[ExI] effective altruism

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 16 17:17:53 UTC 2019

I am not certain I understand this message, but likely it is about what Ben
posted about hating Microsoft and Bill Gates and my reply to that.

bill w

On Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 10:41 AM Randy Burkhardt <randy.burkhardt at gmail.com>

> 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>
> wrote:
>> 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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> --
> Randy
> (805) 268-7426
> ringtones:
> www.randyburkhardt.com
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