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GNU is Not Unix

Open Source License Comparison 93

rbb writes "Bryce Wilcox-O'Hearn, aka Zooko, has put together a simple chart that in just a few lines displays the characteristics of each of the most popular Open Source licenses. The table, which is currently in version 0.8.3, makes it easy to see in a glance how the licenses compare to one another." Easily digestible information - good for PHB [?] s.
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Open Source License Comparasion

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  • Micro$ofts Shared source. HA!HA!

  • From the link: " is not clear that it is even possible to voluntarily place your software into the public domain under United States law. There is a common myth that one can do so simply by creating a work and writing "This software/work/text is hereby placed in the public domain.", but that does not do, legally, what it is commonly believed to do. For example, it might later be possible for you to assert your ownership over the code and forbid others to use it. "

    So current copyright law, which is supposed to promote the progress of science and the useful arts, all for the benefit of the public, now actually makes it difficult for a creator to voluntarily release his work to that public?

    No sense. None at all.

  • Hey! (Score:2, Informative)

    by tinahdee ( 135200 )
    This license comparison story first appeared on Newsforge [], and I wrote the paragraph that was posted at the top of this discussion. Just trying to wrest some credit where credit is due.

    We now return you regularly.

    Tina Gasperson

  • OK, every once in a while I see a post that says something like "Free as in beer", but not free as in ??. Anyway, since the topic is licenses could someone please clarify the free as in X statements. Its been something I have not understood for a while. One of the few Slashdot things I've been out of the loop on.. hehe.. Thanks in advance.

    • Re:Free as in **? (Score:2, Informative)

      by sro ( 160168 )
      Check out The Free Software Definition [] over at sro
    • Re:Free as in **? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hobbex ( 41473 )

      It's used to differentiate between the very strange english homonym for "without price" and "having freedom" (and the other 17 meanings [] .

      If you get "free beer" that would imply that you got without cost, not that beer was liberated from servitude. So if something is "free as in beer", then it has no cost.

      OTOH if have "free speech" that you have freedom to speak as you will, not that you don't have to put a coin in the slot every time you feel like talking.

      IANAL (l=linguist) but to me English seems to be pretty alone in having this confusion, as most European languages seem to use words derived from latin gratis for no cost (cf 'gratitude') and liber for freedom (cf 'liberated').
      Maybe says something about the cultural mentality...
      • GPL -- Free as in speech/li>
      • BSD -- Free as in enterprise
      • Shared Source -- Free as in "Work Will Make You".
      • GPL -- Free as in speech

        Microsoft EULA -- Also Free as in speech

        What? Well, last time I checked, Free Speech meant that authors could say and publish whatever they want with a few narrow exceptions (shouting Fire! in a crowded theatre, libel, fraud, etc.).

        Throughout the industrial age, there was little disagreement about this. If there was, then the New York Times would have been criticized by the likes of RMS for not being Free Speech. After all, they copyright all their articles and you can't just reprint them in some other newspaper. There are few if any compelling arguments for things to be any different in the digital age.

        This business of "Free Speech" and "Free Beer" is just a subterfuge. Millions of people have picked it up and ran with it because it allows them to equate their desires with their rights.

    • Re:Free as in **? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kythorn ( 52358 )
      Free as in beer is like being given a free beer. Company X is letting you download their product for free (generally for personal use), but you have very limited rights (if any) to what can be done with this product. You can use it. You can't modify it, you can't redistribute it, and if you don't like it, you're out of luck. Free as in speech means you can modify, redistribute, pretty much whatever you want with it, within the constraints of the license. About the only thing you can't do is modify the terms of the license.
  • by bonzoesc ( 155812 ) <> on Thursday August 16, 2001 @09:40AM (#2116586) Homepage
    Bill Gates prepared a chart of how much money his closed-source license has made him, N*Sync prepared a chart of how much money their CD sales have earned, and an unnamed open-source programmer made a sign that says "will prepare charts for food."
  • I personally see MPL as non-free, because it disriminate against corporations with software-patents.
    (If a corporation uses your code, add something
    to it, which infridges their patent, and they have lost).

