Today, many companies oppose to open source, but why?
Open technology is a trend that will gain more and more strength, democratizing access and greatly expanding the possibilities for collaboration and interoperability between different platforms.
When you watch your series on Netflix, send files via Dropbox, rent a property on Airbnb or post something on Facebook or Instagram, you are using software developed with open source. The English expression open source that baptizes the model developed in the 1980s, is present in our lives even though we are not aware of it.
Virtually all smartphones run some type of open source software, either on the operating system itself or on the applications installed on them. Smart TVs, cable TV modems, routers, surveillance cameras, and various other devices are developed with open source.
There are no more computers or other devices that only connect with a limited number of platforms, services, and applications. All networks are currently web-based. Virtually all operating systems communicate with each other. It is estimated that about 90% of commercial applications use open source.
This means that the software code is available for download by anyone. This development model follows a philosophy focused on collaboration. Whoever uses it has free access and can change the code at will allowing a huge degree of customization. You start from a previously built base and have the freedom to modify it, adding or removing the functionalities you want.
Many of the cutting-edge technologies are developed using this model, including cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and quantum computing. And this is a trend that will continuously gain strength. Open source democratizes technology and exponentially expands collaboration, integration, and interoperability between different platforms.
Open source technology will have a major impact on the next stages of evolution. 5G, for example, expands the possibilities of services on mobile devices because it allows more complex operations, which require greater speed, as well as increased capacity and spectrum range of the networks, reducing the limitations they have today regarding the number of devices connected at the same time and the volume of data transmission.
The threat to privacy will remain
Like all disruptive changes, open technology has had stubborn and unrelenting critics since its inception. Many companies still try to control technology and develop independent systems, mainly due to the concern with security and protection of information. However, the threat to data privacy is an issue that will remain for some time.
As much as people and companies dedicate themselves to creating algorithms to protect their information, it is practically impossible to guarantee that they are not accessed. Even encrypted data can be broken after some time. Perhaps the developing quantum model could be a solution by making information flow faster and erase quickly making it more difficult to capture.
But as much as companies develop software, encryption, and algorithms to ensure security, governments will always have access to information. Everything, absolutely everything we say or write, all the information that circulates on the networks can be accessed and recorded so that someone can later assess whether they are relevant or not. Drawing a parallel, it is like dollar transactions. Even when done anywhere else in the world, they will have to pass through the United States. The solution for privacy and data protection does not depend on technology, but on behavior, on everyone’s posture.
Today, even companies that were opposed to the use of open source and developed their own, closed systems already realize that they have more benefits when they connect and use integrated systems. Especially because when they need to send information to units in other countries, they cannot escape using networks based on open technologies. The truth is that, sooner or later, people realize that systems controlled by a single person or entity pose a greater risk and hinder collaboration and innovation.
Technology is made to improve and facilitate everyday life, to solve practical things, and, for that, the more universal and open it is, the better. A unique language makes it possible to exchange information at all levels, from culinary recipes to the development of algorithms.
Some restricted communities will remain to bring together people who have a common interest. It will always be possible to get part of some universal technologies and transform them by means of codes so that they can be used for specific purposes.
In a world that works more and more with open software and cloud services, the question is no longer whether to choose to use open or closed technologies, but rather how open it should be. By investing in open source projects, we are not only helping to democratize and universalize access, but also encouraging collaboration to create together future technologies that will bring benefits for everyone.