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US military to tech protestors: “We’re at war; pick a side” (diginomica.com)
39 points by Sequenza 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

My answer to the military.

As soon as you stop spying on us, stop compromising corporate networks, and stop lying to our government about doing these things, then we can discuss whose side you are on. As long as you're still doing all that, you're not on our side.

That also doesn't mean we're on your opponent's side either. This isn't a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Yes, the other guy is worse, but that isn't an excuse for your undermining the values that are supposed to make this country worth supporting.

Do you want to know how to change my mind? Here is how. Invite Snowden home. Give him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Discontinue all of the domestic spying programs that he identified AND their successors. Do that, then we'll talk.


Everyone is for due process until a serial killer gets their family.

Everyone is for human rights until they see brigands and warlords torturing, raping, and pillaging across the countryside.

The world is cruel. Therefore we should value nothing, and cherish nothing.

If you don't agree with this line of thinking, stop talking and be silent.

The ideology you're promoting is the essence of fascism. Instead of changing based on what other people do, maybe you should have some integrity and self-control rather than advocating censorship and force. Otherwise, you're an animal and you've given up on civilization.

> And if you don't think we're the good guys (or at least, that we are far better guys than the alternatives like China), then please just move there.

How would moving there make the US the good guys? Doesn't that just raise the concentration of people here that condone doing the wrong thing?

“Good” is relative I guess

I find most items on your list, though poetic, unrealistic in practice. People are prone to such situational hypocrisy in general, yes, but your examples seem mostly like oversimplified rhetoric, with privacy-vs-domestic-security being the only one that approaches being generally representative, in my experience. These perceptions are easy to form though, since we tend to view entire groups at once, so different people acting differently within that group, or speaking more or less loudly at different times, may create the appearance of internal conflict when those different people really make no claims to represent each other, despite being part of the larger whole that we observe. Therefore, these reductions tend to come dangerously close to holier-than-thou territory.

I also find the sentiments "support our damn military" and "if you don't think we're the good guys, then move out" to be hostile twists on statements nobody made, and more likely to cultivate opposition to your assertions than to make anybody think twice about them.

Totally agree about China though.

Fair enough, adjusted some wording

Well, that's easy: I pick the side of "stop fighting stupid imperial wars already". There is nothing which obligates "us" to be at war, to whatever degree the United States represents any sort of a coherent "us" at this point.

The title is provocative and not indicative of the article as a whole. I think this line from the article is a much better summary of the author's point,

"This is not about doing something that’s unethical, illegal or immoral. This is about ensuring that we collectively can defend the values for which we stand. I have a hard time with companies that are working very hard to engage in the market inside China then don’t want to work with the U.S. military."

That’s such a red herring argument, and based solely on current headlines about Google. And Project Dragonfly is generating PLENTY of protest of its own.

The article is an opinion piece specifically about Google's decision to pull support from DoD projects while choosing to engage in other projects within China. Of course they talk about Project Dragonfly and they also talk about Google's new AI China center and China's "civil-military fusion" strategy.

Interesting, thank you for the details.

I think the present admin is trying to disengage from international conflicts --but there are others in government who believe the US should champion and ensure that our style of government should be protected around the world, not just the US. That said, the US, and our rivals can't allow the other to surpass it lest we cede our advantage and ability to offer support for western-style governments. Wishing for the world to be nice will end in disappointment.

Eh, doesn't match US actions. Our most popular ally this month is effectively a monarchy. We aren't 'defending our way of government', we are 'defending' our economic, religious, and ethnic interests.

SA is not our most favorite ally, but it also doesn’t make sense to blow the incident out of proportion. When the current admin talked tough about NKorea, you had people on the left sympathetic and outraged that the current admin would be outraged by what NKorea was doing. I mean if someone deserves being overthrown it’s thst regime.

Point is it’s theatrical to be upset at them given much worse goes on in other countries that media hardly cover.

I purposefully did not say "most favorite ally", because that would not be correct.

Yes, that's the argument they make. It is this whole dumbed down duality of "us VS them" that encourages people to engage in petty conflicts. It is a waste of time. Self-sacrifice for the benefit of a government is a complete waste of time. They say there are benefits and the such but there are none. We should be striving for basic tenants that all humans should have.

Completely agree. They say pick a side? I say to side with humanity and to oppose people who engage in geo-political conflicts between nations.

Wars are coming at you, either you like it or not, because not everyone in the world shares your values, and some are willing to go really far to impose their incompatible ones over yours.

I live in Cascadia. There are no wars coming at me. There is no nation in the world remotely capable of sending an invasion force here, and the impact of terrorism remains statistically negligible provided one keeps one's head and doesn't allow oneself to be baited into unnecessary foreign adventures as the US did after the events of 2001.

