Freedom is NOT free


I have been breathing the air of freedom for more than a decade. Don’t take me wrong. I’m not an ex-con, but rather fresh off the boat.

Like every American’s parents or even their great ^{N} grand parents, I immigrated to the greatest country in the world for one thing — Freedom.

Throughout American history, immigrants arrive from different corners of the world. But they all share a very similar story about why they come. Mayflower Protestant Separatists sailed to this new continent for Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way. The Irish came to this land of plenty for Freedom from want during Great Famine. Eastern European Jews escaped to this safe harbor for Freedom from fear of Russian Tsar’s anti-semtic policy.

I was not born in the time of war. Unlike my parents, I have never suffered hunger for one single day. If I were a domestic farm animal who is easily satisfied as long as my getting fed, I would have lived in my sty happily ever after.

But I am NOT. Thus, we have this intellectual conversation.


My mom planted a seed to my rebellious mind at an early age that "think for yourself and question authority". Her intention is simple: keep my mind focus on the boring class and look for any mistake my teacher made in teaching. Looking back 40 years from now, this was one of the best advice my mom has ever given to me.

Not only I excelled at school, but I also developed a habit of critical thinking. Imagine you live inside a bubble in your entire life. You are brainwashed that the earth is flat. Everyone around you reinforces the flat earth theory. The sheeple bought it because everyone said so. But a critical thinker would question himself why we built so many radio towers even though it is a universal truth that the earth is flat.

Ideology differences usually blur the line between fiction and reality. If I had not accessed 3 Encyclopedia Britannica CD-ROM in one summer, I would not know that there is another universe outside of the bubble I grew up from. Since then, I realized the importance of the free flow of information in a place where the big brothers decide for you what you need to know.

Great Fire Wall

Great Fire Wall in my college years was still in its infancy. The naive information blockade techniques like DNS poisoning and explicitly blocking the IP addresses of the banned sites can easily workaround with help from proxy servers in the free world. However, deep packet inspection upgraded the Great Fire Wall to a monster level — an IP packet containing any sensitive words in clear text can be potentially vaporized into thin air.

The emergence of VPN in the mid-2000s was a major technical setback for the Great Fire Wall momentarily. The thugs had to resort to ban VPN server IP addresses, illegalize VPN usage and even buy VPN providers outright. According to the computer weekly, almost 30% of top VPN in the world are secretly owned by six companies operated in the evil regime.

Well, "If you can’t beat them, join them."

Machine Learning

The stakes have never been higher in the war against censorship.

The thuggish state equips with unlimited hardware resources and employs any manpower at will. A patent was filed recently by academics against a homemade network tool called v2ray, which is one of the popular programs to bypass Great Fire Wall. According to the public patent application paper (to translate into English, drop the PDF file in Google translate), it employs long short-term memory neutral network to identify v2ray traffic.

I’m shocked that machine learning is being abused against humanity. I think I will verify the claim and defeat it with my brainpower.

We the free folks living beyond the wall "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

I have a dream that one day the Great Fire Wall will collapse just like the Iron Curtain did in 90s.

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