Codice Libero (Free as in Freedom): Richard Stallman e la crociata per il software libero

Apogeo Editore

La storia di un genio eccentrico del software, a partire dalle sue esperienze scolastiche e universitarie, fino alle battaglie combattute contro le grandi corporation. Idealista e rivoluzionario, Stallman ha dato il via al movimento free software che sta scuotendo le fondamenta di tutto il mercato informatico, rappresentando un inevitabile punto di confronto per colossi come Microsoft. Secondo Stallman, il prodotto dell'ingegno deve restare libero: il codice sorgente di qualunque programma rappresenta un bene comune e, proteggerlo con brevetti e copyright, andrebbe considerato un crimine contro l'umanità. Un saggio illuminante che, dipingendo il ritratto di una delle figure più importanti nella storia dell'informatica, mostra i retroscena di una battaglia occulta tra il movimento per il software libero e i grandi interessi commerciali. Per tutti coloro che vogliono capire come funziona il mercato del software nel mondo, come si è arrivati alla situazione attuale e quali sono le possibilità che ci riserva il futuro.
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Apogeo Editore
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Published on
Jan 31, 2003
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Computers / General
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Few scientific topics since the theory of biological evolution have inspired as much controversy as artificial intelligence has. Even now, fifty years after the term first made its appearance in academic journals, many philosophers and more than a few prominent scientists and software programmers dismiss the pursuit of thinking machines as the modern-day equivalent of medieval alchemists’ hunt for the philosopher’s stone-a pursuit based more on faith than on skeptical inquiry.

In Arguing A.I., journalist Sam Williams charts both the history of artificial intelligence from its scientific and philosophical roots and the history of the A.I. debate. He examines how and why the tenor of the debate has changed over the last half-decade in particular, as scientists are struggling to take into account the latest breakthroughs in computer science, information technology, and human biology. For every voice predicting machines like 2001’s HAL within the next twenty to thirty years, others have emerged with more pessimistic forecasts. From artificial intelligence’s pioneers John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky, to futurist authors Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec, to software architects Bill Joy and Jaron Lanier, Arguing A.I. introduces readers to the people participating in the current debate, both proponents and critics of A.I. who are changing the way computers “think” and the way we think about computers.

Ultimately, Arguing A.I. is as much a history of thought as it is a history of science. Williams notes that many of the questions plaguing modern scientists and software programmers are the same questions that have concerned scientists and philosophers since time immemorial: What are the fundamental limitations of science and scientific inquiry? What is the nature of intelligence? And, most important, what does it really mean to be human?
Free as in Freedom interweaves biographical snapshots of GNU project founder Richard Stallman with the political, social and economic history of the free software movement. It examines Stallman's unique personality and how that personality has been at turns a driving force and a drawback in terms of the movement's overall success.Free as in Freedom examines one man's 20-year attempt to codify and communicate the ethics of 1970s era "hacking" culture in such a way that later generations might easily share and build upon the knowledge of their computing forebears. The book documents Stallman's personal evolution from teenage misfit to prescient adult hacker to political leader and examines how that evolution has shaped the free software movement. Like Alan Greenspan in the financial sector, Richard Stallman has assumed the role of tribal elder within the hacking community, a community that bills itself as anarchic and averse to central leadership or authority. How did this paradox come about? Free as in Freedom provides an answer. It also looks at how the latest twists and turns in the software marketplace have diminished Stallman's leadership role in some areas while augmenting it in others.Finally, Free as in Freedom examines both Stallman and the free software movement from historical viewpoint. Will future generations see Stallman as a genius or crackpot? The answer to that question depends partly on which side of the free software debate the reader currently stands and partly upon the reader's own outlook for the future. 100 years from now, when terms such as "computer," "operating system" and perhaps even "software" itself seem hopelessly quaint, will Richard Stallman's particular vision of freedom still resonate, or will it have taken its place alongside other utopian concepts on the 'ash-heap of history?'
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