Jun 142013
 

Encrypted e-mail: How much annoyance will you tolerate to keep the NSA away?

How to to encrypt e-mail, and why most don’t bother.

by – June 14 2013, 6:00am USMST

Aurich Lawson

In an age of smartphones and social networking, e-mail may strike many as quaint. But it remains the vehicle that millions of people use every day to send racy love letters, confidential business plans, and other communications both sender and receiver want to keep private. Following last week’s revelations of a secret program that gives the National Security Agency (NSA) access to some e-mails sent over Gmail, Hotmail, and other services—and years after it emerged that the NSA had gained access to full fiber-optic taps of raw Internet traffic—you may be wondering what you can do to keep your messages under wraps.

The answer is public key encryption, and we’ll show you how to use it.

The uses of asymmetry

The full extent of the cooperation between the NSA and various technology companies is unclear. It will probably remain that way for the foreseeable future. For the time being, however, it seems likely that the standard cryptographic tools used to secure data “in flight”—that is to say, the SSL that protects data traveling between machines on the Internet—remain secure as long as certain best practices are used.

That protects against some threats, such as wholesale monitoring of Internet traffic of the kind the NSA is known to engage in, but it doesn’t do anything to protect data that’s “at rest.” That is to say, SSL doesn’t do anything to prevent a company like Google or Microsoft from handing over an archive of your e-mail in response to a court order. The e-mails are just lying around on some Google server somewhere.

If you don’t want a government, service provider, employer, or unauthorized party to have access to your mail at rest, you need to encrypt the mail itself. But most encryption algorithms are symmetric, meaning that the encryption key serves a dual purpose: it both encrypts and decrypts. As such, people encrypting mail with a symmetric key would be able to decrypt other mail that used the same symmetric key. While this would protect against anyone without the key, it wouldn’t be very useful as an encrypted e-mail system.

The solution to this is asymmetric cryptography. In asymmetric encryption there are two opposite keys, and a message encrypted with one key can only be decrypted with the other. The two keys are known as a private key, which as the name might suggest is kept private, and a public key, which is broadcast to the world. Each time you want to send an e-mail to someone, you encrypt it with the recipient’s public key.

Asymmetric encryption is also used to perform mail signing. For this, the mail sender encrypts a hash, or mathematical fingerprint, of their file, producing a signature. Hashes are designed so that any small change to the message’s text will produce a different hash value. Anyone reading the mail can then decrypt the signature using the sender’s public key, giving them the original hash value. They can then compute the hash value of the mail they received and compare the two. If the values are the same, the message hasn’t been modified. If they’re not, it has—and we’ll see the uses of this later on.

Making things even more complex, having encryption support isn’t itself enough. To a great extent, you don’t control the things that are in your own inbox. That’s all mail that someone else has sent you. If you want your inbox to contain encrypted mail that only you can read, you need to be sure that people sending you mail are encrypting that mail when they send it. And if you want to be sure that everything in your sent mail folder is encrypted, you’ll need to send other people encrypted mail.

As a result, e-mail encryption is not something you can impose unilaterally. To protect the contents of your account, you need to ensure that everyone you communicate with is in a position to handle encrypted mail—and is willing to use that ability.

Finally, e-mail encryption doesn’t encrypt everything. Certain metadata—including e-mail addresses of both sender and recipient, time and date of sending, and the e-mail’s subject line—is unencrypted. Only the body of the mail (and any attachments) gets protected.

If you’re happy with these constraints, e-mail encryption is for you. Unfortunately, it can be complicated to use.

Cutting through the complexity

Few e-mail programs have PGP encryption features enabled by default. And even if they do, end users must still navigate a series of mazes that are long and confusing. Tasks include generating the key pair that will lock and unlock the communications and storing the private key in a location where no one else can get it. It also requires securely sharing a public key with every single person who wants to send you a private e-mail and securely getting a unique public key from each person you want to send encrypted e-mail to. No wonder most people—reportedly including Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who exposed aspects of the secret NSA dragnet—need time getting up to speed.

Fortunately, free e-mail encryption programs are available for all major operating systems, and the ability to use them effectively isn’t out of the grasp of average computer users if they know where to look. What follows is a set of step-by-step instructions for using GnuPG, the open-source implementation of the PGP encryption suite, to send and receive encrypted e-mails on machines running Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

After that, we’ll show readers how to use a similar crypto standard called S/MIME, which may prove simpler to deploy because it is already built into many desktop and mobile e-mail clients, including Outlook and Thunderbird. (Interested in S/MIME? Skip directly to page three.)

Linux will be touched on only briefly because much of the functionality is already included in various distributions and because many Linux users already have PGP down cold. (Users are invited to provide Linux instructions and screenshots in the comments following this article.)

PGP on Windows

The basic element you’ll need to encrypt mail is software to generate and manage your key pair and make them work with whatever e-mail program you happen to use. On Windows, there’s no shortage of proprietary apps that will do both, with Symantec’s PGP Desktop E-mail being perhaps the best known. There’s nothing wrong with this offering, but it’s almost $200 for a single-user license. This tutorial will instead focus on the open-source Gnu Privacy Guard, which is available for free on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.

GnuPG, or simply GPG, is still available mostly as a command-line tool, meaning there’s no graphical interface many end users would feel more comfortable using. Rather than learn a long list of GPG commands, many e-mail users are better off installing graphical implementation of GPG. On Windows, Gpg4win will give you everything you need to generate strongly encrypted messages that can be sent and later decrypted by the intended receiver using standard e-mail programs.

Enlarge / Download Gpg4win 2.1.1

At time of writing, the most recent version of Gpg4win is 2.1.1 and it’s available here. After downloading such a sensitive piece of software you’ll want to confirm the installer hasn’t been tampered with and truly came from Gpg4win rather than a site masquerading as gpg4win.org. To do that, we’ll need to check the SHA1 checksum for the downloaded file and make sure it matches the hash—a94b292c8944576e06fe8c697d5bb94e365cae25—listed on the Gpg4win download page. For those who prefer a graphical interface, use HashCalc. Install HashCalc and then open the program. In the “data” box, navigate to the folder where the downloaded gpg4win-2.1.1.exe file is located. In our case, since the SHA1 hash calculated by HashCalc matches the SHA1 digest provided on the Gpg4win download page, we have a high degree of confidence the file we’re about to install is genuine.

