Presented by

  • Paul Gardner-Stephen

    Paul Gardner-Stephen

    Paul has been writing open-source software since the lat 1990s, and is best known for the Serval Mesh off-grid communications system, the 64NET system for connecting Commodore 64 computers to more boring computers, making and using a working shoe-phone, the MEGA65 retro-computer, and most recently, making a Commodore 64 compatible smartphone, the MEGAphone. His interests revolve around increasing resiliency, and mitigating the effects of disasters. He sees a strong and transparent democracy as important for ensuring social justice, especially for the vulnerable. As part of this, he is passionate about the need to create systems that exhibit Digital Sovereignty, so that systems can survive in the face of state-level adversaries and geo-political turmoil.


The world is frankly a bit of a mess right now, and doesn't look like sorting out any time soon. The post-WW-II / post-Cold War-I period of prosperity seems to have come to an end, and the unfortunately predictable result is geo-political turmoil, and the rising popularity of "strong" and "charismatic" leaders, not disimilarly to 100 years ago in Europe. But in those 100 years, technology has come a long way, such that oppression by malevolent governments has become much easier to achieve, and much harder to escape, if we rely on off-the-shelf solutions. In short, the Digital Summer may be drawing to a close, and a Digital Winter looks likely to blow in to many countries. But its not all doom and gloom: The open-source community offers hope, through its ability to create solutions that are decentralised and self-sufficient. The Digital Summer is still with us, and so we have time to create effective solutions. We need systems that exhibit "Digital Sovereignty". By this, we mean systems that cannot be subjugated, subverted or supplanted by hostile third-party actors, such as state-level actors. In short, we need systems that will let people keep on communicating when the proverbial hits the oscillatory. In this talk I will explain more of these ideas of Digital Sovereignty, the Digital Winter, and how we can work to shorten (or potentially avoid it) and how I am working to create a digitally sovereign smart-phone, as an example of a Digitally Sovereign device.