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[ox-en] The Hipatia Manifesto


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posted here so it can be discussed more easily.

						Mit Freien Grüßen


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Ultima actualización 19-05-2003 10:40:58


  The Hipatia Manifesto

*Free knowledge, in action for the peoples of the world*

We propose the creation of a world-wide, popular, democratic
organization to promote the adoption of public policies combined
with human and social behaviour that favour the free
availability and sustainability of, and social access to,
technology and knowledge; their use for the common good; and the
viability of the economic model which creates them, in terms of
the equality and inclusion of all human beings and all peoples
of the world.

*FREE SOFTWARE, route to a knowledge which is:*

    * socially just
    * technologically sustainable
    * economically viable


[Hipatia, Faro de Alejandria]

*Faro de Alejandria*

    I - Terms of Reference

Earth, water, air and fire were the elements of the classical
world. Since Einstein we have understood the world in terms of
two kinds of analysis and synthesis: the matter/energy pair, and

Recent centuries have been characterized by increased control
over matter and energy, together with the capitalization,
appropriation, exploitation, and control by a minority of the
knowledge and technologies involved. In large part this
determined the economic and social structures that were created
to support those changes. Class differences, different standards
of living, and conflict created diversity and the opportunity to
carry out projects and satisfy individual desires and needs.
Modern capitalism is both consequence and motor of technological

For some decades now technological innovation, and consequently
one of the main sources of accumulation of capital, has centred
on the so-called 'information technologies'.

Economic management and the forms of appropriation of the
resources generated will determine in large part the future
types of organization of human societies.

Today, as never before, technology and its material and
intellectual bases have the possibility of changing and
redefining the human being and human societies.

Concepts like the 'digital divide' show the growing concern over
the form in which these changes will affect the poorest sectors
of humanity; differences in wealth are creating both new
illiterates, and human beings who can measure up to the new

    II - What's Coming Next

Since its beginnings in the eddies of the energy flux, life has
become ever more complex; locally decreasing entropy;
'progressing' through natural selection; maturing; including
itself in its mental models, as it gains consciousness of its
reality; and preparing itself to 'improve' as a function of its
emerging objectives.

Genetics and biotechnology will change what we are as people,
changing our biology to make us stronger, more intelligent,
allowing us choose how our children will be, altering the role
of the sexes, the concept of human reproduction, and other
questions we can now barely glimpse.

The 'information age', telecommunications and computer science
will allow us to build communication networks unimaginable
today. The interconnection of mobile phones and computers with
our neural pathways will allow things that we once believed to
be fantasy: telepathy and telekinesis, for example. Interfaces
between the human brain and computers, artefacts of all kinds,
videocameras, and other objects, will become normal. Only our
limited imagination prevents us from seeing what we could achieve.

The growth of communication capacity, only hinted at by the
Internet, will allow future humanity to evolve towards
meta-organisms interconnecting humans. An entelechy of greater
complexity than any we know of. One or more superimposed beings
of which we are mere cells.

The telephone made possible bidirectional communication between
two points in a network: a model of communication between peers.
Television and radio allowed unidirectional communication from
one point to all other points in the network: one point
generates, while all the others consume. The Internet allows all
to all communication that is both horizontal and transparent.
The computer becomes a communications centre which superposes
the powers of telephone and television on those of processing.
Each model defines a mode of participation and institutional and
human organization which is different. The Internet has no
centre, no control, the only central body which defines
protocols is elected democratically, and every node administers
its own connections.

The changes and advances in workshop productivity,
re-engineering and other administrative schemes, the
mechanization of intellectual labour, together with the
destruction of some jobs and the creation of others, are only
some aspects of the changes in progress which make up the
'Information Society'.

The need to cure and the certain possibility of improving the
quality of life of the disabled, among others, drive the public
support for the development of these technologies, while greed
for profit mobilizes huge investment funds to new ventures.

The impact which these two technologies, among others beginning
to appear, will have on the accumulation of capital, the
distribution of wealth, and concepts such as freedom, equality,
and democracy, will be profound. Biotechnology will redefine the
human being, while computer science and communication will
redefine our societies.

We make no value judgement with these predictions, nor do we
approve of them; we simply believe they are happening.

    III - Intellectual Property, a mistaken concept

The concept of property has been at the centre of both the
ideologies and the economic and social struggles of mankind.

Modern capitalism needs control of knowledge, through forms
which restrict it to private capital, assign it exchange value,
and assimilate it conceptually, commercially, and legally with
the form of 'property'.