For readers who prefer command lines, Microsoft’s File Checksum Integrity Verifier may be a better way to check the SHA1 hashes. You’ll need to download and extract the FCIV package and follow the instructions in the readme text file, including making sure the folder containing the FCIV executable file has been added to the system path of Windows. With that out of the way, open a Windows command window and navigate to the folder containing the Gpg4win installer.

Once you’re sure you have the real gpg4win-2.1.1.exe, double-click on the file and click Yes to the User Access Control dialogue. When presented with the Gpg4win installation welcome screen, click Next, and then click Next at the following window to accept the Gpg4win license agreement. The next screen will allow you to choose the precise GPG components you want to install. Make sure you install all available components, including GPA, which is short for the GNU Privacy Assistant. Click Next at the Choose Components screen and again at the Destination and Install Options screens.

The Choose Components screen displayed during the Gpg4win installation.

At the Install Options screen, makes sure the “start menu” box is checked, click Next, and at the next window click Install. We won’t be using S/MIME for now, so if you see any screens referring to Trustable Root Certificates, you can click the box to skip configuration and click Next. The installation is now complete.

When you click on your Start menu and choose All Programs, you should now see a Gpg4win folder. Highlight it and choose GPA. This is the GNU Privacy Assistant. We’ll use it to generate our key pair, and later we’ll use it to store the public keys of people who will receive our encrypted messages. The first time you open GPA, you’ll see a screen asking if you want to generate a private key. That’s exactly what we want to do, so click “Generate key now.”

The Generate Key Now dialog presented by GPA.

In the screens that follow, enter your name and e-mail address. When asked if you want to back up your key, choose “Do it later.” It’s not that this step isn’t important, but we’ll want to back up the key only after we’re satisfied that we’ve done everything correctly. Next, you’ll need to choose a passphrase to protect your key. Your passphrase is like the password protecting an e-mail or Web account. Except rather than preventing an unauthorized person from accessing your account, it prevents the person from using your private key should it ever be lost or stolen. In other words, the password is extremely sensitive. It should have a minimum of nine characters, but 18, 27, or even 36 characters are even better. For more tips on generating a strong password, see Ars Senior Reporter Jon Brodkin’s discussion of master passwords here. When you’re finished, you’ll have generated your first key pair: the public key you will share with other people so they can send encrypted messages that only you can read, and the private key you’ll use to decrypt those messages.

While generating your key, be sure to set an expiration date, rather than allowing it to remain valid forever. This way, keys that new users abandon, lose or never end up using won’t remain on public servers indefinitely. Remember also to backup your private key somewhere that’s extremely safe. Storing it on a USB stick that’s stored in lock box is one suitable method. You may also want to upload your public key to one or more public key servers. These servers give crypto users a way to make their keys available to others and to fetch other people’s public keys.

Now that we’ve generated our first key pair, let’s import the public key of someone else so we’ll have it later when we’re ready to send them our first encrypted e-mail. For this, get someone to give you their public key, preferably in person. It will look something like this:

-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----
Version: GnuPG v2.0.17 (MingW32)
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=na8+
-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

Take the public key of a real-world contact and save it to a file named something like key.txt. If you don’t have a real-world contact who has a public key, save the above public key to a file and name it key.txt. Now, with GPA open, choose the “Import” icon, navigate to the disk location of key.txt, highlight the file, and click Open. Congratulations. You’ve just imported your first public key. Don’t get too excited just yet. You’ll need to import a public key for each person you want to send encrypted mail to.

Jun 142013
 

Support Snowden Rally Hong Kong

XAyxq4J.jpg (843×308)

Support Edward Snowden HK香港聲援愛德華.斯諾登

Event

“My intention is to ask the courts and people of Hong Kong to decide my fate.
I have been given no reason to doubt your system.”
– Edward Snowden

Meet 3pm, Chater Garden, Central Exit J2 | 本周六下午3點中環地鐵 J2出口

March to the US consulate, then HK SAR HQ in Tamar.

place

Confirmed Speakers:

Speaking at Chater Garden:
Albert Ho, Chairman of HK Alliance & ex-Democratic Party leader: “Why this case is important for HK’s future”
Ip lam Chong, In-Media HK: “The implications of Edward Snowden coming to Hong Kong”
Claudia Mo, LEGCO member, founding member of Civic Party: “Whistleblowers and free speech in HK”

Speaking at the US Consulate:
Charles Mok, LEGCO member: “The right to communicate safely online and freedom of expression”

Speaking at HK Gov’t HQ:
Law Yuk Kai, Director, HK Human Rights Monitor: “Hong Kong’s legal system & international legal system”
Ronny Tong, Civic Party LEGCO member: ” “

divider-png.png (200×38)

logo
Info at InMedia.org (Chi) & HongWrong.com (Eng)

Updates @ Follow us

Rally tag: #snowdenhk
Click to tweet this event in English or in Chinese.

JBtqptL.jpg (641×425)

divider-png.png (200×38)

Download signs/placards (or make your own):

Utw4he8.jpg (639×86)

Download event flyer (Eng/Chi):

O3k3YC6.png (74×95)

Link to event & update your timeline pic on FB:

timeline

divider-png.png (200×38)

divider-png.png (200×38)

Download press release / organiser contact info (Eng/Chi):

O3k3YC6.png (74×95)

  • Edward Snowden, the whistleblower behind the NSA internet and phone surveillance program has come to Hong Kong because, he says, we “have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”. Snowden sacrificed his personal safety and freedom to defend our right to free speech and Internet freedom.
  • We call on Hong Kong to respect international legal standards and procedures relating to the protection of Snowden; we condemn the U.S. government for violating our rights and privacy; and we call on the U.S. not to prosecute Snowden.”
  • Do you want to stand for freedom and the rule of law? Or should we totally disregard Hong Kong’s legal system? This episode marks a crossroads in Hong Kong’s future. Stand up for the future of Hong Kong.
  • Time: 3-5:30pm, Saturday June 15, 2013. Please bring a whistle!
  • Rally route: Starting 3pm at Chater Garden, Central MTR exit J2. Rally to the U.S Consulate and then Tamar SAR government building.
  • Rally preparation: Please bring your friends, prepare for rain and try to bring water resistant posters. Slogan suggestions: “Defend Free Speech, Protect Snowden”, “No Extradition”, “Respect Hong Kong Law”, “Shame on NSA”, “Stop Internet Surveillance”, “Betray Snowden = Betray Freedom”.

divider-png.png (200×38)

