Software activist Richard Stallman left the Free Software Foundation on Monday. He is no longer a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He was forced to retreat after a statement in an internal MIT email discussion gave the impression that he wanted to protect Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of pimping and sexual abuse of minors. On his website, Stallman referred to his withdrawal as “pressure” exercised on him and on MIT in connection with a “series of misunderstandings and distortions.”
Alleged sex offender Epstein killed himself in a New York prison in August. The millionaire is accused of abusing young women. He should also have forced her to have sex with other men. One of these men was the computer scientist Marvin Minsky, who died in 2016, a pioneer in the research of artificial intelligence (AI). Maybe Minsky thought it was amicable sex, Stallman pointed out. By doing so, he accused himself of wanting to talk beautifully about rape.
Attack on academic freedom
Since the mid-1980s, Stallman has created with great personal commitment the legal, social and technical prerequisites for free software to spread. As a lecturer at MIT, he was annoyed in the 1980s about the legal restrictions on the use of AT & T Unix. He saw in it an attack on academic freedom.
In 1984 he initiated a software project called GNU. The three letters denote “GNU is Not Unix” and denote a collection of operating system modules, programming tools, and application programs that are modeled on Unix but do not use AT & T code.
Back to the sources
At least as important as the software developed under the GNU Project is the legal framework, the GNU Public License. It should guarantee that the software in question is always free. A software is free if you can use it for any purpose, if its internal functioning is visible and it is possible to change it. It is free, if it is also allowed to pass on the software in the original or in a revised version.
Today one speaks of Linux, if one should say GNU / Linux, and one says no more “free” software, but open SOURCE software. Nevertheless, this software dominates today the computer world, on smartphones and on supercomputers this software can be found, on it also big software companies like IBM, Oracle or Microsoft can not do without.