    Though I see software-patents, ecspeccily as used in the US as an bad thing, the same holds in my eyes for the producers of wapons or riffles, or those who sell or buy them. And if an licence would discriminate against those, I think noone would call the licence free.
  • I don't think a quick reference is practical for something that is not only very complicated, but also to some extent a matter of personal preference.

    For example, this quick reference puts into doubt whether "the community" (which community?!) likes to accept code under the GPL, and indicates that there is no problem accepting code under a BSD license.

    IMO, it should be the other way around. GPL code is safe from an unscrupulous vendor doing what microsoft did to kerberos (use it, don't give anything back, and mess up interoperability for the people who originally wrote the code). The BSD license doesn't have such a protection, so I consider it unsafe, aka not popularly accepted.

    You don't have to agree. That's the point: This is not something that can be summarized effectively in such a tiny little chart.
  • by doctor_oktagon ( 157579 ) on Thursday August 16, 2001 @09:39AM (#2126227)
    Apparently the only way to be safe against the accusation of having given "legal advice" is to write with such ambiguity and obfuscation that nobody can learn anything from what you've written

    Well from my experience the more complicated it looks, the more like legal advice it becomes!

    And judging from the wars on this site, most of us write like this anyway :P
  • is here. [] I wrote it about 3 years ago, right about when ESR formed OSI. Best, Clark
  • by Zooko ( 2210 ) on Thursday August 16, 2001 @09:52AM (#2127207) Homepage

    Hi folks. The License Quick Ref is definitely a work in progress. I am no lawyer and there are a lot of question marks and probably a lot of inaccuracies or other bugs.

    Please e-mail <> with suggestions for improvement. Thanks!

    If you send me flames, I may elect to post them to my web log. :-) [].



    • Zooko O'Whielacronx? Zooko O'Whielacronx? Other than Zaphod Beeblebrox that has to be the coolest name ever. How do I get one? That's awesome! (Is it Welsh, by any chance? I've always wanted to be a Welshman. I love it when there are 5 or 6 consonants in a row, and it looks totally unpronouncable, and then this fair-skinned beauty says it, and it's like music.)

      I guess I'm rambling again. Must be off my meds. Miss Teschmacher!!
    • The License Quick Ref is definitely a work in progress.

      It's a bit brief too. There are a lot more licenses out there, most of which are described on the following three pages. (I've emailed this too).

      • _s oftware_licenses.shtml
      Good idea, BTW.
    • From the GPL v2:
      "If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues), conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program."
      From what I understand, this means that although the GPL does not require you to contribute patents, if there are any patents that would encumber free distribution of the code or derivative works, you are not allowed to distribute the code. The effect is very similar to requiring a patent license, in that you can not enforce patents of your own against GPL'd works that you have distributed, nor distribute GPL'd works where redistribution would be encumbered by third-party patents.
  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Thursday August 16, 2001 @09:53AM (#2127318) Homepage

    Kudos to Zooko for producing this, but I have to point out that if you didn't already know this stuff, you're not going to learn much of anything useful here because there's not enough basic introduction, and if you did already know it, you're not going to learn much of anything useful here, because there's not enough detail.

    And what on earth is the point in posting your opinion on legal issues, then disclaiming that opinion as being worthless? Again, no disrespect to Zooko, but his opinion isn't worth any more than mine or yours.

    Let's keep pressing for IAAL advice, or better yet, get some of these licenses tested in court, proactively and preemptively if necessary. I'd happily help fund a FSF case to have a declaratory decision made on the validity and limitations of the GPL.

    • If you think the idea of open source or free software is valuable, you shouldn't be in too much of a hurry to see the licences tested in court.

      1) Judges these days tend to be pretty clueless about these issues, and may tend to do whatever the big corporation with the high-priced lawyers suggests. In other words, invalidate the parts of the license that benefit the community.

      2) The longer these licenses are used, the more they will become part of our popular culture, and the harder it will be for a judge to consider striking them down.

    • I think you've missed the point....

      Apparently, this is not for you. It's for me. I've never taken the time or made the effort to read through all 600 PLs, and I'm not enough of a self-starter to do it. What the Quick Ref does for me (and many like me) is give me a starting place. I now have two PLs that I can read through in detail -- or find more commentary on -- other places. If I find that they don't work for me, I can move to the next.