  • 揭發美國國家安全局侵犯全球互聯網和電話用戶私隱的愛德華.斯諾登目前正藏身香港,
    因為他相信香港「很重視言論自由和表達政治異見的權利」。他犧牲了自己的安逸的生活和自由,
    去捍衞大家的網絡與言論自由,這場仗不應該由他一個人來背負。
  • 請大家站出來,要求香港政府根據本身的法律去處理和保護斯諾登;譴責美國侵犯我們的權利與私隱,
    要求美國政府不要壓害這位人權捍衞者。
  • 我們亦要借這機會,告訴世界,香港市民會站出來,捍衞自由、人權和法治等普世價值。
    發出我們的聲音,向壓迫者說不!
  • 遊行時間:2013年6月15日下午3點至5點半。 請帶上口哨,我們都是 whistleblowers.
  • 遊行路線:3點於遮打花園(中環站J2出口)起步遊行至美國領事館抗議,
    再遊行至添馬艦政府總部要求港府保護斯諾登。
  • 遊行準備:請呼朋引伴一齊來;由於當天可能下雨,請自備一些防水的海報和橫額。遊行的口號包括:
    「捍衞自由港 保護斯諾登」、「停止互聯網監控」、「NSA可恥」、「出賣斯諾登=出賣自由」

divider-png.png (200×38)

divider-png.png (200×38)

Rally organisers | 遊行發起團體:

logo

hongwrong
inmedia
logo
logo
logo
logo
logo
Rhh38lY.jpg (137×83)
speak for humanity
logo
dWh8tNV.jpg (137×83) logo logo ;logo
logo logo logo logo
logo logo logo logo
china worker logo logo

inmediahk.net 香港獨立媒體網
Hong Wrong
Civil Human Rights Front 民間人權陣線
People Power 人民力量
Hong Kong Christian Institute 香港基督徒學會
Hong Kong First 香港本土
Midnight Blue 午夜藍
Speak For Humanity
Land Justice League 土地正義聯盟
1908 Book Store 1908書社
Youth Union 青年聯社
Left 21 左翼廿
Socialist Action 社會主義行動
NuTongXueShe 女同學社
League of Social Democrats 社會民主連線
Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union 香港教育專業人員協會
Next Media Trade Union 壹傳媒工會
Defend HK Freedom 保衛香港自由聯盟
Autonomous8a 自治八樓
Hong Kong Women’s Worker Association 婦女勞工協會
League of Social Democrats 社會民主連線
Hong Kong Civil Liberties Union
Democratic Party 民主黨
Labour Party 工黨
The Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre 街工
Student Union of The Chinese University of Hong Kong 中大學生會
Globalisation Monitor 全球化監察

FAQ

 

Titanians FAQ

DEFINITIONS:

B.O.R.G.:  is an acronym for the 3 institutions to which humanity turns to solve its problems. The BORG stands for Banks, Organized Religion and Government.

Banks: are Banking Systems, like the Federal Reserve System and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other similar central banks worldwide.

Bureaucracy:  is the systematic elimination, destruction, or avoidance of corrective feedback.

Cartel: A shared monopoly that exists only to maximize its members’ profits and maintain their monopoly status in the marketplace.

Comforting Liesare the most basic propaganda created by the BORG used to control human interaction by  auto-domesticating the slaves to thinking a certain way.  The BORG uses force and violence to convince the masses these the lies are true and a mass delusion occurs. Those who believe these lies, are considered to be Jacked-in to the Matrix. The Comforting Lies, also known as the “pernicious fallacies”, comprise the real Matrix that dominates humanity at the end of the 21st century.

Creativity: is the discovery of new true information.  Creativity is the product of Ethical awareness and Intelligence. Mathematically C = E * I.

Ethic:  has 2 parts; the first is a value, which is simply a description of what one wants more of in one’s life.  The second is a belief, or system of beliefs, that defines how one must act or behave in order to attain more of the resource defined as the value to be maximized.

Ethical Act: An ethical act is one that increases the creativity, or one or more of its logical equivalents, for at least one person, including the person acting, without limiting or diminishing the creativity of anyone.

Garcia, John David: Businessman, Scientist and Author who’s experiments into Creativity and Ethics, unlocked the secrets of non-bureaucratic organizational model known as the Octet – and since evolved into the Octologue.

Government: See – Power Brokerage Cartel

Intelligence: the ability to predict or control events in the real world.

In-Valid Ethic: One that leaves unchanged or diminishes the associated value when one acts in accordance with the associated Belief System.

Logical Equivalents of Creativity: this refers to values that always increase when creativity is increased; and are always limited or diminished when creativity is limited or diminished. Among these are Love, Awareness, Objective Truth and Personal Evolution.

Mala in se are acts generally recognized to be evil in and of themselves.

Mala prohibita are acts which are not evil in and of themselves; but which have been forbidden because someone wants to impose their will upon someone else.

Morality: The commitment to acting Ethically.

Octologue: A group of individuals, who agree to maximize their creativity, by agreeing to an ethical purpose and all group decisions are to be unanimous.  More than 20 years of scientific experimentation has shown the most creative groups are optimized with 8 individuals: 4 men and 4 women.

Organized Religion: refers to religious organizations big enough to influence legislation.

Power Brokerage: The “industry” wherein those wielding power over others share or delegate portions of that power with/to others in exchange for favors. Since the exercise of power over others is only ethical in self defense, it follows that power brokerage is inherently unethical. Governments are, by their nature, power brokerage cartels –  and hence fundamentally unethical.

Titania: is an Ethical Creative Society – based upon the Titanian Code of Honor.

Titanian Ethic: An act is good if it benefits at least one person, including the person acting, and harms no one.

Utilitarian Ethic: An act is good if it benefits more people than it harms.

Valid Ethic: One that actually increases the ethic’s value when one acts in accordance with the ethic’s Belief System.

Jun 122013
 

Why Edward Snowden Is a Hero

Posted by

Is Edward Snowden, the twenty-nine-year-old N.S.A. whistle-blower who was last said to be hiding in Hong Kong awaiting his fate, a hero or a traitor? He is a hero. In revealing the colossal scale of the U.S. government’s eavesdropping on Americans and other people around the world, he has performed a great public service that more than outweighs any breach of trust he may have committed. Like Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who released the Pentagon Papers, and Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli nuclear technician who revealed the existence of Israel’s weapons program, before him, Snowden has brought to light important information that deserved to be in the public domain, while doing no lasting harm to the national security of his country.

