On The Inevitability Of Exponential Progress In Technology

from the it's-how-growth-works dept

Kevin Kelly has written up yet another must read discussion -- this one looking into the inevitability of Moore's Law. In it, he looks not just at Moore's Law, but how a variety of different technologies have all found similar "laws" where they get better/smaller/cheaper/faster at an exponential rate, at a pace that sticks so closely to an observed curve as to seem predetermined by fate. DNA sequencing, magnetic storage, semiconductors, bandwidth, pixel density all seem to follow this same thing, and Kelly notes that each case is separate. While some may influence others, it's not a case where one is dependent on another.

He notes that this certainly doesn't apply to all technologies -- but it does seem to be limited to technologies that scale down at microscopic sizes, rather than technologies that scale up (i.e., improvements to airplane or automobile technology aren't seeing any such rate of change). His argument is that this is due to energy requirements. Scaling up requires more energy, which greatly limits growth. But scaling down does not.

But where this gets most interesting is that, the more Kelly explores the issue, the more convinced he is (and he makes a compelling case) that this sort of technological progress is pretty much inevitable. It can be slowed down by bad policy, but it can't be stopped. And, what's most compelling to me is that this sort of progress isn't dependent on anything like patents. It's happening no matter what. The advancement of technology happens for a variety of reasons, little of which has to do with "protecting" the ideas. In fact, within that "protection" there's little benefit.

Everyone recognizes these curves and where they're headed, and how following along the path of that curve creates so many off-shoot benefits (what some might call externalities), that the idea of hoarding a concept or an idea is actually counterproductive. The benefits to staying on the curve in some way or another are so great that people implicitly recognize that helping others (even competitors) keep everyone on the curve isn't a bad thing -- but in many cases a very good thing. That's because everyone is better off, and the opportunities increase across the board as you stay on such a curve. And, in fact, this is where all that research on noncompetes comes in. While it's rarely official company policy (they all still talk up patents and trade secrets and such), it's quite common when there are issues in getting to that next level, engineers start sharing ideas or more importantly jump ship from company to company, so the ideas get spread that way. Advancement continues, and the world is better off -- not because of patents, but because of a more free flow of information.

Kelly doesn't get into that aspect of the discussion -- focusing just on the inevitability of the growth rate -- but it's a key point. Notice that none of what he's discussing really involves some major breakthrough discovery or some brilliant invention. There are lots of breakthroughs and lots of brilliant people involved, of course, but they're all progressing in the direction where they need to go. One may get there first, but that's hardly the breakthrough. Lots of others are all progressing along those same lines. The progress isn't driven by patents, but by the technology itself and the massive opportunity its advancement creates. In many ways this relates back to our discussion of how, throughout history, nearly every major scientific "breakthrough" has occurred to multiple independent people at almost the exact same time. It's the natural progress of applying ideas to problems, and following where the technology allows you to go.

As such, there's an argument to be made that patents get in the way of this sort of progress. Since much of the progress is, in fact, a progression, rather than a "breakthrough," and it's done by a variety of different people (or teams of people), everyone is actually better off not in limiting that progress by holding back an idea or requiring a tollbooth to be a part of the process, but in lowering the barriers to it, and letting that true pace of advancement quicken.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2009 @ 7:52pm

    "there's an argument to be made that patents get in the way of this sort of progress."

    There is also an argument to be made that patents help to make progress economically viable.

    There is also an argument to be made that patents encourage inventors and researchers to look in other directions for solutions to avoid other existing patents, thus creating even bigger advances.


    There is also an argument that properly licensed patents allow for progress at a cost much lower than seperate and repeat development of the same things.

    There is also an argument that the only people harmed by patents are those who aren't very original, and are just attempting to crawl onto the shoulders of others ideas.

    It all depends on how you read it.

     

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    I agree, Jul 24th, 2009 @ 8:22pm

    indeed I do...

    We all just want to come along for the trip..some just don't know what the trip is. Oh, and that they are the only ones that can fly "that" plane.

    One could also "argue" that money is NOT an incentive to "progress" but actually, that's just true.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2009 @ 8:39pm

    Perhaps there is an incentive to suppress progress. For example, imagine the money pharmaceuticals would lose if we found a cure to Aids or the money energy companies would lose if we people became energy independent.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2009 @ 9:41pm

    Re:

    Usually outweighed by the money to be made selling the aids cure to each person on the planet, or being the one that builds the new energy system that makes us all "energy independant" (only possibly if you live in the woods and don't ever have a fire).

    The money lost is never anywhere near as much as the money to be made as first, thus the true value of patents.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2009 @ 9:48pm

    Obviously my experience is unique, but I have had the good fortune of being able to direct my efforts to what most would term "breakthrough" technologies. While patent protection was sought and obtained, the motivation was not to use such patents as swords against any "Tom, Dick or Harry" who happened to create a product or method within the scope of patent claims. Rather they were used to preserve the client's business position against its major competitor for the sale and support of company designed and manufactured goods intended for the export market...the U.S. Government. Yes, you read that right...the U.S. Government. There is nothing quite like visiting a military procurement office and discovering a raft of military officer having business cards in which they identify themselves as business development personnel whose sole responsibility is to sell goods and services in competition with the private sector.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2009 @ 11:38pm

    Re: Re:

    "Usually outweighed"

    What do you mean usually outweighed? When has it been outweighed? Do you have evidence of this?

    "by the money to be made selling the aids cure to each person on the planet"

    I don't really buy this. It's much more profitable to keep someone on patented drugs for the rest of their lives than it is to cure them. The economic incentive is to suppress such things. The fact that you can assert otherwise does not refute this obvious truth.

    Secondly even if there were a cure to Aids they probably won't sell it to each person on the planet. We have treatments for malaria yet not each person on the planet has access.

     

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    ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 12:10am

    Hmmmm....

    ...What strikes me is the observation (of my own, admittedly) that Moore's Law seems to have stalled.

    Is it my imagination that processor speed and the (actually more relevant) Mips have reached something of a plateau?

    Seriously, I fear that the current, modern technology has reached it's limit. Processor and Integrated Circuit "neurons" if you will, have reached their size limit in regards to "smallness", and we find ourselves in a position of *really* needing a technological paradigm shift if we are to overcome the battle of Heat vs. Speed.

    Honestly, I fear that we need to be exploring the realm of optical switching (I know, it's out there, but I mean, really exploring, like Apollo Moon Mission '69 style) and, I don't know...Holographic Memory? Ultimately, converging these two into Optical Holographic Central Processing Units (OHCPU's)? Whatever.

    Bottom line? I think we're at the end of the current rainbow. You got your pot of gold. It's time for a new rainbow.

    Moore's Law? Shmoore's Law.

    CBMHB

     

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    Tino (profile), Jul 25th, 2009 @ 4:59am

    Try an experiment?

    Why not eliminate patents in one small area of technology for a few years just to see if Moore's law is impacted?

     

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    Tino (profile), Jul 25th, 2009 @ 4:59am

    Try an experiment?

    Why not eliminate patents in one small area of technology for a few years just to see if Moore's law is impacted?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 5:17am

    Moore's law is an economic law

    Moore's law is economic not technological.

    The key ingredients are an expandable market and a technology with no real big sticking points.
    Each generation of devices funds the next - so if it had a larger market than the previous one more funds are available for the next - which in turn funds a bigger development program - hence exponential growth.

    Moore's law will stop either when the technology hits market saturation (hence no increase in development money) or if there is a real technical block (I predict heat)

    Contrary to the comment in the post, "big" technologies can also obey Moore's law.

    Aviation had a Moore's law until about 1960. Aircraft speeds doubled every 10 years. Then they hit a heat barrier.

     

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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    Re:

    There is also an argument that you are a paid for mouth piece.

     

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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not to get off on a tangent, but one could argue that problems are created on purpose, and then you are charged to fix it.

     

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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    Re: Moore's law is an economic law

    It is an economic law limited by the physical world ?

     

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    Richard, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    Re: Try an experiment?

    Well the experiment has been tried in a slightly different way in aviation. 100 years ago the Wrights were allowed to patent the aileron in the US but not in Europe.

    Result: the Wrights and Curtiss in the US spent all their efforts fighting each other in court and the US lost its early lead in aviation.
    To quote Wikipedia:
    "The Wrights' preoccupation with the legal issue hindered their development of new aircraft designs, and by 1911 Wright aircraft were considered inferior to those made by other firms in Europe. Indeed, aviation development in the US was suppressed to such an extent that when the U.S. entered World War I no acceptable American-designed aircraft were available, and the U.S. forces were compelled to use French machines. Orville and Katharine Wright believed Curtiss was partly responsible for Wilbur's premature death, which occurred in the wake of his exhausting travels and the stress of the legal battle."

     

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    Richard, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Moore's law is an economic law

    "It is an economic law limited by the physical world ?"

    Yes that is what I was trying to say in my previous - unintentionally anonymous - post

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 7:00am

    The original article was...

    Blogged like a true economist.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And neither are the treatments patented. So, what does that mean?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 9:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    *sigh*

    It is one of the most annoying part of dealing with conspiracy theorists is that it is hard to get them to think that not everything is a conspiracy.

    First, medicine patents don't last very long (in relative terms). So putting some one a medication "for life" isn't very useful, because generics will eat your business in less than 10 years. So there is little or no motivation for this.

    If anything, conspiracy theorists might suggest that generic drug makers have a huge interest in making sure that new cures don't make it to market, because their generics business would suffer. It would by easy to say that if the patent time for medication was dropped in half, that fewer new drugs would come to market because there wouldn't be enough time to recoup the costs of development for the patent holder.

    "Secondly even if there were a cure to Aids they probably won't sell it to each person on the planet. We have treatments for malaria yet not each person on the planet has access."

    There is little that can be done to help people in countries where the politicians and the circumstances work to put citizens in a position of not being able to afford the basics of life, let alone medications.

    However, if you were a good person, you would pay double for your dose so a poor person in (insert country) could have one. Would you do it? Do you think most people would? Why do you think the drug companies should be the ones paying the freight for this sort of thing?