There is no nation in the world remotely capable of sending an invasion force here

Famous last words. Well, good for you. Worst enemy usually comes from within, though.

Doesn’t military spending have a positive effects on the economy?

If you are looking at pure economic activity then yes but all economic activity must be viewed based on "quality" of said activity. Do we want people spending time and resources building weapons of mass destruction or do we want that economic activity going towards exploring outer space, developing new technologies that benefit humanity positively and so on. Unfortunately, it is mutually exclusive because Earth only has so much "potential" human ability so we must determine where that human potential is being used.

It's hardly mutually exclusive. Many military problems are simply human problems and because of their low tolerance for error, military systems are often very good solutions that provide large non-military benefits.

The DoD needed a better way to navigate, so they invented GPS. They needed more robust communications, so they funded the internet. They needed to predict the weather to plan operations, so they funded weather radar and satellites. Even the US interstate system was supported in large part because the military wanted to have fast easy cross country logistics.

I guess that takes care of any moral qualms anyone could have.

Make "our" side worth fighting for/with again.

Liberty and Justice for all, in that order.

Freedom for everyone, and a war against the existence of repressive regimes and states in all aspects.

(Liberty is a bit complicated, given harm to / from others and sorting that out...)

Yes but those reforms must come from within said country, not from an external force forcing it upon the nation. When an external force acts upon another country to "reform" it then often there are other agendas at play like power, control of resources and so on.

I’d agree with this. Imagine if instead of a civil war France or Britain came in and sorted things out for us.

Simetimes nations have to go through that crucible themselves and figure out what works for them, provided they aren’t being belligerent against peaceful neighbors.

What freedoms are people in America not afforded?

How about the 4th amendment?

Yes, I know their bizarre theory that collecting all of my digital data and indexing it for later lookup isn't a search until someone actually pulls my records. And their even more bizarre theory that their analysts should be trusted to always do the right thing despite a complete lack of effective oversight. (Because collecting data on how many times their analysts are pulling records on US citizens would itself be a "search", so they can't do that.)

I don't know under what theory they think it is OK to give all of their data on me away to 4 other countries who aren't restricted from searching it all that they want. But the fact that they do certainly means that they aren't protecting me from unreasonable searches. Even if you just limit searches to their own bullshit definition.

Well it's called the DoD, but really it's the DoW... and usually it fights for DOW Jones.

"My take: The Big Tech employee resistance is driven in large part by people who have come into adulthood after the opening of China in the 1970s and the end of the Cold War and the fall of Berlin Wall in the early 1990s."

But before or during Saddam Husseins' supposed secret weapons of mass destruction, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, "Extraordinary Rendtion" at "Black Site"s, Snowden, etc, etc, etc.

"This is not about doing something that’s unethical, illegal or immoral. ... We are the good guys."

While the CIA/military might be fighting for the good guys (though what does that even mean), I don't think they can claim to be the good guys. And shame on the leadership for turning the courage and sacrifice of individuals to such methods.

>"This is not about doing something that’s unethical, illegal or immoral. ... We are the good guys."

Had an immediate flashback to the absolutely baffled Erich Mielke.

“I love – I love all – all people/humans – Well I love – I still stand up for it" alternative translation "I love all – all Humanity! I really do! I set myself before you!"


The reality some people build inside their head is disturbing.

You know who else calls themselves the good guys, the mafia.


The crucial point in time when you ask yourself if you might be a baddie.

It always strikes me as incongruous when the government or military says "We're going to be the leaders in the Internet/AI/drones/cyberwarfare", because these are all technologies that eliminate the raison d'etre for the nation state as a social organizing principle.

Historically, the modern nation state arose during the 19th century from a confluence of factors. Taking advantage of new industrial methods of production required larger, more specialized workforces; this implied greater population and larger political units. Longer supply chains also required territorial integrity, so that the nation could ensure that its means of production remained intact without physical attacks from foreign powers. These bigger nations required more social control via propaganda and extensive legal & security systems, but the emerging technologies of mass communications & mass media enabled this. The armored war machines built by these industrial supply chains dominated everything else on the battlefield, so non-industrialized empires and kingdoms fell to industrialized nation-states.

Now supply chains are global and span trans-national boundaries; attempts to enforce national boundaries on these destroy industrial capacity rather than protect it. The Internet provides free information flow across national boundaries. Drones and robots give the military advantage back to small groups of technologically advanced individuals. AI and huge personnel databases allow you to instantly tell friend from foe regardless of geography, eliminating one of the key advantages of territorial integrity (which would likely be reestablished on a smaller scale afterwards). Cryptocurrencies undermine the government's power to tax and track finances, with the latter ability granted instead to anyone with a lot of computer power and knowledge.