Doubtless, many people inside the U.S. power structure—President Obama included—and some of its apologists in the media will see things differently. When Snowden told the Guardian that “nothing good” was going to happen to him, he was almost certainly right. In fleeing to Hong Kong, he may have overlooked the existence of its extradition pact with the United States, which the U.S. authorities will most certainly seek to invoke. The National Security Agency has already referred the case to the Justice Department, and James Clapper, Obama’s director of National Intelligence, has said that Snowden’s leaks have done “huge, grave damage” to “our intelligence capabilities.”

Before accepting such claims at face value, let’s remind ourselves of what the leaks so far have not contained. They didn’t reveal anything about the algorithms that the N.S.A. uses, the groups or individuals that the agency targets, or the identities of U.S. agents. They didn’t contain the contents of any U.S. military plans, or of any conversations between U.S. or foreign officials. As Glenn Greenwald, one of the journalists who broke the story, pointed out on “Morning Joe” today, this wasn’t a WikiLeaks-style data dump. “[Snowden] spent months meticulously studying every document,” Greenwald said. “He didn’t just upload them to the Internet.”

So, what did the leaks tell us? First, they confirmed that the U.S. government, without obtaining any court warrants, routinely collects the phone logs of tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of Americans, who have no links to terrorism whatsoever. If the publicity prompts Congress to prevent phone companies such as Verizon and A.T. & T. from acting as information-gathering subsidiaries of the spying agencies, it won’t hamper legitimate domestic-surveillance operations—the N.S.A. can always go to court to obtain a wiretap or search warrant—and it will be a very good thing for the country.

The second revelation in the leaks was that the N.S.A., in targeting foreign suspects, has the capacity to access vast amounts of user data from U.S.-based Internet companies such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Skype. Exactly how this is done remains a bit murky. But it’s clear that, in the process of monitoring the communications of overseas militants and officials and the people who communicate with them, the N.S.A. sweeps up a great deal of online data about Americans, and keeps it locked away—seemingly forever.

Conceivably, the fact that Uncle Sam is watching their Facebook and Google accounts could come as news to some dimwit would-be jihadis in foreign locales, prompting them to communicate in ways that are harder for the N.S.A. to track. But it will hardly surprise the organized terrorist groups, which already go to great lengths to avoid being monitored. Not for nothing did Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad go without a phone or Internet connection.

Another Snowden leak, which Greenwald and the Guardian published over the weekend, was a set of documents concerning another secret N.S.A. tracking program with an Orwellian name: “Boundless Informant.” Apparently designed to keep Snowden’s former bosses abreast of what sorts of data it was collecting around the world, the program unveiled the vast reach of the N.S.A.’s activities. In March, 2013, alone, the Guardian reported, the N.S.A. collected ninety-seven billion pieces of information from computer networks worldwide, and three billion of those pieces came from U.S.-based networks.

It’s hardly surprising that the main targets for the N.S.A.’s data collection were Iran (fourteen billion pieces in that period) and Pakistan (more than thirteen billion), but countries such as Jordan, India, and Egypt, American allies all, may be a bit surprised to find themselves so high on the list. “We hack everyone everywhere,” Snowden told the Guardian. “We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world. We are not at war with these countries.”

For most Americans, the main concern will be domestic spying, and the chronic lack of oversight that Snowden’s leaks have highlighted. In the years since 9/11, the spying agencies have been given great leeway to expand their activities, with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court, which deals with legal requests from the agencies, and the congressional intelligence committees, which nominally oversees all of their activities, all too often acting as rubber stamps rather than proper watchdogs.

Partly, that was due to lack of gumption and an eagerness to look tough on issues of counterterrorism. But it also reflected a lack of information. Just a couple of months ago, at a Senate hearing, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, one of the few legislators to sound any misgivings over the activities of the intelligence agencies, asked Clapper, “Does the N.S.A. collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” To which Clapper replied: “No, sir.” (He added, “Not wittingly.”) At another hearing, General Keith Alexander, the director of the N.S.A., denied fourteen times that the agency had the technical capability to intercept e-mails and other online communications in the United States.

Thanks to Snowden, and what he told the Guardian and the Washington Post, we now have cause to doubt the truth of this testimony. In Snowden’s words: “The N.S.A. has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”

Were Clapper and Alexander deliberately lying? If so, perhaps Snowden should be extradited to the United States and dragged into court—but only as part of a proceeding in which the two spymasters face charges of misleading Congress. I suppose you could make the argument that he is a naïve young man who didn’t fully understand the dangerous nature of the world in which we live. You could question his motives, and call him a publicity seeker, or an idiot. (Fleeing to Hong Kong wasn’t very smart.) But he doesn’t sound like an airhead; he sounds like that most awkward and infuriating of creatures—a man of conscience. “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things,” he told Greenwald. “I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

So what is Snowden’s real crime? Like Ellsberg, Vanunu, and Bradley Manning before him, he uncovered questionable activities that those in power would rather have kept secret. That’s the valuable role that whistle-blowers play in a free society, and it’s one that, in each individual case, should be weighed against the breach of trust they commit, and the potential harm their revelations can cause. In some instances, conceivably, the interests of the state should prevail. Here, though, the scales are clearly tipped in Snowden’s favor.

I’ll leave the last word to Ellsberg, who, for revealing to the world that that Pentagon knew early on that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable, was described in some quarters as a communist and a traitor: “Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA’s surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect.”

Photograph by Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty.

May 272013
 

Open Source Ecology

is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that for the last two years has been creating the Global Village Construction Set, an open source, low-cost, high performance technological platform that allows for the easy, DIY fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a sustainable civilization with modern comforts. The GVCS lowers the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing and can be seen as a life-size lego-like set of modular tools that can create entire economies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, in urban redevelopment, or in the developing world.

DEVELOPMENT TEAM:

We are an open source venture and as such we facilitate the collaboration of hundreds of online volunteers. The Development Team Wiki page is Here. If you?re a project contributor and aren?t listed, please edit the page.

