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I did not realize what a nut Assange has become. The more there is the danger that he might be forgotten, the more ridiculous his theories of the world.

However, you have to think about his target audience. The audience doesn't consist of people who are familiar with things like DARPA grants, and think tanks. For people in the know, this writing will read like lunacy, because they will understand that Assange sees demons behind every innocuous shadow. Some random college kid from middle America, on the other hand, won't know that his writing is lunacy.

For example, think about his casual implication that DARPA funding of Page and Brin's Stanford research might be a signal of their nefarious links to some cabal of elites in the defense industry. Anyone who has worked in a top-ten engineering program knows that nothing could be further from the truth. Those grants go out, in a bureaucratic fashion, to tons of people, without any such elites getting involved at all. In fact the worst thing you can say about those DARPA grants is that they are haphazardly doled out for some real stupid projects.

But think about how that accusation looks to some kid. It seems like there is this grand conspiracy because Larry Page and Sergey Brin took DARPA money ... of course they must be deep cover CIA implants right?

Its complete stupidity from start to finish, but its the type of stupidity that can only be debunked by actually being there and seeing that Assange speaks nonsense. This guy is an entertainer and self-promoter of extraordinary cunning. Think of the audacity it takes to write this gibberish with such confidence.




The piece is 5800+ words, exactly one of which is DARPA.

It's entirely possible that Assange is a nut, but nothing he says presents quite as nutty as extrapolating that single mention into a tale of innocent students being seeded with delusions of CIA double agents and elite shadow cabals by a scheming madman.


The DARPA point wasn't the only point of insanity. I just don't have the patience to sit and list out why his other points are equally silly for anyone versed in the space. The DARPA point was the easiest to explain and the most accessible for the Hacker News audience.


Here's another one:

"In 2012, Google arrived on the list of top-spending Washington, D.C., lobbyists—a list typically stalked exclusively by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, military contractors, and the petro-carbon leviathans. Google entered the rankings above military aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, with a total of $18.2 million spent in 2012 to Lockheed’s $15.3 million. Boeing, the military contractor that absorbed McDonnell Douglas in 1997, also came below Google, at $15.6 million spent, as did Northrop Grumman at $17.5 million."

If you follow the supplied link to the lobbyist spending database, you find that the fiendish "National Association of Realtors" spent way more than Google and LockMart put together. The nefarious "American Hospital Association" also outspent Google.

Are we to assume that they are even more cryptomilitaryindistrial than Google?

No. I'd assume they have legislation in front of Congress. Far simpler.

There is a critique of centralization of information within internet corporations and government agencies, but this isn't it.


From a business perspective, you want to look at these as rates against revenue, not just bulk sums for reasons you pointed out.

Normalized for dollar spend per $1000 in revenue (2012), the % spend on lobbying is:

HP 232%

Facebook 75.6%

Northrop G 69.4%

Yahoo 55.1%

Google 36.3%

Lockheed Martin 32.4%

Boeing 19.1%

Oracle 18.1%

Microsoft 10.9%

IBM 4.6%

Ideally you would want to normalize by revenue from government contracts (like in HP's case), but there isn't really a story to follow here because different companies spend different percentages of their revenue on lobbying.


> Ideally you would want to normalize by revenue from government contracts

I'm not sure that makes sense; normalizing by revenue tells the tale of how much of what the company brings in is devoted to swaying public policy, but I'm not sure what normalizing by revenue from government contracts get you -- presumably, any profit maximizing corporation trying to sway policy is trying to do so for its own benefit, whether the way in which it hopes to receive that benefit is by direct government contracts, or by government policy encouraging (and perhaps even subsidizing) others to purchase the service it sells, or by some other shift in policy that helps the firms business.


It makes sense because some companies see lobbying as an investment in future sales, either indirectly through policy or directly.

HP is a prime example of this, as many government computers and services involve HP, hence HP has such a high "investment" rate with lobbying.


The National Association of Realtors is evil in the ways it maintains its monopoly on home sale transactions. Its enormous amount of lobbying is all about guaranteeing that monopoly by buying lawmaker votes.


> Are we to assume that they are even more cryptomilitaryindistrial than Google?

No. But those others haven't managed to convince too many that hey are "not Evil" or some like that bullshit.

Once they made that proclamation they get a nice PR boost, but when they are perceived to not abide by it, they should accept the corresponding criticism.


> But those others haven't managed to convince too many that hey are "not Evil" or some like that bullshit.

The "American Hospital Association" probably has very few people who think it is evil.