    Drug companies are in business to save lives / make them better and to make money. Money is a great motivator that helps to lube the wheels of research. Without a functional patent systemt to make things economically viable, it wouldn't work out.

    Put it another way: How many bright new medications coming out of India? Few. How many generic medicines made even though the meds are patent else where in the world? Too many. End result? Cheaper meds for indians today, profits for indian companies, but no money spent to develop new medications. It's a dead end process.

     

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    bigpicture, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    Re: Depends how you read it?

    NO!!! It depends if you read it like a lawyer or like a scientist. A lot of scientists already know what lawyers don't.

    In the area of discoveries in quantum physics, it is pointing to the simple fact that "there are no individual ego new ideas" because all ideas and possibilities were already there from the very start, and that no thing can be separated from any other thing, because everything is interdependent and connected by thought, and separation is just a lawyer ego illusion.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    What's new here-- Kursweil already covered this

    What's new here? Ray Kurzweil has been documenting the exponential rate of tech change for a couple decades and surmising its inevitability.

     

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  21.  
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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 12:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "dealing with conspiracy theorists"

    - Why plural? Does this include everyone that disagrees with you?

    "First, medicine patents don't last very long (in relative terms)."

    - Medicine patents last just as long as other patents, or so I thought, when did this change? And relative to what?

    "generics will eat your business in less than 10 years. So there is little or no motivation for this."

    - This is why pharma will change the formula just enough to obtain a new patent for the new and improved version and begin the arm twisting of prescribing doctors and the endless ads telling patients to ask your doctor about the new and improved magic pill. And remember folks, this is just a conspiracy and does not really happen.

    "If anything, conspiracy theorists might suggest that generic drug makers have a huge interest in making sure that new cures don't make it to market, because their generics business would suffer."

    - Oh please, it would be the "big pharma" industry that would suggest this of the generic drug industry. So you are calling big pharma conspiracy theorists?

    "Drug companies are in business to save lives / make them better and to make money"

    - That is not the image that a large percentage of their customers see. Maybe if you stated that in reverse, something like ... make money and if it saves lives then that is good for business.

    "Without a functional patent systemt to make things economically viable, it wouldn't work out."

    - Says you. Got any facts? Maybe an independent study not paid for by the folks under study?

    - ... and India is proof, of what?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    India is proof that without protection, there is widespread availability of locally produced generic drugs, but very little actual development of new medicines.

    This is the sort of "progress" Mike seems to support.

    ""dealing with conspiracy theorists"

    - Why plural? Does this include everyone that disagrees with you?"

    No, but you aren't the only one posting on here that fits the category, so plural. Nice way to try to take something to an absolute. Did you learn that in high school debate class last month?

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "India is proof that without protection, there is widespread availability of locally produced generic drugs, but very little actual development of new medicines."

    Prove that the lack of patents are responsible for the lack of development of new medicines.

     

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  24.  
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    RD, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 12:36pm

    Wow...are YOU a tool!

    Wow...you must be getting some good bank to spew such pro-patent garbage.

    "There is also an argument to be made that patents encourage inventors and researchers to look in other directions for solutions to avoid other existing patents, thus creating even bigger advances."

    bwahahahahaha that funny! No, seriously, you dont really believe this tripe, do you? Those preventions dont lead to BETTER advances, they only delay, cost lots of money, and create a hodge-podge of clumsy work-arounds. Ask ANYONE who has had to get around a patent. Look at Vonage, or Rim.

    "There is also an argument that properly licensed patents allow for progress at a cost much lower than seperate and repeat development of the same things."

    What world are YOU living in??? Must be an ideal one, because its NOT this one. There is no such thing in this one.

    A) no one "properly licenses" patents, they are in it for the MAXIMUM they can get away with. This helps no one, its not a BENEFIT, its a TAX, and extra cost. How is paying money vs not paying money BETTER for the inventor? Sorry, I must be new at this math stuff.

    B) Since the alternative is no patents, then people would be free to use (or re-use) existing ones, and build/mod/change/improve on them.

    "There is also an argument that the only people harmed by patents are those who aren't very original, and are just attempting to crawl onto the shoulders of others ideas."

    Lets be clear: NOTHING IS WHOLLLY ORIGINAL. NOTHING in this world. EVERYTHING is, in some way, built on something else. There wouldnt BE progress or innovation if this was the case, as everyone would have to start every creation FROM STEP ONE, every time.

    These are poor arguments for propping up an outdated and unnecessary system.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "It is one of the most annoying part of dealing with conspiracy theorists is that it is hard to get them to think that not everything is a conspiracy."

    History is plagued with conspiracies, why should I believe things are any different now? Why should I believe the current system is somehow less corrupt than all the systems that existed in the past? Because you assert so? Why should I believe that the government and pharmaceutical corporations are anything but self interested? Simply because you assert so?

    "However, if you were a good person, you would pay double for your dose so a poor person in (insert country) could have one."

    Would you pay double? I think not. In fact I think it would be unethical to fund these evil pharmaceutical corporations anymore than the government requires.

    "Why do you think the drug companies should be the ones paying the freight for this sort of thing?"

    The government already funds much of the R&D (that is, taxpayers) and the drug companies receive monopolies as if they did. They spend more on marketing and advertising than they do on R&D. Why should taxpayers be funding the profit margins of drug companies?

    "Drug companies are in business to save lives"

    Oh yes, we all know they are all completely altruistic and they never ever do anything wrong. They are so benevolent that when Bayer knowingly sold aids tainted blood and the FDA allowed it they were only thinking of the lives they would save. That's why no one in the U.S. got punished for it.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Wow...are YOU a tool!

    RD, when you start a post by calling people names, they usually don't read the rest of your post.

     

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    Azuravian, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Re: What's new here-- Kursweil already covered this

    I'm glad someone else noticed that this is the same thing Kurzweil's been talking about for a long time. Whether you agree with his singularity theory or not, it is obvious that his trending of tech and it's exponential growth is, at the very least, well researched and valid.

     

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Jul 25th, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Re:

    "crawl onto the shoulders of others ideas"

    Show me the inventor (with patents or not) that isn't crawling on the shoulders of others, thousands of years, and hundreds of generations deep!

    Show me the inventor who invented something, but did so without ever going to school, without ever studying the great inventors of the 20th, 19th, 18th, etc. centuries, without using some knowledge borne of others as a starting point.

    What fool deludes himself to think his accomplishments are purely his own doing? I'll show you an arrogant ingrate. Yet the patent system rigidly requires just that sort of delusion.

     

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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "India is proof that without protection, there is widespread availability of locally produced generic drugs, but very little actual development of new medicines."

    - I find little proof there at all. Please elaborate, and keep in mind the old saying "correlation does not imply causation".

    "No, but you aren't the only one posting on here that fits the category, so plural."

    - ok, so it's only directed at those posting here with whom you disagree.

    "Nice way to try to take something to an absolute. Did you learn that in high school debate class last month?"

    - That's rather juvenile.

     

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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You must be one of those other conspiracy theorists posting here (s)he was referring to.

     

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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    Re: Re: Try an experiment?

    This is a very interesting story, thanks - I'll have read up on this as I thought the Wrights used wing warping and I was unaware of the aileron patent dispute.

     

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    RD, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    Sure, but

    "RD, when you start a post by calling people names, they usually don't read the rest of your post."

    And just because you get called names because you ARE a tool doesnt mean you are all right, and the other guys point is all wrong.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Sure, but

    As I said, when you start with name calling, the rest of your post gets ignored. Plus I know with you, if I say the sky is blue, you will be here screaming "green! green!" over and over again, so I am not missing much by skipping your post.

    Please continue.

     

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    nraddin, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    don't cherry pick from the data.

    "there's an argument to be made that patents get in the way of this sort of progress."

    That's not a sound argument, in fact the data you are talking about shows that patents do not seem to hinder the progress of the technology at all.While there are plent of examples of how patents can cause issues on individual basis, the data in the long term shows that it makes very little difference.

    Beyond that, there is a good reason to believe that patents helps with economic growth and often the wealth of the inventor which is generally a basic want of people.

     

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    Tesla, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 4:01pm

    AC vs DC

    N. Telsa is a guy who started from scratch and beat Edison hands down. You're a fool for not understanding that there is ALWAYS someone who begins a process. Check your ego, you’re no Einstein.

     

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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 4:14pm

    Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    What makes that argument unsound?
    What data shows patents to not be a hindrance?
    If patents make very little difference then why are they taking up so much of our valuable court time/costs?
    I doubt that the actual inventor sees any of that wealth you speak of.

     

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  37.  
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    RD, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 4:31pm

    Galdly

    "As I said, when you start with name calling, the rest of your post gets ignored. Plus I know with you, if I say the sky is blue, you will be here screaming "green! green!" over and over again, so I am not missing much by skipping your post.

    Please continue."

    Certainly, its no trouble at all to point out your logical fallacies.

    Your assertion is, of course, incorrect and absurd. The sky being blue is not a matter of opinion, or interpretation. It's blue, thats what it is. I would only scream "Green!" if it was, in fact, green and you stated it was blue. That is what you are doing with this entire, ridiculous argument. Only in this case, its more a difference of opinion than of fact, so we can disagree anyway. It's not a zero-sum game man, it's not an automatic "everything you say is WRONG!" mentality at work here, except maybe on your side.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    Re: AC vs DC

    "Tesla then studied electrical engineering at the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz (1875)"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

    He did not start from scratch, he studied electrical engineering. In other words he learned from others who already knew it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Galdly

     

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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 4:43pm

    Re: AC vs DC

    Started from scratch ?
    You are the fool for not understanding what was being said.
    Was there a claim to being Einstein?

     

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    Andrew D. Todd, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:02pm

    Moore's Law Does Not Apply To All Kinds of Materials.