The idea that property can exist not only in the form of goods
but also of ideas, texts, inventions (patents), songs, etc.
attempts to crystallize a form devised for matter in the realm
of information; it profoundly impacts on the structure of human
societies by allowing a constant flow of resources to those who
appropriate it, building value and the accumulation of capital
on its back. On the other hand, legislation covering author's
rights, patents, trademarks, etc is usually all jumbled up
together under this vague term, even though these concepts are
actually quite different.

It is reasonable that someone who realizes an increase in human
knowledge should have rights as a result. The problem is that
the concept of property is NOT the right one; it is a clarion
call for those who believe that everything can be appropriated.

It is therefore necessary to separate out the meanings and refer
to each concept separately, as author's rights, patents,
trademarks, etc., finding suitable legislative frameworks for
each one, without thereby treating them as property.

    IV - Digital Works

Today we can digitally encode almost any kind of information,
often in real time. We can represent our knowledge, whatever it
is - pictures, texts, sounds, etc - as a sequence of ones and
zeros; basically an archive where each position is 'worth' one bit.

In times before the digitalization of information it might have
made sense to apply the legal structures that fitted
matter/energy to information, since the material basis of
information was so important for its use that it defined the
modes in which it could be managed: use, exchange, and
assignment of value.

Digitalization makes information ubiquitous, changes its
character, and allows its manipulation both en masse and in
detail in ways completely different from the traditional ones.

The application of the concept of property to digitally encoded
artefacts is completely artificial. In the first place, they are
not artefacts to be managed by book-keeping, they can be copied
without limit without losing their essence, there is no
difference between the original and the copy. Copies of printed
books can be physically differentiated, inventoried, be
individually codified; even if they have the same content they
are material objects which are perfectly identifiable in their
physical incarnation and copying them has an important cost.
Just as Quantum Mechanics found different statistical rules for
distinguishable and indistinguishable objects (fermions and
bosons), we need different laws for digital creations and
material objects.

Although you could imagine some system to provide a material
basis which blocks the making of copies and identifies each
instance of an 'archive', a system which the big music companies
are crying out for, it would be completely artificial and would
change the essence of the free communcation which characterizes
the virtual digital space created around the internet. It would
be completely irrational and anti-economic. It would have to
block the physical analysis of the reading devices and of the
secrets encoded in its software. Up to now all the attempts made
have been cracked. It is as contradictory to apply a scheme
based on matter to information, as to impose rules designed for
horse pastures on petrol stations. Digitalization is the
technique that will end by burying intellectual property and its
influence on the current economic system. Each level of
technological development is paired with an economic, social,
and legal superstructure. In the digital world intellectual
property simply lacks sense. Traditionally, if the development
of knowledge was induced it was by those in power. Armies or
governments financed, protected, and promoted it, what we would
now understand as the public sector. Although it did not always
circulate freely, knowledge was linked to the power of the
state. In recent years the growing power of private corporations
has begun to take over the creation of knowledge. We foresee
that with digitalization it will once again be managed through
public money, principally in the Universities and the Army.
Works of art will once again be managed by their creators who
will be able to distribute them themselves.

    V - Programs

Programs, as both the quintessence of information and a
particular example of digitalized works, are a class to
themselves, since they represent 'live' or active information,
instructions to be executed. They make use of the physical
substrate of modern digital electronics to take one step further
on the road to automation. Just as the machines of the
industrial revolution affected material work, the machines of
the information revolution replace more and more intellectual work.

Programs, like cooking recipes, are instructions to carry out
actions. Humans program in languages like lisp, C, Basic, perl,
etc, which we can understand. A program (compiler or
interpreter) translates these instructions into a language the
processor for a particular computer understands, which is
unintelligible for humans. Proprietary programs are distributed
without the human-understandable language in which they were
written, and which remains hidden. This is why programs can
contain back-doors or serious bugs without us being able to
alter them.

Since programs can act on their own, without human intervention,
once the material basis for the virtual universe has been
realized - as it already has, in the main - they can have an
existence and actions independent of any human. Although they
only 'carry out orders', the question of what they do with the
instructions is undecideable, as the theorems of Godel-Turing on
complex systems show.

Computer viruses are the most obvious incarnation of these
'forms of digital life', although still very primitive.

The idea of some writers - Arthur Clarke, 2001 - An Odyssey in
Space, for example - that a human can transfer her
soul-mind-program to another kind of non-biological machine is
just one example of the potential of computer science.

