Open thread: Using Big Tech tools

Howdy everyone! It’s been a while since I did one of these. The last one about good recommenders ended up being a great discussion, so please chime in.

I got an excellent email from Normcore reader Hector (thank you!), who writes:

How should I feel when using (free) tools from companies I don't trust and wouldn't want to work for? I read the article that has been going around recently about PyTorch being more popular in academia while Tensor Flow is more popular in industry. Until I graduate someday, I'm in academia, and I wondered if I should therefore give PyTorch a try. But like you, I really don't like or trust Facebook anymore, and try to limit any interactions I have with their services. I had some dissonance with the idea that I would go to such great lengths to remove Facebook from my life, but use a machine learning tool they developed.

Theoretically (hopefully), Facebook isn't learning anything about me by pip installing PyTorch, and I'm unlikely to contribute any bug-fixes. But  I'm still supporting them in a way, especially if I post questions or answers to StackOverflow, or inch them a step further in popularity. A more extreme example would be if I were using some tool put out by Palantir. At the same time, I feel very lackluster about Google (and am still locked into Gmail, Android phone etc), and use Tensor Flow.  Do you think any of this matters, or should I just take the free tools and run?

Discuss away! Really curious to know what everyone thinks.

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