The need for FOSS intelligence tools for sensemaking etc.

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Paul D. Fernhout

Sep 1, 2010, 9:26:36 PM9/1/10
to Open Manufacturing
Summary: This note is essentially about how civilians could benefit by have
access to the sorts of "sensemaking" tools the intelligence community (as
well as corporations) aspire to have, in order to design more joyful,
secure, and healthy civilian communities (including through creating a more
sustainable and resilient open manufacturing infrastructure for such
communities). It outlines why the intelligence community should consider
funding the creation of such FOSS "dual use" intelligence applications as a
way to reduce global tensions through increased local prosperity, health,
and with intrinsic mutual security.

Feel free to forward under a CC-BY license.

== An introduction to the introduction :-)

While I'm in the mood for posting grandiose plans (like the one to NASA)
that are probably not going to go anywhere (while I dither over which place
to host a few old projects as FOSS), I'll post this, too. I typed this up a
couple weeks ago, but dithered on whether to post it. :-) Anyway, at least I
now have the most rudimentary beginnings of something working (to address an
issue I mentioned in this note) and checked into SourceForge, just follow
the links to the code repository: :-)

And I can think, for example, that a place like Kitware (who just got a big
grant from DARPA for video information analysis software) could develop such
a framework as described through grants and service offerings: :-)

But, eventually someone is going to do this sort of thing in a FOSS way. And
then all local communities around the globe could use it to help with
improving their gift economies built around volunteers, with their
democratic resource-based planning (to set taxes and subsidies on the free
market), with their decisions about a basic income or other income support,
and in improving their security through fostering a resilient local
subsistence infrastructure.

Anyway, I know such an effort to create FOSS intelligence tools for everyone
around the globe is bound to be controversial, as some people might think of
them as a form of "munitions". I'm just outlining the case for better
general sensemaking and community intelligence tools here, in part by
recasting them as ways to reduce global tensions through increased abundance.

And the case expands on and dovetails with some with things like the
Christine Peterson at the Foresight Institute's call for an open source
sensing initiative
"Civil nanotechnology: Open source sensing in Seed magazine"
and other initiatives in past Foresight work to empower the global community
to deal with existential threats that may arise from technological change
(changes sadly often driven by greed or some harmful human emotions or from
mistakes or maybe someday from a self-replicating system -- as I mentioned
to NASA -- just getting way too far out of control).

But as with the new DARPA grant to Kitware, once you have the data (in their
case, endless video from "ironic" drones), then you have to make sense of it.

That is a missing piece in all this from a FOSS perspective (including for
open manufacturing, both tools and standards for seeing relationships,
though Bryan et al is working on some of that, but one might see this as a
layer that would go above that to use such tools/data.) Now, there are many
proprietary systems, but they are not available to everyone, and of course
there are lots of adhoc ways to do it yourself. I mainly just use the "Stone
knives and bearskins" of Firefox, Thunderbird, the Google/Multivac global
supercomputer that in thirty years will be less powerful than a laptop, and
my own memory and intellect combined with that of others through mailing
lists like this one. :-)
Spock's comment on "stone knives and bearskins":
"Star Trek TOS - City on the Edge of Forever: stone knives and bearskins"

Do I think professional spooks (not Spocks? :-) will always generally have
better tools and data than civilians? Probably. :-) In the USA, civilians
may have shotguns, but the military has tanks, etc.. But, just like there
are some legitimate and even compassionate uses for the civilian use of
shotguns (scaring bears away with rubber pellets, for example), there
remains a huge need for civilians to be able to make sense of their own
world, and there are "dual use" applications for code being developed by the
government for intelligence needs -- at least, in my mind, as I present the
case below. It might be seen, in that sense, as a second amendment issue.

