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A New RMS Interview with fresh questions; DRM in comm and in medicine

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  • Omer Zak
    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20060625001523547#c453110 RMS was interviewed by Sean Daly in the GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona. The interview is
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2006
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      RMS was interviewed by Sean Daly in the GPLv3 Conference in Barcelona.
      The interview is available both as Ogg file and as textual transcript
      (thanks to whomever made the textual transcription; I found no credit
      about this).

      Sean Daly asked RMS fresh new questions, departing from the beaten old
      questions, which used to make previous RMS interviews repetitious.

      RMS identified the following areas as areas which he believes are
      important for future GNU programmers to work on:
      - Speech recognition
      - CAD
      - Free drivers
      - Java still qualifies as a priority.

      Most of the interview was about DRM.

      The following is not part of a review of the interview, but is my own

      There are at least two areas, where DRM would naively be considered as a
      solution to legitimate concerns:
      1. Embedded systems, which emit electromagnetic energy, such as WiFi
      cards. The hardware is typically designed to be very flexible.
      Uncontrolled software can cause the device to violate emission and
      certification rules.
      2. Medical instruments, which must not be tampered with, lest they harm
      the patients.

      We (the Free Software movement) need to suggest alternate means for
      addressing legitimate concerns.
      About (1), I do not have yet intellectual ammunition.
      About (2), I can offer the following thoughts:

      1. Medical instruments, like medications, are regulated when they are
      being sold to physicians/patients. The physician is allowed to modify
      the instrument to fit his patient's needs - the limitation is that he is
      not allowed to sell his modifications to other physicians.

      2. Modifying the software of a medical instrument by unauthorized people
      can, in principle, be likened to a passer-by who drops in an intensive
      care unit in an hospital, and messes around with the controls of the
      instruments there. Hospitals have (or should have) security precautions
      to prevent both.
      Authorized people (nurses, doctors, hospital-employed software
      developers) can be assumed to Know What They Are Doing.

      3. Physicians must have the power to tamper with the software of medical
      instruments, which they use. They are responsible to their patient's
      well-being. Sometimes, the patient needs non-standard treatment or
      supervision procedure. Then, the physician must have the power to have
      the instrument modified to fit his patient's needs.
      Of course, together with power comes responsibility. But one can ask
      why do we trust physicians (in their role as surgeons) who cut parts of
      our hearts, and we stop trusting them to order and supervise software
      modifications to the instruments which they use.
      --- Omer
      You haven't made an impact on the world before you caused a Debian
      release to be named after Snufkin.
      My own blog is at http://tddpirate.livejournal.com/

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