Never restrict searchTo the Editor:
A long time ago, Thomas J. Watson, Chairman of the Board of IBM said, "There is a world market for about five computers." The vast majority of people at MIT are skeptical of such technological pessimism. Today, however, some people are making a similar type of statement: "SDI will never work." Then these same people use this pessimism to justify limitations on SDI research. We oppose any limitations on unclassified reasearch at MIT.
The freedom of the faculty and students to research new concepts is and always has been a cornerstone of academia. If we restrict SDI research, the next logical step is to restrict any other controversial research such as artificial intelligence. Academic censorship is a hallmark of a totalitarian society. The opportunity to do any research is one of the many freedoms we enjoy in our American society. They are worth defending. Anything that increases the security of this society while respecting the rights of the individual is fundamentally good.
SDI is pure defense. Its implementation would not supply the US with a first strike capable weapon. Its only purpose is to destroy ICBMs. It cannot be used to kill people. The accuracy of Soviet ICBMs is increasing and they will soon be able to threaten the US with a first strike. Soviet planning for such an attack would be complicated by an even partially effective SDI -- so complicated that they could not depend on destroying all of our retaliatory capability.
It is important to stress that our primary intention in writing this letter is to dissuade MIT faculty and students from restricting SDI or any other research. Such closed-mindedness presents a danger to US advancement and competence in all technological areas. It also may endanger our security. America was built on the pioneering spirit and it is imperative that we not lose the edge.
Matt Kelley '88->
Jim Miller G->
Barry Berenberg '88->