Life, Labour & Algorithms


Which age are we living in ?

Is it the hyper age of Communications and Networking ?
Is it the golded age of Information, Data ?

or we live in ages & cages of :

  • exploitation
  • algorthmic supervision & management
  • data driven algorithms that are highly biased by data and organizations that run it
  • automated oppression, and discrimination
  • identity theft and technocratic governance
  • free to choose our employer but not my decisions
  • where every student of engineering & technology asks for automation as their ultimate fantasy ?

Why we as critical individuals are not capable enough to do something against at, even at personal and individual level. ?

Even if we are ready to do so? do we have the means/modes and power to act, bootstrap and propel ourselves together towards such anti-oppressive - which is anti-hegemonic forces ?

We in Free Software and Open Hardware - Scientifically driven Technologic communities, somehow have a huge collection of tools, frameworks, practices that really have the potential to illustrate democracy, cooperation, collaborative decision making, reaching consensus for commons, self organizing common resources, etc…

But still why cannot we make a alter-real-business model that can provide a plan, action calling plan, to bootstrap and break ourselves ourselves from the chain of oppression (economic, cultural). Why we do we still go work for corporate houses, boring institutions, media houses, think tanks that actually serve the capitalistic, castist, nationalistic, fascist forces in society for 5 days, and work 2 days for satisfying ourselves by internalizing radical thoughts and self satisfying ourselves that we are actually working towards that, while in the long run, numbers and maths being rational and cold - state that the more work one puts for such oppressive forces, are going to be leading and dominating our life behaviours.

Let’s discuss that. This need not be philosophical. Being philosophical is enough. There are people who have done that well that us. We need discussion that generates righteous indignation within ourselves, help us survive the battle that long happening without oneself and work collectively towards a end, that need to be satisfying one by creating a common bridge between Labour Power and Social Good. A fundamental contradiction which most of the time we fail to ignore.

Either being a Hacktivist, Slacktivist, or Activist is not enough. Instead of tiring ourselves with reasons that stops us from being non active, we need narration, stories, reasons that movitates us that drives us for action. If we agree to that, we are going to meet our true self at several instances, and confrant us within ourself, and ask questions that actually going to depress us - but it is the path that we have already chosen to walk. Aren’t we ?

When are we going to attain our peace ? How ? Is evangelising, and taking philosophical or skill development classes alone is going to do that ? Come on, do we have the illustrative power to give what the current student needs in the AI/ML demanding system ? Neither do we have infrastructure nor the complete political depth of automation to be ourselves responsible.

Yes educating the students and academy is essential. It is vital and prime. But is that it ? what is the indication that such community has matured ?

Answer me Truthfully. Please dont state shell reasons. State what is stopping you from framing such a plan and action ?


I’ve spent several years around FSFTN and FSMK folks. I find the atmosphere is too much talk and too little action. There is too much cynicism is in the air. Whenever someone proposes something, others only react to it with discouragement. I myself might have been guilty of that. Having grown frustrated with this, I have retired to my own little bubble where I do the little things that make me happy. Sure, I still believe in free software and continue contributing most of my free time to it. But I do that with no illusion that I am forwarding some great cause. I just do it because it makes me happy.

@31gane In my interactions with you, I often see you coming back to the need for “economic incentives”. I think those are only one side of the picture. Humans are more than rational self-interest seekers. The rational Homo economicus model which both capitalist economics and Marxism is built on is flawed. To work effectively as a group, we need something more than just rational self interest. If a job in a traditional capitalist company provides that something, I’d probably take it up.


I guess everyone is living in their little bubble, engulfed in their goals and beliefs. You know i did in my own little bubble too.

Yes of course, economic side of the life is one part. But i do respect my emotional needs to. If i can able to go use a free software platform to survey a village that have met with socio-economic and environment problems like : high salt water filled with chemical effluents, labour exploitation from a local corporate company, and increased erosion of vegetaion, etc… atleast it gave me a internal satisfaction that i can able to deploy free software/hardware tools for such situations.

I really enjoyed the feeling. To work as a group, yes we need more than rational bindings, i learned we need a common cause that keeps us motivated and asks for delivering the outcome with each of our labour, time and resource. This further begs for self organization and management, where each one of us have to become not just a “coder” (coding is craft), but also contribute towards management. Suddenly everyone internally have to behave like a manager that we have been trained for. Then comes the backlash for collaboration and cooperation, and slowly again we learn that we need compassion, empathy, support, love, between peers who are willing to work cooperatively, using collaborative ecosystems, for a common cause in transparent manner.