Although, as below, such technologies may help us transition to an abundance
paradigm that moves beyond many military ironies. :-)

But, right now, a lot of that money and energy that goes into intelligence
system creation is probably not very accessible to the public. These tools
are seen as giving one an edge, not as reducing the risk of needing an edge. :-)

Although, if Google is basically an intelligence project as some suggest
(usually jokingly), at least that much of the intelligence community is
publicly useful? :-) Or not: :-)
"Exclusive: Google, CIA Invest in �Future� of Web Monitoring"

But there is always the risk of excessive paranoia. In the 1980s, some
people were saying too that, theoretically, implementing a credit card
system like in the USA was a much better way to track people than tapping
phones like in the USSR (although, they were probably right in the end).
But, regardless of joking speculation as to Google's true purpose (to
monitor what people search for), I feel Google has been a good thing in
terms of helping someone like me connect a lot of dots about security and
health (even at the cost of a lot of privacy loss). But I'm a fairly
analytical person. And I'm also someone who has liked writing code. :-) One
can ask how one might make software tools to make connecting the dots more
possible for the average citizen with different strengths and weaknesses?
Similarly, one might ask how to create tools that, in a Doug Engelbart'
Augment fashion, would allow me and small groups of very analytical citizens
to do more that we can do without the sort of software assistance of some
government agencies aspire to. One might ask how one might create tools that
are as far beyond Wikipedia as Wikipedia is beyond a printed encyclopedia
(I'm talking mainly socio-technical aspects, not content. :-) Tools that
allow people to collaborate on making sense of things in even better ways.
Tools that even might help people make sense of this message as rambling as
it is. :-)

As I suggested here in a different part than quoted below:
"The need for open source sensemaking tools"
"As I see it, there is a race going on. The race is between two trends. On
the one hand, the internet can be used to profile and round up dissenters to
the scarcity-based economic status quo (thus legitimate worries about
privacy and something like TIA). On the other hand, the internet can be used
to change the status quo in various ways (better designs, better science,
stronger social networks advocating for things like a basic income, all
supported by better structured arguments like with the Genoa II approach)
to the point where there is abundance for all and rounding up dissenters to
mainstream economics is a non-issue because material abundance is
everywhere. So, as Bucky Fuller said, whether is will be Utopia or Oblivion
will be a touch-and-go relay race to the very end. While I can't guarantee
success at the second option of using the internet for abundance for all, I
can guarantee that if we do nothing, the first option of using the internet
to round up dissenters (or really, anybody who is different, like was done
using IBM computers in WWII Germany) will probably prevail. So, I feel the
global public really needs access to these sorts of sensemaking tools in an
open source way, and the way to use them is not so much to "fight back" as
to "transform and/or transcend the system". As Bucky Fuller said, you never
change thing by fighting the old paradigm directly; you change things by
inventing a new way that makes the old paradigm obsolete."

I guess one could call this a first draft of "The Twirlip Manifesto". :-)
"Twirlip Wholistic Integrated Resource Linking Intelligence Platform --
Mutual/Modular Intrinsic/Intelligence Security/Sensemaking Tools"

And as such, is it probably predisposing itself to be ignored. :-)

But, I can hope the message can get refined over time. :-)

And I hope it compares favorably with other manifestos in the past. Or even
a problematical one coincidentally from today: :-(
"The manifesto of the man holding the Discovery Channel hostage with a bomb
has been released. He has fired shots and taken hostages. His main
complaints are about overpopulation, religion and civilization. He wants
them to avoid encouraging people to produce more 'disgusting human babies,'
to get people to accept 'Malthus-Darwin science,' reject civilization and
its 'disgusting religious-cultural roots,' and to stop 'ALL immigration
pollution.' The man has now been shot by police, and the hostages have been

There is a link there to that guys "manifesto".

How does one figure out what is right in such a manifesto and what may be
very wrong in a manifesto (or the actions that accompany it)?
"Social Movements and Strategic Nonviolence"

Again, better sensemaking tools could help with that. :-) Both for making
sense and for educating people who use such tools.

For example, if that despairing and angry guy had known, through a global
sensemaking process, that we could make self-replicating space habitats with
room for quadrillions of humans, maybe he would not have said so much about
"human overpopulation" in his Discovery manifesto? The Earth may have
limits, but space is limitless as far as we know (although we may reach
limits, but they are 1000s of years away). He might have learned that the
major problem in the industrialized world is actually lack of population
growth, not a high birth rate:
"[p2p-research] Peak Population crisis (was Re: Japan's Demographic Crisis)"
Likewise, he might have seen that the problem is not lack of solutions
(because they were nicely cataloged in such a tool, including some with
their SKDB apt-get instructions), but the problem was more in lack of broad
understanding of the solutions we do know about, and lack of the will to put
them into action more quickly or think them through systematically, in part
from economic dogma? And then, rather than threaten the Discovery Channel
with a bomb, he perhaps could have seen a non-violent way forward to improve
his local community through contributing to the gift economy, democratic
resource-based planning, lobbying for a basic income, and helping improve
local subsistence production in a stronger community?

