Hidden Wonders

Privacy·Ramble·Technology

Reject Proprietary Software


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Table of Contents

Introduction[#]


If you bought a car or a TV in the year 2000, you could do whatever you wanted with it. Rip it apart, figure out how it worked, throw it out the window (the TV, not the car), it didn’t matter; when you bought it, you owned it in every sense. You could do whatever you wanted with your copy of the car or TV.

Now, if you buy a TV it is riddled with malware, masquerading as functionality. You do not have the right to disassemble, modify, or improve this software. It is against the law of most Western nations, probably all nations. The same goes for cars, believe it or not——our cars are entire computers in their own right, but we cannot dig into the computer’s inner workings in the same way we could our car’s engine.

The software is proprietary, unfree. The FSF defines the four essential freedoms here, which I will list below:

  1. The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
  2. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others.
  4. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

This definition is rather subjective and somewhat controversial, but the point is that the way things are now just not right. The takeaway is that things are not getting better.

DRM, Draconian Technologies[#]


Richard Stallman here discusses the evils of DRM. My opinions on the matter are semi-inspired by his opinions.

Essentially, DRM is a system of limiting what users are able to do with the media they’ve already purchased on their own personal devices. No government should be able to control what I do on my own computing device. Sequences of 1s and 0s should not be made illegal.

It’s a funny joke: make a computer program that randomly spits out 1s and 0s, and eventually you will break the law by creating an illegal sequence of bits. It’s a nonsensical world we live in, and DRM only helps perpetuate this.

In OSes like Windows——a proprietary OS——DRM can be enforced at the software level. The OS can be actively spying on the user and preventing them from using their computer as they please. DRM is demonic and must stop, there must be some other way to allow media creators to profit from their works then violating the freedoms of innocent computer users.

AI Technologies, the Dangers of the Cloud[#]


As I am writing this, a newly emerged AI service is being made more difficult to use due to claims the AI is being misused. This leaves those who desire to use this technology freely stuck, because this service from Eleven Labs that allows the replication of others voices using their voice samples is proprietary technology that can only be run on their servers. They can do whatever they want, and we are left powerless.

If the software is made open, if people are allowed to run these AIs on their own machines without Internet access, then privacy is improved, people are no longer limited by the arbitrary whims of other people, and the common man is given the same power as a great corporation.

Indeed, if AI is made harder to use——whether through draconian copyright laws or “think of the children” style legislation——it will be the common man who is vilified while the rich and powerful continue to reap the benefits of this technology. Open source, and especially free software, is a great equalizer, where all contributors and users of the software are equal in their rights and their potential to improve the software.

As for those who are frightened the AI is going to become too smart and take away all our jobs, I mention a paraphrased quote from some old IBM slide: “a machine can never be held responsible for a decision made in error.” There will always be humans knowing what’s going on to press the button, because we have to be able to sue someone I guess. Sort of a cynical outlook on everything as always but that’s how things really are, and we as people have to find ways in our own lives to accept reality and become happy with it rather than delude ourselves into living in some fake, nonsense world.

The Ignorant Masses, What is Water?[#]


What makes all this so sad and tragic is that most people lack the ability, knowledge, and awareness to even care about how proprietary software is being used to steadily destroy our freedoms.

On the one hand, we have the average computer user that’s too ignorant read at middle school reading level, let alone understand the disastrous ramifications of proprietary software.

On the other hand, we have so-called “digital natives” who, in truth, have no technical knowledge at all because they only use proprietary operating systems like Android or iOS. Like a fish who has lived in water his whole life, a ten year old kid nowadays only ever uses proprietary software, and thus has no idea there is even another way.

Final Disclaimer[#]


Not all proprietary software is evil in my opinion. I have no problem if that software doesn’t connect to the Internet at all with it being proprietary. However, most proprietary software is connecting to the Internet to use the data it mines from you to make a profit, and there’s no reason to trust proprietary software developers that claim their software doesn’t connect to the Internet in the first place.

Regardless, think critically on this matter, I always come off a bit too strongly opinionated in my rambles.


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