Two Bits in the COIN-Operated Machine: Interview with a Counter-Insurgency Specialist

There’s been a lot of talk about the ways technology is being harnessed for terrorism, insurgency, counter-insurgency and general “asymmetric” conflict these days. The Arab Spring, Ukraine, Libya, Egypt, and Syria have all involved new uses of technology by governments, combatants, hacktivists, civil resisters, and non-combatants alike.

So, we thought we’d sit down with Dr. Jacob Diliberto for a chat about technology and the future of insurgency.  Continue reading

The Whips of War: Hoopty Hacks in our Driverless Future

By Mark

“Nine-tenths of our crimes an’ calamities are made possible by th’ automobile. It has unleashed all th’ pent-up criminal tendencies o’ th’ ages.” -Kin Hubbard[i]

So we’ve talked about a few of the weird, wild, easy, and totally predictable ways cars can be physically weaponized. Pretty much anybody can slap a battering ram or some armor on a wheeled or tracked vehicle. This isn’t a problem that’s going to be solved by banning stuff because A) it’s ridiculously easy to do, and B) most of the materials can’t be banned.

Continue reading

Why Guns Won Before 3D Printing: Industrialization, Post-Industrialization, and the Problem of Scale in Small Arms Control

By Mark

“It might take 10 years or 20 years. Hell, it might take 50 years. But if we make it illegal to own a handgun, eventually there will be no handguns.”  -Gerald Ensley[i]

 “Gun prohibition then, is not the same as banning DDT or leaded gasoline. It is more like banning fire.” –Nicholas Johnson[ii]

When people hear that I write about 3D printed and homemade guns (along with some of the other security implications of the “4th Industrial Revolution and democratization of manufacturing), sometimes they ask me-

“So, does this mean gun control is going to be pointless now?” Continue reading

Brave New World, Same as the Old One: Some Implications of DIY Guns in the Neo-Artisanal Age

By Mark

“This is a symbol of irreversibility. They can never eradicate the gun from the earth.”  — Cody Wilson, founder of “Defense Distributed”[i]

“From an Orwellian perspective, you’d be better off brain scanning people for malicious intentions than controlling for 3D weapons.” — John Wanberg, Industrial Designer[ii]

Homemade guns are an interesting cross between novelty, genuine innovation, legitimate security concern, and well-hyped harbinger of a technologic moral panic. People have been ready to freak out about 3D printed and “do-it-yourself (DIY)” guns for a few years now. The reality of DIY weapons is more complex.  Continue reading

Mad Max Meets the Fourth Industrial Revolution: DIY Vehicle Weaponization

By Mark

In the old days of humanitarian intervention, international charities would hire private contractors to escort their shipments using 4×4 pickups with machine guns mounted on the beds. Since a lot of humanitarian groups don’t like to be seen paying for stuff like that, they’d write off these vehicle escorts as “technical expenses,” coining the term “Technical” for any 4×4 pickup with a mounted crew-served weapon. So the legend goes. Continue reading