    VI - Piracy, a word for marketing

A new spectre is haunting the planet: pirates are threatening
our way of life, which appears to be more north american than
ever. These disgusting beings have created a cult of sharing,
than which there can be no greater crime in a society which
idolizes individualism and individual success.

Then name found to identify them is promising: pirates. These
violators of compact disks, assalters of floppies, photocopiers,
thieves of videos and songs destroy the property which the big
companies have accumulated with much sacrifice, paying a minimal
wage or percentage to their creators.

Since technology helps and encourages them, as the barriers to
prevent their free spread fall with the Internet, it is
necessary to invent legal barriers to create property and value
where it is not possible to establish them naturally.

Where there are no laws, they are soon invented. Only thus it is
it possible to understand why the legislators of the third world
see themselves compelled to pass laws which deliver this
artificial property, converting their peoples into hostages of
the transnationals.

The anarchists used to say that 'property is theft', and
dedicated themselves to 'expropriations'. We say that
intellectual property is a brake on progress and dedicate
ourselves to producing free software.

And please, don't let us fall into the trap, let's reserve the
word /pirate/ for those who attack ships, raping and pillaging.
Someone who uses a program without permission may be breaking a
perverse law, but is not a pirate.

    VII - The movement for free software

The battle for control of knowledge has just begun. In the area
of biotechnology, the big companies have managed to control its
development and in this field the future evolution of the forms
of capitalization and distribution of the benefits have already
been outlined. They have even managed to patent living beings.
Of course it is essential to stress the open publication of the
human genome in this document.

As for information technology, a notable struggle has begun
between free programmers united through the Internet and the
faction embodied by Microsoft, giant owner of the greater part
of the software used in the world, once the model example of the
American way of life, and now the paradigm of the monopolies.

Expensive technologies are invented, libraries developed,
technological advances in microprocessors are delayed so that
they can carry on executing old code, and so re-use precompiled
software. The only thing which ensures reusability is the source
code, yet in the name of the creation of artificial value
innumerable resources are used up.

Humanity does not need to reinvent the wheel each time it wishes
to use it; just the fact of seeing a wheel shows us how to use
one. There is no need to keep inventing program source code. If
we stop others from seeing the original human-readable source of
programs, we force everyone to repeat the mistakes and redo the
same work.

The battle of the programmers to obtain reusability of their
programs and individual recognition for each work, against the
plan of their employers, the computing industry, to close off
source code and prevent human cooperation, is an epic, lead by
the FSF starting from the work of Richard Stallman. A struggle
in which humanity found an intelligent response to the challenge
posed, the crossroads at which it found itself. Its logo,
banner, or most important reference is the GNU code. A community
of hackers spread over the width and breadth of the planet,
through a titanic labour of programming, connected by the
Internet to which they had given shape, created the programming
base on which it was possible to use computers without using
proprietary software. This meritocracy has been the main one
responsible for spreading the ethical value of cooperation in
the programming profession.

GNU/Linux, created by Linus Torvalds, is the first working
Operating System under the GPL license and represents the
crowning of years of community effort.

The freedoms proposed by the FSF, which define free software as
covered by the GPL, are the basis for the struggle which began.
Originally stated by Richard M. Stallman, they ensure the
possibility of access to the program source, and, even more
important, stop others from using the software to create
non-free derivatives.

Various strands of opinion have contributed to the understanding
and spreading of free software; we will highlight two:

    * The Open source Movement, which drives the use of free
      software, in terms of the GPL, as a business tool, and
      represents the utilitarian axis. Its central idea is that
      free software is more useful for business purposes, and
      more convenient from the economic point of view.
    * The Free Software movement, which drives the use of free
      software, in terms of the GPL, to allow the programmers of
      the world to share their work. Its essence is ethical and
      liberating. It doesn't matter whether free software is
      more useful, it has to be developed, since only free
      software preserves the freedoms of programming, sharing,
      and using software.

There are also different positions with regard to the forms of
distribution of software, which have given rise to various
licensing models.

The Free Software Movement uses no marketing, does not appear in
adverts on TV, or radio, or in magazines. It uses the community
and education, and depends on its supporters.

We might say that the struggle of the free software movements
represents the first example among the many sectors mobilized by
the call of 'Another world is possible', usually referred to as
the antiglobalization movement, which has succeeded in its task
of offering real alternatives.

    VIII - Our struggle (mission)

As with all new developments humanity must create for itself a
set of ideas and principles to interpret and use information
technology. Our task is to build a consensus and to spread the
vision we are defending.

