[extropy-chat] Rapid prototyping makes police state more likely

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Mon Sep 25 16:14:28 UTC 2006

On 9/25/06, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 25, 2006 at 07:00:22AM -0700, spike wrote:
> > Humanity is facing an entirely new threat with the rapid prototyping.
> I don't see how. Ability to build weapons hinges on availability
> of knowledge. I might be able to fab a rocket (but propellant and
> explosive is still not an unregulated commodity), but this doesn't mean
> I can write the guidance software.
> As to improvising UAVs from off-shelf components (remote compressed
> video and control via 3G is the last part of the puzzle that fell in
> place recently), we could do that a decade or two ago. Nobody killed
> one with an improvised UAV yet. In contrast to that Predator/Hellfire
> combo has been quite popular with the blackbag job crowd lately.
> While some very few hobbyists can produce quite advanced designs,
> statistically they're overwhelmingly improbable to overlap with
> killers.

This is not a problem for next week.
Obviously, nobody is going to buy a 50,000 euro fab to build a 500
euro readily available gadget. But when the price of fabs come down to
hobbyist prices, then.....

Ten years ago, who would have thought that 12 year old kids with a
small amount of coding knowledge would be able to copy plans created
by experts and make viruses that bring down computers all around the
world? Or run botnets of thousands of controlled computers provided by
ordinary users?

Knowledge wants to be free remember.
In a few years time, anyone interested enough will be able to buy a
cheap fab, get plans off the web, get patches from user groups, and
build pretty much whatever they want. No improvising required, just
basic reading skills. You are correct that plastic explosive is
unlikely to be sold in Walmart. But last I heard, fertilizer was
pretty useful. And there are other alternatives, and poisons, e-coli,

Tinkering with disease strains won't be too difficult either, in the
near future. Remember that if you want to cause trouble, you don't
need to know much about what you are doing. (Just avoid killing
yourself during the tinkering phase). If the new stuff lives and
spreads, that's good enough to cause a lot of disruption, even if the
actual death toll is not enormous.

You don't run Windows so you probably don't really appreciate the
daily workload of updates, scans, backups, rebuilds, and so on
necessary to keep systems running (mostly) safely. It is a big
overhead for the IT department.

Once cheap fabs are available everyone will probably have to get one
to build their own protection devices. Or buy security devices from
I'm really not looking forward to having to implement and maintain a
similar, always online, protect, detect, destroy, environment in the
real world. It's my life and health at stake, not just a virus on my


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