Bonum Certa Men Certa

In Spite of IBM's Difficult Past and Particularly Dark History, Under Arvind Krishna’s Leadership It Has Only Shown Signs of Improving

“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

--Thomas Jefferson



Winter



Summary: This winter, 6 months after Arvind Krishna’s tenure as CEO began, we can generally say that things seem to have improved and we look forward to further improvements

THE THRESHOLD of half a million COVID-19 cases per day will likely be exceeded this coming week. It's getting to the point now where even cautious people cannot fully shield themselves from infection. Over the weekend Italy and Spain tightened things further. Here in Manchester the highest restrictions have been in force since Friday. But that's not what's important. We want to focus, as usual, on impact limited to the realm of technology and human rights. The wearing of masks limits the scope of surveillance, whereas the "War on Cash" and all that contract-tracing nonsense greatly harm privacy.



"He seems like a generally good guy and a very technical person."It ought to be noted that IBM's new CEO (since April) wants to replace our cash (anonymous currency) with "clown computing" (outsourced, centralised) and "smart" (a buzzword meaning that they're the ones in control of our lives and our transactions). We've spent some time trying to understand his background, which isn't widely publicised. As noted earlier this year, "Krishna’s PhD thesis was on the design and analysis of interconnection networks for high-speed packet switching fabrics in routers." This is the PhD thesis as PDF. According to this, 9 people downloaded his PhD thesis after he had been appointed (IBM's top role) -- more than in all prior years combined. We spent some time studying it following yesterday's article about his professional and personal background. The good news is, his background shows little interest in technology that infringes rights. He seems like a generally good guy and a very technical person. He's also quite humble.

WinterWithin months of his appointment he publicly distanced (at least verbally) IBM from facial surveillance. But data-mining operations of IBM weren't even mentioned. There's a lot more to privacy infringement than facial recognition. Being a person who seemingly prefers to be private and low-profile, Dr. Krishna can be a good ally in the fight to reform if not altogether obliterate mass surveillance. IBM stands to gain a lot from the perception that it leads the battle for privacy and other "tech rights". At the moment we've mostly been seeing shallow and rather superficial 'fluff' or 'waffle' with ridiculous slogans. On the other hand, it has been quite a while since we last saw IBM lobbying for software patents and news about IBM corruption may seem difficult to find these days.

Is IBM at least trying to reform under Krishna’s (and Whitehurst's) leadership? It generally does feel like it, with news like "IBM Hopes to Double Sales at Red Hat in Next Three Years" this past week.

IBM will eventually be judged not by how many words it bans/cancels but how many unethical contracts it gives up on. Not only money should matter and if IBM improves its image by distancing itself from repressive regimes, more geeks will follow.

At the moment we regret to see that IBM and Red Hat still outsource many projects to Microsoft's servers (GitHub) and in light of recent events/backlash they should reconsider. To quote Bill Gates himself: [PDF]

"We should design some of our extensions explicitly so that IBM can't run them under OS/2. We need to put real thinking into this."


This is how Gates spoke of the same company that gave him a ticket to the "big show", albeit only after lobbying from his mom.

IBM needs to stand up to and replace Microsoft, not cooperate with it. If it successfully does so, more geeks will cooperate with IBM, Red Hat, Fedora and so on. When so much of Fedora is still controlled by Microsoft servers it's hardly surprising that the community component of Fedora languishes over time.

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