CORE TEAM:

FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR – MARCIN JAKUBOWSKI

Marcin came to the U.S. from Poland as a child. He graduated with honors from Princeton and earned his Ph.D. in fusion physics from the University of Wisconsin. Frustrated with the lack of relevance to pressing world issues in his education, he founded Open Source Ecology in 2003 in order to make closed-loop manufacturing a reality. Marcin has been the lead fabricator, designer, blogger, and technical curator for OSE?s prototyping thus far. His main interest is evolving to freedom by eliminating resource scarcity as the main force behind human relations – with the wise use of modern technology adapted for human service. He lives and works at OSE?s land-based facility, Factor e Farm in rural Missouri. Marcin wakes up early, practices yoga, cooks indian food, and he?s very ambitious. He has been selected as a TED 2011 Fellow. See his TED Talk on the Global Village Construction Set. Contact: opensourceecology at gmail dot com

MEDIA DIRECTOR – ISAIAH SAXON

Co-founder and Director of Encyclopedia Pictura, a creative team working in film, game design, architecture and agriculture. He has won numerous awards for his music videos, including Video of the Year from DA&D, UKVMA, Antville, and Spin Magazine. Esquire called Encyclopedia Pictura ?The Directors of the Future.? EP is currently in development on their debut feature film, DIY in 3d, which aims to be the new heroic myth of the Maker Movement in America. They are co-founding an augmented reality gaming startup as part of the DIY transmedia world. For the last two years, Isaiah has led an effort to build a unique hillside neighborhood in Aptos, California called Trout Gulch. He lives and works there along with 17 others. He is co-founder of Trout Gulch Farm. At Open Source Ecology, Isaiah directs the online information architecture, explainer videos, presentations (including this year?s TED Fellows Talk), and Kickstarter campaign. Contact: isaiah at encyclopedia pictura dot com

ADVISOR – ADRIAN HONG

Adrian Hong is Managing Director of Pegasus Strategies LLC, a strategic advisory firm working with governments, funds and NGOs.
Mr. Hong was an inaugural TED Fellow (2009) and TED Senior Fellow (2010 – 2012). He also manages Indy Incubator, an incubator and accelerator for innovative and socially-conscious businesses and non-profits.
Mr. Hong contributes regularly to national and international media, including Foreign Policy, Fox News, The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, and has briefed and advised parliaments, ministries, diplomats and governments around the world. He is an advisor on Global Insights & Research for Brand USA, the United State’s new travel and tourism promotion initiative, a member of Delta Airlines’ Ideas In Flight advisory initiative. He is also a mentor at Spark Labs, Korea’s premier startup accelerator.
Mr. Hong currently advises or serves on the boards of several non-profit and for profit ventures, including Open Source Ecology, Lumoon Vision and Street Symphony. He is also co-founder and former Executive Director of Liberty in North Korea, an organization focused on human rights and refugee protection of North Koreans. Mr. Hong was a visitor at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy (2010 – 2011), a Visiting Lecturer teaching “America, Human Rights and Foreign Policy” at Korea’s Ewha University (2008), and was selected as a 2009 Arnold Wolfers Fellow at Yale University (2009). He was also selected to receive the the Japanese American Citizens League ‘Vision Award’ (2009).
Mr. Hong is also co-founder of the TEDxSanDiego conference, held annually since 2010, and founder/curator of the TEDxTripoli conference, founded in 2012.

WEB ADMINISTRATOR – ELIFARLEY CRUZ

Elifarley Cruz is a software engineer from Brazil who has contributed to a number of open source software projects and to the P2P Foundation as a co-editor. A long-time Linux user, he’s passionate about open source software and hardware, knowledge sharing and the commons. He believes in the abolishment of artificial limitations and unrestricted sharing of knowledge as ways to bring forth the true human potential and take society to new heights. Mr. Cruz is helping OSE with IT issues, administration of the forum and wiki, and is a True Fan. Contact: elifarley at opensourceecology dot org

BUSINESS CONSULTANT – LUIS DIAZ

With six years of progressive experience in formulation, implementation and execution of business and marketing strategies, Mr. Diaz actively participates in the organizational development and operations of OSE. As an advisor in strategic planning, he aids in ensuring that the organization?s vision is properly implemented in accordance to its governance, bylaws and mission. Previously, Mr. Diaz was engaged in launching several new ventures and provided guidance in the areas of brand design and development, financial planning, internal management systems and human resources. Contact: lad93978 at yahoo dot com
May 242013
 

Colorado House votes Unanimously to Nullify Unconstitutional Federal Hemp Farming Ban

By on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

DENVER, Col. (May 6, 2013) – The Colorado state house today voted to approve SB13-241, a bill that would legalize the farming and production of “industrial hemp” within the state.  If signed into law, the bill would effectively nullify the unconstitutional federal ban on hemp production in Colorado.  The House voted unanimously on a slightly amended version of a bill already approved by the State Senate, 34-1.  The legislation will now go back to the Senate, which is widely expected to send the legislation to Governor Hickenlooper for a signature.

The federal government has no constitutional authority to ban the production of this industrial plant, but has persisted in preventing its domestic production.  The result?  Products with hemp that are readily available at your local grocery store must be imported from another country – resulting in higher costs for you and fewer farming jobs in America.  The United States is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp, which is used in food products, clothing, oil and much more.  The top exporters are China and Canada.

The United States is the only developed nation that fails to cultivate industrial hemp as an economic crop, according to the Congressional Resource Service.  Recent congressional research indicates that the hemp market consists of over 25,000 various products. The same research found that America imports over $400 million worth of hemp from other countries.  At this time of economic difficulty, 13-241 would not only expand freedom and support the Constitution, it would also be a great jobs bill.

With the passage of Amendment 64, which legalized small amounts of marijuana for adults, hemp was removed from the state’s controlled substances list, though a provision of the initiative states that that hemp cultivation is contingent on legislative action – this bill would be that required action necessary to legalize hemp and authorize the state to begin distributing hemp licenses.Under the proposal farmers would have the option of applying for a 10-acre plot in order to study the viability of various hemp varieties, or they could apply for a larger, full-scale hemp farm – one that wouldn’t be limited by the number of plants, but rather by the THC content in said plants.

HEMP OVERVIEW AND USE

Industrial hemp is not marijuana, but an industrial agricultural product used for a wide variety of purposes, including the manufacture of cordage of varying tensile strength, durable clothing and nutritional products. During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!

Even though soil, climate and agricultural capabilities could make the United States a massive producer of industrial hemp, today no hemp is grown for public sale, use and consumption within the United States. China is the world’s greatest producer and the United States is the #1 importer of hemp and hemp products in the world.

Since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.

The Many Uses of Hemp

Environmental and Economic Benefits of Hemp

Hemp for Victory – Entire Film – US Government asks farmers to grow it

May 232013
 

SAN JOSE, Calif. (CNNMoney)

How big is Bitcoin?

The power of all the computers networked together to maintain the digital currency’s system far exceeds the combined processing strength of the top 500 most powerful supercomputers.

