Keepin' it real in Tech
Freedom in Tech Creates Freedom in Society
“Free Tech” is Technology that gives Freedom.
Many Americans today take for granted the fact that the “Bill of Rights” is in their constitution. The Bill of Rights is a document that gives every American 10 freedoms. The Bill of Rights was made to ensure that every citizen was granted certain freedoms that could not be taken away.
Likewise, as technology (smartphones, smart TV’s, smart cars) become more integrated in our society, it is important to understand how we can have freedoms with our technology. Just like there is a Bill of Rights, there are two other documents that give users freedom in the world of tech.
- Primarily the GPL (GNU Public License) which is a software license. Here is the Official GNU website.
- The TAPR (Tucson Amateur Packet Radio) is a hardware license. Here is the Official TAPR website.
Although not commonly known, you have probably been using either software or hardware that uses one of these licenses and not even known it. Android for example uses free software as it uses part of the Linux kernel. And even Microsoft Windows uses Free Software, power-shell is on GitHub and licensed under the free software license MIT. Don’t believe us? Click Here and see for yourself!
“Free” as in “Free Speech” not “Free Food”.
Remember. The importance of “Free Software” or “Free Hardware” in the tech world is not concerned with price, that is the world of business.
The world of tech concerned with freedom. These concepts are nothing new and have been around since the Free Software Foundation.
Any technology that provides freedom to the user helps create and maintain freedom in society.
Why is it important?
1) Freedom in society
We use technology to exercise our other rights like freedom of speech. If your device begins censoring your messages or social media posts, then your freedom of speech is put in danger. We use technology to research, if your device begins to censor what video you can watch, what documents you can read, your access to information is limited. So far there hasn’t been a major example of this in the news but that doesn’t mean it can not happen. No one heard about Apple slowing down iPhones until it was in the news that Apple was slowing down iPhones.
One of the freedom concepts in tech is that you are allowed to “see” the software or hardware as it is internally. This verifies any claim of the hardware or software. For example, if a program claims to use a certain standard of encryption, you could view the source code to validate that it does in fact use such a standard. You no longer have to take someone else’s word for it.
Suppose there is a medical robot surgeon that runs off of AI and is being used to do operations on patients, now take a second and imagine that you are the patient. Would you like to be operated on by a robot that uses non-reviewed proprietary software? Or would you trust a robot that has been reviewed and test thoroughly by numerous different organizations?
Although businesses may wish to profit off software that makes game graphics or online stores, can one really justify being concerned with profit over people with the software is fatal if in error? Examples would be medical devices, air planes, self driving cars, etc.
You can read about an x-ray machine that killed people due to a software bug by reading this:
Many are interested in these topics and wish to learn. By giving freedom to these users you enable others to learn information that they might not otherwise have access to. For example, a student in poverty who can not afford an education from a school on programming, can now learn how to program from documentation and source code. A student wishing to work on micro-controllers could benefit from reading the schematics from a hardware device.
Free tech is more adaptable. Any technology that respects the user’s freedom will allow the user to add, edit, or remove any functionality to the original.
How does that help create freedom in society?
As already mentioned, technology is becoming more and more intertwined with our society. Not only in public matters but in private. Smartphones can heed commands, Amazon Alexa can order pizza, cars can drive themselves.
If we do not have freedom with this technology, then we do not control this technology. If we do not control this technology, this technology will control the areas it has influences on our lives.
You can preserve your freedom and the freedom of others by simply using and creating awareness for technology that respects your freedom.
Remember, all you need to do to be free in tech is use tech that respects your freedom. The Raspberry Pi, Debian Operating System and Arduino Micro-controller are examples of such.
Please watch this TED Talk video to learn more.
Keep it real.