I guess you haven't read the HN threads on hospital costs in the US. Here's a sample https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6838269


> I just don't have the patience to sit and list out why his other points are equally silly for anyone versed in the space.

In other words, your argument is: if it isn't self-evident to you that I'm right and Assange is wrong then that can only be because you are so profoundly ignorant that it is not even worth making the effort to educate you, or even to point you to a reference.

You'll have to pardon me if I don't find that convincing.


No, his argument is that Assange is clearly wrong on one point, so don't buy his (Assange's) spiel hook, line, and sinker.

Think. Look into things. Do some research.


But.. he wasn't wrong. He claimed that DARPA supported early goog, and they did.

Your post's parent just doesn't happen to believe that that's cause for alarm.

He didn't buy into 'Assange's spiel' not because it was factually wrong, but because it differed from his opinion on the weight of significance regarding DARPA grants.

If his argument is "Assange is clearly wrong.", he's clearly wrong.


Assange gives a fact, and gives it an implication. The fact is correct DARPA did give a grant that lead to Google. The implication is "therefore Google is a government spy". I believe the great-grandparent post was arguing with Assange's implication, not his facts, when stating that Assange is clearly wrong. The GGP poster cited DARPA's history of giving grants to anything and everything. That's not a refutation of Assange's facts, but it is a refutation of his implication.


When your entire job is managing other people's information, the terms on which you let potentially hostile third parties access that data is a huge deal.

So what exactly is your problem with the DARPA point? It is perfectly legitimate to complain that the same political institutions advocating the dismantlement of civic privacy are funding consumer-focused tech in California. Or that Schmidt might harbor political/social aspirations that are leading him at best into a sort of passive acquiescence in activities Assange sees as socially destructive.

All you seem to be saying is that you consider these sorts of connections "normal" and thus not subject to reasonable critique.


>> ... Think of the audacity it takes to write this gibberish with such confidence.

Thanks for your heads-up.


> In fact the worst thing you can say about those DARPA grants is that they are haphazardly doled out for some real stupid projects.

There have been protests and boycotts against DARPA funding even back when it was ARPA. See http://web.eecs.umich.edu/~kuipers/opinions/no-military-fund... . This was especially an issue because "[t]he Mansfield Amendment of 1973 expressly limited appropriations for defense research through ARPA, which is largely independent of the Military Services, to projects with direct military application." You can see some of the effects at http://books.google.com/books?id=nUJdAAAAQBAJ&pg=PT264&lpg=P... , where project had to have a military justification.

Perhaps you can tell me this - why is there so much funding through DARPA and not NSF, NIH, and other non-military sources? Steve Blank's "The Secret History of Silicon Valley" discusses some of the long ties between Silicon Valley and the military. Do you call that a 'grand conspiracy'? Whatever it is, Assange's statement seem to be in line with at least part of DARPA documented history.


I am bummed that the "silly research" is gone. Whether intended or not, it pushed for more military research, which when not weighed against a maturation of the human race puts us in a more precarious technological imbalance.


The Mansfield amendment was deliberate, so yes, it was intended.

The question should be, why don't the non-military projects also not support "silly research"?

The answer seems to be a combination of factors. Since WWII the federal government switched to funding "silly research", instead of industry labs common in the pre-war era. Without a doubt this was enabled by government operations to run the war.

There's also the idea that government should be run like a business, and not waste money on 'silly' things.

Yes, it's crazy that the government likes its "five year plan" style of research, where you almost have to know the answer before you get research funding.


> DARPA grants is that they are haphazardly doled out for some real stupid projects.

I think this is what a lot of people outside academia don't realize. DARPA brings up connotations of inventing Arpanet, but the reality (like VC investing) is that a lot of silly research is funded by DARPA grants.


Calling someone a conspiracy "nut" is not an argument, and doesn't add anything to the conversation besides an ad hominem fallacy.

I do agree with your one point that DARPA funding is given out in a seemingly haphazard manner. However, giving companies money is an effective way of exerting influence over them in the future.


Simply calling somebody a nut instead of pointing out the flaws in their argument is a proper example of the ad hominem fallacy. However, taking aim at the argument itself, successfully demonstrating its nuttiness, and concluding that one would have to be a nut to try making such a case is not a failure of reason. Quite the opposite.

After all, the ad hominem rule is not some generalized prohibition against personal attacks. It is merely a prohibition against baseless or irrelevant personal attacks – especially when used to deflect a justified charge, skirt a legitimate issue, or evade a properly vexing question.

