[ExI] effective altruism

Randy Burkhardt randy.burkhardt at gmail.com
Tue Jul 16 15:26:17 UTC 2019

Hello Ben, respectfully William, I know you said you don't want to say more
but if you could say which parties are which in your reply I would really
appreciate it.  Thanks, Randy

On Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 3:48 PM William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com>

> I do not have any problem with anyone being upset with someone or even
> hating them.  That is none of my business.
> But to accuse a person of doing something out of guilt over putting out a
> flawed product that we have to work with anyway is to make an unwarranted
> assumption that may reflect unfairly on that person..  That simply does not
> meet the Ockhams' Razor test.  That's all I wanted to say.  bill w
> On Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 3:18 PM Ben Zaiboc <ben at zaiboc.net> wrote:
>> Well, my remark was supposed to be rather tongue-in-cheek, but if we are
>> going to be serious about it, my main objection is that MS seems to have
>> been, and still is, the ringleader of the whole attitude that software
>> companies have today, an attitude that is not inevitable, and that I
>> think is destructive and holds us back massively, and is so pervasive
>> that many people have trouble even conceiving that things could be
>> different.
>> It seems to be the natural order that when you buy (or, I should say
>> 'pay for', because you can't usually actually /buy/ it) a piece of
>> software, you don't own it, you hardly have any rights at all regarding
>> it, you're not, in practice, allowed to understand how it works or
>> modify it, or even to try to (often that's actually illegal!), and you
>> are prevented from even understanding what you're agreeing to when you
>> hand your money over, because the license terms are deliberately very
>> long and obscure.
>> It seems inevitable that any software that you use is subject to
>> arbitrary changes by the vendor, forced upgrades, often at inconvenient
>> times, and sudden disappearance of features regardless of whether you
>> find them useful or not. And of course, you can't just do what you wish
>> with it. It's a bit like buying a bike that you're not allowed to change
>> the gears or brakes on, can't even fit a different bell if you want, and
>> the options for adjusting the handlebars and saddle are severely
>> restricted to pre-set choices. And don't even think of changing the
>> tyres! On top of this, it will stop working unless you take it in for
>> regular services when it may be returned a different colour, with
>> different lights, etc., etc.
>> I think it's odd that nobody would tolerate it if, when you take your
>> car to be serviced, it was returned with the pedals swapped round, the
>> handbrake removed altogether and your radio hidden away somewhere
>> inaccessible, with brand new controls installed that don't do what you
>> want anymore, but yet people accept this level of interference routinely
>> when it comes to software. Not to mention the snooping. Of course,
>> people /will/ accept it when their cars start reporting how they are
>> used to various unknown parties, because they will have been conditioned
>> to accept this kind of invasion of privacy because that's how their
>> computers behave, and cars are increasingly turning into computers on
>> wheels.
>> I'm not claiming that this culture is exclusively Microsoft's doing, but
>> they certainly were enthusiastic early leaders in establishing it. And
>> things don't have to be this way. There are software systems that don't
>> treat the user as an enemy, that don't mean "against the user" when they
>> use the word "Security", and that allow the user to own the software,
>> modify it, control it, and get the use from it that /they/ want, rather
>> than the use that the vendor wants to impose on them.
>> As a transhumanist and extropian, I'm always in favour of individual
>> choice, with the only restriction being that you don't harm others by
>> your choices. All the big software companies these days are explicitly
>> opposed to that principle. They want the only choice on the table to be
>> /their/ choice, and to hell with anyone who is harmed or disadvantaged
>> in any way by it.
>> I'm not against change, even random change (which is often what you seem
>> to get with many software products), but I am against imposing that
>> change on the users without asking them, and without allowing any
>> possibility of opting out of it (short of stopping using the software
>> altogether, which just isn't an option for many users). Just look at the
>> Microsoft support forums and you'll find scores, of not hundreds, of
>> user complaints and requests and pleas, about features that have been
>> imposed on them that Microsoft refuse to even listen to, let alone do
>> anything about.
>> It didn't have to be this way. There are ways of making money without
>> treating your customers with such utter contempt.
>> OK, that's my rant over. Back to normal programming now (pun intended).
>> Ben Zaiboc
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