BOSTON — At the OpenStack Summit 2017 conference today, several of the keynote presenters typed programming commands on their computers while the audience watched the code on the big screens. Thrilling stuff, for sure. But the live-streamed interview with Edward Snowden from Russia, took the excitement up a notch further.
Snowden told the audience of OpenStack programmers that the future of the Internet, and even the future of the world, is in their hands.
“We’re at a crossroads; a moral dilemma we did not ask for or see,” said Snowden. “This is the atomic moment.” He was referring to the invention of the Internet and how “bad actors” can use it to influence world events.
Snowden told the attendees that they were in positions to influence how cloud infrastructure is built.
“We can’t let people go to this mindlessly when they’re in the act of building,” he said. “You could use Amazon’s EC2 or Google’s Compute Engine, but they’re fundamentally disempowering. You give them money, and in exchange you get the service. But you’re providing them with data and giving up control. You’re sinking costs into an infrastructure that is not yours.”
He admitted that creating a private cloud using OpenStack requires a lot more technical understanding. But at least a business owns that infrastructure. “If you’re running things on Google’s stack or Amazon’s stack, how do you know when it starts spying on you?” he asked. “You don’t have any awareness of this.”
Yay for Open Source!
“The beauty of open source is that it makes bugs more shallow,” he said. “But they still get through. When something does come through, the entire community can respond, and they do. When Apple or Google or Amazon has an issue, we don’t know what they learned. We can’t evaluate if their response was good enough.”
Snowden wrapped it up by giving the OpenStack audience a rousing pep talk: “Fundamentally, we don’t work for governments, states, or corporations. We should be working for the spirit of technology itself, moving people toward a more empowered future. The point of open source is — we don’t have to compromise. We want a better world, so we’re here to build it.”
Photo below: A whole group of programmers working on their OpenStack clouds in real time at the OpenStack Summit 2017.