This is a very important limit, and one that serves a valuable social function. Specifically, it's what allows us to derive positive utility from clear and direct condemnation of dubious personal characteristics in cases where those traits are producing or defending overt violations of reasonable and openly defensible social norms – like not gleefully spreading baseless FUD, for whatever reason.

I'll be the first to agree that killing messengers is bad policy. That said, I'm also a big fan of marginalizing unreliable narrators. In that regard, knocking Assange down a few pegs seems like a major boon to the mass surveillance conversation, which could really benefit from cooler, clearer heads prevailing.


> After all, the ad hominem rule is not some generalized prohibition against personal attacks. It is merely a prohibition against baseless or irrelevant personal attacks

That reminds me of an earlier-posted article, "The Eighth Meditation on Superweapons and Bingo". Very interesting read: http://squid314.livejournal.com/329561.html


In essence you are saying that you don't agree with Assange so his name should be smeared to keep his opinions from reaching the public. You are claiming that you are able to parse and analyze his statements for their truthfulness, whereas the rest of the public will be hoodwinked. What an arrogant and elitist way to think.

Arguments should stand or fall based on merit, not on labels like "nutjob" or "conspiracy theorist".


"In essence you are saying that you don't agree with Assange so his name should be smeared to keep his opinions from reaching the public."

Nope. And even if I did think smearing people was okay, there's no need for dishonest characterizations when the man is openly making a fool of himself. If honest discussion about what he's actually doing makes him look bad then the fault lies with him, and not the people who are simply noticing that he's losing the thread.

"You are claiming that you are able to parse and analyze his statements for their truthfulness, whereas the rest of the public will be hoodwinked"

Oh really? Do say where.

"Arguments should stand or fall based on merit,"

Well, at least you're right about one thing. And speaking of arguments falling on merit, yours begins by distorting something I said to assert something I neither said nor even implied, then departs even further from reality by asserting I'm "claiming" something about my own abilities in relation to those of "the rest of the public" even though I made precisely zero mention of either. Seriously, at this point you're just making shit up. So of all the faults in your position, I'd say basic dishonesty tops the list. And that's a bit rich coming from a guy who started by railing against "smears."

But thanks for playing.


Actually, that's not what I'm saying, but you're certainly entitled to your opinion.


Hence why I think Snowden is somewhat stand-offish around him. Assange seeks acceptance and validation in a lot of the duo-presentations I've seen (especially in the Mega sponsored New Zealand one, where Snowden outright disagreed with him on a few points), but Snowden knows that he appears as a crackpot. A crackpot with SOME good ideals and points, but are ultimately poisoned by his high-level of lunacy appearance.

EDIT: It seems some people don't agree with me.

EDIT2: And the responder below has also been downvoted. Not liking this attitude, if you disagree with something it doesn't mean you should downvote. :\


I have seen some very shallow attempts to paint this as truth on Youtube. Not sure who the sponsoring organization was for that one, but you can probably safely assume it's an western-based acronym. Anyway, if you watch the full event it's clear that the entire thing was out of context. The fact is, both characters were somewhat standoffish around Mr. Dotcom and with good reason. I am not sure how, when discussing such important matters as the political direction society is taking with regards to its economic, technological development and the preservation of fundamental human rights within that context, how anyone's appearance is remotely relevant.


Thankfully Dotcom has realised his poisonous "brand", and has stepped back from the limelight (that is, until extradition is pushed again).


I am his target audience and I know plenty about DARPA grants and think tanks. Assange has read massive amounts of leaked diplomatic cables (remember he ranks among names like Manning and Snowden for leaking documents), and as far as I can tell is very well politically aware and spoken.

No, don't look at the (one) mention of DARPA funding. Go look at the content of the diplomatic cable quotes, the fact that Schmidt visited him with US Government Officials to espouse US foreign policy objectives. Look at the sum of his argument including all of his evidence. And remember that this is just an extract from a book he wrote about it.

Partnerships with US Corporations has always played a role in US Foreign Policy. Right now the military is talking about replacing large parts of its active forces with private companies. For information systems and telecommunication, launching rockets, building planes, creating munitions, researching weapons, it is the same.

Eisenhower gave his famous speech in 1961 on the forming Military-Industrial Complex. Military-Industrial because it partners the Military and Industry. (He warns America that if it goes unchecked, it could have dire consequences. I'm not saying it's gone unchecked - that's a different discussion.)

http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html

I go to my earlier point, the partnerships are not limited to munitions. Using Google to spy on foreign countries already shows that they have an intimate relationship. The question is whether Google is involved in Foreign Policy in other ways.