Instead, lots of people went through a lot of stress and he is dead, and
some police officer has to live with having killed him, because of a failure
of effective sensemaking on his part, and, I might suggest, a lack of FOSS
public sensemaking tools that might have made the process easier for him.
And in the process, that guy has also done something that is going to
probably lead to some villification of the US left and some alternative
ideas, as he suggests near the end: "Find solutions for Global Warming,
Automotive pollution, International Trade, factory pollution, and the whole
blasted human economy." So, now all those causes are connected with his
violent actions, which given the US right (illogical, but emotional) reason
to say that anyone caring about the environment or economic externalities is
probably a violent nut who should be locked up. So, the job of anyone trying
to non-violently make the world a better place just got a little bit harder.

The good news is that the Slashdot article there has already more than 500
comments, as the community tries to make sense of what happened (and the
guy's manifesto). But, the problem is that slashdot, as good as it is, is a
weaker tool for a community to do that with than we can imagine.

==== Introduction: So, what is below?

Related to my recent posts here a while ago on the CIA and open source
I wrote a hypothetical letter, and I thought I would at
least post it to the open manufacturing list for archival purposes and any
feedback. Also, open manufacturing and related activities are (with some
exceptions) a sort of subset of this larger global intelligence system, to
my mind at least -- stuff like structured arguments about what to make, how
best to make it, what are the potential effects on the community, how to set
up or change supply chains, and so on all fit right into this bigger picture
as part of what a healthy community intelligence system would do.

This is as in contrast to the mostly one-way sort of intelligence system we
mostly have now (link from the EFFector 23.22 email just out):
"The Digital Surveillance State: Vast, Secret, and Dangerous"
The results of this mindset are as clear as they are disturbing. Last
month�s three-part Washington Post series, entitled �Top Secret America,�
provided a detailed picture of what has long been clear: we live under a
surveillance system so vast and secretive that nobody � not even those
within the system � knows what it does or how it functions. Among the Post�s
more illustrative revelations: �Every day, collection systems at the
National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone
calls and other types of communications.� To call that an out-of-control,
privacy-destroying Surveillance State is to understate the case. ... In sum,
the picture that emerges from the Post series is that we have a Secret
Government of 854,000 people, so vast and so secret that nobody knows what
it does or what it is. That there is a virtually complete
government/corporate merger when it comes to the National Security and
Surveillance State is indisputable: �Private firms have become so thoroughly
entwined with the government�s most sensitive activities that without them
important military and intelligence missions would have to cease or would be
jeopardized.� As little oversight as Surveillance State officials have,
corporate officials engaged in these activities have even less. Relying upon
profit-driven industry for the intelligence community�s �core mission� is to
ensure that we have Endless War and an always-expanding Surveillance State.
After all, the very people providing us with the �intelligence� that we use
to make decisions are the ones who are duty-bound to keep this Endless War
and Surveillance Machine alive and expanding because, as the Post put it,
they are �obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest.� The
Surveillance State thus provides its own fuel and own rationale to ensure
its endless expansion, all while resisting any efforts to impose
transparency or accountability on it. ...

Still, as in the title there, I know this is a dangerous game space I'm
playing in. But as I outline, if we can take it as a given that governments
will have such tools, then at least putting intelligence tools in the hands
of individuals and their local communities seems more democratic. :-) Which
was also part of David Brin's suggestion on "The Transparent Society".

