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DARPA Funding for Hackers, Hackerspaces, and Education: A Good Thing?

Mitch Altman, Psytek, Willow Brugh, Fiacre O'Duinn, Matt Joyce

Mitch Altman caused a stir this spring when he publicly announced that he would not be helping U.S. Maker Faires this year, after it was publicly announced that they received funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). So, what's the controversy? DARPA, an agency of the U.S. military, has funded many famous projects over the past several decades, including GPS and the Internet. People in DARPA are now making large amounts of grant funding available for hackers and hackerspaces to do projects of their choice, as well as funding for education through hands-on learning, which MAKE Magazine is using to help schools. Does it matter that DARPA is responsible for the development of new technology for the U.S. military with an annual budget of $3.2 billion? What are the ethics of using funds from people or organizations that may or may not be aligned with one's own goals? What are the ramifications for the hacker/maker movement? Is DARPA funding overall a good thing? There is no simple answer. Explore the ethics and ramifications with Mitch, as moderator, and the panelists, as they give their perspectives on this complex set of issues.


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