Are you interested in what happens to computer technology during wartime? How can we weaponize beta versions of software and hardware safely so that soldiers and civilians are protected? What are the ethical implications of using technology to spy on citizens — or to help those citizens speak out against wartime atrocities? This January 26, at Stanford University, a conference called Technology in Wartime aims to raise — and begin to answer — those questions. Sponsored by Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR), the conference is currently seeking participants. So visit the conference website now, and find out more about how you can participate.
What’s my role in all this? Well, in my wonky life, I’m proud to be the president of CPSR, one of the oldest geek activist organizations that I know. Its roots go back to the early 1980s, when a bunch of computer scientists — many at Stanford — banded together to speak out about the problems with SDI and computerized launch-on-demand missile systems. They argued that the military didn’t realize how many things could go wrong with computerized weapons systems, and their message got through loud and clear. They become some of the most visible advocates for caution in deploying what became known as the Star Wars weapons system.
In the 1990s, they helped fight battles to protect privacy and free speech online, and in the 2000s CPSR has worked on reforms in e-voting practices, as well as international internet regulation. Now, we’re returning to our roots with the Technology in Wartime conference, confronting a host of issues that our current wartime mentality has brought to the fore in the United States and throughout the world. Find out more!