Terminator, The Matrix, I Robot and many other movies deal with an exciting topic of what happens when humans gain the powers promised by a certain technology. Will the robots rebel? Could internet turn into SkyNet? Will advanced nano technology allow building bombs that make nuclear weapons seem like sticks and stones? What about merging ourselves with technology?
In so many ways further technological development seems akin to playing with fire and powers once only prescribed to gods. Are we up to the challenge? Are we ready? And if not, how can we become ready? Technology could give us the power to destroy, but it could also give us the power to create a world of unimaginable prosperity and freedom. It could be used to enslave, but also to liberate the potential of each individual.
We need to identify the *good* uses of technology and we need to evolve our social and cultural mentality to the point where destruction and enslavement wont even be a temptation anymore. If that ideal is an utopia, if it cannot be reached then perhaps we are already doomed.
Today I found an excellent small website about the gender imbalance in Free software. There's been a lot about the topic on the linux/free software news sites too.
Large parts of the free software community are rather hostile towards women, as unfortunately is usual in communities with a huge male majority. Which then prevents the community from becoming balanced because it will be unattractive to women.
With this article I want to point out how Free Software provides a secure environment and how important the community is.
Security is not only limited to "technology to keep crackers away from your data", but it also is about secured freedom. Just as laws in many countries secure that you have the right to voice out your opinion, Free Software secures its own freedom through its licenses.
1 SECURE FREEDOM
Freedom is important to every human being. We do not want to be limited or restricted in any way.
But why do so many people not break out of the restrictions nonfree software imposes on them and choose to use Free Software?
"Don't talk about Microsoft" is a meme some people would gladly adopt for it is true that many in the Free Software community often appear obsessed with what Microsoft does and how could that be a part of a plan to hurt Free Software and GNU/Linux specifically. However, there are certain facts that can't be validly denied; Microsoft has a reputation of being quite a devious "competitor", if we can even fairly attribute such a noble term to them. They simply shown that they will use every trick in the book, regardless even of legality or ethics, to stay on the top.
Since I wasn't yet as clear as I'd like to be on what can we consider to be free (as in freedom) among works which are not software and not functional and wasn't yet sure what exactly was Richard Stallman's view on this issue I decided to ask him directly. Here is the resulting email conversation.
My original message:
Danijel Orsolic wrote:
I must admit I tend to be in a state of confusion about what are minimal freedoms that we should expect for works of art and other non-practical non-software works. In an interview I once watched you stated something that the absolute minimum should be to allow for non-commercial use and distribution of the work, yet people on the FreedomDefined.org seem to have come up with a definition which would exclude works licensed for use only in a non-commercial way as "free". Their definition seems to mostly be a conversion of four freedoms for software for cultural works.
It's the big problem of the net: how do you make money if everyone can access the files you produce for free?
Earning money is not evil, it makes it possible to produce more art or information. It's a waste of talent to need a day job to support what you consider your real work.