7 Therp wishes for 2018

Therp wishes everybody a fantastic 2018 with rewarding new collaborations. In this blog we focus on 7 (technical) wishes -in random order- we think we share with many others. Let's hope they start to realize this year (and do our best to help realizing them where we can)!

1) Bending the trend direction closed source Odoo.

Although the Odoo SA company stresses their practice to invest massively in improving the Odoo Community version, stating that in comparison with the Enterprise version, 80% of their coding effort goes to the Community version, the mindset of more and more partners/community members is obvisously different. If you look at the Odoo Appstore you see nowadays that the majority of 11.0 and nearly half of 10.0 modules consist of paid modules. Odoo SA could do much more to nourish and keep alive the open source spark. For example showcasing the (work of the) Odoo Community Associacion (OCA) on the website, rewarding/promising the Open Source spirit and make sure it’s integrated on all levels of the eco-system.

2) An ethical and secure open phone.

Current mobile phones have dedicated chips for the cellular modem and wifi functionality. These chips only run with closed firmware files, that run alongside the regular Operating System like Android or Apple OS. In most cases the firmware has full access to the device's memory, location determiniation and microphone, so they in principle can be turned into surveillance devices already on this level. Because we can not look at the source code to look for backdoors (unofficial, hidden exploitable entrances) or bugs, nor update it ourselves, we are at the mercy of the device manufacturers to get updates, and they refuse to do so after the support period of the device runs out, which often is even less than the warranty period.

Postmarket OS has its focus on a more functional and secure Linux distribution on the phone. Librem 5 will provide a phone with security by design and open use by default. They will use end-to-end encrypted decentralized communication between Librem phone users. If above initiatives would integrate their good ideas with that of the Fairphone, who created one the first ethical, modular smartphones that’s build to last and has “fair” components, or vice versa, that would be awesome!

3) Open hardware devices, especialy the ones producing clean energy.

The success of open source software created a new movement: open hardware! Since the late 1990s, engineers have sought ways to apply open source concepts to computer and electronic hardware. The main stumbling blocks are that software is easy and cheap to duplicate, while hardware is made up of actual matter, and is generally patented rather than copyrighted. Also open hardware can be reverse engineered. So, the best flourishing projects in the current system, are the ones who also have ethical and not only return of investment goals, as priority.

Like the 3D printer Ultimaker or the physical computing platform Arduino. Also already some small open wind turbines projects exists. We would like to see many, many more open source hardware devices, especially the ones harvesting clean energy.

4) Calendar, contacts, tasks and mail integration cross several devices.

Currently two protocols exist for synchronizing your mail, tasks, appointments and contacts, between devices. ActiveSync from Microsoft and Caldav. The problem with Caldav is that not many devices and software support these protocols properly and you need exactly that to function. ActivSync is licensed and has the same restrictions as other proprietary software. Odoo supports neither Caldav nor ActiveSync. You’re only able to sync your Odoo calendar using third party platforms, with the obvious consequences for your privacy. Although we know the many usecases, we are not able to imagine the best solution yet. We wish and hope some bright minds somewhere do.

5) Alternative for Office Integration in the Cloud.

From all the wishes in this blog, this one could be very well the first one to come through. It would be so convenient if we could have 2 way integration with an Office Suite, using the cloud without using Google or Microsoft.  Just editing and contributing from anywhere, also collaborating as a group in one document, Libre Office files will synchronize with the personal copy on the desktop.

6) Keep net neutrality for ISP's.

Net neutrality, sometimes called Internet Freedom, is the idea that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) should treat all websites the same. Many ISP's however want to treat them differently. Give some a preferential treatment, charge for access or block access. Government and big business proposed laws to eliminate net neutrality rules. Not a good idea! This would effectively allow ISP's to become the gatekeepers of the Internet and making it legal for them to block websites and services.

7) Safe, human oriented and human controlled Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In deep learning and AI, rather than hand-code a new algorithm for each problem, you design architectures that can twist themselves into a wide range of algorithms based on the data you feed them. It’s hard to fathom how much human-controlled AI could benefit a society, and it’s equally hard to imagine how much it could damage a society, if AI is built, checked or used incorrectly. Prof Stephen Hawking told the BBC that artificial intelligence could spell the end for mankind. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution," he warned, "couldn't compete, and would be superseded." Like with all technologies, it’s easy for the few bad, to take control and use it to favour mostly themselves and ruin it for the rest of us.

So our wish is that, alongside existing intiatives to do it in a good way, more people get aware of the potential benifits and risks, and take action to ensure we take the right path.