Photo by Håkon Wium Lie, released under CC BY
Summary: Privacy, anonymity, and of course freedom discussed with the founder of the Free Software Foundation, Dr. Richard M. Stallman
If Richard Stallman is “controversial” in some people’s minds, it’s because those whom he criticises or whose work he criticises want an artificial polarity to marginalise him. A person with principles is not a person worth berating; a person with weak principles or none at all (at times hypocrisy) would be more deserving of criticism. As the old saying goes, “when you believe in nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”
The value of freedom and civil/human rights is increasingly appreciated when the façade of those principles, especially in the West, is breaking down. A lot of secrecy-veiled violations bubble up to the surface, reminding people if not waking them up to the fact that their dignity is covertly being compromised. In the name of convenience or “security” a lot of people have turned a blind eye to glaring issues and in recent years the war on dissent took off primarily to address the ‘problem’ which is informed citizens.
“The value of freedom and civil/human rights is increasingly appreciated when the façade of those principles, especially in the West, is breaking down.”Earlier this week I spoke to Richard Stallman, one of the people whom I never had reasons to disagree with. He has good experience and excellent track record foreseeing the future of computing, repeatedly showing that his dysphoric views on where technology is heading are actually quite prophetic. In a multi-part series of interviews we shall soon publish some of Richard Stallman’s views on privacy in light of Snowden’s important leaks. As far as we’re aware, this will be the first time since this leak that Stallman addresses the issues in audio form. We would like to thank Stallman for taking the time to share his insights with us. Interviews may take a while to publish because of the need to transcribe and then double-check with Stallman. █
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Not a scientist, a businessman
Summary: Another step on the road to dominating research for opportunistic, profit-driven purposes
As a researcher in Europe, over the past decade I depended a lot on government grants, be it EPSRC, ERC, or whatever other body presides over my professional area (medical biophysics and computer vision). The contractual agreement is simple; in exchange for some advancement in science (or source code) the government will issue subsidies. It is separate from teaching, which is usually covered by tuition contracts.
“What a journalistic corruption it must be when those who loot society get characterised as its saviours.”Bill Gates has a lot of power in many areas not because of his knowledge but because of his wealth. He got 7 billion dollars richer last year and the media companies he had paid gave the public the impression that he was giving away his money. What a journalistic corruption it must be when those who loot society get characterised as its saviours. Today’s post is not about the press getting distorted by the likes of Koch and Gates but about academia, where publishing nonsense is very hard. Peer review by experts slows down publication, but it often assures higher quality of output (not that there are no exceptions, especially when companies like Merck or Gates take over top-notch journals [1, 2, 3]).
Earlier this week I found several reports that seem more disturbing than churnalists (PR) care to mind. We have covered many examples where Bill Gates is asking for taxpayers’ money to be channelled towards his investments, not just in the United States. Gates embarks on lobbying trips (here is one of the latest) where he pressures politicians to put taxpayers’ money in the pockets of companies he invests in (matching funds or whatever). These funds are often close to a thousand times higher than the cost of what’s required, e.g. some drugs which can be mass-produced for pennies. How about self-replicating seeds? The costs are zero.
Well, having literally bought the press for PR, Gates enjoys bad reporting on these matters, with bogus numbers (usually in the billions) cited in headlines without the most minimal critical analysis. The Bill Gates-bribed AllAfrica once again does its GMO promotion (Gates is a large shareholder of Monsanto) or something along the lines of “agriculture”, helping to portray the profiteering occupier as “helping to feed poor hungry people.” This is disgusting, of course, but that’s what Gates receives for his bribe. It is about perception alteration. It helps control various academic grants too, so next time you apply for an ERC grant, be aware that the press — dominated by corporations or plutocrats — plays a role.
“It helps control various academic grants too, so next time you apply for an ERC grant, be aware that the press — dominated by corporations or plutocrats — plays a role.”Bill Gates, through his lobbying arm, is getting to interfere with the European Commission this month, putting himself in a position to decide where European taxpayers’ money goes. So now the EU can reject applications for projects like mine if Bill says so. We saw some of it coming earlier this month. It is a nice Trojan horse. Gates gains control not just over his own grants and those who use those grants. Based on all this highly superficial coverage [1, 2, 3, 4] (reads like press releases), Gates can now be directing research based on his personal shares portfolio. Europe has just lost more of its autonomy to a criminal plutocrat from another continent. If he can do this in Europe, he can do this everywhere else. This should worry everyone, not just European residents. █
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