    As for applying Moore's Law to miniaturization, there is room for about another thousand-fold improvement, over ten years. That gets you down to the scale of life molecules, which were built from the bottom up, rather than the top down. For example, a carbon atom only has four bonds, but if you take six carbon atoms, you can make a benzene ring, which has twelve exterior bonds, and practically all complex life molecules are built out of benzene rings. At this level, your constraint is the atomic diameter. If you want to go smaller than that, you have to go to high energy, to devices which operate at millions of degrees centigrade. Over the long scale of time, say hundreds of years, what is happening is an instantaneous shift of information technology from "finger-scale" to "life-molecule-scale." By the 1950's Watson and Crick had provided an adequate description of DNA. The only problem was that the mechanism was not available for our purposes.

    At present, the leading edge of process technology is about twenty nanometers, or about sixty to eighty metal atom diameters. We are getting close to the endgame.

    Obviously, the rate of re-investment in things like chip fabs is socially constructed, determined by economic decisions. And likewise, investment tends to be routed to different components according to a perception of whether they are running ahead of, or behind, the main body of components, so the progress of all the components tend to stay grouped together in a narrow band. That is simply a matter of efficient industrial organization. There have been other "Moore's Law" episodes, for example, the automobile industry, circa 1915, and certain war industries during the Second World War. That does not mean that "the curve" can over-ride physical laws.

    This has only limited relevance to software. Experience seems to show that people commonly produce software well in advance of hardware feasibility. Likewise, experience shows that, far from being the first inventors, software patent applicants tend to be plagiarists, copying matter from the public press into patent applications, and playing on the under-trained and overworked patent examiner's credulity. An honest software developer tends to be much more interested in the market in the here and now, this year, rather than in a distant and doubtful software patent. Software does not wear out, so the replacement market is always a bit problematic.

    Moore's Law does allow one to build inexpensive sets of sensors and controls for robots. This may have important implications. To take one well-known example, if a drilling rig's drillbit is fitted with an automatic guidance system, it no longer needs a rigid drillpipe to keep it pointing in the right direction. A hose will do, and a hose can be fed from a reel. The result is that a smart drilling rig can operate with comparatively little human intervention.

    Now, batteries are something entirely different. The technology most closely related to batteries is that of high explosives, which presents many of the same kinds of problems. From the point of view of blasting power, nitroglycerin is a very fine explosive. The problem is that nitroglycerin is dangerously unstable, and is likely to go off prematurely. If anything, the tendency of the civilian explosives industry has been to regress towards crude explosives, such as ANFO, which can be prepared on a construction site, and do not have to be hauled over the public roads. The basic problem is that if you try to increase the energy density of a battery or an explosive beyond a certain point, you have a situation where a random pinpoint reaction can produce a local temperature hot enough to reduce the fabric of the battery or explosive to its elemental components, releasing the energy stored in them, and this reaction can propagate.

    By this analogy, battery performance might be expected to reach a plateau fairly quickly. There are a limited number of elements which are energetic enough to make good battery materials. The good candidates tend to be the elements from the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table (Lithium, Sodium, Potassium), or the upper right-hand corner (Florine, Chlorine, Sulfur, Phosphorus), or, of course, Hydrogen, which is both. We are not talking about the kind of wealth of undiscovered possibilities which one finds in the organic compounds, or the metallic crystals. When chemists decided that there was a market for better batteries, that the traditional flashlight battery was not good enough, they moved to the top corners of the periodic table, trying compounds in the immediate chemical neighborhood of Lithium-Ion.

    One partial exception to the limited prospects for batteries might be the fuel cell, a kind of battery which does not store energy internally. However, there has not been very rapid progress in fuel cell development.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Moore's Law Does Not Apply To All Kinds of Materials.

    Quantum computers can do computations in seconds that would take a conventional computer thousands of years to do. What we need to do is combine a quantum computer with a conventional computer to have a hybrid where the conventional computer does most of the administrative processing but the quantum computer does the intensive processing that it can do.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:12pm

    Re: Re: Moore's Law Does Not Apply To All Kinds of Materials.

    It's simply not practical to have a conventional computer do the types of computations that a quantum computer can do more efficiently because a quantum computer can do it so many many magnitudes of order faster that progressing our conventional computers to that speed is impractical.

    Also look up DNA computers

    http://computer.howstuffworks.com/dna-computer.htm

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:21pm

    Re: Moore's Law Does Not Apply To All Kinds of Materials.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Moore's Law Does Not Apply To All Kinds of Materials.

    Lets also not forget about optical computers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photonic_computing#Optical_computers

    Also quantum computers could have huge ramifications for cryptography.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "What data shows patents to not be a hindrance?"

    Sort of like trying to prove a negative, isn't it?

    Sort of like saying "Officer, this is the location where the accident didn't happen". It's one of the problems of a blog like Techdirt, it is very easy to show the cases of harm, but it is hard to show the cases where no harm is done because they aren't reported. "Today, nothing happened" isn't exactly headline news.

    With millions of patents and only a few example issues, it would seem that the patent system very rarely gets in the way of progress. In fact, the hundreds of patents for something as simple as mousetraps shows that people continue to think outside of the box, perhaps helped by the patent process.

    That there is not a lack of new products in stores, not a lack of development on computers, communication, software, and thousands of other market segments shows that patents aren't outrightly blocking anything, except perhaps mass duplication.

    "I doubt that the actual inventor sees any of that wealth you speak of."

    Most inventors sell their patents for peanuts compared to their potential worth, most often because they don't have the time or desire to actually move them to market. Many patents are issued to companies, as the inventors are doing "work for hire".

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Galdly

    RD, what can I say? You wouldn't agree with me on anything in 100 years, so why do you sit and call me names and blame me for everything? News for you, Mike isn't always right, in fact he is wrong often enough that it isn't a surprise to anyone. Heck, this week alone he has been called out numerous times by different people on various issues.

    I greatly object to Mike making sweeping generalizations and then writing his conclusions based on them. My point at the start of the thread is that there are any number of ways to look at things, and based on the number of patents issued each year versus the number of lawsuits and issues, the system seems to work very well. In any system, you can pick nits and find problems, but such a closeup view doesn't always give a clear picture.

    If you use the few problem cases and the draw a big generalization based on them, yes, you can say the patent system doesn't work. But it would be similar to looking at at a couple of plane crashes and declaring that the air transport system is a failure and it should be done away with. To say that is to ignore the thousands of flights and tens of thousands of people who travel by air each day safely. Scale and perspective are really key for many things.

    So I hope in the future, rather than just coming here as an angry attacker, you take the time to think about where people stand before you just run in calling names and claiming posters you don't agree with are "tools".

     

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  48.  
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    CleverName, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    AC -> "Sort of like trying to prove a negative, isn't it?"

    I suppose so, but my comment was in response to the prior post, the relevant portion shown below.

    nraddin -> "in fact the data you are talking about shows that patents do not seem to hinder the progress of the technology at all"

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 8:56pm

    "where they get better/smaller/cheaper"

    I'm still waiting for "cheaper" on the consumer end. Sure, the technology gets cheaper to create, but I spend the same or more every time I buy a new computer. It never catches up.

     

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  50.  
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    TwoHats (profile), Jul 25th, 2009 @ 9:02pm

    Re:

    Everything you say can be reversed - typical patent lawyer type arguing...

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    You were the one that made the statement that patents aren't a hindrance when you said,

    "That's not a sound argument, in fact the data you are talking about shows that patents do not seem to hinder the progress of the technology at all."

    So when asked to substantiate your statement you said that it's hard to substantiate your own statement. Then why make the statement to begin with if it's one you can't substantiate?

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:13pm

    Re: Re: Galdly

    The difference is that with the patent system there is little evidence suggesting that it works. Patents do reduce aggregate output and there is little reason to suggest they help advance technology. The only thing they seem to do is to restrict our freedoms to advance technology because the pool of possible advancements are all patented with such broad patents, by people who do nothing to advance technology, that it covers many possible advancements. In fact, despite the fact that there are many many examples of retarded patents that hinder technology why don't you provide specific examples where patents have helped advance technology and substantiate that without patents such technology would not advance. You want to make the statement that patents, a form of government regulation that substantially restricts our freedoms, advances technology, please substantiate.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:19pm

    Re: Re: Galdly

    "To say that is to ignore the thousands of flights and tens of thousands of people who travel by air each day safely."

    So where are these thousands of examples of the patent system being responsible for technological advancement and please substantiate that without patents these advances would not occur.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "it is very easy to show the cases of harm, but it is hard to show the cases where no harm is done because they aren't reported."

    I suppose if I walk outside a patent didn't hinder me from walking outside but this does not demonstrate that the net effect of patents is that they cause more harm than good.

    "In fact, the hundreds of patents for something as simple as mousetraps shows that people continue to think outside of the box, perhaps helped by the patent process."

    I found this interesting.

    "Did you know that the Patent Office has issued over 4400 mousetrap patents, however, only about twenty of those patents have made any money?"

    http://inventors.about.com/od/mstartinventions/a/mousetrap.htm

    In other words all that time, effort, and money went into creating 4400 patents and most of that went to waste, resources that could have otherwise been used to create better innovations instead of being wasted on the patent system.

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "With millions of patents and only a few example issues, it would seem that the patent system very rarely gets in the way of progress."

    Many of those patents are owned by either non practicing entities or entities that cross license them and own them in case they get sued so they can counter sue and cross license in a settlement. What a waste of resources that could have gone to advancing technology.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    and the fact that there exists millions of patents does not mean that the patent system is not getting in the way of progress. Companies go through substantial effort to avoid independently infringing on a patent they were unaware of. If anything the millions of patents is evidence of all the money wasted applying for patents and trying to defend them and suing people and counter suing and time wasted in court and resources invested in creating the patents, etc.. What an economic waste that went into creating millions of patents instead of those resources being used to advance technology instead. What a waste of resources on the patent office as well.

    I also found this interesting.


    "after a few semesters in the prestigious Ph.D. program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she abandoned the solitude of the lab for a journey that took her to law school and an unexpected career as a patent lawyer.
    ...
    She put her science and math skills to work behind the scenes, building a database of more than 1,000 acts of alleged infringement.
    "

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-05-20-patentlawyers_N.htm

    What a complete waste of resources. Instead of putting her science and math to innovate she puts it to prosecute others who innovate.