From GCHQ to NSA: "Let's be blunt - the Western World (especially the US) gained influence due to drafting earlier standards:

* The US was a major player in shaping today's internet. This resulted in pervasive exportation of America's culture as well as technology. It also resulted in a lot of money being made by US entities."

http://hbpub.vo.llnwd.net/o16/video/olmk/holt/greenwald/NoPl... (96)

The US would have a lot to gain if they could use Google to 'prioritize and export US culture'. Google's CEO sounds an awful lot like he's saying that.

From the intro text:

"They outlined radically opposing perspectives: for Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with U.S. foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to Western companies and markets."

The US keeps an eye out on US Companies, too. Seems like an easy trade for me if I were a CEO. It will also help you expand your international base. Win-win.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/09/05/us-governments...


I am his target audience too and agree with the view that Google is playing a role in the US Foreign Policy. But I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. It all depends on what you're promoting and that Movements.org non-profit the article/book talks about is a pro human rights organization.

So what is Google promoting in its role in the US Foreign Policy? Is Google promoting anything like torture or drone executions? As far as I can tell, no. They are lobbying for things like net neutrality.

I agree with Assange that Movements.org it has "blind spots", but do those blind spots make Google involvement a bad thing? Isn't Google just picking its battles?

All what the article proves is that Google has an agenda. WikiLeaks has an agenda too. I like both agendas and I think they overlap.


It is ironic but the DoD is increasingly more progressive than the actual elected government. They fund open ended science and research. They invest in renewable energy projects and have a serious attitude towards climate change. They can have a suprisingly beneficial for the environment of sites they own.


The Naval Surface Warfare Lab funded my high school robotics team trip to Seattle. I must be really evil.


From an old Onion article at http://www.theonion.com/articles/death-star-to-open-day-care... :

> After months of speculation, it was confirmed yesterday that the Death Star, the Empire’s vaunted, planet-destroying space station, has added a new, state-of-the-art day care center to its already vast array of capabilities. The massive four-room day care center, which, according to Grand Moff Tarkin, will “provide a safe and fun learning environment for tots between the ages of one and four,” has already begun spring enrollment and is expected to be fully operational by June 1.

> ... Last Friday, in the middle of a coloring activity, the planet Alderan was blown up, delighting 23 of the 24 children who witnessed the devastating power of the battle station.

> ... “As a stormtrooper and father of three, I’m very excited about the new day care center,” Death Star citizen Ralph Sedgwick said. “It’s a safe, nurturing environment, one in which my child will learn.”

I'm not at all saying that NSWL is evil. Only that, realistically, even the most quintessential of evil empires must surely not have been evil in every single aspect. A large organization can't work that way.


you may not be evil, but it would be logical to think that your ambitions coincided with a few of the ambitions/priorities of the Naval Surface Warfare Lab.

If a consensus was reached by the public that NSWL does 'evil' things, it'd make logical sense to further investigate the possibility that you do evil things.

DARPA creates lots of things, but one of those things they focus on is weapon advancement and defense. They have a lot of creation under their belt (the internet, various medical advancements, surgical and prosthetic equipment and techniques, etc etc), but their public military image and priority on defense is such that the public has come to the consensus that DARPA is a spooky, evil, lab -- regardless of the good that they've done.

If the public consensus is that a group that Google deals with 'is evil', it'd make logical sense for there to be more pressure on both parties (Google and the involved party) to be as transparent with the public as possible to negate the brooding bad PR -- otherwise that 'bad' image may rub off and affect both parties.

That is, unless, the benefits of the partnership are greater than the disadvantages created by the negative PR generated by the partnership itself.. and I am personally of the opinion that that's the state Google is in now.


> you may not be evil, but it would be logical to think that your ambitions coincided with a few of the ambitions/priorities of the Naval Surface Warfare Lab.

As a threshold matter, I don't think developing new technologies for the purposes of defending the country is "evil." Besides that, perhaps the majority of the military's interests coincide with those of the public as a whole. The technology that helps stabilize injured soldiers in the field so they can be brought back into a hospital also helps people who have been in serious car accidents. The military's need for survivable, distributed, communications infrastructure gave rise to the internet. Its work into reconnaissance and attack drones is giving rise to the delivery drones Amazon is looking to put into the market.

Medicine, logistics, automation, data analysis, communications, etc, are all areas that the military has a huge interest in, but those areas also happen to have extensive, totally innocuous purposes.


Perhaps in 5-10 years, people are going to look back at your comment and think you are the nut.

I'm confident Assage knows what he's talking about more than you do.




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