Stallman Talk

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loldier
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RMS interviewed -- Singularity 1 Episode 193 Freedom is Worth the Inconvenience (1st April 2016).

https://www.singularityweblog.com/richard-stallman-singularity-free-software/

Ogg audio.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/Nikola-Files/Richard-Stallman.ogg

SuperTramp83

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The coincidence! Saw it yesterday :)

bitbit
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thx loldier
very informative

vita_cell
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Thanks for info!

pragmatist

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Thank you!

Usually rms interviews are interesting despite the interviewer. This time, however, I think the interviewer conducted the interview very well. One reason for this is the interviewer was not totally ignorant of the Free Software Movement. He at least had a clue!

loldier
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The interviewer was good and so was Stallman. It must be one of the better interviews as of late.

Bomb-interviews don't work well with Stallman. You have to let him speak. If necessary, do some editing afterwards -- but do let him speak. A live interview with Stallman doesn't work either if it's more than a few lines. I would go as far as eliminate the role of the interviewer totally. Shoot the interview, cut the questions and bring to the fore what RMS has to say. The questions should be presented in inter-titles for the best effect. RMS must be given time by a factor of x4, just leave the most interesting parts. You don't can a movie on-the-fly. Most of the footage is left on the editing room's floor.

Interviews like this are interesting. No marketing talk. No appeal to popularity. I'd like to see more of the same.

Stallman proves time and again that there's no match for him when it comes to original thinking and thorough formulation of ideas in crystal clear tenets that are so fundamental that they apply in each and every new scenario no matter what the technology discussed. That's the hallmark of a genius. He's the Einstein of free software.

"Absolutely. The idea that software should be free and we deserve control over our computing IS the political idea. It is a political idea in the same way that freedom of expression is a political idea. You can campaign for one just as you can campaign for the other. This does NOT have to be linked to any overarching broad political ideology. And in our case it's not. There are a lot of libertarians, that is sort of right-wing anarchists, who support the free software movement. We accept their support. I don't agree with them in general. The free software movement doesn't take a position on the other issues. [...] We condemn certain business practices that deny freedom to others and subjugate them. [...] We certainly don't want to eliminate private business."

"On a logarithmic scale I'd say we've got around half way."

"Digital technology leads to surveillance and accumulation of dossiers about people. It doesn't have to, but it tends to. [...] Unless there is a political will to prevent that it tends to happen."

"You can push something uphill but it tends to go downhill. A hill tends to promote rolling down. In the same way digital technology tends to promote the collection of data about people."

Also, the threat to privacy that voice recognition servers pose, like Siri (or Cortana, but RMS didn't mention it).

Stallman concludes by wrapping it up:

"Freedom is frequently threatened. To keep it, you have to be ready to struggle to defend it. Freedom is threatened globally now. Plutocratic regimes are trying to impose treaties like the TPP = Treacherous Plutocratic Poison. TTIP = This Treaty Is Plutocratic."

They mention a supposedly free or open-source piece of hardware, the Novena laptop. This was news to me.

http://www.wired.com/2014/04/novena/

http://arstechnica.co.uk/information-technology/2015/07/founder-of-gnu-bestows-blessing-upon-open-source-crowdfunding-site/

http://hackaday.com/2016/01/30/building-the-novena-laptop/

loldier
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I uploaded a converted audio file to Goblinrefuge. The WebM file is 52.8 MB. You'll save over the original ogg that's around 185 MB.

https://goblinrefuge.com/mediagoblin/u/loldier/m/richard-stallman-singularity-1-on-1-interview/

It's also on Vimeo (the original video).

https://vimeo.com/161121402

pragmatist

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So, believe it or not, I had not heard of Jaron Lanier until I watched this video. According to the interviewer, Lanier says that FLOSS suffers from a lack of innovation. Stallman's answer, in brief, is that our society places too much value on innovation. That innovations can be good or bad and what matters is that people have the freedom to discover and choose the good ones. "Tyranny was once an innovation; Democracy was once an innovation" says Stallman.

