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

Al Jigen Billings albill at openbuddha.com
Wed Nov 30 07:27:52 CET 2011

On 11/29/11 10:19 PM, Ricky Ng-Adam wrote:
> Hello Al!
> On Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 1:44 PM, Al Jigen Billings 
> <albill at openbuddha.com <mailto: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:
> http://xinchejian.com/2011/11/11/final-100yss-proposal-delivered-to-darpa/
> ...or maybe not! And to say that it all got its start from an 
> Hackerspace in China too...

  Oh that's just great. :-)

  I laughed out loud when I saw it was a Chinese hackerspace sending it 
(though I recognize it has non-Chinese hackers involved). The first 
concrete proposal I've seen and it isn't even within America.

> 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.

  I have no knowledge of Mitch's politics but from what I know of him 
personally, I am not surprised if he has reservations (much more 
politely spoken than mine).

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

> 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,

Nah, I'm not going to flame you. At least your honest and direct about 
your thinking. I strongly disagree.

Listen, I don't think any one specific project is necessarily reeking of 
evil. I'm more concerned about it becoming acceptable, over time, to do 
projects sponsored by militaries, and the potential corrosive or 
co-opting effects on what is, right now, a bottom up, grass roots 
movement of hackers, makers, etc. to do shit for their own reasons and 
how they decide to do it. I don't want to see us all absorbed into 
existing institutions, especially ones with blood on their hands or 
which support violence and the harming of other beings.

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