    "Even in her first year on the job, Weathers got to work on a copyright-infringement case involving an insurance company that netted a nearly $19 million verdict."

    Again, more wasted resources. A company advancing technology and proving goods that the free market wants has to hand over money to an insurance company, money that could have gone into innovation instead. Not to mention all the time and resources wasted in court, resources that could have gone to innovation instead.

    "Demand for these specialists is being driven by an explosion in patent applications in recent years and a growing need for lawyers to protect old patents or challenge new ones. The U.S. Patent Office estimates 450,000 patent applications will be filed this year, up from about 350,000 five years ago."

    Again more wasted resources on filing for patents, resources that could go into advancing technology. And the fact that millions of patents get filed yet very few of them succeed (as with the case of the mouse trap for example) is just more examples of wasted resources that could have gone into advancing technology.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    This person was in a PH.D program at MIT and could have used her skill to advance technology but instead her skill is now wasted on our useless patent system. What a waste of innovative potential.

    "It's one of the hottest niches in law: the lawyer-scientist who understands technology and can explain it to a jury."

    (same link).

    The lawyer scientist who could have been using her skills to actually advance technology through research and development but is instead wasting it in court. and this is a hot niche? Something that's taking away very smart people who could otherwise be advancing technology and turning them into lawyers who are wasting precious time and resources in court (resources that could be used to advance technology). What a terrible waste.

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "For at least some students who might otherwise gravitate toward a science career, the promise of much bigger paydays is a powerful lure. Others say the opportunities in academia are not as certain as they once were.

    "It's an exciting area of legal practice right now," said University of Pennsylvania law professor R. Polk Wagner. "Every year I see more and more people coming into law school with technical backgrounds."

    "It almost scares me," said Wagner, whose proteges include Weathers. "Who's left in the lab?""

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-05-20-patentlawyers_N.htm

    Exactly, we're wasting all of our resources on litigation instead of actually advancing technology. It's too costly to advance technology because there are too many lawyers who would sue you so instead all the competent people just become lawyers and there is no one left to advance technology (and the people who are left are too afraid to do anything because they're substantially outnumbered by lawyers who would sue them as soon as they make an advancement in technology). What a terrible waste.

    "Stanford University law student Dan Knauss left the lab at least in part to spread his wings. Knauss, who earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Wisconsin, thought academia would force him onto too narrow a path."

    What a waste. He got a Ph.D. in microbiology and instead of using that skill to advance our understanding of biology or to advance technology he wastes it in court.

    "Last year, 140 students piled into his Introduction to Intellectual Property course, making it the largest class at the school."

    Yeah, millions of patents and only a few example issues? If there are so few example issues why are we wasting so much valuable resources on patent lawyers? Because many issues do exist (and we have pointed many of them out on techdirt but we can't reasonably be expected to even touch the surface of all the problems with all the patents that exist because there are too many and we only have so much time).

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "With millions of patents and only a few example issues"

    When we have a patent system that subjects so many entities to patent infringement often enough to require society to invest substantial resources into patent lawyers to litigate all of this then something is wrong with our system. Many example issues do exist. We shouldn't have a system that "tortalizes" (ie: the tort version of criminalizes, I made up the word for lack of a better word) such a substantial fraction of the businesses population and people and entities that exist.

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Cowher, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 11:43pm

    Patents are an artefact of the capitalist system. They will disappear in time as we move to an enlightened society of collectivist artists and programmers who create mashups and scripts according to their ability, that the masses consume according to their need.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 12:45am

    Re:

    Sounds an awful lot like the hippie ideals of the 60s. Move to a commune, everyone shares and does stuff and we all live well.

    Unless someone is paying the freight, the artists and the programmers don't have the time to work on Utopia, they have to work shifts at Mickey D's to pay the bills.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 12:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Actually, that shows only that the US system overall has moved to a more "sue everyone" mentality rather than attempting to find resolution. There is no indication that patent or copyrights are being any more or any less "tortalizes" than any other part of the legal system. Please to remember the judge who sued the dry cleaners for $50,000 for losing his pants.

     

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  63.  
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    Mike, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 3:01am

    Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    With millions of patents and only a few example issues, it would seem that the patent system very rarely gets in the way of progress.

    Actually, there's a rather large trough of data showing that patents do tend to hinder innovation and decrease its pace. Studies have looked at single countries and what happens as they've changed their patent laws (rate of innovation slows post strengthening patent laws -- or putting them in place) or similar countries at the same time with different levels of patent protection (again, greater pace of innovation in weaker/non-existent patent regimes).

    To claim there is no such evidence, or that the only evidence is a few bogus patents is faulty.

    That there is not a lack of new products in stores, not a lack of development on computers, communication, software, and thousands of other market segments shows that patents aren't outrightly blocking anything, except perhaps mass duplication.

    That there are new products is not in question. What is in question is the pace of that innovation. And, on that, there is a ton of evidence.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "there's a rather large trough of data showing that patents do tend to hinder innovation and decrease its pace."

    This data is very one sided, because there are few economies on earth that don't have or don't respect patents and copyrights. So the "hindrance" is measured when patents are in place, but what about the "hindrance" of a lack of patents?

    The answers can be found in a country like China, where there is furious development, but very little of the development is actually to produce something new, most of it is to produce something existing in another country, but to produce it cheaper or faster. When they do develop something really new, they usually patent it and move the ownership offshore. The lack of protections within their own market massively discourages innovation.

    So in summary, while studies do find hinderance in theory, the reality is that the alternative (no patent protection) would be a much bigger hinderance to development.

    How do I mean? Considering medications. The patent protection time is the period in which the original creator makes their money back and pays for all the develop of a drug (and what is often hundreds of dead end ideas that didn't work out). If you remove that time frame and allow generic drugs immediately, You remove the financial motivation for innovation, and you remove the ability to pay for the research required for innovation.

    Thus, it is easy to see massive hinderance in the absence of Patent protection, and that hinderance is clearly huge.

     

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  65.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 5:39am

    Responses to Successive Posts by Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:09-6:35pm

    The wavelength of visible light is about 400-700 nanometers. There are limits to how small you can make the waveguides and suchlike. Visible light has already become inadequate for chip etching, and has been superseded by ultraviolet. The next step will be x-rays. The shorter the wavelength of radiation, the higher the frequency, and the higher the energy. If you go to gamma rays, you have a photon which has enough energy to burn its way through the side of a waveguide. As for DNA, it is made out of atoms, and it is subject to the same limitations as anything else made out of atoms. DNA is probably about as small as anything atom-based can be and still perform complex logic operations. And the gap between the scale of DNA and the scale of microelectronics is rapidly closing.

    There is a literature of critique of quantum computing. One critique says that a quantum computer is nothing more than a glorified analog computer. One would have to reserve judgment.

    http://www.scottaaronson.com/papers/mlinsiam.pdf

    http://www.emergentchaos.com/archives/2008/0 3/quantum_progress.html

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 5:54am

    Re: Responses to Successive Posts by Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:09-6:35pm

    "One critique says that a quantum computer is nothing more than a glorified analog computer."

    This can be said to be true about the human brain or just about anything that "computes." A computer can be said to be just a glorified calculator.

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:06am

    Re: Responses to Successive Posts by Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:09-6:35pm

    So you're saying that just about anything has limiting factors. DUH!!! The point is that there is a lot of potential for advancement from where we are today.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "The answers can be found in a country like China, where there is furious development, but very little of the development is actually to produce something new, most of it is to produce something existing in another country, but to produce it cheaper or faster."

    That sounds like advancement to me. The U.S. started out by ignoring patents from other countries and improving what other countries started making. Much of the technology we have today originated from other countries, not the U.S. and U.S. scientists didn't have as strict intellectual property laws as other countries and they advanced on it just the same.

    "This data is very one sided, because there are few economies on earth that don't have or don't respect patents and copyrights."

    Just because it agrees with you doesn't make it bias.

    "So the "hindrance" is measured when patents are in place, but what about the "hindrance" of a lack of patents?"

    No, the measured hindrance is a comparison of a system with patents vs one without.

     

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  69.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    SP/Just because it agrees with you doesn't make it bias./Just because it disagrees with you doesn't make it bias.

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "So the "hindrance" is measured when patents are in place, but what about the "hindrance" of a lack of patents?"

    Apparently you don't know how studies are conducted. In a study you have a control group and an experimental group. Studies do comparisons, to ignore that only demonstrates ignorance.

     

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  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "Considering medications"

    You mean the fact that pharmaceutical corporations spend more on marketing and advertising than they do on R&D and that taxpayers fund much of the R&D already (ie: through government grants)?

     

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  72.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "where there is furious development, but very little of the development is actually to produce something new, most of it is to produce something existing in another country, but to produce it cheaper or faster."

    I suppose if you define something new as something that was developed as a result of patents this can be said to be true about just about anything. If you define advancement narrowly enough you can argue that just about any system causes advancement. A better definition of advancement is the production of something that the free market wants, especially something that replaces something that already exists in the free market. In that respect China is advancing more than the U.S. even. So much of what we buy in the U.S. are made in China.

    China is advancing by finding ways to produce things more efficiently. Those are useful advancements. And to say that china isn't coming up with anything new isn't true either. For example, "According to the meeting, China has poured about 1.5 billion yuan (about $197 million) into the research and development of nanoscience and nanotechnology over the past 15 years, achieving encouraging advances in this regard."

    http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=2055.php

    and not to mention China's advancements in things like robotics. China is putting all sorts of R&D dollars into advancements despite the lack of intellectual property.

    Now you may argue, "robots aren't new, they've been around for a long time. So has nanotechnology." Well any advancement can be said to be a result of previous advancements with or without patents. So then the only thing you are arguing is that they are making advancements based on previous advancements so they are producing nothing new. Again, this can be said to be true about any advancements with or without patents.

