March 19, 2008
As a quick follow-up to Antisocialite’s post about Anonymous vs. Scientology (he tells me part 2 is coming soon), this brief over at Global Guerrillas summarizes Project Chanology in the context of an open source insurgency. Even more interesting, however, is this reply from a member of Anonymous:
Firstly, Anonymous is an example of viral organisation – there is no centralised leadership, and although there are nodes of organisation, these are dynamic – if one goes down or is taken down, others compensate with little damage done to the utility of the network as a whole. Organisation and decisions are made through what I would term “viral consensus” – the facts, questions and opinions are disseminated throughout the network by it’s users, the most successful or popular of these possible courses of action are therefore repeated more often and gain traction – mutations to the idea occur and those that are popular flourish. As such, there are no leaders to attack – whilst there may be some individuals who are more visible (such as Mark Bunker) they are not essential-, no easily-accisble points of failure. Indeed, the only thing that would severely disrupt the insurgency as a whole is internal factional problems – which are near-impossible for an outsider to predict or cause due to the shibboleths John mentions; or a total disruption of the internet as a whole.
Secondly, the initial campaign of DDOS and internet insurgency can be seen as an example of the internet as an enabling force – most members of anonymous are not hackers or computer security experts, but the information available on how to conduct operations such as DDOS attacks etc is readily available on the internet, and can be spread concisely and practically throughout the group itself through other networking tools (IRC, message boards, forums, p2p). However, the interesting thing in particular about the methodology of anonymous is that it is intensely adaptable – when the opinions of Mark Bunker that the illegal aspects of anonymous actions (DDOS etc) were tactically efficient but strategically detrimental entered the viral consciousness, the methodology drastically changed – to real life protests organised over a number of countries, and to information dissemination tactics aimed at the public.
February 1, 2008
Open source biological engineering takes another step forward with a newly released Open Biohacking Project kit — everything you need to start your own DIY biology lab.
From Bryan Bishop:
The open biohacking kit project contains information on important protocols in genetic engineering, stem cell research, microbiology and other fields of related interest. Additionally, the archive file — ready for immediate distribution and diffusion — contains numerous articles and designs for cheap DIY hardware such as incubators, centrifuges, oligonucleotide machines, microarray chip schematics, and so on. An integral part of the entire package is a cached copy of the BioBrick Foundation and synbio websites, such as OpenWetWare and the Parts Registry — some may know about these groups from the International Genetically Engineered Machine competitions. Short introductory files are also being included regarding methods of artificial gene synthesis, using online bioinformatics databases, transfections, running ecoli farms, synthetic biology (synbio), ES cell harvesting procedures, quick “where to buy” guides, and one-page documents introducing newbies into the arts.
The good thing about projects like this is that they help counter corporate control of biotechnology, in particular attempts to patent life. The drawback, of course, is that they could lead to anti-social use of biotech, such as biowarfare weapons, misuses of the technology, or simply contagious mistakes — but these are possibilities that exist anyway. In fact, attempts to control such technologies (and take note that most transhumanists and technoprogressives advocate government oversight here) are certain to fail, given the exponential growth of this field and the lowering threshold for access, and are also more likely to lead to situations where black market — and potentially dangerous — biotech thrives. This is, however, a situation where a decentralized and anarchist approach to technology — one where technology is universally accessible and the tools to deal with problems are widespread — could prove most beneficial. To quote Eudoxa:
The threat from biohacking is manifold and distributed. The real risks are not likely escaped modified E coli making cocaine in the gut, bioweapons or glow-in-the-dark aquarium fishes but something completely unexpected not in anybody’s contingency plan. The best way of dealing with such threats is also a distributed and manifold approach – a diversity of researchers sharing information, alerting each other about threats and discoveries, trying different approaches and competing at being the first to find solutions.