Knowledge is everywhere...

...and that's scary!

Can Open Source be giving comfort to the enemy
? At Chris Anderson's The Long Tail, found via Slashdot.

Chris Anderson is conflicted - he runs a website for makers of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to share their experiences and knowledge. UAVs have clear military applications (like the US's Predator drone), but Chris figured that since the "bad guys" already UAVs, what's the harm in sharing amateur knowledge? And then:
But all that came to a head today when I read the main UAV newsgroup, and saw that Amir Aalipour, an Iranian in Tehran, had posted some pictures of his swing-wing UAV (shown), proudly bedecked with the colors of the Iranian flag. He's been following the discussion in these forums for some time and now wanted to come forward with his own impressive work.

...what should I do if Amir or someone like him from a country associated with Bad Stuff posts on our own forums looking for technical advice?
An interesting question. Some websites/software have the "check here if you are a terrorist" box, and don't let you use the software if you are dumb enough to check that box. But on an open-source site like Chris' there's no real way to tell what people are using the technology for unless they tell you. Chris only got uneasy after seeing Amir's UAV painted with the Iranian flag - had Amir not painted his UAV, no problems for Chris.

Amir is only 17 years old, reads Chris Anderson's website, and posted his own comment. Here's Amir's website. Most of his posts are in Farsi, but there are some English posts and also some pictures of his homemade UAV (very impressive). I tried to post a comment on Amir's post about the incident, but given that his site is in Farsi I don't really know whether I was successful.

Along the same kind of lines, Steven Levitt describes how he would attack the United States if he was a terrorist. He also wants to hear your ideas on how to create terror attacks:
Consider that posting them could be a form of public service: I presume that a lot more folks who oppose and fight terror read this blog than actual terrorists. So by getting these ideas out in the open, it gives terror fighters a chance to consider and plan for these scenarios before they occur.
Usually red-teaming is not so public...


Amir said...

Hi my friend Im Amir.
YES!you was successful!
if you sent Chinest i coud open it (but i cant read!)
i wish you are successful in all of life.
thank you for adding you comment in my weblog.
you can say it to another friends.
in this world we cant find carture people that havnt any effect with broadcasting.
best thank you for all.

Adrian said...

Amir - thanks for your comment! I agree that the internet allows individuals to practice their own diplomacy, perhaps it will give ordinary citizens like us the chance to stop total disaster before it happens.

A.E. said...

Wow, that's pretty amazing of Amir for building his own UAV. I definitely get your general point though.