I'll probably never send this directly to Bob Gleichauf, Chief Scientist of
In-Q-Tel (they do venture capital for spooky stuff)
but, who knows, it is still, perhaps, something I might do, someday. I would
have CC'd it to people like Jim Sphorer who I know from Squeak/Apple and
also IBM Research (and was involved with IBM VC issues), Peter Norvig and
Hal Varian at Google (who I don't know, but Google does VC too), Harold Helm
who I know from TigerNet (just a nice guy), and Michel Bauwens from
p2presearch (because these sorts of technologies are really useful for
p2presearch). I may still forward links to this note to some of them at some
point -- maybe if I get more stuff working. (I've started yet another
version of the Pointrel system the other day, with a "many world" approach. :-)

But, even though I wrote it, I don't think I'm going to send it now because
it is disempowering to think that progress on such a FOSS intelligence
system requires the participation of VC or the CIA (who are probably so
entrenched in the mainstream they would probably just ignore it). With
OSCOMAK, I think applying to NASA for a grant for it was a very
disempowering step, and I would have been better to have just worked more on
it then instead of preparing a proposal, etc.. So, I'm just continuing to go
ahead with improvements to the Pointrel System anyway as time permits. :-)
But, I'm sharing this because it certainly is a potential funding approach
for people willing to wade into the muck and mire of the ethical quagmire
that is the "intelligence" community. And it also helps define something
about what I think is an interesting project to do, and why, ultimately, the
US government should support it out of enlightened self-interest. So, it's a
way of signaling my intentions and why, at the very least, the US government
and related intelligence community should hopefully be OK with this because
it will ultimately work towards their advantage.

Of course, IQT might be pretty incompetent spooky types if they did not
notice this message, anyway. :-) Or, on the other hand, as I say in the
note, even if they are competent, it's a "weak signal" detection (or
amplification) problem that nobody is that good at -- or at least, not me --
so I would not be too hard on them for never noticing this. :-)

But sure, one hundred and fifty million US dollars could employ several
hundred people to work on this for a few years and get over the initial
hurdles. :-) But we can do it without the money, it may just take longer and
go slower. Or who knows, maybe it will go faster and be better? :-)


Dear Bob, the IQT community, and beyond:

I know I risk of invoking the second "Chinese" curse on myself: :-)
"... May you come to the attention of those in authority ..."

Nonetheless, please see my comments linked below on a Slashdot article that
discusses a recent Wired article ("CIA Software Developer Goes Open Source,
Instead"). I present there a rationale for the value to US diplomacy of open
source sensemaking tools (as well as other benefits to the US intelligence
community). Because of the nature of my comment, I'm making this an "open
letter" also published to the open manufacturing list (CCd).

Here is an excerpt from one thread I started to that Slashdot article (where
that thread in turn has replies that link to the rest of the posts I made to
that article):
"The need for open source sensemaking tools"
In short, I feel open source tools for collaborative structured arguments,
multiple perspective analysis, agent-based simulation, and so on, used
together for making sense of what is going on in the world, are important to
our democracy, security, and prosperity. Imagine if, instead of blog posts
and comments on topics, we had searchable structured arguments about
simulations and their results all with assumptions defined from different
perspectives, where one could see at a glance how different subsets of the
community felt about the progress or completeness of different arguments or
action plans (somewhat like a debate flow diagram), where even a year of two
later one could go back to an existing debate and expand on it with new
ideas. As good as slashdot is, such a comprehensive open source sensemaking
system would be to slashdot as slashdot is to a static webpage. It might
help prevent so much rehashing the same old arguments because one could
easily find and build on previous ones. Hopefully in a better way than this
classic: :-)
"Argument Clinic Sketch by Monty Python"

And from another post:
"Moving beyond tool/use distinction and irony"
As with that notion of "mutual security", the US intelligence community
needs to look beyond seeing an intelligence tool as just something
proprietary that gives a "friendly" analyst some advantage over an
"unfriendly" analyst. Instead, the intelligence community could begin to see
the potential for a free and open source intelligence tool as a way to
promote "friendship" across the planet by dispelling some of the gloom of
"want and ignorance" (see the scene in "A Christmas Carol" with Scrooge and
a Christmas Spirit) that we still have all too much of around the planet.
So, beyond supporting legitimate US intelligence needs (useful with their
own closed sources of data), supporting a free and open source intelligence
tool (and related open datasets) could become a strategic part of US (or
other nation's) "diplomacy" and constructive outreach.