      Besides, what part of "Quick Refernce" don't you understand?
  • How does an Apache-style license fit into this? Same as X11/BSD?
  • Different Questions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by greggman ( 102198 )
    I read your explaination of why the author chose questions that would show GPL as better. You've probably heard these arguments before but I thought I'd provide a personal example of why I think there might be better questions.

    I'm a video game programmer. I think video game programmers are generally at the opposite extreme in terms of whether open source code is useful for game code development or not. Meaning for example it's clearly worked for OSes and for Web servers but it gets arguably gets less useful for apps and maybe even more for games. (I could explain this but I'm trying to keep this short)

    Anyway, the point is, if you make the assumption that basically game companies will probably never GPL their game code for an inproduction game (vs tool code) then GPL code is NOT generally useful to commerical game programmers. So, in my personal example, if I wrote some cool 3D engine or quaterion code or collision code or physics engine and I GPLed it, most likely, none of my friends in the industry who are also commerical game developers could use my code to help their jobs, make their lives easier etc. If I BSDed it they can. AND most likely they can also contribute (most companies are not completely stupid) to BSD style but not to GPL.

    So, although the author suggested the question "Can redistribute proprietary version" where *proprietary* is arguably the word GPL advocates see as bad, I would suggest one which I think they might find more palettable. "Is useful to ALL my programming friends" vs "Is useful only to friends that can GPL their code" or maybe even simpler, "can be used by ALL programmers" vs GPL which is "can only be used by programmers that can GPL their code". Since sharing code seems to be a major reason to open source code and since in my person situation, BSDing allows me to share with more people than GPL. I choose BSD style.

    It's in this sense of wanting to help people, most of whom are not in a position to use GPL that I find BSD style more useful because it helps MORE people.

    To get off that issue and directly into "anti" GPL stuff. I see GPL as kind of like volunteering to help the poor only if they promise to help you back where as BSD is just like real volunteering. You don't expect anything back except karma and good will. But, I also see that by real world example, people have contributed just fine to BSD style licensed projects (FreeBSD, Apache) so the arguement that you need to GPL your code to make sure you get other peoples contributions seems not really to hold up where as the arguement that GPLed code is useful to less people than FreeBSD code is arguably provable.
    • One argument I want to anticipate is the idea that the original author can license the code in multiple ways so for example I could GPL an engine but still give licenses to friends so they can put it in their non GPLed games.

      I find this argument to be disingenuous. The reason is simple. One of the biggest arguments to open source is that lots of people can contribute. Lots of people contrubuting makes the code more useful, new features, bugs fixed, etc. This new useful version of the code, as soon as it has more that just a few contributors, would be nearly impossible to license since you'd have to contact all the authors who's contributions will each need a separate license and who's email address may no longer be valid etc, etc, etc..

      In other words, once the reason for GPLing in the first place has taken hold the idea that the code can be re-licensed effectively disappears.

      BSD style doesn't have this problem.
    • I would agree with you completely, but (you saw that coming, didn't you) only if my friend were the only people who I was helping.

      In your case, I suppose, it's a good idea, as you are, as you say, helping your friends in the games industry, where the rules are all the same - closed source, making our bread and butter. But if I, ooh, say, wrote a networking stack for a free OS, and say, just hypothetically, that a massive corporation grabbed my code and integrated it into a product that they then used to attempt to squash the OS that said networking stack was taken from, I'd be a bit annoyed, to say the least. That's where Win9x got its net stack from, and it will sure as hell never happen to any of my code.
  • by geo-geo ( 33913 ) on Thursday August 16, 2001 @10:53AM (#2133755)
    You know, I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons for over 15 years and I can tell you the Player's Hand Book is confusing enough will all it's charts and tables. Added this chart will just frustrate DMs like myself when the players say "Look, that Dragon falls under the GNU GPL so it must share it's source of wealth!!"
  • Brian Behlendorf has a nice chapter [] in "Open Sources" [] at the O'Reilly site that summarizes each of the various licenses. He describes various business models and suggests what licenses are most appropriate for each. I especially liked the following comment:

    • The open-source approach is not a magic bullet for every type of software development project. Not only do the conditions have to be right for conducting such a project, but there is a tremendous amount of real work that has to go into launching a successful project that has a life of its own. In many ways you, as the advocate for a new project, have to act a little like Dr. Frankenstein, mixing chemicals here, applying voltage there, to bring your monster to life.
  • Maybe it would be good to add the APL which I think is close to a BSD style license.
    BTW, to have an idea about what APL developpers think about GPL (LPGL in fact) just have look here [] it's an excerpt from a discussion where the integration of GNU Regexp was seriouly discussed in cocoon-dev mailing list.
  • That table mixes the subjective and objective deftly, and is as of as much value as the following beer (not free) comparison:


    1) Some people in the community think Coors tastes great, but considering this is subjective bullshit it doesn't matter.
    2) Bass is an 'ale' not a 'lager' like Bud and Coors, and I don't know enough about beer to know if 'ale' contains 'hops.' I know there are 'bugs' in this list (in other words I have little clue as to what I'm talking about and I hope people who do have a clue fill in the blanks for me) but my stupid little occasionally accurate matrix of text made it on /. wahoo!

    I have a feeling showing that table to your PHB might give your PHB more clue about YOU than open source code and the associated licenses that a real PHB couldn't care less about. Remember to post a "I got laid off, now what?" 'ask slashdot' request in hope you'll get more brilliant advice.
  • Recently I was thinking of converting over all my Artistic License software to GPL because I thought that only the GPL really scared Microsoft enough to make sure that they wouldn't "embrace and extend" my software. But the recently reported MS license that described AL as one of the "potentially viral licenses" made me think that the AL is sufficient protection.

    What we really need is an answer to the question: "Which licenses scare MS?" If they don't stop at least MS from appropriating the software, then what use is such an OS license?

  • He seems to be unsure whether "the community" likes to accept code under the GPL. If he means the business community, maybe I can understand his uncertainty, but I thought he meant the hacker community.

    He actually stated "a hypothetical open source/free software hacker may prefer to create source code under the GPL, but may prefer to use source code licensed to her under a license that permits her to combine the licensed source code with proprietary source code." Are we that hypocritical?

    • Though he makes an mistake. Even, if he releases it under GPL, he can still combine it with propriatrary source code. What he can not, it combine contributions by others with propriatary source, if they do not allow it. That's why I an perhaps many others are much more likely to contribute to an GPL-programm than to something else.
    • Are we that hypocritical? Hey, this is /. - of course we are!
    • The community he is referring to does not consist solely of the Linux and GNU communities. He is referring to the Open Source community at large. That community includes XFree86 developers, BSD developers, Apache developers, Perl and Python developers, etc., etc. The GPL is accepted by the community as a valid and useful standard for copyleft-style licenses. But it is not universally accepted as a Good Thing(tm). You may disagree, but you are not the community, only a very small part of it.
  • Is it appropriate? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by L-Wave ( 515413 )
    Is it appropriate to select a copyright version based upon whether the community accepts it more readily, or whether the specific copyright is more appropriate for the type software...
  • Only the GPL truly protects the interests of developers and users. The others are attempts to compromise with an enemy which accepts no compromise...

    ...kind of like all those people who were protesting nuclear weapons in the U.S. while the U.S.S.R. was unashamedly preparing to destroy the West.

    • by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Thursday August 16, 2001 @10:07AM (#2137294)
      You seem to have a strong opinion in favor of the GPL and, from what I can determine, it looks like a fantastic concept that is applicable to more than just computer code. However, I am somewhat inexperienced with open licenses and have a few questions as I consider publishing software that I am currently developing. Short story is as follows, the program I'm working on is being coded in Python (latest GPL OK version). It is designed for accessing damage and/or fatigue life for aging commercial aircraft. The math engine is developed by myself and I'd like to make it available to other experts in the field so that it can grow. I would also like input from experienced programmers since I am self taught (this is in fact my first Python program). On the other hand, I need to keep that math model under tight control. I am concerned that someone who is a good programmer but not experienced in aircraft fatigue my modify the math engine in such a way as to make it unsafe for use. Can the GPL protect from this scenario?
      • It has been pointed out that the GPL won't protect your program from beiing modified in such a way that makes the program unsafe.