Easily. The matchup isn’t even close.

There have been lots of stories about Bitcoin in the past few months thanks to its rapid price rise — from $5 a year ago for 1 bitcoin to a record high of $266 in April, before falling back to around $122 today.

Bitcoin’s price moves attract the most interest, but the system’s infrastructure is its most fascinating aspect. The crypto currency dreamed up in 2009 by a still-anonymous hacker is now one of the world’s most expansive large-scale computing pioneers.

At any given moment, Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network contains thousands of computers linked together to generate more than 1,000 petaflops of raw computing power. To put that in perspective, the world’s fastest supercomputer, Titan, runs at less than 18 petaflops. The Bitcoin network is sucking down nearly $200,000 a day in electricity costs, according to one tracking site’s estimate.

That’s stunning for an “economy” that sprang into being just four years ago, when an inventor using the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” released the system’s source code on a cryptography mailing list.

Related story: You can spend bitcoins at your local mall

Nakamoto built in an ingenious lure to draw in computing power. Bitcoins are “created” in batches every 10 minutes by an algorithm designed to eventually release a finite total of 21 million bitcoins. So far, 11 million have been released. The final coin won’t be minted until 2140.

Computers compete to get hold of those new bitcoins by solving mathematical problems of increasing complexity. Whoever does it first gets the coins.

Those same computers maintain Bitcoin’s “blockchain,” the public ledger that stores and verifies all of Bitcoin’s transaction records. As the network grows more powerful, so do the safeguards that prevent Bitcoin’s economy from being manipulated — or erased.

Related story: Strategist predicts end of Bitcoin

In the early days, a standard PC could successfully “mine” for coins and occasionally snag a handful. Today, mining is dominated by pros running custom-built computers with stunning amounts of power. It’s essentially an arms race, and the weapons have escalated fast.

So have the stakes they’re playing for. At $122 per coin, the 3,600 coins “minted” each day are collectively worth more than $430,000. The entire Bitcoin “economy” has a market cap of nearly $1.4 billion.

That kind of cash has drawn new players into the fold.

Two venture capital firms announced dedicated Bitcoin funds last week, and several others unveiled multimillion-dollar investments in buzzed-about startups like BitPay ($2 million from Founders Fund) and BitInstant ($1.5 million, led by the Winklevoss twins of Facebook (FB) fame).

“This isn’t a bubble or tulip mania,” said Tyler Winklevoss in a keynote talk at last weekend’s Bitcoin 2013, a conference that brought together more than 1,000 Bitcoin developers, speculators, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts. “This is rapid adoption. This is a rush.”

Keeping up with the rush will be the big challenge this year. Bitcoin’s growth is stress-testing the system in unprecedented ways. A key concern? The volume of bitcoin transactions — currently hovering around 60,000 per day — is doubling roughly every four months. If it doubles a few more times, the system will run up against a built-in technical limit that requires significant changes to overcome.

Related story: Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox lands in feds’ crosshairs

Gavin Andersen, the Bitcoin system’s lead developer, estimates that point is only a year or so away.

He’s also confident that the Bitcoin ecosystem is resilient enough to handle it. The Bitcoin project has been full of “chaos and drama” ever since he’s been involved, but it hasn’t yet derailed the experiment, Andersen said in a “state of the union” talk at the Bitcoin conference.

He said he’s excited to see what Bitcoin will become with the fresh infusion of entrepreneurs and developers that the currency’s rising visibility has drawn into the community.

“We’ve been on a roller coaster ride,” Andersen said. “I expect, at least for the next few years, we’re going to remain on a roller coaster ride.” To top of page

May 132013
 

Does Innovation Require the Patent Office?

·

Two years ago, I spoke to a gentlemen who had started and sold four companies. He was currently working on a new project that sounded very promising (for all I know, he has already sold that one too). We had just heard a talk in which the speaker told people that the whole key to business success in our time is patent ownership. Without it, no business can really succeed.

So I asked this gentleman what he thought of the talk. His response was quick (I paraphrase here):

“I’ve never once bothered with patents. They are expensive and pointless. They produce no revenue on their own. They sell no product or service. And they harm development by hemming in a company on a preset track. I need to be able to customize offerings and change what we do day to day. Patents bias a company toward old solutions even when they don’t work anymore.”

That’s an interesting perspective. And it raises the question: How much do patents have to do with innovation in the real world?

As much as we hear about patents, we might suppose there is some sort of direct link between them and the innovations we enjoy in our lives. Someone invents something and shows the plan to a bureaucrat. The exclusive license is issued, and away we go.

Economic historians have usually assumed a direct link between patents and innovation, basing much of their chronicle of history on records at the Patent Office. Much of what we think we know — that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, that the Wright Brothers were first in flight, that Thomas Edison holds the record for inventions because he has the most patents — comes from these records.

But is it true? Most patent holders assume so. They cling to them as a source of life and defend them against all encroachment. Some businesses build up their war chests with patents as purely defensive measures. The more you own, the more you can intimidate your competitors to stay out of your territory.

So how important are patents in generating innovation? The answer is not much, according to four economists from the Technical University of Lisbon. They are circulating their research on a platform sponsored by the St. Louis Federal Reserve. They looked at the best innovations between 1977-2004, as listed by the R&D awards in the journal Research and Development. They matched 3,000 innovations against patent records to establish the relationship.

Their findings are remarkable: Nine in 10 of the innovations were never patented. They were just created and marketed, and changed the world. In other words, it’s the market, not the bureaucracy, that innovates. The authors grant that there might have been downstream versions of the same innovations that were patented. But that fact actually doesn’t change the implications of the study, namely that there is no relationship between the existence of the Patent Office and direction and pace of innovation.

As you dig through their citations, you find other nuggets of information. It turns out that other researchers have found the same thing in early parts of the 20th century and even all the way back to the middle of the 19th. The results keep coming up the same way: There are patents and there are innovations, but they have little or nothing to do with each other.

These results are a classic case of the huge chasm between pop science and real science. In the pop version, people imagine that they will dream up some idea, file a patent, and then bring it into production and become a billionaire. The reality on the ground is that 90% of patents go completely unused. They are suitable for hanging, but not much else.

The patents that are actually in play in this world are used as weapons by big shots to hurt their competitors. They don’t cause business to succeed; it’s the reverse. The bigger the business, the more it is in the market for patents to help the big business hold its place in the market. They prompt lawsuits that go on for years that are eventually settled with an exchange of cash. Meanwhile, rather than actually fueling the innovative process, they put it on hold. So long as a patent is in existence, other innovations are legally bound not to do what they do best.