Or from:
"On different actors using OS intelligence tools"
So, in that context, what would be the implications of different political
actors getting hold of really good free and open source intelligence tools,
ones that build on, say, WordNet and other open source code and data?
[Comments on some of the implications of other three letter agencies, the
Netherlands, China, North Korea, Al-Qaeda, and the general public getting
hold of this software...] "Think Globally, Act Locally, Plan Modestly" as
Ren� Dubos said. Better FOSS intelligence tools could help everyone do that,
so in balance, I feel they will likely be a good thing, even though we will
still need to do a lot more, and, it is true, some conflicts of values and
assumptions may not be reconcileable, even with more thought (although we
may get better at still finding some commonalities and figuring out how to
co-exist even then).

I put some more comments on the How Stuff Works blog entry; an excerpt from
there as I ping-ponged those back and forth:
"Comments on: In America we realize that our children will do worse than
their parents"

To add something new and state the obvious, someone with business and
technical savvy and a track record of creating interesting companies could
probably create a huge company doing this, and ideally, would do that in a
globally cooperative way as much as possible, within an organizational
framework informed by Alfie Kohn's book "Punished by Rewards: The Trouble
with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes".
Maybe SAS could expand into this area, given it already has the social
aspects of such an organization? :-) But they historically don't do open
source. Or maybe Kitware or RedHat could expand into this area, given they
already have the open source aspects? :-) [Although they may not get the
Alfie Kohn Punished By Rewards aspects that SAS understands?] Or maybe there
could be a spinoff from some existing organization that focuses on how stuff
works? :-) Or maybe it would be best to have an entirely new set of
organizations, especially a non-profit foundation that shepherds related
standards in an open way, similar to how Debian/SPI, Apache, the PSF, or the
FSF works perhaps?
As I see it, there is no point in doing this stuff in "secret". And
also, citing Alfie Kohn, the people who do this best are not going to be the
ones focused on the material rewards side of it. We will no doubt eventually
see a bunch of different cooperating organizations that work towards such
goals, each with their own strengths and weaknesses in different situations.
And it might be fun for many people to be part of it and make their own
diverse free and open source contributions to it from whatever motivations.
But one thing is for sure IMHO: trying to make sense of what is going
on in a time of rapid technological and social transitions, to
collaboratively think about how stuff works on a global scale, is a huge
potential industry with billions of US$ on the table every year even now
(most of it apparently wasted according to Wired), and the long-term stakes
in this game are even higher (as Elizabeth Warren details). So, rather than
fight over slices of that particular pie, we might all be better off trying
to grow that open source intelligence pie right now. :-)

My posts also include links to many other indirectly related items. :-)

BTW, if you want a solution for US economic-related internal security
problems, I sketch one out here as a mix of a basic income, a gift economy,
resource-based planning, and/or stronger local communities with improved
abilities for local subsistence production: :-)
"Beyond a Jobless Recovery: A heterodox perspective on 21st century
economics / Four long-term heterodox alternatives"

So, there is no need for a collapse. We could have a relatively peaceful
transition by expanding those aspects of our economy with just a few strokes
of a pen (aside from misinformation about socio-economics that creates
resistance, which is part of the point here).

Such approaches might let our society return to some of the better patterns
of culture of past hunter/gatherer societies, while not having so many of
the bad parts. :-) Lots of details on that here:
"... that Cain and Abel Genesis story again reflects the transition from
abundance to scarcity: "Modern scholars suggest the [passage] may have been
based on a Sumerian story representing the conflict between nomadic
shepherds and settled farmers." ... Even in that story, God seems to be on
the side of the abundance-based joyful hunter/gatherers/nomads, not the
scarcity-based hard-working farmers/industrialists/settlers."

Oh, and while I'm at it, :-) here is a comment I made on how to move beyond
the irony of the current US defense posture and towards more lasting
comprehensive security:
We the people need to redefine security in a sustainable and resilient way.
Much current US military doctrine is based around unilateral security ("I'm
safe because you are nervous") and extrinsic security ("I'm safe despite
long supply lines because I have a bunch of soldiers to defend them"), which
both lead to expensive arms races. We need as a society to move to other
paradigms like Morton Deutsch's mutual security
("We're all looking out for each other's safety")
and Amory Lovin's intrinsic security ("Our redundant decentralized local
systems can take a lot of pounding whether from storm, earthquake, or bombs
and would still would keep working").

