Democracy & Technology Workshop Series: The Rising Ethical Storm in Open Source

The Colorado Research Center for Democracy and Technology will host "developer, speaker, writer, podcaster, and big-time open source troublemaker" Coraline Ehmke on Monday, Feb. 22, at 4 p.m. 

WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: In the 20 years since the term “open source” was coined by Christine Peterson, our community has grown astronomically, all the while learning from its successes and failures. A lot has changed for open source developers in the past two decades. But the political and technological landscape has also changed.

Open source software today is increasingly playing a critical role in mass surveillance, anti-immigrant violence, protester suppression, racist policing, and the development of weapons used to kill marginalized people all over the world, among other humans rights abuses.

In recognition of this reality, there is a growing demand from open source developers to take control of how our software is being used. We don’t want our code used to aid those who commit human rights violations or other unethical behavior. We don’t want our software used to support fascist states. We don’t want our labor and our code used to enable global corporations to unfairly generate huge profits off the workers of the world. Yet we lack the tools to enforce fair, ethical, and community-minded terms for those who benefit from our work.

The increased debate around ethical source threatens to divide the OSS community. In his book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions", philosopher Thomas Kuhn posits that there are three possible solutions to a crisis like the one we're facing: procrastination, assimilation, or revolution. Which will we choose as we prepare for the hard work of reconciling ethics and open source?

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: In 2014, Coraline Ehmke invented the that you see in almost every open source repository.

She is an internationally acclaimed speaker, writer, activist, and engineer with over 25 years of professional experience in technology. She works diligently to promote diversity, equity, and justice in open source communities and the tech industry as a whole.

Ehmke is best known as the creator of Contributor Covenant, the first and most popular code of conduct for open source communities. It's been adopted by over 40,000 projects including Linux, Golang, JRuby, Swift, F#, Rails, and the open source portfolios of organizations including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, and Intel.

In 2018, she addressed the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights on the topic of human rights abuses by technology companies.

Dial-In Information

Monday, February 22 at 4:00pm

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