Open source and the future of cancer drug shortages


When Xerox donated a new laser printer to MIT in 1980, the company had no idea it would revolutionize the machine.

While the first decades of software development generally relied on an open-access culture, this new printer ran on inaccessible proprietary software, which then 27-year-old college programmer Richard M. To Stallman’s dismay.

A few years later, Stallman launched the GNU operating system, which was designed to be a free alternative to one of the dominant operating systems of the time: Unix. The free software movement was born with a simple premise: for the good of the world, all code should be open without restrictions or commercial interference.

Forty years later, tech companies are making billions off of proprietary software, and most of the technology around us is timeless. But while Stallman’s movement may seem like a failed experiment, the free and open source software movement is not only alive and well; it was a cornerstone of the technology industry. Read the full story.

— Rebecca Ackerman

Rebecca’s story appears in the next issue of our ethics print magazine. If you are not yet a subscriber, register to obtain a copy when published.

What we can learn from cancer drug shortages


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