The software industry is an excellent case in point. In the 1970s and 1980s, patents were rare to nonexistent. Companies made money by making stuff and selling it, just as free enterprise would suggest. Then, the industry grew. People like Steve Jobs who once touted that talent for stealing the ideas of others began threatening other companies with lawsuits. Young programmers today know for a fact that if they ever come up with anything that threatens a big player, the small company is going to be hammered.

Two parallel streams of innovative software strategies have been running over the last 10 years: 1) highly protected and 2) patentless open source. Apple and Microsoft represent the patented style. Google is much more inclined to the open model. Companies like WordPress reveal their code to the world and make money in other ways. A good test case comes from the big smartphone war between Apple’s iOS, on the one hand, and Google’s Android operating system on the other.

The consensus today is that Android is winning hands down in terms of new users. The open-source system is roaring ahead with more than half the smartphone market already and a growing percentage of the tablet market. In terms of moneymaking, the app economy of the iOS is actually doing much better. But consider that it had a huge start, whereas the Android came much later. My own impression from dealing with both is that Android is moving ahead in every area fast.

We need to rethink our assumptions about the role of patents and innovations. If they have nothing to do with each other, and if patents actually dramatically slow down the pace of development, why not get rid of them altogether? That’s exactly what many of the old liberals of the 19th century pushed, and it the case is further bolstered by Stephan Kinsella’s Against Intellectual Property.

Government planning never works. Laissez Faire isn’t perfect, but it provides the best chance for innovations to appear and thrive and for prosperity to result. The lesson for anyone with a business idea: Run with it and don’t wait on a bureaucracy.

Sincerely,
Jeffrey Tucker

May 112013
 

The War on 3D Printing Begins

Tony Cartalucci
Infowars.com
May 11, 2013

May 11, 2013 (LocalOrg) – It was inevitable. A technology like 3D printing that essentially puts cheap labor, manufacturing, and retail all in the same place – upon one’s desktop – spells the absolute, utter and permanent end to the monopolies and unwarranted power and influence of the corporate-financier elite who have lorded over humanity since human civilization began – a permanent end the elite will fight against with the total summation of their ill-gotten power and influence.

The pretext being used to begin this war, is a 3D printed gun built and demonstrated by Defense Distributed in Austin, Texas. After designing, printing out, and firing the 3D printed gun, the US State Department demanded that the designs, distributed for free on the Internet, be taken down – claiming tenuously that by posting the designs on the Internet, arms export bans may have been violated – this the same government that is on record, openly shipping arms, cash, and military equipment to its own listed terrorist organizations from the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK or MKO) in Iraq and Iran, to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) in Libya, to Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise,Jabhat al-Nusra.

In the Independent’s article, “US government orders Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed to remove blueprint for 3D-printed handgun from the web,” it’s reported that:

The US government has demanded the removal of online files which allow users to 3D-print their own unregistered gun at home.

The blueprint has so far been downloaded more than 100,000 times since Defense Distributed – which spent a year designing the “Liberator” handgun – made it available online.

Last week Defense Distributed built the gun from plastic on an industrial 3D printer bought on eBay for $8,000 (£5,140), and fired it.

The Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance wrote to the company’s founder Cody Wilson demanding the designs be “removed from public access” until he could prove he had not broken laws governing shipping weapons overseas.

3D Printing: The Sum of All Corporate-Fascist Fears

For several years now, buzz has been growing about 3D printing. Small companies have begun opening up around the world, selling 3D printers, or using 3D printers for small run production, filling niches, or shifting markets from large corporations and their globalized supply chains, to local, decentralized business models. While governments like those in China have embraced the technology and wholly encourage a grassroots, bottom-up industrial revolution, others, like the US have only feigned enthusiasm.

US President Barack Obama, in his 2013 State of the Union address, according to CNET’s “Here’s the 3D-printing institute in Obama’s State of the Union,” referred specifically to 3D printing, claiming:

After shedding jobs for more than 10 years, our manufacturers have added about 500,000 jobs over the past three. Caterpillar is bringing jobs back from Japan. Ford is bringing jobs back from Mexico. After locating plants in other countries like China, Intel is opening its most advanced plant right here at home. And this year, Apple will start making Macs in America again.

There are things we can do, right now, to accelerate this trend. Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything. There’s no reason this can’t happen in other towns.

Caterpillar, Ford, Intel, and Apple are large globalized monopolies – the personal manufacturing revolution would not see “state-of-the art labs” open up in towns across America to help augment the bottom lines of these Fortune 500 corporations, but would see decentralized alternatives to these corporations cut into and utterly gut their bottom lines – a reality US President Barack Obama and the corporate-financier interests that dictate his agenda must surely be aware of.

The War on 3D Printing Begins local motors rally fighter

Image: Local Motors’ Rally Fighter vehicle. The unspoken fear the establishment holds regarding 3D printing and other forms of personal manufacturing is that their central globalized monopolies will be replaced by increasingly smaller, localized companies like Local Motors who already provides a model for “microfactories” and the localization of auto-manufacturing. Job creation, profits, wealth, power, and influence will be redistributed locally, not through government handouts, but by way of technology and local entrepreneurship – ending centuries of disparity between the people and the “elite.”

….

In the case of Ford and other big-auto giants, who by right should be shuttered and out of business already had it not been for their unwarranted influence and power buying them immense bailouts from America’s taxpayers, there are already alternative business models undermining their monopolies. In America itself, there is Local Motors who recently gave a short tour of their manufacturing facility they called a “microfactory.” These microfactorires represent the next step in industrialization where small companies will cater to smaller, local markets and niches, entirely replacing the centralized Fortune 500 corporations of Detroit, barely clinging to life and their unsustainable, antiquated business model as it is.

Video: Inside Local Motors’ Rally Fighter and open-source collaborative microfactory production.

The only conceivable means by which big-auto monopolies could hope to survive is by having the same bought-and-paid for politicians it used to bail its collapsed business model out with, impose sweeping regulations to make it illegal for “microfactories” to operate. We can already imagine, by extrapolating from the US State Department’s move against Defense Distributed, the arguments that will be made. These will be centered around “safety,” “taxation,” and perhaps even claims as bold as threatening “jobs” of autoworkers at Fortune 500 monopolies.

Similar ploys are currently working their way through a legislative and sociopolitical gauntlet in regards to the organic food movement.

