Seize the Means of Computation
Keynote SeaGL 2021
After a year of lockdown, there can no longer be any question as to whether digital rights are human rights. The internet is a single wire that delivers free speech, free assembly, education, family life, romance, parenting, employment, access to politics and civics, to tools and ideas, to community and the public sphere.
And yet, technological self-determination is farther away than ever. Open source means nothing without software freedom (who cares if you can see the source to applications whose essential cloud components you can’t modify?). Interoperability is criminalized in new ways every day. A single corporate account termination can cost you your media, your email archives, your mobile device, and even brick your thermostat and doorbell.
Time is running out to seize the means of computation and safeguard the power of tech to give us more control over our lives.
Cory Doctorow (craphound.com) is a science fiction author, activist and journalist. He is the author of many books, most recently RADICALIZED and WALKAWAY, science fiction for adults; HOW TO DESTROY SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM, nonfiction about monopoly and conspiracy; IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel; and the picture book POESY THE MONSTER SLAYER. His latest book is ATTACK SURFACE, a standalone adult sequel to LITTLE BROTHER; his next nonfiction book is THE SHAKEDOWN, with Rebecca Giblin, about monopoly and fairness in the creative arts labor market, (Beacon Press, 2022). In 2020, he was inducted into the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.