[quote] Nowadays, it (SW) is used to run MRI machines and radiation therapy machines and surgical robots and nuclear power plants and drive cars and fly airplanes, and so on. ... Today, when software fails, it means I get a lethal dose of radiation.... ( For those of you who think I’m concocting hypothetical scenarios for fear-mongering … I refer you to the incidents with Therac-25. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therac-25. The result being an international standard (IEC 62304) for medical device software. The authors of IEC 62304 identify a set of criteria to determine whether the software is sufficiently safe to be included in a medical device. Availability of the source code is not one of them.) [/quote]

You obviously have not been on a safety-critical device project. You are correct IEC 62304 (and related standards were created because of Therac-25. The rigor that goes into medical, avionics, and other safety-critical systems is a complete process, starting with Systems Engineering (SE) processes, and ends with a complete V&V (verification and validation). This is a very expensive process. FOSS might be used as tools in the process, but it *does not* end up in the final product without a complete vetting of the code.

Your other point about the government will protect us against all ills and evils is bogus. We have the right to self protection. If attacked, we can fight back. We can take prudent measures to protect ourselves, either directly (eg locks on doors) or indirectly (an alarm company).

The SW case is direct (inspecting source code, if one has the chops), or using a trusted source (like a malware detecting tool).

Your love of SW patents is a boon for lawyers and a terrible cost for society. A patent examiner is not "a practitioner skilled in the arts". They are clueless. There are many obvious SW examples that are patented. There are efforts to find prior art to invalidate SW patents. One that I read about is an IBM patent that was found invalid because of an IBM publication that put the idea into the public domain. There is a patent that determines elapsed time by subtracting one date/time from another date/time. (Really, there is. This is an obvious method that has been used since clocks were invented.)

If I write code, I have the choice of charging for it, or giving it away. If I invent something, I have the same choice. In fact, I have: https://www.instructables.com/Fuzzy-Stump-Socket-Prosthetic/

As far as I can tell, it is unique. But I would rather give it away instead of spending $5K+ to patent it.

Your entire post reeks of bitterness. Is the FSF perfect? No. We live in an imperfect world filled with imperfect people, you and I included.

Consulting Embedded Systems Engineer with 40 years of experience with Mission-Critical Projects.

Consulting Embedded Systems Engineer with 40 years of experience with Mission-Critical Projects.