I hope, the something you mention is not just a singular thing, it is a collection of several different factors that propel us individually and in a way support us to work together, amidst personal depressions, conventional responsibilities.

I also believe, we have lot to learn from biology and evolution. We might need to unlearn conventional and readily available organization methods.

I keep coming to “economic” angle, because, end of the day, i believe it is not possible to sustain even as a consumer of products without fiscal support. That is why we started to think, see, look, learn alternative economic models that have pretty much accepted that it is not the rational factor that binds workers, but also deliberately avoid providing popular formulas for success, as supplied by capitalism or neoliberalism. I still do not know whether marxism does that.

We can keep discussing about failures in alternative economic models, and learn why they failed so ? in subverting the dominant economic system. But to initiate, the group must start somewhere and can able to document everything they do, learn and how they made themselves flexible and rigid at places and situations necessary.

As far as i know, we are in a age, where humans are popularized and interpreted as “self interesting seekers” or “greedy” individuals, and mass media keeps suppressing our ability to work collectively for or against a common cause. Most of the time best of the collective comes from negative situations - like disasters.

Even if u can able to find that “something” in current economic system, it provides the thing one expects just to keep the hegemonic forces intact, to preseve its current structure and functionality as it is. Then are we not fueling it ? My argument is to act in favour of collective self sustenance, is to think, model, act against the current dominant system. And to act collectively every individual needs economic support, and also the “emotional” gear or “something” as you said. I situate that “something” in the alternative side of the equation.

Does contributing to free software/hardware projects have siezed the means of production from capital ? No. To best it has made available in plenty in commons, from which again the capital takes the tools, instruments commons contributed - for granted, even without any legal restrictions. Production method (collaboration, democracy), rights (licenses), community can help generate platforms, instruments, tools for commons. But only an “radical” or alternative system can use the same set of tools, contribute back all the while acting against the dominant system - by not disrupting the unions, collectives, but by aiding them, strengthening the workers unions, etc…


We pretty much agree on all the problems of capitalism, and how free software has made insufficient impact on it. It is only when it comes to the proposed solutions that we don’t see eye to eye.

Yes. the something is a multitude of small factors.


I wanted to ask, do you really think, that is there a cultural space in our locality like, TN, Karnataka, Kerala, for Do It Yourself, or Tinkering, or Home brewing hobbies, like serious hobbies ?

From a bird’s eye view (I apologize for reducing the view), it seems that we are all pretty many consumers of free software and hardware. Most of the times, we use them well, to a certain degree. I can see only a very few serious contributors. I mean we can count them ?

What makes an individual (of all genders), to hesitate them from making a tool or instrument or a software, a framework or … something that can be used and improved by others ?

  • Is that hesitation is due to individual economic hurdle ?
  • Is that hesitation is due to lack of group organization, & vision ?
  • Is it due to the individual people giving more preference to the individual self gratification ? (while that is not essentially wrong per se.)
  • Is it due to the abundance of tools that are available in commons, that raises the question of productive throughput (i.e, what if someone or some group who is better at implementing an idea before the individual or group does)
  • Is there an appreciation for individuals who do hard labour - for instance in software development space, like package management, developing compiling kernel modules, designing algorithms that are seldom in use or latent from common view?
  • Is it because something which is hard to explain by the group ? Like an impetus to see the immediate social impact of a creation (tool, service, platform, instrument…) ?
  • Is it because we are culturally alienated from common labour populace ?


Some opinions below.

There is certainly a lack of group organization and vision. When anybody suggests even a mildly constructive goal, there is a lot of discouragement wrapped up in the logic of feasibility. There are a lot of ego conflicts within the community. Everyone wants to be some kind of “leader” and won’t volunteer to join work others have started.

No, there is no appreciation because there are so few in the community who actually understand these things. If there were more, they probably stopped being part of the community because there’s nothing for them here.

Sometimes, obsession with socioeconomic impact is a hurdle. For many of the things I do and like to do, there is no obvious socioeconomic impact. I often see my free software work more as art rather than some utilitarian work. So, I have no proper platform within the community to talk about my work. People are too eager to shoot it down as having no socioeconomic impact. This tendency is very common among communists, for whom, somehow every little action must be part of some great class struggle. It’s like they can’t appreciate anything in life apart from the end of capitalism.

This reason is certainly valid, but I think it is overused. Many people in the free software community are middle class people who can actually afford to spend a bit (you can tell by the money they spend on buying expensive phones, travel, eating out, etc.). Even when they can’t, usually a group of people can pool money and get things done. Most often this economic reason is provided as an excuse to therefore not do anything — a mask to hide a lack of vision or initiative.


We have been answering several questions about why free software, open hardware, an instance of transparent technology through scientific means is essential for rebooting a open culture. This is where tools created by labor of several workers influence society as a whole from average to variation to extremes; from macro to micro.

For instance, lets take the case of Wolfram Mathematica, from a mathematician and logician who was very influence in the world of computation and mathematics, and have contributed to fractals, etc… I have witnessed several people from our community itself have been using it, for its acclaimed query and answering system which is almost academic, but also to a extent exploration for students who have not yet grasped the political economy of production, distribution and consumption of science and scientific tools through technology.

How many of us wondered what will be the answer why Wolfram Mathematica Service, Package is not yet made transparent, - a.k.a, free software or at least open source ???

Why Wolfram Technology is not Transparent ? - A dozen Reasons !!!

I would call the community to answer the answers found in the above link. Also, please take your time to read the answers in the replies. If we cannot answer them questions, it means really we are stuck somewhere. I have tried to answer myself for those answers. I am interested to know what others think… i am calling the peers i know… @CommonsSibi @prashere @arunisaac @Balvis @demonshreder @ragul @ramaseshan @maniraj @manimaraninam1027 @crakensio … and all others, also SWIFT, to answer it.

I honestly do not know whether the politics of Wolfram Mathematica is taken seriously or not. We have many instances criticizing Google search engine, and its plethora of services, and others like it - Amazon, FB, etc… But i think Mathematica is equally another service that stands very illustrative of Commodification of Scientific Knowledge accelerating the dichotomy and contradiction within the scientific community that stands of human knowledge generation and regulation.

Please discuss.


The article is a classic example of “open-source” utilitarianism that refuses to acknowledge free software values. The word “open-source” only refers to a design methodology. With free software, we talk about much more – about property rights, about universal access, etc. Free software is an ideal in the same spirit as liberty, equality and fraternity. We want liberty, equality and fraternity not just because of some utilitarian value but because it is of intrinsic value to us as human beings. For example, we don’t say freedom of speech is unnecessary because most people are not journalists and will never engage in public speech. Likewise, universal access to source code and the rights to study, modify and distribute it are of intrinsic value regardless of whether it is useful to this person or that person, regardless of whether you are a programmer, etc.

My political arguments above alone should be enough to refute the entire article, but let me go ahead with some technical arguments as well. Central to the article are the following claims.

Centralized coherent design is not possible with free software

This is false. Many projects retain a coherent design by means of community consensus (eg, Guix). Some do it by having benevolent dictators (eg, Linux). Others do it by working behind closed doors inside a company but later releasing the code (eg, Firefox, Android). Mathematica could easily copy the Firefox, Android model.

Very few people care about source code; they wouldn’t read it even if they had access

It’s true that only a small fraction of people read the code. Even I didn’t start reading the code until many many years (~4 years) after I had started using free software. But, now that I have started reading code, I read some free code or the other almost everyday. And, it has been an enormous learning experience reading other people’s code, understanding how they wrote it, what’s good, what’s bad, etc., not to mention the profound sense of empowerment that I can fix and improve any software I use. Proprietary software, on the other hand, wants to simply keep one a passive consumer forever.

And, repeating what I said earlier, arguing that releasing free code is unnecessary because very few will read it, is like saying that free speech is unnecessary because very few people are journalists and will need it.

Free software just imitates, does not innovate

This is just nonsense. Look into any proprietary software – you will find major innovations that arose in the public domain and was captured and repackaged in the proprietary world. In my own areas of interest, consider the GNU Guix system distribution. It uses a novel new “functional model of package management”. This is a major innovation and there is nothing like it in the proprietary world. Look at PGP encryption. Did it arise in the proprietary software? No, of course not. I could go on and on with the list of innovations produced in free software. The author is just ignorant on the subject, and chooses to remain so.

Steady income

This is the only point of the author that I can at least partly agree with. But, I am not totally convinced. I think systematic donation, new business models, etc. can provide steady income even with free software. However, the devil is in the details, and I don’t claim to have expert knowledge on these topics.

That’s it, I hope I have refuted major point in the article both politically and technically. If not, if there’s some particular point I have not addressed, please let me know. I will tackle that as well.





:clap: :heart:



I am hoping people in the movement read this and understand properly.