Linux creator: "Not everyone needs to learn code"

Linus Torvalds also takes aim at the broken US patents system

Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds, the man behind the open source Linux operating system, doesn't believe learning code should be made compulsory.

"I actually don't believe that everybody should necessarily try to learn to code," Torvalds told Business Insider during a Q&A.

"I think it's reasonably specialised, and nobody really expects most people to have to do it. It's not like knowing how to read and write and do basic math."

However, despite the Linux founder's view that code shouldn't be forced on everyone, he did acknowledge that expanding access to programming is positive.

"[There] may well be lots of people who never realised that they might actually like telling computers what to do. So in that sense I think computer courses in schools are a great idea, even if I do not believe in the everybody should learn to code' thing."

It's not like knowing how to read and write and do basic math

This is contrary to the message coming out from influential people in tech such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who believe coding should be promoted as much as possible. The software pioneers have teamed up with celebrities ranging from NBA player Chris Bosh to music singer/songwriter Will.i.am, to promote programming via the Code.org initiative.

Patents are broken

Torvalds is also outspoken about his view on the US patents system, claiming that it's sparked another Cold War.

Tech firms are gaming the system because the US patent system is "horribly broken" and examiners don't reject poor patents because they know companies will just amend applications and re-submit them until they are pushed through.

"Companies actually prefer vague and over-broad patents that are hard to judge, because then you can try to apply them in wildly inappropriate situations, and it's not like the threat is the patent itself it's the litigation," he continued.

"So as a result, you have all these insane licensing and cross-licensing agreements that aren't even about the worth of the patent itself, but simply about the cost of litigating it.

"It's all bullsh-t, sane people know it's bullsh-t, but making real change is difficult."

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