When Keith Curtis dropped out of the University of Michigan at age 20 to work full-time as a programmer at Microsoft, he never imagined that he would one day leave the nest and become a voice of the growing-like-wildfire free software movement.
His experiences at Microsoft allowed him to see first-hand the flaw in the proprietary software development model. Teams of programmers were assigned to work on projects with only each other to look to when solving problems or dreaming up new features. Microsoft’s source code is proprietary and, obviously, closely guarded. This means less idea sharing and hindered progress—a way of doing things contrary to the spirit that other types of scientists have historically practiced.
Keith argues that the rate of acceleration of key technologies has been so slow that we are actually living in the technological dark ages compared to what we will accomplish when the scientists that make the machines around us smarter are openly working together.
“We need to pool our collective intelligence and get to work on fixing our most serious threats—and in today’s society that begins with having great software. Wikipedia is a fantastic example of our ability to exponentially gather the sum of human knowledge and make it available—and editable—for and by all. It’s a priceless free upgrade from the Encyclopedia Britannica.”
There are numerous implications — like the very real ability to develop healthcare technologies faster. The issue, he explains, is that progress is frozen by fact that the scientists that make our devices work—including life saving medical devices are generally not allowed to share their scientific advances with each other.
“We should have been working together all along, but it is absolutely necessary now. Not all software should be free, but it is necessary that we come together on the hardest challenges.” Keith resides in Royal Oak, Michigan, communicating his sometimes controversial but important message by writing and consulting. After The Software Wars has over 100,000 downloads and he has written articles for or been featured in publications including the New York Times, PC World, Linux Magazine, American Thinker, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
New York Times
Discussion with Ray Kurzweil
Paul Thurrott’s Winsupersite (Part 2, Part 3)