Tag: ethics

A proposal for the end of accommodations

Language is powerful. Words are subtle building blocks to how we imagine the world around us. So, with the goal of pursuing more equitable language, I propose the end of accommodations.

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What is Freedom?

When I first saw the letter asking for Richard Stallman and the FSF Board of Directors resignations with merely five signatures, I knew I had to sign. Not because I knew it would be the popular thing to do. But because it was what was true in my heart. Only in a sense of deep empathy could I understand the reasons why it had finally come to this. I signed the letter because as much as I have personally benefited indirectly by the legacy of Mr. Stallman in my life, I feel his continued presence is harmful and more damaging at the forefront of the movement.

I don’t say that casually either. I have involuntarily found Open Source as my calling. Or my people. I contribute to Open Source because I love to collaborate and work together with other people. This challenges me. It humbles me in a way that I know I can always learn something new from someone else. For this, Open Source and Free Software have enriched my life. They have also given me, again involuntarily, an odd but productive way of coping with my own mental health issues, anxiety, and depression.

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Three predictions for Free Software in the 2020s

From January to May 2020, I completed an independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology on Business and Legal Aspects of Free/Open Source Software. This was the final credit for my completion of the Free and Open Source Software and Free Culture minor.

That semester, I traveled to different international FOSS conferences (before COVID-19), analyzed contemporary changes and trends in Free Software, and reflected on where I think we are going. I am sharing an edited version of my final report here, as a look into my “crystal ball” for what is coming to Free Software in the 2020s.

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Your Software Freedom is not my Software Freedom: A reflection on Chadwick Boseman

Trigger warning: Grief, police violence, death.

This blog post was first written on August 28th, 2020.

Today is a sad day. Chadwick Boseman is dead. At 43 years old, he lost a terminal battle with stage IV colon cancer. As his great light dims, I am left to wonder what loss will happen next in 2020.

But like the ashes of a phoenix, we will rise. His death reminds me of the fierce urgency of now, as said by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That in the moment of darkness that follows death, a new bright light will emerge. It is just so human for us to cling to the embers of hope, in the fear that we will one day be delivered from suffering.

Boseman was a social leader and source of inspiration for many. His life and many roles championed racial equity on the Hollywood screens. Boseman was passionate about what he did. He led a committed life.

Boseman’s death caused me to reflect on the definition of Freedom in the movement I am embedded within: the Free Software movement. Yet in this community I value, there are seeds of discontent. The fierce urgency of now has revealed that systemic social injustices continue to exist in our society, as they have for centuries. The generational question we must answer as witnesses to this moment is: will we continue to tolerate the systemic faults within our society? Or must we imagine a more fair society? A more just society? I know we can because we have to.

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FOSDEM 2020, pt. 2: Can Free Software include ethical AI systems?

This post is a follow-up to FOSDEM 2020, pt. 1: Play by play. This post summarizes the talk given by me and my colleague, Mike Nolan, at FOSDEM 2020.


FOSDEM 2020 took place from Saturday, 1 February, 2020 to Sunday, 2 February, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium (shortly after Sustain OSS 2020 and CHAOSScon EU 2020). On Saturday, together with my colleague and friend Mike Nolan, we presented on a topic he and I have co-conspired on for the last six months. What are the intersections of Free Software and artificial intelligence (AI)?

What is a rights-based approach for designing minimally safe and transparent guidelines for AI systems? In this talk, we explore what a Free AI system might look like. Then, taking research and guidelines from organizations such as Google and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, we propose practical policies and tools to ensure those building an AI system respect user freedom. Lastly, we propose the outlines of a new kind of framework where all derivative works also respect those freedoms.

Freedom and AI: Can Free Software include ethical AI systems? Exploring the intersection of Free software and AI
Video recording from FOSDEM 2020

This post is an abridged summary of the key ideas and thoughts Mike and I presented at our FOSDEM 2020 session.

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How did Free Software build a social movement?

The Free Software movement is rooted to origins in the 1980s. As part of a talk I gave with my colleague and friend Mike Nolan at FOSDEM 2020, we analyzed how the Free Software movement emerged as a response to a changing digital world in three different phases. This blog post is an exploration and framing of that history to understand how the social movement we call “Free Software” was constructed.

