Monday, January 23, 2006

Free Software and Cyborg Autonomy

Question for discussion...

Samir and I have been thinking about the role of free software in some sort of cyborg future (along the lines of Andy Clark's Natural-Born Cyborgs)... at first blush, it seems that free software might make the difference between utopia and dystopia (prosthetics by Diebold holding little appeal). But then the scene gets hazy.

If (following Clark's argument) we have always been becoming man-machine symbionts, then 'I' am as much my extra-biological extensions (and the code that power them) as I am a lump of flesh. Is it reasonable to expect me to free the code that runs/is me?

Maybe there's a neo-Kerckhoffsian argument that says the key to our individuality lies in our data, not in our algorithms? Seems a bit simplistic, though. So, where do we turn to figure out how to negotiate the boundary between free software and individual autonomy?


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