Re: Fear of Life (was Microsoft, Automation)

Daniel Fabulich (
Wed, 20 May 1998 00:58:35 -0400 (EDT)

On Tue, 19 May 1998, Michael Lorrey wrote:

> The scientific method developed in the Renaissance period in response to the
> beginnings of patent law in the city states of europe, where princes, Doge's
> etc. needed a policy which would encourage inventive individuals to commit to
> selling new technologies for weapons of war only to a single Sovereign. The
> Patent protected legally the inventor from being litterally 'screwed' in the
> sovereigns dungeons in order to keep the technology secret. Remember, this
> was a time when guns were beginning to become available, as well as cannon,
> etc., a revolution in miltary technology was underway due to the competition
> between the city states and principalities on the battle field. One of the
> best known of these inventors was Leonardo Da Vinci, who had to develop a
> secret code system in which he became so fluent that he could write by hand
> while viewing his text through a mirror in order to maintain the security of
> his workbooks.
> The scientific method followed later as a method of scientific discovery and
> experimentation merely to make a more efficient system for research than the
> existing hit and miss system of guesswork.
> I htink that it would be safe to say that we owe both the concept of
> intellectual property and the scientific method to one invention that
> preceded them: gunpowder.

This is interesting stuff. Where can I read more about this?

In answer to your question as to why anyone would invent if they did not
get paid for it, I repeat my argument that inventors WOULD get paid:
once, at the time of invention. It would be worth paying them because the
invention would create a new market (or more demand, in the case of an
incremental change to an existing product). The fact that others would
compete in this market does NOT make the invention valueless to the
supplier; it just means that the firm will only reap its percentage of the
market share, rather than the whole of the market (minus deadweight loss
from monopoization).