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "You mean the fact that pharmaceutical corporations spend more on marketing and advertising than they do on R&D and that taxpayers fund much of the R&D already (ie: through government grants)?"

    No, sorry, please state your source on this information.

    The Pharma companies spend billions on research, and they don't get anywhere near the government money to cover it.

    As for marketing and advertising, would you care to give relevant numbers for, say, apple? How much R&D, how much advertising?

    Oh wait, that sort of would blow your point out the window, no?

     

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  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    You prove my point for me.

    China's R&D is significant only in areas where duplication is not easy, and where they can gain patents over a potentially large and new playing field.

    "China is advancing by finding ways to produce things more efficiently."

    If you spent any time in China, you would realize that the cheap production is mostly by avoiding things like quality control, worker safety, and such. The working conditions of the average Chinese person is so bad, that it would be intolerable almost anywhere else in the world. By eliminting things like ventilation in painting areas, in continuing to use high levels of lead in paint, in handling caustic chemicals without proper safety equipment, etc, they have found huge savings where nobody else will go.

    "So then the only thing you are arguing is that they are making advancements based on previous advancements so they are producing nothing new."

    Not at all. The difference is between taking an object and painting it a different color and calling it new, and coming up with a new way to build it, new materials, new internal workings, whatever. Advancements are made not when you duplicate someone else (generic medication) but when you move ahead (new series of medications). It isn't too difficult to understand the difference, no?

     

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  75.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Big Pharma Spends More On Advertising Than Research And Development, Study Finds

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080105140107.htm

    Also see
    http://www.actupny.org/reports/drugcosts.html

    As far as government grants see

    "CARLSBAD, Calif., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Isis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ISIS) announced today that its majority-owned subsidiary, Ibis Biosciences, Inc. (Ibis), has been awarded two new Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and a new government contract totaling up to approximately $2.8 million.
    ...


    "The ongoing government support we received enables us to broaden the utility of the T5000 System in new applications such as blood supply screening, where there is a need to expand the breadth of screening technologies to identify all important organisms," said Michael Treble, President of Ibis and Vice President of Isis. "

    (I'm emphasizing the words "the ongoing government support).

    http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news-1/Isis-Announces-Approximately--242-8-Million -in-Government-Grants-and-Contracts-Awarded-to-its-Ibis-Subsidiary-to-Advance-Ibis-Pathogen-Identifi cation--11602-1/

    See

    http://www.news-medical.net/news/20090721/Parabon-NanoLabs-awarded-resear ch-grant-to-develop-novel-cancer-therapeutics.aspx

    http://www.outsourcing-pharma.com/Contract-Man ufacturing/Research-grant-boosts-Canada-s-Keata-Pharma

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/BioLineRx+Aw arded+Israeli+Government+Grant+of+$21+Million+for+the...-a0125634144

     

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  76.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Also see

    "The government agency NCI gave BMS a contract which provided the private firm with exclusive rights to use the data from government funded human use clinical trials, and also gave the firm an exclusive "first right of refusal" to harvest the bark of the Pacific Yew tree from federal lands. In return for these privileges and benefits, BMS only agreed to provide the government with a few kilos of Taxol for use in research that BMS would "own," and to use BMS's "best efforts" to commercialize Taxol, a drug with world wide sales of hundreds of millions of dollars per year. BMS was not obligated to pay the government any money in royalties for the exclusive use of its research data, but it did agree to a vaguely written "fair pricing" clause in the contract.

    When Taxol entered the U.S. market it was priced at a wholesale price of $4.87 per milligram, or more than $9,000 for a completed treatment for some types of cancer. "

    http://www.cptech.org/pharm/bariloche.html

    see

    "Drugs are expensive, say the pharmaceutical companies, because of the years of research and failed trials that go into making a successful drug. However, they neglect to mention that up to 50% of the research and development cost in the world is incurred by the public sector. Tremendous amounts of drug research is funded by university funding and government grants.

    But when putting a figure to the R&D costs, pharmaceutical companies include these public sector costs as if they were their own. This inflates the stated expenditure associated with R&D per drug for a company and provides an artificial justification for extremely high prices. To burst another drug company bubble, I should include that these companies spend more on marketing and administration than on R&D. It basically goes without saying that the pharmaceutical industry has been one of the most profitable industries in the nation for several years straight. "

    http://www-tech.mit.edu/V123/N41/shef_colum.41c.html

    and see

    ""That is, the drugs that were developed with government funding were 3 times as expensive as the drugs developed without government funding. In 1991, the most recent year of the study, drugs developed with federal funding were over 11 times more expensive than drugs developed without federal funding."
    ...
    "For many drugs, the government has paid for most or all of the pre-clinical research, and it frequently funds the development of the drug all the way through FDA Phase II and Phase III trials. In these cases, which are many, the drug should not be priced as though the firm had borne all the risks and made all the investments."
    ...
    The Orphan Drug Act has vastly increased the monopoly pricing power for many drugs, and it has created special challenges for drugs developed with public funds. The first firm to obtain FDA approval to market a drug that can qualify as an orphan is automatically granted marketing exclusivity, regardless of the company's role in the drug's development. "

    http://www.mercola.com/2001/aug/15/drug_war.htm

     

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  77.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    All nice links - how much does Pharma spend on research overall?

     

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  78.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    So find me someone who advanced technology without any previous knowledge whatsoever?

     

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  79.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    This is pretty easy to reply to in two ways:

    1) cptech.org is massively out of date (1994 data), which is sort of meaningless at this point, and

    2) It's an advocacy site against pharma. Sort of like using the NRA to justify guns.

    So keep going. Can you try some mainstream media that doesn't have a massively anti-pharma agenda?

     

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  80.  
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    CleverName, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re:

    Is it possible the post to which you responded was sarcasm? as is your response, most likely.

    What does "paying the freight" mean? Does it mean that everything is patent controlled and fat cats collect money relaxing in their barcaloungers? How does this prevent artists and programmers from having to work at McDs?

     

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  81.  
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    MeMyself (profile), Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: Wow...are YOU a tool!

    But in this case he is exactly right and is definately the reason I read his whole post.

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "Can you try some mainstream media that doesn't have a massively anti-pharma agenda?"

    Even if they are anti - pharma it doesn't negate the claims made and the fact that the government funds a substantial portion of R&D and pharmaceutical corporations spend more on marketing and advertising than they do on R&D.

     

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  83.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Apparently not as much as they spend on marketing and advertising and a substantial portion of R&D is funded for by the government.

     

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  84.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "Can you try some mainstream media that doesn't have a massively anti-pharma agenda?"

    You mean can I find some source that agrees with you to disagree with you because if a source disagrees with you then, instead of actually refuting the claims, you will simply discredit it by labeling it anti pharma?

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "China's R&D is significant only in areas where duplication is not easy, and where they can gain patents over a potentially large and new playing field."

    No, China's R&D is significant where they see potential for advancement.

     

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  86.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "cptech.org is massively out of date (1994 data), which is sort of meaningless at this point, and"

    It was just one example and patents did exist in 1994 so it's still relevant. It shows that the system has funded much of R&D through government grants for a long time in the past and this is still true today.

     

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  87.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    and history does repeat itself, to ignore historical fact is short sighted. History is relevant.

     

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  88.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Nothing personal, but post flooding a discussion is a way to kill it, suggests you don't really have the material or an idea how to express it.

     

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  89.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "What does "paying the freight" mean? Does it mean that everything is patent controlled and fat cats collect money relaxing in their barcaloungers?"

    Obviously, the patents weren't created by someone on a barcalounger. Pointing at said "Fat cats" and damning the entire system is to forget what happened between nothing and income, between idea and reality, etc.

    "How does this prevent artists and programmers from having to work at McDs?"

    In a Utopian collective society (which you seem to suggested by the post before mine) everyone would have to work hard at producing these great marvels with absolutely no chance to profit from their work. In the real world, when you do stuff for free, you end up having to do something else for money or you die (or you stay in mom's basement until you are 50). When companies are developing things, when record labels are funding new records, and so on, people are actually working and getting paid to create things.

    I will let Mike (the economics guru here) explain to you things like economic motivations and the flow of money through the system as it cycles between wages, purchases, wages, rents, wages, food, etc.

    Simply put, if a programmer can make 50k a year as a programmer, he or she has no need to be a 10k a year McD's worker. Same with a musician, if they can make 50k a year selling records and playing shows (and selling t-shirts and miniputt games) then why would they work at McD's? They only do it if they can't get paid to do what they do.

     

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  90.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    You spend the same amount each time you buy a computer but the processing power per dollar goes up each time. You get a better value every time.

     

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  91.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re:

    Yup, and that with all those evil patents out there in the way blocking advancement. You would think with so many patents that we would all still be used 8086s with the "you will never need more than" 640k of ram and cassette drives.

    It's amazing how much gets done considering how overwhelming the patent system is and how it absolutely stops advancements.

     

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  92.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I already provided the material you simply choose to ignore it. And anyone that wants to argue that taxpayers are unwilling to fund the R&D (when much of it is already funded by taxpayers) is wrong. Here are examples of how much R&D taxpayers already pay for.


    "Allergy, Immunology and Transplantation Research NIH 4,531 $2,406,013,821"

    " Heart and Vascular Diseases Research NIH 4,187 $2,129,236,406"

    "Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry Research NIH 4,525 $1,617,313,849"

    http://taggs.hhs.gov/AnnualReport/FY2008/discretionary/by_major_activity.cfm

    Taxpayers already fund substantial taxdollars into the advancement of technology, research that pharmaceutical corporations can often benefit from (along with grants that pharmaceutical corporations often get to conduct research). For them to be granted exclusive patents on the benefit they gain from publicly funded research is nonsense.

     

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  93.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re:

    Darn hippies! Move off my lawn! You whippersnappers! And cut your hair!

     

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  94.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually patents have substantially been absent in the tech field throughout its advancement. In fact if you look at why PC's advanced it's because IBM made them open platform to allow anyone to develop whereas Apples were all proprietary and hence no one developed on them. We've had entire discussions on techdirt about how patents are not necessary and are often absent in the advancement of computer technology, perhaps you've not been around here long enough?