        However, the GPL requires the author to include the source of the program when distributing his code, which makes it much easier to determine what has been done to the code if it is changed and redistributed.

      • You should have an automated test suite with examples that check to see if they have been correctly calculated. Every time a bug is found you should add a check to your test suite for it.

        [assuming you are concerned about changes to Python]

        You state with your program that it has been verified to run with Python version foo.

        You should warn that versions of Python other than foo may break your program and it should be fully tested before deployement.

        You personally check against your test suite.

        [assuming you are concerned about updates to your code breaking it]

        1: don't incorporate patches unless you know they are safe for use.

        2: verify patches against the test suite you built earlier before accepting.

        You have no protection against someone forking your code and making a competing product with it, however, you also aren't liable if the competing product screws up since you don't sell / support / acknowledge it.
      • the only thing any license could do to protect you would be to make you not legally responsible for the damages he causes, which the GPL does not do, but is easily accomplished by a disclaimer saying you are not responsible for how your code is used by others and states that any one who uses your code accepts full responisbility for the results (at least I think thats how it works). Your desire to open source your code is great (IMO), but (and I'm going to get flamed here for this) if you feel very strongly that if someone who makes modifications to your code that cause harm, it makes you morally (not legally which can be taken care of) responsible for the harm they cause I would regretfully reccomend you do not open your code, as open code will be used (which is the point)and somebody may end up making harmful modifications to your code. I do not believe such a case would make you morally responsible for any disater that occurred from a persons misuse of your code, IMO it's like a carpenter putting a "Free" sign on an old hammer and putting it outside, if someone takes that and uses it to beat someone to death or accidently drops it on someones is not your fault but everyone has different morals and yours may be stricter than mine.

        So in conclusion, I think it is great to open your code, and as long as you put in a proper disclaimer it's legally safe, but if you wouldn't be able to emotionally handle some idiot messing up on modifying your code (even though IMO it's not your fault) then using it for a critical application and causing damage, you probably shouldn't do it. A side note is hopefully any program in which mistakes may cost lives would be rigorously tested before being put into use.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        On the other hand, I need to keep that math model under tight control. GPL can not keep someone with less knowledge in the field from producing either a bad version of the engine or bad code.

        What you might want to do is produce the engine as a non-GPL precompiled library, then produce a Python (whatever language) application which accesses the free standing engine. This will not stop a cracker, but it adds a layer of difficulty.

        You also requested input from experienced programmers, but did not post an e-mail, and your user info does not include an e-mail. I can be reached by if you want some programming help.

        Pizza is good for the soul...

      • Nobody can force you to accept a patch you don't like. They can make their own version, but so what? That's not your responsibility. The version you distribute from your website is the only one you're responsible for.

    • ...kind of like all those people who were protesting nuclear weapons in the U.S. while the U.S.S.R. was unashamedly preparing to destroy the West.

      Exactly when did the Soviets destroy the West? I must have missed that.
      I guess all their preparations were for nothing...
      • *Prepared* to destroy...

        They didn't, but that was largely because they'd have been destroyed as well.

        The USA was fairly close, after WW2, to making a bunch more nukes and carrying the war to the soviets. They were stopped partially because they couldn't afford the manpower to actually hold the country once it had been broken.

        The USSR was fairly obviously looking to become the only superpower, and that would have been most quickly accomplished by destroying the USA.

        Why do you think they didn't?

        You may not like this, but war is a fact of life. As long as someone else desires violence, or is willing to use violence to get what they want, you have to be prepared to match them, or there's nothing stopping them.

        Having an army, and building weapons of aggression, is required, unless you are so confident of your strength that you can rely 100% on defensive weapons. Do you want to risk your life on a missile defense system?
  • These licenses are for sissies. Real men either release their work under public domain or charge for binaries.

    I have a couple of projects I'm thinking of making available to the public, and the only reason I see to release under, say, the GPL is that I feel deeply indebted to the FSF and others who contributed to free software. Other than that, these licenses are too restrictive, except maybe for BSD and X licenses. They may bring a feeling of assurance to developers, but users do suffer.
    • I fully agree with you, the BSD license is the closest to public domain, but then I don't really understand why you'd use the BSD license instead of public domain.

