Category Archives: Digitality

The state of AI

Putting aside all the privacy and users’ rights violations by AI companies, the state of AI today is fascinating. We’re living in a world full of amazing advancements in tech and life. The fact that AI can now help blind people get through everyday life, or talk to you about your plans for the day, or summarize texts with sufficient quality is beyond everything we thought we’re getting few years ago. There’s no doubt that AI is going to make our lives easier. Only matter is how humane will it be, both in matters of online and offline human rights.

Bonus: OpenAI introduces GPT-4o (YouTube Link)

AI knows about you!

I am one of the people who tried to block so-called “AI” programs from training on my published works. I implemented every code or rule I know to block corporations use my material for training their programs.

I’m not against AI, but I don’t want my material be published or used under a proprietary license. One other reason I tried to block them is that data-hungry companies such as Microsoft and Google were using these programs to gather more data on people and violating users’ privacy.

However, my efforts to block them from training on my works seems to be failed. It seems that regardless of my effort and how I asked robots to not research/train on my blog and stop crawling my data, they did it anyway.

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Bring back small blogs

I merged, combined, summarized, and re-published pages on this blog and made it as small as possible. Bring back small blogs. Web used to have so many small yet awesome blogs. We used to spend a lot of our time reading material published on them, not caring about the design or off-topic pages.

Let’s bring that back. I start with myself. I don’t need a long bio page or every detail about my internet presence. There’s no need to include every way you can contact me. I won’t make long lists about what I use, nobody cares about that. Though I can publish a post about it.

I won’t explain everything and every word, I can link to Wikipedia or send people to a web site that explains that well. I’ll stay focused on the topic I’m talking about.

I won’t care if the design is old or new. I won’t care if people think sidebars are outdated. If it’s usable and satisfies the reader, then it’s good enough for me. I want to focus on what’s important here, which is what I share and what I have to say.

I feel all the attention that goes to these pages are to satisfy our urge for attention. We should stop playing for the invisible audience and let go of ourselves. We’re not the main focus of other people. Most people won’t care about whether our site is blue or green or purple. If you like an special color, then set it for your theme but stop caring about my opinion on it.

I believe we should bring back small blogs because we’re now full of crappy corporate web that values benefit before people. We should bring back small blogs because those are the blogs that put people behind everything else. We used to care so much about what we publish, not how much we explain ourselves.

Nobody cares if I use Emacs or Vim. Nobody cares if I have 16 GB of RAM. Nobody cares about the distribution of GNU+Linux I run on my computer. I may explain or share my experience using them, and those can be useful for many people, including me, but I feel nobody cares about a long list of tools I use. People may read it but nobody misses it when it’s gone.

Well, this is my feeling. It’s not wrong to feel otherwise and it certainly is not wrong to do the opposite.

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Net neutrality rules restored by FCC

Good news. Removing net neutrality was an injustice to users and bringing it back was necessary. It is a major victory for people. Now FCC can, and should, hold companies responsible for violating people’s rights.

Social networks are not always bad

I avoid using social networks. It’s just that I don’t like them and I find them irritating. But are they always bad? I don’t think so.

I’ve advocated for using ethical social networks such as Fediverse/Mastodon instead of crappy ones like Instagram and Twitter but I have my own reasons. My objections to these networks are that they treat users unfairly, violate their rights, and keep business their first priority.

I don’t like social networks, I don’t use them, but I have less objections to ethical ones than to ones like Facebook. I may not be OK with the feeling I get of an ethical social network but one like Instagram gives me 100 more reasons.

However, I would still object to banning them. You see, I think it’s bad that these corporations are harvesting users’ data but if one, consciously, wants to use them, one has every right to.

I always tell people to avoid these networks but I’m completely against forcing people to leave them. These networks have a massive flow of information passing through them and this flow helps people express themselves and share information they might not get from other sources.

Accessing social networks are essential for freedom today. They are replacing news sources and information channels; and they’ve become a force from people to protect themselves from injustice and tyranny. Banning them only helps corruption.

I don’t praise what they do, I still find them too much unappealing but I can’t deny the amount of good they do for people. I can’t deny how much they’ve helped people survive a world of misinformation and propaganda. They have become a tool for people to actually have a voice.