     

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  95.  
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    CleverName, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "In a Utopian collective society (which you seem to suggested by the post before mine) "

    - I suggest you review the sequence of posting above, I made no such reference.

    The rest of your post is most eloquent, but fails to address how the patent hoarding practices prevalent today actually "pay the freight".

     

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  96.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    (from same link)

    Grant Type Awards Dollars
    Research 43,624 $20,016,959,903

     

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  97.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I am curious why, if this is in fact a comment by Mr. Masnick, it is not contained within a blue box?

     

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  98.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Maybe it's by another mike? Mike is a common name. Then again, the writing style does seem very similar to that of Mike Masnick's and he does seem to be using the same arguments he often uses (which are good arguments btw).

    Also, to save posts, to add to my Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:30am post I want to link to a post that I remember reading by someone else.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20090426/1855224648.shtml

    Read the May 1st, 2009 @ 10:31am post.

     

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  99.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I agree that the comment does read like a typical one by Mr. Masnick. Hence my question...

     

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  100.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 9:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "that shows only that the US system overall has moved to a more "sue everyone" mentality"

    Part of the reason for this is that we have retarded (patent) laws that encourage this nonsense.

     

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  101.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 9:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    retarded patent laws make judges sue dry cleaners for $50,000 for losing his pants? How do you explain that?

     

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  102.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I never said any such thing, you are building a strawman.

     

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  103.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 10:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Not at all - I am just showing you that the entire US system is litigious, and not specifically the patent area. You are attempting to attribute only to patent law what is common in almost every other area of contract law, social activities, business, and every other part of American life right now.

    There are huge lawsuits all over for all sorts of things. Patent's don't have the market cornered.

     

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  104.  
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    CleverName, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Oh, I see - well that makes it ok then.

     

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  105.  
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    CleverName, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    We can't have facts get in the way of irrational arguments.

     

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  106.  
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    Richard, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Try an experiment?

    The Wright's did indeed use wing warping but they wrote their patent very broadly to include ailerons.

     

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  107.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "Not at all"

    Yes entirely.

    "I am just showing you that the entire US system is litigious"

    and I agree to which I responded

    "Part of the reason for this is that we have retarded (patent) laws that encourage this nonsense."

    Which is true. I put the word patent in parenthesis to make the general statement that we have retarded laws in general (not just patent laws) that encourage this nonsense and I put the word patent in parenthesis to point out that this includes retarded patent laws just as well.

    "You are attempting to attribute only to patent law what is common in almost every other area of contract law, social activities, business, and every other part of American life right now."

    I have made no such attributions ONLY to patent law. You are continuing with your strawman.

     

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  108.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 26th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I am curious why, if this is in fact a comment by Mr. Masnick, it is not contained within a blue box?

    I was accidentally logged out when I commented. But, yes, it is my comment.

     

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  109.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 26th, 2009 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    This data is very one sided, because there are few economies on earth that don't have or don't respect patents and copyrights. So the "hindrance" is measured when patents are in place, but what about the "hindrance" of a lack of patents?

    Um, the data is "accurate." We're talking peer-reviewed studies done by about 2 dozen different researchers, including Nobel Prize winners. This isn't some weird extreme fringe group we're talking about.

    And, yes, the reports have studied areas without patents and they do not find a "hindrance." So I'm not sure what you're talking about. And, it's not that there are "only a few economies." As I said, many of the studies compared societies with weaker patent laws against those with stronger, and many countries have had very limited patent coverage on certain products for years. There is plenty of data, and it is not limited at all.

    The answers can be found in a country like China, where there is furious development, but very little of the development is actually to produce something new, most of it is to produce something existing in another country, but to produce it cheaper or faster.

    Producing cheaper and faster is a form of innovation, first of all. But, more importantly, you seem to be missing the true point. Even if most of the development is copying, that's not to say there isn't a ton of real innovation going on (there is). And, as someone else pointed out, if you look at the history of the US (and other countries, including the Netherlands) you'll find that they first industrialized by copying others, and then realized that copying is only the first step, and so they started innovating. It's the competition that drove the innovation, not the patents.

    So in summary, while studies do find hinderance in theory, the reality is that the alternative (no patent protection) would be a much bigger hinderance to development.

    That's not what the data shows. I'm not sure why you claim otherwise. The data is not "theory." It's looking at many different real world situations. Your information is based on an incorrect understanding of what's happening in China today. Do you have any data to support your position.

    How do I mean? Considering medications. The patent protection time is the period in which the original creator makes their money back and pays for all the develop of a drug (and what is often hundreds of dead end ideas that didn't work out). If you remove that time frame and allow generic drugs immediately, You remove the financial motivation for innovation, and you remove the ability to pay for the research required for innovation.

    Except there's little evidence that this is true. In societies that did not allow for patents on pharmaceuticals, there were often thriving pharma industries. Whoops!

    Thus, it is easy to see massive hinderance in the absence of Patent protection, and that hinderance is clearly huge.

    You can make up anything you want. Reality continues to say you are incorrect.

     

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  110.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Mike, gee, please. You are cherry picking again!

    "Except there's little evidence that this is true. In societies that did not allow for patents on pharmaceuticals, there were often thriving pharma industries. Whoops!"

    India has a thriving Pharma industry, but it is almost entirely one of replication of medicines that are under patent elsewhere, and research for outside parties - and very little to do with their own developments for their own markets.

    A thriving replication industry isn't a sign of an industry that is developing, just duplicating. Their financial motivation is that they can copy patent medicines without paying, which means they are cheaper. Without the innovations made elsewhere (and patents ignored) they wouldn't have an industry.

    The lack of pharma developments inside India for the indian market is a clear indication that the lack of patent protection is a hinderance to development.

    "That's not what the data shows. I'm not sure why you claim otherwise. The data is not "theory." It's looking at many different real world situations. Your information is based on an incorrect understanding of what's happening in China today. Do you have any data to support your position."

    Again, if you spent any time in China, you might understand. Duplication isn't innovation. Without the outside sources for development, they wouldn't have an industry at the same level.

    You are mixing things together, which just doesn't make any sense.

     

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  111.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    and let me not forget about the money they spend on lobbying.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/indusclient.php?lname=H04&year=2009

    Money that could otherwise go into R&D.

    They spent close to 250 million on lobbying in 2008 and so far, in 2009, they spent $82,449,317 (though the year is not over yet so that number will continue to increase).

     

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  112.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 26th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Heh. You might want to try reading. Yes, a lot of it is duplication. But that's fine and I already explained why. Great strategy: if you can't actually respond just keep repeating the point that's been already explained as irrelevant.

     

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  113.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Mike, it's your best dismissal "you don't know anything". Can't you just admit that your own position is based on a certain group of studies, but without any information about the inverse?

    Oh yeah, when was the last time you were in China? Mine was two weeks ago. But wait, you know more than I do, from half way around the world.

     

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  114.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "Yes, a lot of it is duplication."

    There is a lot of duplication in the U.S. just as well. If an existing product serves the market just fine then there is nothing wrong with that. If it ain't broken don't fix it. If innovation is needed people will naturally innovate based on the need (provided there isn't a government tax on innovation, which the government is partly providing with all these patents).

     

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  115.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    But we are talking the about the barriers that patents put on the market. In the case of an acceptable product, duplication is blocked only because of the patent. If you assume that duplication of ideas is somehow progress, then yes, patents block progress, though there is no progress in mere duplication.

    So there is no block of innovation, just a block of repetition. If anything, it should encourage innovation by itself.

     

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  116.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    So the distribution of water is constantly being duplicated so lets just put a block on that so people can innovate and create something new to duplicate. What's the point of innovation if you aren't allowed to duplicate it. So lets just innovate for the purpose of not allowing the innovation to ever be utilized because it is illegal to duplicate an innovation.

     

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  117.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Duplication of a product that is the most optimal product that we know will advance innovation by encouraging people to create a better product to compete with the existing products. If you block the product that currently best serves the market from being duplicated then people can consider the development of an inferior product an "innovation" just because it's new. No, the purpose is to allow the market to find the existing best products on their own and to encourage companies to create products that better serve the market than the existing product, not to put barriers on the existing optimal products so that people can create inferior products to serve the market. That's not innovation.

     

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  118.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "So there is no block of innovation, just a block of repetition. If anything, it should encourage innovation by itself."

    Also many innovations are simply an improvement of existing/previous ideas and innovations and involve a lot of repetition. You block that repetition you prevent people from building upon existing ideas. By your logic we should just have schools stop teaching algebra and calculus because it's all repetition and we should encourage people to innovate instead.

     

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  119.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "But we are talking the about the barriers that patents put on the market. "

    Barriers to aggregate output and barriers to innovation.

    "In the case of an acceptable product, duplication is blocked only because of the patent."

    Exactly and that is nonsense. It lowers aggregate output and it lowers the standard for future "innovation" in terms of how well it needs to serve the market. The product is already acceptable so if someone wants to innovate they need to produce a BETTER product, not to lobby the government to block the production of the existing product so they can "innovate" by creating an inferior product.

     

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  120.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 2:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    By your own admission, there isn't that much of a block, because the innovation continues. To act like there is a solid wall that stops everything isn't real.

     

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  121.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    No one is acting like there is a solid wall that stops everything, you are putting words in my mouth. Just that patents often make it more difficult to innovate.

     

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  122.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    and lets stop building new and better airplanes too because it's all just repetition of previously known laws of physics. Lets stop building better cars because that's also a repetition of previously known laws of physics. We should ban that repetition to force people to innovate. Lets ban any current knowledge of the existing laws of physics, it's all repetition and people should be encouraged to innovate instead. If any new products are built based on our existing understanding of the laws of physics they should be banned, people should be encouraged to innovate instead. Lets do away with repetition.

     

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  123.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Keep going, you are just making my point. If patents were in the way, there would be no new airplanes. There would be no new products on anything. Obviously, patents AREN'T a major roadblock. Thanks for your help.

