‘The Future of American Industry Depends On Open Source Tech’

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    An anonymous reader shares an opinion piece from Wired, written by Kevin Xu and Jordan Schneider. Xu is the author of Interconnected, investor and advisor of open source startups at OSS Capital, and served in the Obama White House. Schneider is the author of the ChinaTalk newsletter and host of the ChinaTalk podcast, posted on Lawfare. From the report: Open source is a technology development and distribution methodology, where the codebase and all development — from setting a roadmap to building new features, fixing bugs, and writing documentation — is done in public. A governing body (a group of hobbyists, a company, or a foundation) publicly manages this work, which is most often done in a public repository on either GitHub or GitLab. Open source has two important, and somewhat counterintuitive, advantages: speed and security. These practices lead to faster technological developments, because a built-in global community of developers help them mature, especially if the technology is solving a real problem. Top engineers also prefer to work with and on open source projects. Wrongly cast as secretive automatons, they are more often like artists, who prefer to learn, work, collaborate, and showcase what they’ve built in public, even when they are barely compensated for that work. But doesn’t keeping a technology’s codebase open make it more vulnerable to attack? In fact, exposing the codebase publicly for security experts and hackers to easily access and test is the best way to keep the technology secure and build trust with end users for the long haul. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and open source is that sunlight in technology. Linux, the operating system, and Kubernetes, the cloud container orchestration system, are two of the most prominent examples. […] Using open source technology is now the fastest way new products get built and legacy technologies get replaced. Yet as US policymakers develop their industrial policy to compete with China, open source is conspicuously absent. By leaning on the advantages of open source, policymakers can pursue an industrial policy to help the US compete in the 21st century in line with our broader values. The alternative is to continue a top-down process that picks winners and losers based on not just technology but also political influence, which only helps individual firms secure market share, not sparking innovation more broadly. A few billion more dollars won’t save Intel from its technical woes, but a healthier ecosystem leveraging open source technology and community would put the US in a better position for the future. Open source technology allows for vendor-neutrality. Whether you’re a country or a company, if you use open source, you’re not locked in to another company’s technical stack, roadmap, or licensing agreements. After Linux was first created in 1991, it was widely adopted by large companies like Dell and IBM as a vendor neutral alternative to Microsoft’s Windows operating system. In the future, chip designers won’t be locked into Intel or ARM with RISC-V. With OpenRAN, 5G network builders won’t be forced to buy from Huawei, Nokia, or Ericsson. […] By doubling down on open source, America not only can address some of our most pressing technological challenges faster and more securely, but also revive relationships with our allies and deepen productive collaborations with the tech sector. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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