Excerpts from "Software, Property & Human Civilization"

From: J. R. Molloy (jr@shasta.com)
Date: Fri Dec 21 2001 - 09:43:58 MST

It seems to me that what we're seeing in the software area, and this is the
scary part for human society, is the beginning of a kind of dispossession.
People are talking about this as dispossession that only comes from piracy,
like Napster and Gnutella where the rights of artists are being violated by
people sharing their work. But there's another kind of dispossession, which is
the inability to actually buy a product. The idea is here: you couldn't buy
this piece of software, you could only licence it on a day by day, month by
month, year by year basis; As this idea spreads from software to music, films,
books, human civilization based on property fundamentally changes.
What I've been working with for the past decade or so has been this question
of self-organization. How can a system of chemicals heated by the sun
dissipate energy and become more and more complex over time? If we really
understood that, we'd be able to build it into software, we'd be able to build
it into electronics, and if we got the theory right, we would see a piece of
software that ran and wasted energy in the form of computer cycles and became
more and more complex over time, and perhaps would bust through the ten
million line code limit. In this field, which I've been calling
co-evolutionary learning, we have had limited successes in areas like games,
problem-solving, and robotics, but no open ended self-organizing reaction.
What I'm trying to do is separate academe from industry by giving academics
back all their intellectual properties, and accept a tithe, like 9 percent of
the value of all IP created on campus, including books and software and
options in companies. I call it the "commonwealth of intellectual property,"
and through it a community of diverse scholars can share in some way in the
success, drive, and luck of themselves and their colleagues. Most people are
afraid of this, but I am certain it would lead to greater wealth and academic
freedom for smaller universities like my own.

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Useless hypotheses, etc.:
 consciousness, phlogiston, philosophy, vitalism, mind, free will, qualia,
analog computing, cultural relativism, GAC, Cyc, Eliza, cryonics, individual
uniqueness, ego, human values, scientific relinquishment, malevolent AI,
non-sensory experience, SETI

We move into a better future in proportion as science displaces superstition.

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