     

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  124.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Again, the fact that patents don't get in my way of going outside doesn't mean that patents don't cause more harm than good.

     

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  125.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Patents (monopolies) cause a substantial loss of aggregate output and there is also good reason to believe and evidence to suggest they slow down innovation as well. Sure innovation still exists but that's not to say patents are in anyway helping the process. If you want to assert that patents help innovation the burden of proof is on you, especially given the economic cost of monopolies. So far people have given very good reason why patents

    A: Lower aggregate output

    B: Slow down innovation (both theoretically and with real world examples)

    C: Cost society a lot

    So far the pro patent group has provided ZERO evidence that patents are in any way good for society. Instead they keep trying to spin it by arguing that "well, patents aren't completely stopping the advancement of technology" or "you need MORE proof than the substantial proof that you already gave as to the costs of patents because I'm still not convinced." We've provided evidence that patents are causing more harm than good. Many people who would otherwise be scientists and innovate are becoming patent lawyers instead and society is spending substantial dollars on patent lawyers, money that could go into innovation instead. Patents cause a loss of aggregate output and if someone has a government granted monopoly why should he innovate since it doesn't help his market share? There are studies indicating the slow down in innovation that patents cause. Now it's your turn. Instead of simply asserting that patents aren't a major roadblock without substantiating despite the substantial evidence against you why not present the evidence for your case. Notice how the pro patent people haven't presented any evidence in this ENTIRE discussion. None. They just keep on trying to either switch the burden of proof or assert that patents aren't bad without evidence.

     

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  126.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Nope, not at all - it is very difficult to discuss or give evidence of what would happen without patents (or copyright for that matter) because we have never gone down that road.

    I think it is pretty obvious though that if there is no economic incentive to develop new ideas and get them to market, it is likely that overall innovation would slow to a snails pace.

    You have to ask yourself the simple question: Would you invest millions to develop a new technology if your competitors can just wait for you to release it, disassemble it, and build their own at a fraction of the cost, and sell it for less than you can? I am sure that some would, but many more would not.

    Perhaps the best example of this would be a purely socialist / communistic economic system, say Russia in the 60s and 70s. Without any economic benefit to making things better or more functional, the country stagnated. Since Russia has adopted a more free market and made economic benefit as a goal, suddenly they are active, building anew, and developing new technologies and products.

    On the other side, you can look at a place like Cuba, where the economy is still clumsily handled by a central government and profit isn't a motivation for much of anything. The end result? They drive 50 year old cars and live in crumbling buildings. Their biggest innovation is running old american cars on cooking oil.

    "Notice how the pro patent people haven't presented any evidence in this ENTIRE discussion."

    Please show me somewhere on earth that runs without the effects of the current patent laws so we can test out the theories. Oh, there aren't any.

     

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  127.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 4:59pm

    Re: Re: Responses to Successive Posts by Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2009 @ 6:09-6:35pm

    The best indication that advancement is slowing down is that rather than improving the processors (example) we are now seeing multiple processors on a chip. It means that adding a second (fourth, eighth, whatever) is significantly lower cost and higher return than trying to go down the other road of making a single processor faster.

    Multiple processors will help to maintain some of moore's law, but in the end it is a losing battle. We have come a long way, but we are soon going to reach the limits of our abilities to manipulate very small things, which will limit our ability to advance.

     

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  128.  
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    RD, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 5:06pm

    Wow! not...

    "A thriving replication industry isn't a sign of an industry that is developing, just duplicating. Their financial motivation is that they can copy patent medicines without paying, which means they are cheaper. Without the innovations made elsewhere (and patents ignored) they wouldn't have an industry."

    Wow I'm sure glad we didnt have YOU along when this country was being founded, we never would have done a THING! Lazy do-nothings that throw up their hands and give up instead of TRYING to adapt or grow are the antithesis of any kind of progress.

    Listen skippy, if they couldnt replicate, do you REALLY think they would just go "Well! nothing to copy, we will just have to do NOTHING AT ALL!" Come on, you seriously expect people to buy that line of garbage? There are a lot of people in India, and some of them are even intelligent (read: a lot) so, I'm pretty sure the logical line of reasoning would be, they would do MORE innovation/creation/whatever. Yes, its cheaper to copy, but if you need clean water and basic medicines, you WILL get them one way or the other, get it? Copy or innovate, NEED will create the drive, if nothing else.

    "The lack of pharma developments inside India for the indian market is a clear indication that the lack of patent protection is a hinderance to development."

    No, its not, its nothing of the kind. This is clear only to you and pro-patent lackeys who only see things in terms of profit and govt granted monopolies.

     

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  129.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Wow! not...

    RD, what is amazing is that you make such a long post, quote me, and then you DON'T READ WHAT I WRITE.

    I didn't say there isn't replication, read carefully: "A thriving replication industry isn't a sign of an industry that is developing, just duplicating"

    I didn't say there isn't duplication. Heck, patents only run, what, 10 years?

    "No, its not, its nothing of the kind. This is clear only to you and pro-patent lackeys who only see things in terms of profit and govt granted monopolies."

    Please explain yourself without calling anyone names. What do you think the lack of a home grown pharma reasearch business in India indicates to you?

     

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  130.  
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    RD, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    Wow! not...2

    "Please explain yourself without calling anyone names. What do you think the lack of a home grown pharma reasearch business in India indicates to you?"

    NOTHING that indicates that MORE PATENT LAW is an answer to, thats for sure.

    Asstard.

    If you are only going to get stuck on the name calling and then not bother to argue the points, then you dont really have a position, and you really need to get off the internet. People who fail on basic name calling arent worth the time. It's a test, you failed, buh-bye.

     

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  131.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Can't you just admit that your own position is based on a certain group of studies, but without any information about the inverse?


    No, because that would be false. The studies simply compared multiple different situations. That means they included looking at whether or not innovation was hindered by a lack of patents. I'm not sure what makes you claim otherwise.

    Oh yeah, when was the last time you were in China? Mine was two weeks ago. But wait, you know more than I do, from half way around the world.

    I'm sure while you were were there you conducted in-depth studies on what is happening in the industry? And I'm sure it was peer reviewed and published in respected journals? If so, you can point it out, correct? Until such time, I believe that the evidence from actual research in China outweighs the random claims of an anonymous internet commenter with basic reading comprehension problems.

     

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  132.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 26th, 2009 @ 6:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I think it is pretty obvious though that if there is no economic incentive to develop new ideas and get them to market, it is likely that overall innovation would slow to a snails pace.

    Indeed. Just one (big) problem. You falsely equate patents to being the only economic incentive. Reality has shown that not to be the case. The market provides tremendous economic incentives, and that's what keeps the pace of innovation flowing.

    You have to ask yourself the simple question: Would you invest millions to develop a new technology if your competitors can just wait for you to release it, disassemble it, and build their own at a fraction of the cost, and sell it for less than you can? I am sure that some would, but many more would not.

    If you could make much more money and command a huge premium by being first, why wouldn't you?

    Perhaps the best example of this would be a purely socialist / communistic economic system, say Russia in the 60s and 70s. Without any economic benefit to making things better or more functional, the country stagnated. Since Russia has adopted a more free market and made economic benefit as a goal, suddenly they are active, building anew, and developing new technologies and products.

    Again, you falsely assume that there is no economic benefit without patents. We agree that a system without economic benefits is bad, but patents do not provide the only economic benefits, and in fact there is significant evidence (which you still have been unable to counter) that suggests that the pace of innovation is faster without patents. Thereby proving your little hypothetical wrong.

    I'm not sure why you insist on believing a bogus hypothetical compared to actual evidence.


    Please show me somewhere on earth that runs without the effects of the current patent laws so we can test out the theories. Oh, there aren't any.


    Again, there are well over two dozen studies that have looked at places that did not have patent protection, or did not have it on certain areas, compared either to places that did have it, or compared to the same place over time when the patent laws were changed.

    The conclusion found, over and over again: patents did not increase the pace of innovation, and often distorted R&D money away from what the free market would have selected.

    Why do you keep pretending that research does not exist other than that it does not agree with your own theories?

     

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  133.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Cute Mike.

    The problem is the studies I see look at how patent slows things down (in theory) but there is little out there about how a lack of patents would hinder investment. Rather than just say people are uninformed, why not INFORM US?


    As for China, it's what can be seen with the naked eye, what can be seen doing business over there, how the people are living, what's for sale in the stores and on the street corners, what the factories are turning out, etc. It's fun as heck to spend a day in the Shenzhen SEG marketplace, seeing what is up in computing, parts, etc - and watching people creating some of the most impressive replica computer parts you will ever see. There is no study, there is no peer review, just real experience in dealing with real chinese people in real life.

    "actual research in China outweighs the random claims of an anonymous internet commenter with basic reading comprehension problems."

    I would say considering this is your board, you might want to consider not being insulting. My comprehension is just fine, your explanations are often lacking in detail.

     

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  134.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "Nope, not at all - it is very difficult to discuss or give evidence of what would happen without patents (or copyright for that matter) because we have never gone down that road."

    We have comparisons of places with stricter patent laws vs not so strict patent laws and the studies show that patents are bad.

    Also to say that we've never gone down that road is nonsense, many advancements were made without patents, during a time before patents were really as prominent as they are now, as we have already discussed before on Techdirt (ie: Quinine and PC's advanced mostly because they less fewer intellectual property than Apple). What you are asking for is absolute proof but absolute proof is an unreasonable requirement, especially since you have zero evidence to support your case and there is substantial evidence against it.

    "I think it is pretty obvious though that if there is no economic incentive to develop new ideas and get them to market, it is likely that overall innovation would slow to a snails pace."

    You make things up, ignore the substantial evidence that disagrees with you, and present no evidence to support your claim, and then you expect people to take you seriously.

     

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  135.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "The problem is the studies I see look at how patent slows things down (in theory) but there is little out there about how a lack of patents would hinder investment. Rather than just say people are uninformed, why not INFORM US?"