Everything these proprietary privacy-violating social networks such as Twitter do, can be done using user freedom-respecting privacy-minded social networks such as Mastodon but for now, we’re stuck with these crappy ones.

I cheer for replacing these proprietary networks with free/libre ones but I also will protest banning them. Banning them may do some god but it will do more damage as it will only take away people’s voice.

Banning them will only result in more corruption and more violation of people’s right and freedom. These social networks, free or nonfree, have given people a voice and a power to make actual social change and they have become a powerful tool for people to fight for themselves.

They make dictators unhappy, they make tyrants angry, and they make powerful people weak in front of people. They empower people the way nobody can’t. They bring back freedom of expression to people, the way nobody is able to.

I don’t use social networks but I’m happy they exist as they’ve made the world much better place. Because of them, many tyrants are actually afraid of people and maybe are kept in place. I may not use them but I appreciate them every day.

Security decisions and free software

One of the reasons I only use free software is that it gives me more security.

Of course not all libre programs are secure but software freedom gives you more security as you can study the source code and edit/publish it the way you want. So if there’s a security vulnerability, you won’t be forced to wait for the original author to find and fix it.

You may be a programmer or security researcher and fix it yourself or pay someone to do it for you, based on your needs. Anyhow, it’s a perk of using free software.

But, another advantage I get from free software is that I can edit it so it won’t force me to be secure!

For example, I don’t like to change my password on a program running locally. If it wants to force me to do so, then I can modify the program to avoid it. It’s what I’m able to do because I get the four essential freedoms regarding that program.

As much as I appreciate the author of that program wanting to keep people secure, I believe people should also have a say in it. If I want to keep stuff less secure, intentionally, I should be able to.

There are some things to do and some precautions to take to make sure you have base minimum security and the rest is how you choose your actions based on your threat model. I appreciate programs reminding this to people and even taking the first steps in their own hands. It’s so useful for people with less understanding of how cybersecurity works.

Yet I believe there should be hints about threats but the users should be able to take everything, absolutely everything, in their hands if they want to.

Security should be implemented in programs by default. It shouldn’t be a luxury and it shouldn’t take technical skills for one to be secure digitally. Yet it shouldn’t be something that the user has no say in.

I believe free software fixes this problem by giving us the four essential freedoms we deserve. Our rights to use, study, modify, and share the program are there to make sure we own what we have and will be able to make it work the way we want it to work.

Canada to ban Flipper Zero!

On Thursday, the Canadian government said it has intention to “pursue all avenues to ban devices used to steal vehicles by copying the wireless signals for remote keyless entry, such as the Flipper Zero, which would allow for the removal of those devices from the Canadian marketplace through collaboration with law enforcement agencies.”

Funny, isn’t it? The Canadian government seems to not have any security expert to consult with. They don’t seem to understand how does the device works and don’t even understand how secure cars have been specially those produced since 1990s.

This attack requires a high-power transceiver that’s not capable with the Flipper Zero. These attacks are carried out using pricy off-the-shelf equipment and modifying it using a fair amount of expertise in radio frequency communications.

The Flipper Zero is also incapable of defeating keyless systems that rely on rolling codes, a protection that’s been in place since the 1990s that essentially transmits a different electronic key signal each time a key is pressed to lock or unlock a door.

To ban such device because it can (really can’t) open cars is just like to ban screwdrivers because they can open cars as well. Or ban kitchen knifes because they can kill people. Maybe the next step is to ban computers as whole because they can be used for illegal stuff too!

The Canadian government should address the real issue, which is to pressure car manufacturers into fixing their security flaws. Banning a device like Flipper Zero would only result in harming security enthusiast and taking away learning opportunities from them.

The device could be used to clone a hotel key card or change the TV channel in a bar, or open some garage doors but if a criminal knows how to use it, then the criminal surely knows how to build one from scratch so banning the device wouldn’t improve public security at all. If it does something, it just takes away opportunity from good guys who use it.

But the good news is that almost everything in Flipper Zero is free (as in freedom). So you can study the source code and reproduce the programs in use and build your own thing, thanks to the essential four software freedoms granted to people under a GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license, meaning it will remain free software.