These principles, like all those which impact on our life, are
marked by the historical struggles of humanity and countered by
the individual wishes of the powerful of the moment against the
efforts of the rest to create an egalitarian and just society.

We must consciously include a political dimension to the
struggle. We must conquer the public arena and work towards the
goal that people and public organizations, the state in
particular, work with free information. Because we believe that
free software will help to build better societies, we recognize
that its adoption is part of our struggle to build a new world.

We intend to drive the use and creation of free software, and to
make the value of the supposed intellectual property of programs
with restricted use fall. To do this, we will create similar or
better free programs, for which the purchase cost is close to zero.

We will teach our children to share their programs and their
computer games. A child who wishes to be a programmer will want
to look inside the programs she uses, take them to pieces, and
reassemble them differently. We must not deprive her of this
game, a practice and preparation for her life.

Rather than proposing a licence model, we advocate eliminating
the need for licences, changing the law to declare the
principles defined in the GPL as universal rights. This licence
is an intelligent method to use in a world dominated by enemies,
but now we need to change the world using the intellectual base
constructed through the GPL in the old world.

Today we can think of the building of a human community, without
taxes on information, hyper-connected with free tools and
without the economic conditioning produced by capital
accumulation through the reign of the value of software
intellectual works.

That is to say, we have good news: the struggle which will
define the social and economic basis of the information
technology of the world is being won by free programmers. The
software development model which E. Raymond (founder of the open
source movement) called the 'Bazaar', as opposed to the
'Cathedral', is working. We are bit by bit replacing a culture
of the importing of licences in garish cardboard boxes with a
different one of the contracting of services by small firms. A
culture of underemployed programmers in a single global centre
with a different one of small businessmen distributed across the
planet. Think and act globally in the creation of contents;
think and act locally in the use of the contents and programs.

It is time for all of humanity to be aware of the problem and to
take part in this battle which today is restricted to virtual
communities, but which will have a deep impact on the lives of
future generations. To win it is necessary that end users turn
massively to the use of free software. Not only for technical
and economic improvements, but for social ones too. There is a
clear risk that habit, group interests, distribution chains,
marketing, and bad or biased government decisions may end by
suffocating better products and socially adequate solutions.
Just as with environmental problems, economic externalities are
not always taken into account in market decisions. We need
action by government, advocacy, and awareness. There are various
states in the world - we would emphasize in particular the
efforts of the town of Porto Alegre and the State of Rio Grande
del Sur - which are adapting their management systems to free
software. [ original sentence mangled]

Two models confront one another, and the actions of each will
profoundly impact on our future. Various futures are possible;
our dedication will produce one of them.

    IX - Hipatia - proposals and actions to carry out

We propose the creation of Hipatia as a global environment of
reflection, coordination, and action: a progressive space of
struggle to help make concrete the possibility of a better world.

We hope to bring together contributions to constitute a
political and ideological current within the free software
movement, to incorporate within this movement a concern for the
future of the peoples of the planet.

We take as our /objective/ that all humanity may make use of
what we have discussed above, since we believe that all human
beings and the societies we make up have the right to:

   1. know intimately and completely the working of all
      technology and information created by mankind, inseparable
      from the right to appropriate conditions to make use of them;
   2. modify and distribute new technologies based on earlier
      ones without other limits than those of the first clause;
   3. gain recognition as authors of an intellectual work and to
      be able to define the forms in which it is distributed,
      within the limits imposed by the first two clauses;
   4. obtain copies of any work, in its digital form, when it
      exists. Nothing will impede the free flow of digital
      information, beyond the limits or prices which the store
      in which the work is found at any moment imposes due to
      material costs or communication links;
   5. receive information which allows the technology we use to
      be understood in terms of the culture and knowledge of
      every human being.

To guarantee the exercise of these rights we state our /promise/

   1. Drive forward the use of free software as an essential
      medium to provide all human beings with the rights laid
      out above;
   2. Work so that all human beings have free access to the
      technologies and knowledge of the information age, tending
      to guarantee their participation as citizens in the world
      of the future.

We invite everyone of good will to support, criticise, inprove
and/or participate, in whatever way seems best to them in this

Brasil: Mario Luiz Teza; Argentina: Diego Saravia y Juan Carlos
Gentile; Uruguay: Luis Gonzalez.

Cafe Tortoni, Buenos Aires, November 2001.

Includes suggestions from: Alejandra Garc?a, Jos? Mar?a Budassi,
y Nidia Morrell.

English translation by Graham Seaman.


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