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CopyleftConf 2020: quick rewind

CopyleftConf 2020 took place on Monday, 3 February, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium:

This will be the second annual International Copyleft Conference. Participants from throughout the copyleft world — developers, strategists, enforcement organizations, scholars and critics — will be welcomed for an in-depth, high bandwidth, and expert-level discussion about the day-to-day details of using copyleft licensing, obstacles facing copyleft and the future of copyleft as a strategy to advance and defend software freedom for users and developers around the world.

This event will provide a friendly and safe place for discussion of all aspects of copyleft, including as a key strategy for defending software freedom!

Official conference website

This was my first time attending CopyleftConf. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent the sustainability efforts at the RIT [email protected] initiative. However, I also represented myself as an individual in the Free Software movement. For CopyleftConf 2020, I arrived hoping to learn more about where we, as the Free Software community, are going. I also hoped to gain a deeper ethical perspective about our digital society.

Me excitingly looking up to the main stage, holding my CopyleftConf 2020 schedule, after having bought my ticket earlier that same morning.
Me excitingly holding my CopyleftConf 2020 schedule after having bought my ticket earlier that same morning.

Event reports take many forms. Since CopyleftConf 2020 is structured in a unique format, my event report is structured as follows:

  • At a glance: structure and key takeaways: High-level overview of what CopyleftConf 2020 was like. What the biggest ideas on my mind were at the end of the day.
  • Copyleft adopt curves: what drove copyright adoption then (or now?): Musings on the history of copyleft and movement building.
  • Free Software, but for kids: Children and teenagers are already building open source communities. How do we include the next generation?
  • Where are we going?: Software ethics and copyleft licensing.
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FOSDEM 2020, pt. 1: Play by play

FOSDEM 2020 took place from Saturday, 1 February, 2020 to Sunday, 2 February, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium (shortly after Sustain OSS 2020 and CHAOSScon EU 2020):

FOSDEM is a free and non-commercial event organized by the community for the community. The goal is to provide free and open source software developers and communities a place to meet to:

– Get in touch with other developers and projects;

– Be informed about the latest developments in the free software world;

– Be informed about the latest developments in the open source world;

– Attend interesting talks and presentations on various topics by project leaders and committers;

– To promote the development and benefits of free software and open source solutions.

fosdem.org/2020/about/

This is my third time attending FOSDEM. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent our engagement with the UNICEF Office of Innovation and the Innovation Fund. For FOSDEM 2020, I arrived ready to give my talk (coming in pt. 2) and honestly to see where the weekend took me.

Planning out FOSDEM is hard. So, my strategy is to figure it out as I go, since most of what I get out of FOSDEM comes from casual conversations and “hallway track.”

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CHAOSScon EU 2020: play by play

CHAOSScon EU 2020 took place on Friday, 31 January, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium (the day after Sustain OSS 2020):

Learn about open source project health metrics and tools used by open source projects, communities, and engineering teams to track and analyze their community work. This conference will provide a venue for discussing open source project health, CHAOSS updates, use cases, and hands-on workshops for developers, community managers, project managers, and anyone interested in measuring open source project health. We will also share insights from the CHAOSS working groups on Diversity and Inclusion, Evolution, Risk, Value, and Common Metrics.

chaoss.community/chaosscon-2020-eu/

This is my second time attending CHAOSScon. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent our engagement with the UNICEF Office of Innovation and the Innovation Fund. For CHAOSScon EU 2020, I arrived hoping to learn more about effective metric collection strategies for open source communities and also get a deeper understanding of the technology behind GrimoireLab.

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Sustain OSS 2020: quick rewind

The 2020 Sustain Open Source Summit took place on Thursday, 30 January, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium:

Sustain Summit events are led by a facilitator. There are no keynotes, talks, or sponsor demos. Your undivided attention is required. Phones and laptops should not be used throughout the day and you will be asked to put devices away if they are a distraction to you or anyone else.

When we talk about sustainability, we are talking both and equally about the sustainability of resources and the sustainability of its people. We hope you can join us for the conversation.

sustainoss.org/summit-2020/

This is my second time attending Sustain OSS (see my 2018 event report). I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent the sustainability efforts at the RIT [email protected] initiative, but also to represent myself as an individual and sustainer in the open source movement. For Sustain OSS 2020, I arrived hoping to learn more about community-first governance models. I left with a lot of notes and the first blueprints for Principles of Authentic Participation.

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