      Anyone care to explain it?
      • (Sorry -- thought I was logged in. Wanted to do this under my real name, so people would see it.) ...I don't really understand why you'd use the BSD license instead of public domain. The BSD license includes a disclaimer of liability, so an author who releases software under it has some protection from suit. An author who releases into the public domain (arguments about whether that is possible with software aside) has no protection from suit. (The preceding is not legal advice.)
    • ...Other than that, these licenses are too restrictive, except maybe for BSD and X licenses. They may bring a feeling of assurance to developers, but users do suffer.

      That's a common misconception. As long as the user does not mess with the source, the GPL has no effect (except, of course, that the software is freely redistributable). These things only rear their heads if you want to modify the source. Users are not affected.

      The irritating thing is that M$ are using this argument against using GPL'ed software vs their own. As long as you only use the software, not modify it, the GPL does not affect you - and it certainly doesn't harm your IP. That's only if you modify the software, which you couldn't even *do* with proprietary licences of M$ Shared Source.
  • I'll give it an hour. Max. USian's will all be in work soon...

    I like the idea behind the chart though. Choosing a license is a personal thing, and after all, it's the developer's right to do what (s)he will with their own code isn't it? A simple chart like this should help people make a more informed choice.

    It would be nice if it included a few more licenses though; there are what? Maybe 30 or more? Anyone have a list to send this guy?

    • OSI has a nice list of OpenSource licenses: []
      But I suppose it won't be a help for PHBs if the comparison gets more complicated.

      Our department quite often uses open-source projects as a basic part for in-house tools. Co-workers sometimes consider to call an external program but say "It's GPL, we would have to add a commandline-option, we don't want to make things complicated if we want to sell it."

      I wish they would at least try to contact the original author and hear his opinion. I suppose most programmers would be willing to cooperate and support (for example) a generic interface to custom extensions.
      • If your department "uses open-source projects as a basic part for in-house tools", why don't you give back to the community, you took from, and make your changes also available as open-source.

        This way you would have not problems with GPL and the like. If it is "in-house", that you can hav more advantages by the community integrating and bettering your changes, than the possibility to sell something, which I guess as very low.

        • We're a research-department an we're not supposed to create real products. We're creating several source-analysis and documentation-management tools, which might be "sold" to other departments.

          Commonly used OS-projects are e.g. xerces, boost, python and wxpython, where we usually only contribute bugreports or small patches.

          Some tools use proprietary libraries that we must not redistribute as sourcecode. (e.g. a C++ backend from EDG) So if we want to call GPL programs (e.g. cvs or some source-documentation systems) we must not make proprietary extensions to it. It doesn't matter if we put the modified program under the GPL, it would still violate the license, because such an extension would be only usable with other non-GPL programs.

          The sad thing is, that some people prefer to pay for inferior commercial sourcecode instead of contacting the original authors in order to come to an agreement.

          Instead of documenting the subtle relations between dozens of different licenses (as someone suggested) we should try to encourage a personal contact to the developers. If the author allows you to use his code under certain conditions you don't even have to understand the original license.

          IMHO the problem is that PHBs are afraid of such agreements, and as long as there's a different solution they don't want to try something new.
  • With all these different Open Source licenses and legalese involved, it is so difficult to determine an appropriate license for [] and for [] that a perhaps dangerously naive Public Domain license has remained in place by default -- even as the ominous specter rears its head of a potential military take-over of the Open Source artificial intelligence project, as evidenced by these recent logs of access by military domains to the AI Home Page: []

    07/Aug/2001:07:22:58 - - /~mentifex/jsaimind.html
    07/Aug/2001:14:44:12 - - /~mentifex/aisource.html
    07/Aug/2001:14:44:16 - - /~mentifex/jsaimind.html
    07/Aug/2001:14:48:19 - - /~mentifex/index.html
    08/Aug/2001:11:21:48 - - /~mentifex/
    08/Aug/2001:11:22:02 - - /~mentifex/aisource.html
    08/Aug/2001:22:18:15 - - /~mentifex/aisource.html

    • ...I must state my opinion that its goals are monstrous and evil.