Elsewhere I've heard Lanier, a Microsoft lackey, call FLOSS 'uncreative' and 'boring'. Above all else, Lanier's life is devoted to not being bored (like a little child who can't stand it if they are bored even for a moment). So he immerses himself into cutting-edge technology and innovation. He finds that exciting. It is more 'creative'. Like his devotion to collecting and playing rare musical instruments. He is a sell-out. He has sold out his genius in return for the key to a room of exciting toys to play with. Thus his job at Microsoft.

If you compare Lanier's life's work to that of Stallman's, you see a clear picture. Stallman has spent his life sacrificing to give us all freedom. Lanier has spent his life avoiding boredom. Stallman is a hero; Lanier is a sell-out.

root_vegetable
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I think that Stallman is partly wrong about "society placing too much value on innovation". I don't think society places much emphasis on it at all. I think it places too much emphasis on new, shiny features, but the features in question are really not innovative.
Let's take the example of the smartphone. The new features in question that are "hot" right now are fingerprint sensors, front-facing flashes for "selfies", "force touch" pressure sensors and 4K screens. These are all iterative and are not innovative.
Things like VR are to an extent innovative. I would agree too much emphasis is put on certain technologies like this. But I think that more people look at Apple and their fruity blood-phones.
Self-driving vehicles are only partly innovative. They are autonomous, but what is the point? Like a lot of stuff that comes out of silicon valley, it is not well-tested for people outside of sunny Palo Alto. They don't work very well in the rain, they don't "do" hills, and I doubt they would be able to stop if something unexpected happened, like a child running in front of the road. Similarly chewing-gum can block the sensors trivially. A self-driving vehicle is also great for delivering car bombs (a concern in America, and in Europe at this time).
So rather than ask, "do we need innovation", ask " innovation for whom". Of course we need innovation! If technology was stuck in the 80s, with 64*20 terminals and 512k memory, that would be stupid. We need technology to get better, but we need it to work for everyone. So biometric security is not a good innovation (it is clever, albeit flawed technology), but internet accessibility is because it spreads knowledge and culture.

Ignacio.Agullo
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I recall polish writer Stanislaw Lem saying something along the
likes of "the only progress is the social and cultural progress".

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root_vegetable
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Well, technology has implications for society. So I think that technological progress is only a good thing so long as it helps society to ameliorate.

pragmatist

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For reference, the following is a transcript of Stallman's statements, from the above video, regarding why the goal of innovation should be less important than the goal of freedom.

"Freedom is more important than technical progress, more important than innovation. Our society puts too much emphasis on innovation as a goal. This is to take for granted that innovation is good for us. Well there are situations in which innovation is likely to be good for people, and that's where the people can freely choose which innovations to incorporate into their lives. Then they'll reject the ones that are bad and they'll keep the ones that are good for them. And yes, once in a while there will be a long-term bad side-effect that they won't notice, but you can't avoid that. You make decisions, you occasionally make mistakes. But if people have control over which innovations they use, at least they can avoid the innovations that are a pain in the neck.

But nowadays that is not the case, people don't have control over this. Innovations give companies that make nasty products a chance to change them and it's the companies that make sure the innovations serve the companies' interests They don't have to serve the users' interests. For instance, Apple made a big innovation with the iPhone by designing it as a jail--that is putting in censorship of applications so that the users weren't free to install whatever application software that they wanted as [they could] in all previous operating systems....But the point is, that was a big innovation. An innovation that was subsequently adopted by Microsoft. Democracy was once an innovation. Tyranny was once an innovation. Innovations can be good or bad, and we make a mistake by prizing innovation so much. so as far as i'm concerned innovation is secondary."

lembas
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The first paragraph reminds me of the "UNABOMber manifesto" which I also found interesting. As a leftist myself I think the politics related parts of it are laughably misguided however but his points about the nature of technological advance seem pretty spot on to me. Also I generally don't condone blowing people to pieces though.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kaczynski

For a somewhat less explosive approach there is also Winner's Do Artifacts Have Politics?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langdon_Winner#Technology_and_politics

I think these are all important questions which we as a society should be asking ourselves, especially at a time like this when the technological advancement is more rapid than ever and pretty unanimously seen as a force for good.

root_vegetable
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"As a Harvard undergraduate, Kaczynski was among twenty-two students who were research subjects in ethically questionable experiments conducted by psychology professor Henry Murray from late 1959 to early 1962"
Maybe that's what drove him to madness.