[Fwd: IP: Fact Sheet on Export Controls on High Performance Computers]

Kragen Sitaker kragen at pobox.com
Thu Jan 11 17:49:40 EST 2001


Joseph A. del Stalin writes:
> I know this may be way off base, but I figure I might as well
> throw the idea out there. (Perhaps this already exsists and I'm 
> simply un-aware of it) 
> 
> In light of what I just read, I'm curious if it wouldn't benefit
> the open source community to form some kind of regulatory committee
> to (and I shudder at the thought of what I'm about to say) control
> the software being put out.  I realize that open source is a wonderful
> idea, but who takes the blame for the mis-use of software?  
> While I don't have any examples to prove the point, I think the idea
> of "we just built the atom bomb, whatever people do with it is out 
> of our hands" is kind of bogus.  A "hands off" approach to responsibility
> for software produced is wrong.    
> My personal opinion, specifically for the open source community, is 
> to take responsibility for regulating itself.  I realize this goes 
> against the "open source" concept... 

In light of what I just read, I'm curious if it wouldn't benefit the
academic community to form some kind of regulatory committee to (and I
shudder at the thought of what I'm about to say) control the research
results being put out.  I realize that academic freedom is a wonderful
idea, but who takes the blame for the mis-use of research results?

While I don't have any examples to prove the point, I think the idea of
"we just discovered TNT, whatever people do with it is out of our
hands" is kind of bogus.  A "hands off" approach to responsibility for
ideas produced is wrong.

My personal opinion, specifically for the academic community, is to
take responsibility for regulating itself.  I realize this goes against
the "academic freedom" concept...

[Actually, we've seen this happen.  Think of Soviet Lysenkoism and
 the gulags for those who criticized the state or wrote about the
 gulags, the medieval Church's attacks on those who disagreed with it,
 the multi-millennial stagnation of ancient Egyptian art, the
 technological stagnation and eventual extinction of Neanderthal man,
 the elimination of guns in Tokugawa Japan, leading eventually to
 Japan's desperation and involvement in World War II --- the list goes
 on .  . .]

-- 
<kragen at pobox.com>       Kragen Sitaker     <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/>
Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we possess
ourselves.
       -- Gandalf the White [J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Two Towers", Bk 3, Ch. XI]


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