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Ingo Schwarze
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Free software developer.
Free software developer.

78 followers
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The EuroBSDCon 2018 schedule has been posted, and registration is open.
(I can hardly believe it wasn't posted here yet, but i don't see it - sorry if it's a dupe.)

Much interesting stuff including espie@ on "https is a lie", beck@ on unveil(2), mortimer@ on ROP gadgets, and lots and lots about LLVM sanitizers. Excellent tutorials, too; personally, i can vouch for phessler@ on BGP and (again!) beck@ on libTLS, and i'm looking forward to hear what bcr@ will teach about ansible.

Myself, i shall talk about "Better documentation - on the web and for LibreSSL:
progress with mandoc 2016-2018". There will be much more detail about man.cgi(8) progress, good HTML, and good CSS than at BSDCan.

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Very interesting discussion. The unsatisfactory outcome follows from a formalistic, inadequate concept of the term "free" as in software: to be free, on the one hand, there must be a license allowing free use, modification, and redistribution (in that sense, GPL software is NOT free because it imposes undue restrictions on integration with other free code) - but freely licenseing software is still useless in practice if changing it is prohibitively expensive due to deliberate obfuscation, low code quality caused by incompetence, or excessive size and complexity of the code base - in that sense, Firefox, LibreOffice, KDE, or Gnome are not free software either. From that angle, the difference to a pretrained network becomes a minor one: It is non-free for the same reason as normal bloatware, you can't fix it in practice. With just the minor difference that the intransparency is not merely due to the incompetence of a singly corporation developing it to excessive complexity, but due to the incompetency of mankind at large to scientifically understand how neural networks work.

I can just re-iterate: for mankind to become more free, it is essential that it consciously chooses to control its use of technology in democratic ways. For software, that means, above all, focussing on simplicity and transparency. So for a game like Go, having fun with networks is fine. For making algorithmic decisions that influence the real life of people, relying on neural networks is a criminal approach because it is intransparent and anti-democratic. We can, and we must, afford some technical inefficiency for the sake of human rights. If, one day far in the future, mankind manages to understand neural networks sufficiently such that everybody can look through them and manipulate them just like most people can master reading and writing right now, the stance may change; but right now, neural networks are a highly non-transparent, anti-democratic technology and their use must be restricted and regulated, and resisted by the free software movements. Not that i have much hope that will be done, though... It looks more like human rights will be eroded with the bathwater.
Deep learning poses problems for free (GPL) software. "Things in Debian main [should] be buildable from source using Debian main. In the case of a pretrained neural network, the source code is the training data."

"In fact, they are probably not redistributable unless all the training data is supplied, since the GPL's definition of 'source code' is the 'preferred form for modification'. For a pretrained neural network that is the training data."
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I rarely post pointers to essays that i found by chance and that are outside my area of expertise. Yet this one feels so interesting that i fail to resist.

It is probably well-known that i'm adamant with respect to one conviction: Simplicity and auditability are key goals for software engineering nowadays. I'd even go as far as saying they are the key goals, trumping all others in cases of doubt. All the same, it's obvious that only a tiny fraction of today's IT industry, research, and even of the free software world is attempting to pursue these goals at all.

What i did not yet notice is that, even though in practical situations, it is often not very difficult to say which of two machines or systems is simpler, that precisely explaining what simplicity means, and what it means that something can be understood, is quite hard. Simplicity itself is a rather complex and somewhat fuzzy concept, it seems.

Take my commentary, and my impression that this article seems interesting, with a grain of salt, i'm not an expert in AI nor in the theory of cognition, my field is only classical programming and problem solving.

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Before you can write good software, you need to study a bit (not necessarily computer science, but that's beside the point). In any case, progress in technology is an international task nowadays.

You think that Germany has improved its willingness to cooperate internationally, to make education affordable, and to respect human rights during the last 70 years? Sure, you aren't completely wrong, but there is still a lot that is amazingly bizarre and inhuman. For example, two German Länder are currently actively trying to drive out non-European students by means of discriminatory tuition fees.

Today, in Karlsruhe, a group of students went to court to stop that discriminatory law, and they posted a video about it. Admittedly, the video isn't stellar, but the backstory is very interesting. Here is what i wrote in the comment:

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FYI, this is Karlsruhe, Germany. In Germany, almost all universities, and in particular all high-quality universities, are public, not private institutions, and are run by the "Bundesländer" (comparable to American "states", Canadian "provinces", or French "régions"). The laws regarding research and education vary from Bundesland to Bundesland. The government of Baden-Württemberg, arguably the richest and second most conservative Bundesland in Germany, just introduced new tuition fees that are overtly discriminatory: Only students who are not citizens of the European Union have to pay these 3.000 Euro per year - even though the majority of non-EU students are among those having the least money in Germany. The law violates both the U.N. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (13.2 c: "Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education") and the Constitution of Baden-Württemberg (11.1: Every young human has the right of receiving an education adequate to their abilities, no matter what their origin or descent and what their economic situation is." - Note this human right, in Baden-Württemberg, is neither restricted to German citizens nor to people who can afford paying for education).

Here, members of the student union and their friends submit a lawsuit to topple the discriminatory law to the Karlsruhe Administrative Court. I have little hope that the court will upheld human rights because German Administrative Courts, and the Karlsruhe one in particular, are notorious for very reactionary interpretation of the Law; but these young people do have a chance of having their human rights restored by appealing to the "Verwaltungsgerichtshof Baden-Württemberg" (Appellate Administrative Court in Mannheim) after the present lawsuit: The Appellate Court is sometimes more inclined to protect human rights.

I admit this isn't the largest manifestiation against tuition fees in Karlsruhe ever - but hey, it's just about submitting a lawsuit to a court, so it's legal proceedings, not a manifestation in the first place.
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Now that OpenBSD 6.2 has been released a few days ago, that release CD sets are no longer sold (to save administrative overhead and let Theo focus on implementing actual technical innovations), and that the 6.2 release song will only appear in a few weeks, here is a substitute for the time being!

If you like (or use) the system, don't forget to head over to: https://www.openbsd.org/donations.html

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Theo's EuroBSDCon 2017 talk on pledge(2) is now available as a stand-alone video, such that search engines have a chance to find it, and such that you can more easily link to it directly.
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Added more images to my album "Paris EuroBSDCon 2017" (see the posting below for the complete set of pictures, these are just three of the best).
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9/26/17
3 Photos - View album
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The Groff Goat just gave a nice talk at EuroBSDCon in Paris about the OpenBSD Web Stack (httpd, slowcgi, acme-client, relayd), slightly assisted by Michael Lucas.
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