[SpaceProgram] Ethics ( Warning Non - Tech Thread )

Matt Joyce matt at nycresistor.com
Tue Jan 3 06:50:21 CET 2012

What I want from this discussion is simple.  Respond to this question:

>>> Should there be a responsible disclosure/ethical policy ( or oath ) in
open source / hackerspace space exploration ?  ( Yes , No and justifying
opinion if you like ) :

I say yes.  Open Sourcing space exploration is awesome.  On the US side of
things, NASA or at least parts of NASA have been trying for years (
sometimes successfully ) to engage the public and private sector in efforts
that assist in space exploration.  In fact, that's what NASA exists to

However, space exploration can be dangerous business.  And I am not just
referring to the threats facing anything that leaves our planet ( which are
considerable ).  What I am referring to is to the wonderful folks who end
up underneath those things.

Now there's a myriad of potentially nasty things smart folks can achieve.
Space exploration tends to rely on some technology that is very easy to
adapt towards very nasty use cases.

I am probably more cautious than most in this regard, as I keep my personal
"do no harm" approach to life very seriously.  However, I would like there
to be some personal responsibility taken by any open source or hackerspace
born initiative entering into this area of technology.  In the 80s and 90s
hackers ( some of them us ) did some pretty terrible stuff while figuring
out how this internet stuff was going to work.  Early exploit writers
figured out the idea of responsible disclosure.  Something that even the
folks at wikileaks acknowledged is a sane and worthwhile investment in
effort.... well at least loosely.  And while I know ethics discussions are
like gasoline to hackers mailing lists...  Space exploration is
engineering.  Any engineering requires people consider the consequences of
their actions.

Nick Farr and several others have identified a consequence they would like
to achieve...  free communication between all peoples.  No censorship.
Something I generally support.

But, at the same time, I don't want anything I work on to kill people.
It's possible these two things may run into each other depending on the
perspective / situation.

I'd like very much for some sort of formal agreement to exist between
people working on this sort of stuff...  Don't want to dictate any terms,
but I feel like if we're going to go down this road, we need to set some
boundary conditions.

Hell it's early... but all we need is someone to start posting cheap guided
rocket designs to thingiverse and very soon there will be some very loud
and angry people causing a lot of trouble for us all.  So consider this a
pre-emptive flame bait... without the goal of starting a misguided
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