The Awakening of Power: Analyzing the Open Source Development in 2015

Original author: Cade Metz
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Open source software is software available to everyone. This idea is not new. A guy named Richard Stallman began to preach such software back in the early 80s, calling it free software. Linus Torvalds began work on Linux in 1991, the hugely successful now-available operating system that now runs our daily routine - literally. The Android operating system that runs Google phones is based on Linux. When you open a phone application like Twitter or Facebook, all the tweets and statuses hide huge data centers filled with hundreds of Linux machines. Linux is the foundation of the Internet.

If there is anything we learned in 2015, then do not underestimate the power of open source.

2015 was the year when open source gained new significance thanks to Apple, Google and Ilon Mask. Now more than ever, even the most powerful technology companies and entrepreneurs freely share the source code that underpins their latest technology. They acknowledge that this will accelerate not only the progress of technology as a whole, but their own progress. This is altruism, which keeps up with their own interests. And so now the world of technology is functioning.

“It's not just a turning point, it's a turning point in history,” said Brandon Keepers, head of open source development at GitHub, an online service located in the heart of the open source software universe.

Apple opens source code

This year, Apple made the source code for the Swift programming language publicly available, a major departure from the company's previous course. Apple Corporation did not disclose the code of the previous Objective-C language, thereby guaranteeing that it will only work on Apple devices. By opening the Swift source code, Apple guarantees that this language can be used on any device, including those running Linux, Android and Microsoft Windows.

Yes, Apple does not mind that the languages ​​developed by the company work on competitors' devices. But this is exactly what the company should do. Thanks to the distribution of open source software, the modern world is now not the only platform, as it was in the 90s, during the formation of Microsoft Windows. If Apple wants to keep up with modern trends in the IT world, then the company must make sure that its tools for creating code are compatible with everything in the world. This should be because software developers create software for all existing platforms that people around the world use. If Apple tools work only for the Apple platform, developers will be less willing to use them.

Unconvincing? At the end of 2014, Microsoft came to the same conclusion when it opened the .NET source code. For years, the .NET software platform. It was used only to create software on Windows. Now, after its source code was opened, she became interested in the wider community of developers who create software also for Linux and Apple using Microsoft tools.

Artificial Intelligence and Open Source

It was also the year Google opened the source code for TensorFlow, the core software that manages artificial intelligence services, including image and speech recognition, as well as translation tools into various languages. Over the past 15 years, Google has built a built-in wide range of technologies for data centers, which helped it become the most powerful Internet company. These technologies enable all of the company's online services to instantly process requests from billions of people around the world, no matter where they are. As a rule, the “good corporation” kept these technologies to itself, forcing others to create something in the image and likeness of existing developments. With TensorFlow, Google decided to change its policy, revealing to the world the technologies that lie at the very heart of the Internet empire.

Why? Google understands how important AI is for the future, and the company knows that it can accelerate the development of AI if it shares its software. Google has many specialists who can be attributed to the brightest minds in the world. But not all. Those outside of Google can help the company improve TensorFlow - and these Google enhancements can be used to your advantage. Moreover, it helps to reveal new talents. Thus, the open source TensorFlow helps the company train the most talented employees for a subsequent career at Google.

Of course, Google does not reveal all its secrets. The company does not open the entire source code of TensorFlow and does not share mountains of data that are so important for training AI services. Nevertheless, she is doing enough to ensure that her steps are important both for others and for Google.

Ilon for everyone

Elon Musk took a step further. In mid-December, he, along with Y Combinator president Sam Altman, introduced OpenAI, a $ 1 billion nonprofit organization dedicated to the same kind of AI that Google is developing. They even "lassoed" one of Google’s leading researchers, Ilya Sutskever. And they decided to make all their developments publicly available. The idea is that by sharing with other latest AI technologies, they can ensure that no one becomes the sole leader in this area. This may seem counterintuitive. And we will not soon see the results of such a policy. But if there is one thing that we realized in 2015, then this is the following: do not underestimate the power of open source.

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