Open Software (and Hardware) at the Core of 5G, Privacy, Security, and Citizen Empowerment

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Open Software (and Hardware) at the Core of 5G, Privacy, Security, and Citizen Empowerment

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) continues to rule the world. Linux not only powers two thirds of the Internet already. Military and intelligence agencies go Linux, among other things for being “backdoor-free.” A position the rise of the cloud and on-demand PaaS will only strengthen.

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The software wars are over. Windows has conceded. Now, a fiercer battleground will shape consumer and business in the coming years.

Open 5G?

The imminent advent of 5G will shape the Internet for years to come. The world is becoming more urbanized at the same time it’s becoming more connected. More data intensive uses come along with a higher number of sheer users. More Internet is finding itself at creative methods to achieve social solutions. Smart cities will start to jump from the drawing boards soon. Which will need more Internet.

The world of digital infrastructure, both for corporations and governments, is complex. No doubt it sounds like one of the least exciting places to be in technology right now. But like most boring things involving millions of dollars, this debate will have serious implications for everyone, for decades to come.

Many issues are part of the debate. In a way, the Open v. Proprietary debate comes across all of them:

  • Firmware: A core question decision and law makers should answer is why would public funds should go to private software, when open source alternatives are available. Relying on proprietary providers locks the delivery of public services (and public funds) to private corporations for years or decades.
  • Data: Improperly vetted contracts could enrich a third party, not with money, but with information about citizens using publicly funded, yet private information platforms. FOSS can make sure the software is ultimately serving the public good first.
  • Algorithms: The importance of algorithms for the proper delivery of services is no longer just a guess. Optimizing digital and physical resources and utilities are the work of dutiful programs. It’s clear to see why FOSS as the underlying technology would serve the public interest particularly well.
  • In Education, the above rules apply, with caveats and subtleties. A small great example is personalized learning. If government funds technological innovation that proves impactful, it would only make sense it would be allowed to roll it over across its citizens, paying no royalties. Interestingly, most governments today do not hold any rights to technologies they fund for private organizations to develop.

But it’s also about world building world connecting: IoT in education

Internet of Things, as well as Virtual and Alternative Reality all point to one thing: Recreating an interactive world. AR and VR seem to have hit the ground running, with PokemonGo and the slaugh of copies that are ensuing; and the sprawling, quite-not-there-yet business of headsets and headset adapters for smartphones.

But if an app is easier to build and roll over to users and learners all over the world, when it comes to the interaction with everyday lives they hit an inevitable roadblock. VR apps for education are booming, but eventually the skills they provide will have translate from the virtual to the real, unpixellated world.

One of the main issues with world design in VR is the need to compromise between openness and the demand for linearity in skill acquisition. Designers often choose to limit the potential of a virtual experience by ignoring key attributes of real-life scenarios. Often to the frustration of users, carefully created 3-D objects and environments are forbidden to the virtual explorer, who instead is forced to relinquish their curiosity to a handful of clicks.


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