In reality, whatever excuse the US government has made to take down the first fully 3D printed gun’s CAD files from the Internet, it is fear of lost hegemony that drives this burgeoning war on personal manufacturing. James Ball of the Guardian, in an article titled, “US government attempts to stifle 3D-printer gun designs will ultimately fail,” predicts that:

This is a ban that’s going to be virtually impossible to enforce: as almost any music company will testify, stopping online filesharing by banning particular sites or devices is roughly akin to stopping a tsunami with a bucket.

Another approach might be to attempt to ban or regulate 3D printers themselves. To do so is to stifle a potentially revolutionary technology in order to address a hypothetical risk – and that’s even before the practical problems of defining a 3D printer for the legislation. It would have to be defined broadly enough for a law to be effective, but narrowly enough so that enforcing the law doesn’t take out half of the equipment used in every day manufacturing. It is likely a futile ambition.

Indeed – as a 3D printer is essentially nothing more than circuit boards, stepper motors, and heating elements to melt and extrude layers of plastic – it would be as impossible as it would be ridiculous to try to stem the tide of 3D printing by regulating printers, as it will be to attempt to regulate and ban any and all “prints” that threaten the current establishment’s monopolies and hold on power.

Everyone is eventually going to have access to this technology and by consequence, the ability to print out on their desktop what Fortune 500 corporations have held monopolies over for generations, including arms manufacturing, automobiles, and electronics. The age of empire, corporatism, and elitism is drawing to a close, but apparently not without one last battle.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

How to Win the Battle

While some may be paralyzed in fear over the prospect of their neighbor one day having the ability to print out a fully functional weapon, it must be realized that like all other prolific technologies, the fact that it will be in “everyone’s” hands means that more good people than bad will have access to it, and it will be in their collective interests to create and maintain stability within any emerging technological paradigm. Just like with information technology, where malicious activity certainly exists, more people are interested in the smooth, stable function of this technology in daily life and have created a paradigm where disruptions happen, but life goes on.

People must embrace, not fear 3D printing. Key to its integration into society is to ensure that as many people as possible understand it and have access to it. This must be done as quickly as possible, to outpace inevitable legislation that seeks to strangle this revolution in its cradle.

Education: We must learn as much about this technology as possible. 3D printing incorporates skills in electronics, 3D design, and material science. Developing skill-sets in any of these areas would be beneficial. There are endless resources available online for free that offer information and tutorials on how to develop these skills – just an Internet search away.

Alternatively, for people curious about this technology and seeking to get hands-on experience, they could seek out and visit their local hackerspace (an extensive list of spaces can be found here). Hackerspaces are essentially technological fitness clubs, where one pays dues monthly for access to a space and the equipment within it to work on projects either individually or in a collaborative effort.

The War on 3D Printing Begins
Image: Cover of “Hackerspaces @ the_beginning,” which chronicles the creation, challenges and successes of hackerspaces around the world. The original file can be found here, and an online version can be viewed here, on Scribd.

….

Hackerspaces generally attract people with the necessary skill-sets to assemble, use, and troubleshoot 3D printers currently on the market today. They also possess the skill-sets needed to build 3D printers and other computer-controlled manufacturing systems from parts that as of yet have not been “regulated.” Generally, hackerspaces host monthly workshops that help new people develop basic skills like soldering and programming, or 3D design and even “builds” where purchased 3D printer kits are constructed with the guidance of a resident expert. The proliferation of this knowledge will make the already daunting task of stripping personal manufacturing technology from the people, all but impossible.

Developing Local Institutions: It is essential to both expand existing hackerspaces and their use of personal manufacturing technology, as well as establish and build up new spaces. Ingraining hackerspaces as essential local institutions in our communities is one of the keys to heading off the coming war on personal manufacturing and other disruptive technologies sure to gain the ire of legislators as corporate-financier monopolies begin to suffer.

A place where people can go learn and use this technology, as well as collaborate in its advancement will turn 3D printing and other disruptive technologies from curiosities, into practical tools communities can use to reinvigorate their local economies, solve local problems, and overall improve their lives themselves, independently and self-sufficiently.

A hackerspace can start with something as simple as a single table with several chairs around it and some shared equipment used during weekend get-togethers with friends, and can develop into something as significant as a full-fledged organization with hundreds of members and global reach.

For more information on existing hackerspaces, and inspiration for those seeking to start their own, please see: “Inspiration for Starting a Hackerspace.”

Ignoring and Circumventing Illegitimate Governments and Their Declarations: As already cited, the US government is currently funding a myriad of its own listed terrorist organizations to horrific effect from Iraq and Iran, to Libya and Syria. To declare a 3D printed gun “outlawed” and its presence on the Internet a “violation” of arms export laws, is as hypocritical as it is illegitimate.

The government, in a free society, works for the people. The people have not asked the government to ban 3D printed guns, just like they have not asked for the myriad of laws the government is currently citing as justification for its unilateral declaration. The government does not dictate to the people what they can and cannot have or what they can and cannot make. As such, we are not obligated to respect their declarations in regards to 3D printing any more than we have demonstrably respected their declarations regarding so-called “intellectual property.”

Just as file sharing continues unabated, while alternative media supplants what is left of the corporate-media’s monopolies, a similar paradigm must be developed and encouraged across the tech community in regards to 3D printing, personal manufacturing, and other emerging disruptive technologies such as synthetic biology.

Conclusion

Already, parallels are being drawn between 3D printing and the shifting paradigms of information technology and file sharing. Whether or not the average person joins in against the war on 3D printing and personal manufacturing, the tech community will almost certainly continue on with their success from the realm of shaping and moving information to the world of shaping and moving atoms. However, for the average person clearly aware that “something” is not quite right about where things in general are going and who are seeking solutions, establishing local institutions that leverage unprecedented technology to solve our problems ourselves, without disingenuous politicians and their endless schemes, seems like a sure choice.

There is already a burgeoning community of talented people working on bringing this technology to its maturity and leveraging it for the benefit of communities and individuals. If we are to ensure this technology stays in the people’s hands and is used in the best interests of the people, then as many of “the people’ as possible must get involved.

Do some additional research into 3D printing, locate your local hackerspace, and/or start a hackerspace of your own. Start looking into buying or building a 3D printer and developing ideas on how to use this technology both for education and for local, tangible development. The future is what we make of it, and if we – with our own two hands – are making nothing, we have no future.

This article was posted: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 8:10 am