      An attempt to create a general purpose artificial intelligence -- and specifically one which is more intelligent than any human AND one intended to be loaded into robots! -- which acts from self-interest, rather than to fulfill some specific function, is nothing less than an attempt to destroy humanity.

      People who make this attempt should be killed, and their work destroyed. Collaborators should be killed, sympathizers should be killed. It is unclear whether it is wiser to do it publicly, to discourage attempts, or covertly, to keep attempts public and make them easier to catch.

      The creation of free AI is the one true threat to the survival of humanity (or will be once we get a few viable colonies off-planet); nothing else would hunt people into remote areas or through space. No preventative measure is too extreme.

      This is not a joke, this is not a troll. True artificial intelligence should only be approached with the greatest caution, in a carefully contained environment, by people who take the threat seriously and who are ready to abandon it and destroy their work at the first sign of danger. The idea of rights for an AI should never be seriously considered. Perhaps the only justifiable purpose of creating an AI would be to destroy other AIs, and the potential problems are obvious.
      • The creation of free AI is the one true threat to the survival of humanity (or will be once we get a few viable colonies off-planet); nothing else would hunt people into remote areas or through space. No preventative measure is too extreme.

        You name would not happen to be Sarah Connor, would it?
      • You are going to have to kill a lot of human beings in order to stop the emergence and spread of Artificial Intelligence []. Vernor Vinge in ing.html [] on Technological Singularity argues compellingly that AI is unavoidable, although VInge does offer several variant scenarios of how AI may arise.

        So kill me if you must -- thereby putting me out of my misery as slavishly devoted to a do-or-die AI Project [], but first I would like to raise the perhaps feeble argument that we human beings have a right to know exactly what we are and how we function as both minds and bodies.

        As for your lead-in statement that you don't believe this project will succeed, think again, because it is not the admittedly amateurish AI source code propelling the AI Mind to success (i.e., proliferation), but rather the SourceForge/ Mind/ Docs/ Theory of Cognition that will inexorably introduce True Good Old Fashained AI (GOFAI) unless stopped by a nefarious military/government/Microsoft/_whatever_, because the Mentifex AI theory is the free, public-domain distillate of thirteen years of slavish agonizing over all possible roads to its now uniquely magisterial Theory of Mind [] -- and you can't stop an idea whose time has come.

        If the U.S. or other military does take over an Open Source AI Mind project, they are not going to announc it to the world here on Slashdot. They are going to pick a place like Los Alamos, New Mexico, and develope the End-Of-Humanity in secret. The only way to thwart the forces of evil is to let _them_ sweat a lot about who _else_ has the plans for the Superintelligence.

        • I've read it before, looking for stuff on Forth. 13 years of work by one crackpot doesn't amount to much. I bet Alex Chiu's been working that long on his theories, too.

          Crackpots are very common when it comes to the topic of free AIs. I find this a very reassuring thought.

          we human beings have a right to know exactly what we are and how we function as both minds and bodies.

          The hand cannot grasp itself. There is no way for a human brain to know exactly how a human brain functions. Feeble indeed.

          Besides, building an AI doesn't mean you've figured how the human mind works. There are probably many ways to create intelligence.

          You are insane, but harmless. You will probably die bitterly disappointed in your life if you continue pursuing your crackpot theory (if you think you feel bad about the 13 years you've spend, imagine how you will feel when it's 50 years, and still no real progress in the working model). You should see a psychiatrist, as you are clearly paranoid and megalomaniacal.
  • interactive version (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zooko ( 2210 ) on Thursday August 16, 2001 @11:57AM (#2158040) Homepage

    Check this out:

    Peter Lowe has written an interactive version of the License Quick Ref which shows you the table in a way that reflects your own biases. Ha! []



    P.S. Despite my fears of massive slashdot flamage, there has actually been pretty much no flames, except for one from a certain unnamed Linux world journalist. Maybe the community is growing up! After all, Linux itself is 10 years old, so the first generation of Linux hackers are now in their late 20's at least.

    • wow, that's nice. I suppose all the trolls are bussy in MS articles, or can't be bothered to write anything that won't waste five people's time.

      So, I had a look at your page. While it's nice that you are doing this, won't you end up with this [] when you are done? I kinda missed the why bit.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle