Keynote: Software got us into this, now get us out!

A well-known quote in the industry states that ‘software is eating the world’. There are good indications that this particular statement is more than just a directive for venture capital firms looking to make future proof investments: society really seems in a punctured equilibrium. Thirty years ago this year the first public connection to the internet was made to Amsterdam. Who at the time would have envisioned phenomena like mass surveillance, Cambridge Analytica, the harsh 19th century-style “gig economy”, social media anxiety, nanny Ipad and food stamp programmes for Amazon employees? Wasn’t the Internet supposed to free us, make us smart and more empowered?

Are we there yet? How come we are suddenly the main course on the menu, and the invisible hand of the economy is slowly stirring a large cooking pot populated by billions of naive users holding hands until the very end? Didn’t FOSS win over the industry to a reasonably large extent? How come that despite the enormous power of the technologies we create we still get tied up by a few dominant platforms for our social and business interactions, leading to political manipulation, loss of rights and souvereignty? In this talk, Michiel Leenaars will look back how we got to where we are, and look at what do we need to do to get out of this lousy position. Remember: there is no free lunch, unless we are willing to act as one…