Governments aren't sabre-rattling because we're on the verge of Cold War 2.0, they're sabre-rattling because they're insecure. Not just a government or the government - all governments. The next war will likely look more like Syria than the Cold War, with a confused jumble of non-national organizations all jockeying for power, and the social organization that comes after that will likely be a form of corporate feudalism a la Snow Crash. Google's on its own side in that organizational structure, because all the existing sides will be defunct.

Tell me when have governments have felt secure, go back to the J Edgar Hoover era, or British Imperial era. Most governments are always on the brink of multiple psychological disorders. There is no treatment for them. This is business as usual... more power for them... that's what governments are good for, accumulating as much power as they can and then trying to order the world according to their interests.

And that's why these sorts of technologies are dangerous, they increase the amount of power that governments can exercise by potentially multiples and make them think that they can assert dominance everywhere which makes them more cocky and more prone to war. And that's why workers refusing to further this agenda are right and on the moral high ground.

Counterpoint: The Pentagon is a massive fraud where over half of each tax dollar is taken without accountability.

https://www.thenation.com/article/pentagon-audit-budget-frau... Exclusive: The Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed: How US military spending keeps rising even as the Pentagon flunks its audit

Google seems like they're barreling towards the wrong side of history (e.g. project dragonfly)

Tech protestors: “Wartime service is currently voluntary, get your own damn engineers.”

What war are we (the U.S.) at? Would we consider it "war-time" or not right now? (Not rhetorical; kind of curious. I realize we have ongoing conflicts, but it seems like there are always ongoing conflicts.)

If you count cyber, we're currently at war with Russia and China, and maybe North Korea. If you count operations aimed at our internal politics, we're currently at war with Russia and Iran.

The way I see it, you'd better count cyber and political attacks.

It is always the same war...the war for power and control. In this case, governments want more power and control over other countries or their own population.

Eurasia. We’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

If we're at war, then who are we at war with? Do they even pose a serious threat to the U.S.? Or is this just really about money? Because it seems like it's just about money. And in case you missed it, recent increases to the defense budget were more than twice what it would cost to make college education free and it had bipartisan support.

Pro-tip: Guys who find that they need to remind you "We are the good guys" are typically not the good guys.

There are plenty of people whose personal ethics allow them to work on weapons systems. To the rest of us, let's stick together and find other ways to contribute to our societies.

As mature comics can attest to, it’s not as simple as black and white, but there is lighter grey and darker gray. At the end of the day it’s better to help thjngs become lighter gray.

"Microsoft is going to provide the U.S. military with access to the best technology – all the technology we create."

So which is it? The best technology or the technology Microsoft creates? You can't have it both ways.

If we weren't perpetually in a state of war, that phrase would have more gravity. Maybe we should figure out how to have a few years of peace time so that people learn how to care again that we're at war.

Misleading title: the quote in the headline does not appear in the article.

> "At the center of Cold War 2.0 is advamced technology..."

Someone forgot to deploy their WEAPONS GRADE SPELL CHECKER

The US military budget should be reduced by 50%. Even then we waste more than most others spend.

They're nervous. Good.

To me, it's a weird situation. I'm a left-leaning, peace-loving, pro-capitalist, pro-military person, if you can credit that.

I sincerely hope that one day war will be a thing of the past. In the meantime, I'm pretty comfortable with the Pax Americana. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pax_Americana I know we're not perfect, but I hope and believe we're better than the other contenders for top dog, and that the world will slide into a golden age without too much more violence and death. (Is that too much to ask?)

Within the milieu of sovereign nations with conflicting interests, it seems to me to be borderline treasonous to e.g. work on Project Dragonfly but not JEDI or Project Maven.

I believe that technology is forcing us to a post-historical milieu where nations have given way to a global state powered by ubiquitous surveillance. I don't know whether this will turn out to look like Star Trek or North Korea, but I don't see how a technological society puts the genie back in the bottle. (Wrote a blog post about it, wanna see it? Here it is: https://firequery.blogspot.com/2013/10/total-surveillance-is...)

In this scenario, the state would have so many "soft" options to control behaviour that outright killing people would be a manifestation of the neuroses of the managers rather than a rational response. (Cf. CCP organ harvesting Falun Gong, and putting Muslims in concentration camps. These are NOT the decisions of rational minds.) At that stage, war is obsolete. "The people" literally can't rebel, and there are no outsiders, so any war that occurs would be due to some psychological irruption or something, more akin to a riot. (Unless we get some sort of staged war scenario.)

I'm saying that there will come a time in the future when sending robot bombs to blow up the people who want to blow you up will be recognized as an inferior strategy from the POV of operational goals. But we're not there yet. In the meantime, yes, help the military of the value-system you think is correct as much as you can, because the other bastard is still gunning for you.

If you don't like war, work on technology that harmonizes value systems. This is an interesting meta-logical problem that has lots of interesting solutions (and people will even pay you well for it.)

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