LONDON, 02 AUG 2011: Thesigers associate Scott Smith, principal of design futures firm Changeist LLC, was recently cited and interviewed by author Greg Lindsay, a contributor to business magazine Fast Company, on open source weapons development. Lindsay cites Smith's Current Intelligence essay on 'shanzai' technology culture in China and its broader implications for rebel movements elsewhere. Summarising Smith's original essay, Lindsay writes 'that both the “maker” movement and the Libyan rebels desperately hacking together weaponry are drawing on the same open source knowledge base. Or for that matter, so are the Mexican drug cartels assembling their own tanks and submarines.' Smith elaborates for Fast Company:
“We’ve come to a point where you put together a parallel system to the U.S. Department of Defense,” says Smith. And also to the point where the DoD is soliciting the hobbyists themselves to be the next generation of weapon designers via DARPA’s crowdsourcing effort, UAVForge. “If I were at a major arms contractor, I would be worried about being disrupted,” Smith says.
He wonders if the world is headed toward “peak arms,” in which open source, distributed, low-cost tools fatally undermine big-ticket weapons sales in all but a few cases (most of them involving the Strait of Taiwan). And that goes double for non-state actors, e.g. roll-your-own NGOs and drug cartels. “The era of large scale, run-and-gun DIY micro-warfare is just around the corner,” Smith concludes.
Lindsay's article was published as "The DIY Terminator: Private Robot Armies and the Algorithm-Run Future of War" on Fast Company's CO.EXIST website on 1 August 2011. It appeared again in syndication on MSNBC.
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