Lisha Sterling

Free Software, Decolonized Technology

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Humans are misnamed as Homo sapiens. We're not particularly more sapient than other animals. Instead, perhaps we should be called Homo technicaeartis as we are the apes who create technology. Our clothes are a technology. Cooking is technology. Practically everything that we think of as human in connected to our various technologies. Without technology we could not live at all.

That said, we are as often oppressed and imprisoned by our technologies as we are liberated by them. Clothes protect us from cold and from the burning sun, but many cultures create strict and oppressive rules around clothing and fashion. Food technology in the last two hundred years has made it easy to get plenty of calories cheaply almost anywhere in the world, but that same technology has led to obesity and other nutrition related health problems that were not imagined in the 19th century. Facebook and Twitter have enabled people to communicate with more people in more places in less time than at any point in history, and yet they are also causing levels of damage to our societies and individuals that we are only just beginning to grasp.

I am interested in the ways in which we can use technology to liberate ourselves, improve our personal and communal situations, and create a more just world overall. I believe that the only way for technology to be liberatory, however, is for it to be known. An occult gnostic technocratic elite cannot control the computational power to change our lives, our cultures, and our planet. Instead, all people need to be granted access to the sources of knowledge which enable the modern technological landscape, and -- as much as is possible -- all people must be granted access to the resources to create the tools which can be used for life, social contact, economic development, and [political][1] engagement.

[Free][2] software and open hardware can be tools for liberating ourselves from oppressive patterns in society. They can free us from being the product sold by DNA testing companies or social media giants. They can allow us to build our own telecommunications infrastructure. With these tools we can create our own electric vehicles, our own "smart" tractors and harvesters, our own insulin production facilities.

My work is mostly about learning new things and then teaching those things to others. I build a few things, too, though it's often in the interest of learning how to build the thing. When I am able to, I travel to places where people are in specific need of help building or deploying particular open source technology solutions to meet their needs.

[1]: I use the term "political engagement" here to mean engagement in the process of governance over one's own life. This may be in the context of state politics, or it may be in other contexts such as the governance of a cooperative housing arrangement or a business or a non-state body such as a nation. [2]: Free as in Freedom

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