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The Pentagon As Silicon Valley's Incubator

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the getting-it-started dept.

Businesses 27

An anonymous reader writes "The Times has an article about how people coming out of the Pentagon are helping create a boom in technology start-ups. From the article: 'In the last year, former Department of Defense and intelligence agency operatives have headed to Silicon Valley to create technology start-ups specializing in tools aimed at thwarting online threats. Frequent reports of cyberattacks have expanded the demand for security tools, in both the public and private sectors, and venture capital money has followed. In 2012, more than $1 billion in venture financing poured into security start-ups, more than double the amount in 2010, according to the National Venture Capital Association.'"

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27 comments

World [cyber]war 3 (5, Insightful)

OffTheLip (636691) | about 8 months ago | (#44652907)

The current/latest Pentagon buzzword and future money pit is cyber warfare. Whatever it takes to keep the money tap open.

But i like the taste of boots. (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | about 8 months ago | (#44653009)

In the last year, former Department of Defense and intelligence agency operatives have headed to Silicon Valley to create technology start-ups specializing in tools.

"We shape our tools. And then our tools shape us."

Re:World [cyber]war 3 (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 8 months ago | (#44653095)

Who modded this "troll?" It's absolutely true. Same old perverse relationship between the DoD and "defense" contractors, new technology.

Re:World [cyber]war 3 (1)

plopez (54068) | about 8 months ago | (#44653163)

Never forget that is was Eisenhower, not some pinko left wing wacko, who coined the phrase "military industrial complex". Even in his day it was getting way out of control. The military industrial complex is our true foe.

Re:World [cyber]war 3 (3, Informative)

erikkemperman (252014) | about 8 months ago | (#44654095)

Well said. For those who've never seen it, Dwight nailed it over 50 years ago:

classic address [youtube.com]

So sad that what happened is pretty much exactly what he feared.

Re:World [cyber]war 3 (3, Informative)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 8 months ago | (#44653405)

Who modded this "troll?"

Plenty of shill account/bots around here. In fact some of the "tools" [slashdot.org] the article is referring to are applied to do just this [slashdot.org].

All points to a new market opening up: Tools to identify and track propaganda/shill/astroturf accounts, IP address blocks etc. Envisage something like a voluntary spam network where all the forum software/websites can band together to make these nefarious activities much more costly to operate and maintain...

Re:World [cyber]war 3 (1)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 8 months ago | (#44653487)

sorry I meant anti-spam network [wikipedia.org] - obviously. Where participating forums can display a nice little ribbon, proudly show that they participate in the "Shaft the Shills" network...

cyberwolf (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44652913)

just what we need! more cyberwolves and renoir projects.

I see where this may be going (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 8 months ago | (#44652957)

When I lived in the DC area, the first thing that struck me was how many people asked me if I had a clearance. It was all about having a clearance and working on government projects there. It was kind of sickening to me to realize that -- all these people trying to suck at the government teat. And my impression was that no one was interested in working hard, doing a good job or doing anything interesting at all. It was about having government work and making large amounts of money. (Lack of enthusiasm is one of many key problems with government wouldn't you agree?)

And for government to be a driving factor in industry...? Any industry? It's also the sign of a problem... problems really. We know what we get when we mix military and industry -- a system that destroys people, property and nations for profit -- one where there can be no world peace because in order to sustain that business model, trouble must always be stirred up somewhere at all times. Do the words "invented threats" ring any bells or strike any chords?

As if the US military industrial complex isn't enough of a problem for the world (because you know the US isn't supposed to have a standing army by law) we also have the spy industry to deal with... it has always been there, but spies historically keep a low profile. These days, not so much.

Re:I see where this may be going (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44652971)

>> It was kind of sickening to me to realize that -- all these people trying to suck at the government teat. And my impression was that no one was interested in working hard, doing a good job or doing anything interesting at all.

Indeed... the entire massive infrastructure of the US IC and DOD was stood up by a bunch of lazy incompetent slobs. The ability to spy in 75% of all domestic internet traffic? Slackers did that.

Re:I see where this may be going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44652987)

> Slackers did that.

Yes, they did. Collecting huge volumes of refuse without having to produce any useful results out of it is always easier than actually doing work.

Re:I see where this may be going (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44653027)

I can't speak regarding your experience in DC, but as a longtime worker here I'd say that YOUR findings are not the norm. In fact, the only folks who seem to take the easy way out tend to be those getting ready to retire.

Sucking the Government teat? Hardly.

Re: I see where this may be going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44653349)

"And for government to be a driving factor in industry...? Any industry? It's also the sign of a problem..."

Everyone else is much too polite to point out that you're posting this on the internet, which the government was a driving factor in creating.

Re: I see where this may be going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44654051)

Everyone else is much too polite to point out that you're posting this on the internet, which the government was a driving factor in creating.

