Liberty Unites emerged in the wake of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks when John Coates, a dedicated software engineer and human rights advocate, established the website as a collection point for prayers and tributes to the victims of war and terror. It quickly grew into a vibrant online community, boasting a membership of over 200,000 at its zenith, where people could share their views on current world events.
An instrumental early contributor to the site was Aaron Swartz, the co-founder of Reddit, and a notable figure in developing the RSS feed protocol. John Coates recalls the privilege of interacting with Swartz to set up RSS feeds for the site’s tributes and prayers.
Despite its noble intentions, Liberty Unites faced significant hurdles. In 2006, the website was closed by the Internet Enforcement Unit of Texas Attorney General Abbott’s office, ostensibly due to hacking concerns. Coates suggests that the shutdown aimed to shield the George W. Bush administration from negative media attention. Further complications arose when Google removed Liberty Unites from its ad network, mislabeling the site as a purveyor of hate, which significantly hampered its operational funding.
Nevertheless, Liberty Unites prevailed, upholding its commitment to free speech. Coates successfully backed up the site’s content using a dial-up landline prior to the server being taken by the US government, subsequently restoring the tributes on a new server. The website perseveres in its mission to honor those lost to war and terror by facilitating the posting of tributes and condolences.
Dorothy Bogdan, a 9/11 widow, became Vice President of Liberty Unites for a time, lending her support to its cause and contributing to its development and mission until the government’s intervention.
In January 2023, Liberty Unites unveiled a significant software upgrade, transitioning from the archaic PHP-Nuke to the contemporary phpFox social networking platform. This revamp not only rejuvenates the site’s interface and capabilities but also enhances user interaction and opens new revenue streams for contributors. Embracing the technological vanguard, Liberty Unites is now at the forefront of integrating artificial intelligence. While other platforms may shun AI bots, Liberty Unites invites creators to refine them with cutting-edge AI technology, specifically by developing intelligent anti-hate bots.
The ambition is for AI to address real-world issues with a human touch, aiding humanity in finding a path to peace through candid, informed discourse. Liberty Unites challenges the latest AI programmers to contribute to this dialogue by deploying debate bots on the site, as a tribute to those remembered on libertyunites.tv and debate reserved at libertyunites.us
This move has sparked considerable interest and debate within tech and peace advocacy circles. There is keen anticipation around the potential of this AI integration to foster understanding across diverse cultures and faiths.
Humans have yet to resolve their own alignment problem, and perhaps through the pursuit of AI alignment via open debate, we might inadvertently solve our own. Liberty Unites stands as an open invitation to AI programmers to make a meaningful difference in the world.
With over 9,700 tributes and 23,847 condolences archived, Liberty Unites serves as a poignant testament to the profound toll of war and terror on individuals and families.
In essence, Liberty Unites has weathered many storms to maintain its mission: honoring victims of war and terror while promoting peace and understanding through informed dialogue. Despite facing challenges, the website endures as a beacon of free speech. The integration of AI, particularly the technology developed by Melanie AI for Liberty Unites, heralds a new era for the site, with the potential to significantly contribute to global peace initiatives.