Almost completely unrelated, but I hope all the indoors-oriented informavore
types you may know are getting enough vitamin D so they can make ever wiser
decisions (and also probably have a lower chance of cancer, heart disease,
depression, mental illness, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, etc., which are
the most pressing personal security threats of most affluent and
indoor-oriented US Americans.)
"Health demographers guesstimate that if human populations in Northern
Europe were to achieve adequate vitamin D3 levels (40 nanograms per
milliliter of blood sample) this would save 17.7% in direct and indirect
healthcare costs, saving hundreds of billions of dollars/Euros per year. If
these Northern European statistics can be extrapolated to the United States,
the U.S. would save about $4.4 trillion in healthcare costs over the next

And I hope they are also getting lots of whole foods (heavy on the
vegetables, fruits, and beans, as Dr. Fuhrman suggests -- summarized here):
Probably another US$4 trillion dollars worth of savings there over the next
decade, too? :-) And some background on the dynamics of moving beyond that:

Those savings in turn would just means more people out of work, and so more
reason to read the knol above on moving beyond a jobless recovery. :-)

I could have never come to those conclusions about priorities without Google
as a tool (or online communities interested in related issues, one CC'd
here). But, what really remains of the strands of all that research? Of the
thought process I had to go through? Where is the way to present the support
behind all those findings? Google and various groups may have made it
possible for me to spend years to find and refine my knowledge of those
important things, but they do not really empower me to make the case to
others. Oh, I can try, and others can try, but the signal is just pretty weak.

Still, with a guestimate of over US$8 trillion worth of savings in the next
decade just from that alone (and I'm just pointing to other's years of hard
work), surely a little funds can be found somewhere to support FOSS
intelligence software to make a smarter planet more full of joy, diversity,
and resilience? To help other people to find those weak signals for
themselves, or to help make stronger the appropriate signals leading to
health and resilience and joy?

Or to quote General Ripper (as relayed by General Turgidson):
"God willing, we will prevail, in peace and freedom from fear, and in true
health, through the purity and essence of our natural... fluids(?)". :-)

More truth to some of that guy's ravings than one might think? :-)

Such a system could be developed globally in an iterative rapid-prototyping
way, combining the best ideas of stuff like Groove and Google Wave and
NEPOMUK. Here is just one possibility for a supporting framework I've long
been working towards (RDF-like, but with roots from way before RDF existed,
even before WordNet existed :-) -- the FOSS Pointrel project on SourceForge:
We did not integrate those ideas into a RAHS concept demonstrator, even
though I wanted to, because my wife suggested it would create too much legal
complexity down the road. The RAHS concept demonstrator was proprietary even
though it was based on US-supported research and then Singapore tax dollars,
and so, sadly, when Singapore did not get the notion that it was just a
start for rapid prototyping (not really their fault, it was probably
explained poorly) it was just sunk without hardly a word, and so rests on
the bottom of the info ocean with so much other proprietary but publicly
supported software, untouchable, unimprovable by its authors or anyone else.
Maybe it's no big loss because the biggest value is what people learned by
making it, but it is still an example of a needless hurdle in moving
forward, as part of an obsolete socio-economic proprietary approach to
software development we are slowly moving beyond as a global society (as
with Debian GNU/Linux etc.).

And to top it off, some general comments by me on the CIA: :-)
"CNC Machinist job related to custom bicycles & CIA version & comments"
Ah, who am I kidding. The intelligence system is designed to contain
information and ideas in small compartments. That is one reason it is so
ineffective at doing anything important in safeguarding the people of the
USA from scarcity and fear (let alone the rest of the world),
while very effective at preserving institutional power, torturing people
pointlessly and counter-productively, and overthrowing socialist democracies
heading in post-scarcity directions.

Anyway, just some things to think about in planning In-Q-Tel investment
strategies or future research. :-)

A lot of this analysis was indirectly made possible (via my wife) by your
tax dollars at work (well, in the past, and Singapore's too :-) to give me
some "free" time while I was not otherwise doing stay-at-home Dad stuff and
homeschooling/unschooling. Nothing like being a parent to really motivate
you to think about the future and how to shape a healthier, happier society
for your kid to live in.

