power structures.
> Hopefully, this international effort will lead to the realization that we
> are all in the same spaceship (planet Earth), reduce support for humanity
> self-destructive behaviors (wars) and thus achieve even the goals of the
> military... which should be to protect the Americans from harm. This can be
> achieved by force but also much more effectively by peace and prosperity
> for all. We're given an opportunity to inspire with a greater dream than
> building better ways to kill each other.

I think it is factual to say that the greatest projects engineers can hope
> of working on at the moment are either military projects or asinine
> commercialization. With the 100YSS, we can focus our creative energies on
> something greater than these two.

So in the long run, if this is successful, I think we will see more a
> recognition of the power of international collaboration on open
> technologies over a very long time period than an extension of the American
> military program. As noted in the document, USD$500K is hardly significant
> in the scope of a USD$1 trillion dollars worldwide space program over 100
> year.

I still stand by that and I believe the benefits outweight the harm in this
case, especially if we focus our efforts on space commercialization,
long-term sustainability and self-sufficiency technology projects and if
the 100YSS organization remains independent and global hackerspaces led.

And this is why I still think applying for that DARPA money was the right
thing to do...

Flame on,
伍思力 | Ricky Ng-Adam | http://xinchejian.com | (+86) 186-2126-2521
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