Text by Dawoud Kringle
In 2016, the World Economic Forum released a Facebook video with predictions it had for the world in 2030. One of these is that by 2030, technology may, in all likelihood, have advanced to the point that owning physical devices may become obsolete.
There are advantages to owning less things. There are fewer commitments and responsibilities, and have the freedom to sever ties whenever you want. But the downside is that when you buy a device that requires proprietary software to run, you don’t own it. The money you pay does not offer actual ownership; it is a lease where you agree to a life defined by terms you had no part in deciding. When hardware is merely a vessel for software and not a useful thing on its own, you don’t really get to decide anything. The company or corporation that built it will decide when to stop pushing vital updates and what you do with the product after it’s dead or obsolete. Anyone who owns an older computer will recognize this. The power has shifted so that companies set the parameters, and consumers are forced to choose the lesser of several evils.
Much of this can be traced back to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA https://www.copyright.gov/policy/1201/) makes it illegal to circumvent digital locks that protect a company’s proprietary software. Manufacturers have exploited this loophole brilliantly. It allowed software developers to essentially lock up the whole world behind software with the intent to turn the entire planet into a permanent renting class. The oligarchy / elite who actually own everything will, inevitably, make you pay money to access the things you use and own.