Not so much. The lowest level protocols were developed by a couple of guys (shame on me for not remembering names). All the layers on top of that - and there are many - were not even funded by the government. Most of the hardware was built out by the phone companies. That's like saying the caveman who discovered fire developed the internal combustion engine.

Re:I see where this may be going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44654561)

Yeah the big driver of the military industrial complex is a complete lack of vision. You just made a good ammount of money making war goods and the war is over? Use it to produce something else productive, you already have a good pool of seed money and manufacturing equipment. No,lobby instead to keep the funds flowing and then have the gaul to complain about people on welfare.
It shows in military design projects too, this poverty of imagination. How many boondoggles are more of the same and a solution looking for a problem.

We have tons of Hubbles in orbit and we use them to spy down on earth on some non-threat instead of exploring the universe. I believe we would be much better off if we swapped military and NASA budgets. Then at least we'd be exploring the universe and developing the technology to do so instead of just murdering people for more profit. Hell we'd be better off if we put the military industrial complex budget into a giant money pit and burned it annually - at least then it wouldn't actively be making the world worse!

Re:I see where this may be going (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 months ago | (#44655733)

The linked story is the opposite of your comment. It is about people leaving the world of government contracts behind, in the hopes of making bigger bucks at a startup. It is not about the Pentagon controlling Silicon Valley, it is about the brain drain that Silicon Valley is inflicting on the Pentagon. True, some of those companies' business is with the government, but certainly not all. (It would have been a better story with some information about that, such as what percentage of people at these companies maintain their security clearances).

Re:I see where this may be going (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 8 months ago | (#44658857)

When I lived in the DC area, the first thing that struck me was how many people asked me if I had a clearance. It was all about having a clearance and working on government projects there. It was kind of sickening to me to realize that -- all these people trying to suck at the government teat. And my impression was that no one was interested in working hard, doing a good job or doing anything interesting at all. It was about having government work and making large amounts of money. (Lack of enthusiasm is one of many key problems with government wouldn't you agree?)

Because that is where the money is. There are tons of government contractors (that produce no tangible goods for ANY OTHER CLIENT) looking for people who have a secret/top secret clearance..... no experience necessary in the position and are offering big bucks for it. They don't want to pay for the actual background check or take the chance that you won't get clearance. You and I are paying for this racket too. How do you think Snowden, with the background he had, landed up with that well paying job?

In similar news... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44652965)

former NSA agents are outperforming even the insider traders on the stock market. You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide, right?

Re:In similar news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44654127)

Yeah, I figure they can just look at Warren Buffets meta-data to figure out what he's going to buy next. You don't need to know what was said, just who he talked to and when.

Not just in the last year (4, Informative)

The Mayor (6048) | about 8 months ago | (#44653207)

One needs only to look at the origins of In-Q-Tel, and its connection to Peter Thiel, to know that the defense department has been funding some of the biggest and best known companies for the past 2 decades. Google, PayPal, Facebook, and Palantir all come to mind, although there are many others.

Re:Not just in the last year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44657649)

that's another proof of the Zionist Occupied Government. How come most of these companies founder were Jewish?

Re:Not just in the last year (1)

David Rubinson (3029161) | about 8 months ago | (#44662793)

Yes. Exactly. In Q Tel. Theil. Exactly. Add to that the profound change in research funding at Universities, and U get the picture.

aimed at thwarting online threats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44653217)

Frequent reports of cyberattacks have expanded the demand for security tools

Only at the behest of incompetent auditors and "compliance" mandates.

Venture Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44653265)

The CIA (among other agencies) often fund or form venture capital firms specializing in the technology they would like to have. One such company is called In-Q-Tel [iqt.org]. This company has worked to create all types of cloud based recognition solutions. This includes services recently in the news for the interception and analysis of any digital transmissions like voice and email.

They fund these firms to do the work they could never get done in the land of eternal red tape. It's probably better that the government reaches out to companies to develop things than companies working to create things for the government. We should all remember the distaster that was Toys [wikipedia.org].

FORMER AGENTS? (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about 8 months ago | (#44654299)

Anyone care to bet that they are former agents? How about planting these folks in the computer industry to a degree that back doors and methods will exist to make it convenient for government to keep an eye on people? Your trusted encryption program may well have been written by the CIA or God knows who else. There is also a problem in that foreign powers just might put agents in American companies to accomplish exactly the same thing.
                    Perhaps good software could be written to seek out unusual lines of code within other software such that illicit items could be ferreted out.

I don't see why this is shocking (1)

bberens (965711) | about 8 months ago | (#44655557)

I worked in a few different industries before I stopped working for "the man" and started my own business. I mostly sell products and services back into the industries that I'm already familiar with, often to former employers. Why in god's name would I be foolish enough to enter a market in which I know absolutely nothing?
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