The technology we use daily isn’t truly free. Yet, we often associate much of the experience of using technology with freedom.

As a lone developer or member of an open source team, I’m free to develop and contribute any way I wish. I don’t need to prove my worthiness to get started.

I’m free to put my software out there for others to try. The mostly-open Internet makes this possible.

Should my new software have a market, I’m free to pursue a profit from it.

These are the core building blocks of the technology ecosystem we have today, which has its roots in the Amercian culture of Freedom.

The ethos of ‘Freedom to do anything” is pervasive, but it has its flaws.

Monopolies have taken form (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.) Profit is extracted from every corner. Our privacy invaded. Our human autonomy chipped away at. The list of flaws is long and growing daily.

In response, our “Freedom to do anything” ethos is countered with “Freedom from” rules to protect us. GDPR, HIPAA, and COPPA are all attempts to enforce “Freedom From Privacy Invasion”.

The problem is, Americans (and increasingly, the rest of the world) are terrible at implementing “Freedom from” rules. Most are largely designed to fail.

Specific do’s and don’ts that fade with time are put into law instead of mandating flexible frameworks, making them ripe for repeal or invalidation.

Profit at scale has more influence to shape the rules than scientific reasoning or the wellbeing of society.

Enforcement of rules is left underfunded and poorly executed by design.

How much should we trust technology built within this “Freedom to do anything” ethos? If you’ve been watching AI evolve, you’re probably having trust issues (rightly) with tech built under this ethos.

Building the future has always been everyone’s job. The more respect we give our freedoms going into the future by leveraging them wisely, the more likely our future will include freedoms.