I wasn't that far off in my predictions in 1999, sadly, the last time I sent
a long note to some aspect of the US government on security:
"DARPA Program Manager Position on Self-Replicating technology"
"Such self-replicating and self-repairing systems will be
developed eventually anyway, if only from commercial competitive pressures.
The only thing we can do is slow down their development. Yet that has its
own risks of our current infrastructure being overwhelmed by current weapons
of mass destruction or sophisticated terrorism."

But even a broken clock is right twice a day. :-)

I hope I'm wrong in the end on all this, too. Even when one is fairly sure
about something, there is always the possibility for things to be different
and that one has missed something essential or believed something in error.
I'd like to believe the USA is currently on the most resilient and
sustainable socio-economic course, and, say, Dimitry Orlov is oh so wrong:

"With vintage Russian black humor, Dmitry Orlov describes the social
collapse he witnessed in Russia in the 1990s and spells out its practical
lessons for the American social collapse he sees as inevitable."

All the best. I had to at least try. :-) And, beyond coming from left field,
what are the odds of IQT listening to these suggestions, when following
such such advice would likely radically shift your business model, your
research approaches, and maybe your collective diet, too? :-) Practically
zero. It's a weak signal. Which is exactly the point. :-) I'm in the same
situation the analysts were in trying to persuade GW Bush that invading Iraq
would be a very bad idea -- fifteen minutes in a limo ride to inform someone
with (in GW's case) practically zero curiosity about the world around him
about the history and current social trends of one of the most dynamic
places of the world. What are the odds of success? I hope they are higher
here, given more curiosity. :-)

Still, it is even worse than that, as building such an open intelligence
system might even shift the entire country's (and globe's) approach to
institutionalized "education" (really, "schooling", a different thing) that
otherwise makes it so hard to find creative but effective intelligence
analysts, or for that matter, just the informed and engaged citizenry needed
for a democracy. :-)
"[p2p-research] Rebutting Communiqu� from an Absent Future (was Re:
Information on student protests)"
Which sure is not going to make the Teacher's Unions happy at first. :-) But
as John Taylor Gatto suggests, our entire
socio-economic-military-educational system has been geared around the
security needs of 19th century Prussia, not the security needs of the 21st
century USA and, mutually, the rest of the globe. So, at the very least,
this email is just one more datapoint. Maybe if enough pile up, the USA
intelligence community will shift to working more from an abundance model
instead of a scarcity model; I just hope that paradigm shift is soon enough
to prevent more needless suffering and to build a more joyful future for
everyone on the planet and beyond.

[None of the entities on the CC list should be taken as endorsing these
ravings in any way. :-) But they might by chance find some sense in parts of
them for themselves or their communities like at IBM, Google, p2presearch,
Open Manufacturing, or elsewhere -- all communities putting out sparks that
indirectly helped me to put together and refine these ideas.]

--Paul Fernhout
The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies of
abundance in the hands of those thinking in terms of scarcity.

Paul D. Fernhout

Sep 1, 2010, 9:52:17 PM9/1/10
Paul D. Fernhout wrote:
> Summary: This note is essentially about how civilians could benefit by have
> access to the sorts of "sensemaking" tools the intelligence community (as
> well as corporations) aspire to have, in order to design more joyful,
> secure, and healthy civilian communities (including through creating a more
> sustainable and resilient open manufacturing infrastructure for such
> communities). It outlines why the intelligence community should consider
> funding the creation of such FOSS "dual use" intelligence applications as a
> way to reduce global tensions through increased local prosperity, health,
> and with intrinsic mutual security.
> Feel free to forward under a CC-BY license.

More Google echoing posts it seems, sorry, I got three copies of that one.

Anyway, I just wanted to cross-reference a link to a comment I made to that
slashdot article:
"On sensemaking tools to prevent such tragedies..."

Although, I guess, the title could be taken a different way than I
intended... The standard interpretation is that sensemaking tools would
identify such individuals in advance (why some in the intelligence community
may want them), but my point is that sensemaking tools would change the
climate that produces such stormy individuals... Like by helping everyone
rethink and rebuild our infrastructure in open ways to have healthier

Anyway, a complex set of ideas... I'm sure people in different communities
will take different stands on different parts of an entire suite of tools...

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