    I thought I already refuted this by pointing out that studies are comparative in nature and hence you're wrong.

     

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  136.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 26th, 2009 @ 7:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    The problem is the studies I see look at how patent slows things down (in theory) but there is little out there about how a lack of patents would hinder investment.

    Then you've apparently not looked at the actual studies. However, "investment" alone is a bad criteria. It's really only output that matters. After all, if I can produce 200x for an investment of $100 dollars, then based on your claim we'd prefer producing 200x for an investment of $5,000 because that's more investment. Investment alone is meaningless compared to output.

    As for China, it's what can be seen with the naked eye, what can be seen doing business over there, how the people are living, what's for sale in the stores and on the street corners, what the factories are turning out, etc. It's fun as heck to spend a day in the Shenzhen SEG marketplace, seeing what is up in computing, parts, etc - and watching people creating some of the most impressive replica computer parts you will ever see. There is no study, there is no peer review, just real experience in dealing with real chinese people in real life.

    Oh, I deal with people in China all the time. I have family that work in China and a number of my closest friends from school work throughout China. I talk to innovators over there quite often and have a trip planned for next year. But I don't think that alone qualifies me as an expert on overall Chinese output. Nor does walking around the streets. But if you want to pretend you're a China expert, good on you.

    I would say considering this is your board, you might want to consider not being insulting.

    Ha! Considering this is my site, I'll say what I please. If you don't like it, go away. But if you're going to post bullshit, despite being called on it repeatedly, don't act offended when I call you on your bullshit. Either man up and admit you were wrong, or go out and learn something. To date, we've caught you being wrong on point after point after point, and explained basic economics, basic law and basic technology to you. And you still get it wrong. I'll accept that sometimes our explanations may not be clear. But with you, that is obviously not the case.

     

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  137.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 8:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Mike, first off, I don't post bullshit. If anything, you are the master of the one sided view of the universe. Climb on down from your high horse Guru, you ain't any better than the rest of us. You want to be insulting and talk down to people, I guess that's your job, enjoy it. Just don't be surprised when people call you out for some of the crap you write.

    For China, I suggest you stop experiencing it from afar and get on over there to see for yourself. All the talking in the world doesn't prepare you for the reality. Don't spend you time wandering around the western trapping of Shanghai, go see the rest of the country and see what is really going on. It's an eye opener.

    "hen you've apparently not looked at the actual studies. However, "investment" alone is a bad criteria."

    Dollars of investment isn't the point, you are off twisting things again. Investment in time and money, the "why even bother?" question. It isn't a question of 100x or 2x or a million times return, that isn't the point. The question is simply "Can I even make the money back?". In a market without patents to protect developers of new ideas (or new medicines or new products) the question becomes why spend the money to even try. The guy next door just waits for you to finish spending the money, takes your product, duplicates it without the expensive of development, and sells it cheaper than you ever can. He only has to cover the cost of materials, I have to cover the cost of materials and the cost of development.

    That's the simple and easy stuff Mike, no big deal beyond that. Can you deny the obvious?

    Mike, you have an agenda, you have a desire, you have a goal, and you have a narrow, narrow view of the financial future of the world. Maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong, but it's to your advantage to consider alternate views rather than just calling people names and ignoring things that obviously go against your views. I read your posts careful, I have watched your presentations (until I got a headache from the flashing slide thing), and I have read your posts here for a long time. Sometimes you are right, but sometimes you are using your wish for the future and attempting to make current data fit it. At that point, you are losing the plot.

    Good luck on your business. Just remember, your clients probably have people like me as clients. It's a small circle, so careful where you pee, because you might be peeing on yourself.

     

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  138.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Re:
    http://techdirt.com/article.php?sid=20090721/0343325605#c748

    Thanks for the links and analysis. Very good.

     

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  139.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 26th, 2009 @ 10:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    In a market without patents to protect developers of new ideas (or new medicines or new products) the question becomes why spend the money to even try. The guy next door just waits for you to finish spending the money, takes your product, duplicates it without the expensive of development, and sells it cheaper than you ever can. He only has to cover the cost of materials, I have to cover the cost of materials and the cost of development.

    Ok. I'll try this one more time, because I've already said it half a dozen times and it still hasn't gotten through to you: There have been plenty of countries without patent protection, and what you claim will happen DOES NOT HAPPEN. You assume that it's so easy to copy, but it's not. If you're copying, you're already behind in the market, and the leader is already ahead and innovating on the next generation and commanding a nice premium all along.

    Eric Schiff's research here blows your "theory" out of the water with reality. There was tremendous innovation in the places he looked, often creating leaders in the field well beyond competing countries that did have patent protection. You insist it can't happen, Schiff found that it DID.

    I explained this. I can't figure out why you still ignore it.

    That's the simple and easy stuff Mike, no big deal beyond that. Can you deny the obvious?

    I'm not denying the obvious. I've seen what actually happens. You are talking theory. I'm talking reality. Guess which one wins? The problem is that your theory is flat out wrong. You assume, incorrectly, that the only rewards for innovation are via patents, and without them there are no rewards, and thus no investment. But we have real empirical evidence to look at and what you claim will happen DOES NOT HAPPEN.

    It's that simple.

    Mike, you have an agenda, you have a desire, you have a goal, and you have a narrow, narrow view of the financial future of the world.

    Yes, my agenda is simple: to have people better understand the process of innovation to take better advantage of that and improve the world. It's that simple.

    I used to believe (very strongly) in patents. But then I started to see the data and see the problems caused by patents, and I still didn't believe it. But then I saw more evidence, and more data, and more evidence and more data, and at some point it becomes irrefutable.

    If you have actual evidence (not debunked theory) that proves this wrong, I'm more than happy to look at it. Only problem? I've been asking for it for years, and no one here has ever presented *any*.

    but it's to your advantage to consider alternate views

    I do consider alternative views all the time. I interact with people (like yourself) who disagree with me all the time. And I ask them to present the evidence that counteracts all of the other evidence. And no one ever does.

    In your case, you've been posting comments here for about six months, and have so consistently gotten things wrong -- even when called on it repeatedly and had some rather basic economics, technology and law explained to you -- that the only conclusion is that you are posting bullshit because of whatever bizarre reasons you have.

    That's fine by me. I'm a big fan of free speech, and it's fun for me to spar with someone posting the most ridiculous arguments, because it makes sure I'm sharp on these points when someone who actually is knowledgeable on economics shows up.

    But until you post something *real* and stop getting the facts wrong, it's difficult to take you seriously.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2009 @ 11:34pm

    Re: Hmmmm....

    You're not the only one that has made that observation.

    I'll suggest that the CPU makers have been recently focusing on adding features instead of faster CPUs.

    Granted, that Moore's law really refers to transistor count on a single integrated circuit. But one can argue that transistor density and CPU speed is closely related to (or, if you like, derived from) the transistor count.

    This might be the reason that we've been seeing multi-core CPUs in recent years.

    I've been looking into parallel programming. The classes/books I've seen start out in suggesting that the limits of Moore's law will show up...eventually.


    But getting back on topic. It seems to me that these technologies and their curves have three parts.

    1. The breakthrough-- the starting point.
    2. Growth -- the exponential curve.
    3. The "wall" -- the leveling off of the curve.

    So, I agree. A new breakthrough in the near future would be good. Or, as you put it, a new rainbow...

    -cmh

     

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  141.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    "I explained this. I can't figure out why you still ignore it."

    ...and you still didn't point to it. Where is this report? i"m not ignoring it. You are doing what you always seem to do, assuming that everyone on your blog has read every page ever, and that we have access to all the same material you do, have the same links you do, etc. It's one of the most annoying things you do here. Don't assume we have all read all the same things you have.

    If you are going to get in a huff about something, at least tell us what to ready (links... you know, to other people, not just to internal pages on your own site).

    "But until you post something *real* and stop getting the facts wrong, it's difficult to take you seriously."

    Until you start actually linking to the material you expect us to know just like that, you are very, very hard to take seriously.

    I am suspecting that this report ain't going to be all that. But hey, bring it on Guru.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 5:56am

    Re: Wow! not...2

    The only "asstard" is someone who can't explain their point of view without name calling. You need to get out from behind the keyboard and learn basic social graces.

     

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    RD, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 6:35am

    Wow! not...3

    "The only "asstard" is someone who can't explain their point of view without name calling. You need to get out from behind the keyboard and learn basic social graces."

    And you need to develop a thicker skin if you plan to argue indefensible points on the internet. By arguing about the name calling, you allow yourself to be distracted from the main point. Then again, you are only stumping for the status quo and not even bothering to consider the other side. What did mankind do for thousands of years BEFORE patent law? Nothing got invented, right? NOTHING! Because IT CANT BE without PROTECTION. The printing press was never invented, right? There was no art (frescoes, greek statues), no design (coliseum, Pyramids) no advancement (chariots, gunpowder) because there was no financially protected incentive to make these things!

    THAT is why you are an Asstard.

     

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  144.  
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    staff1, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 7:49am

    invented anything?

    "And, what's most compelling to me is that this sort of progress isn't dependent on anything like patents."

    Has Kelly ever invented anything? Has he ever filed a patent application, tried to commercialize or license? Has he ever litigated a patent? Not likely. He should stick with things he knows something about...if there is anything.

     

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  145.  
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    Bonifacio, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:46am

    What About The Internet and The World Wide Web?

    Why has nobody mentioned the Internet and the World Wide Web as examples of inventions that do not rely on patents in order to advance technology?

    It seems to me that if Sir Tim Bernes Lee decided to have a monopoly over his invention, the Web wouldn't have made it outside of CERN.

    If the inventors of the Internet decided to have a monopoly over their invention, the Web probably wouldn't exist as TimBL would have had better things to do than to circumvent the Net's patents so that he can in turn invent the Web.

     

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  146.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:04am

    Re: What About The Internet and The World Wide Web?

    Sorry, but all Sir Tim Bernes Lee did was create a single protocol (http). There were already other protocols in place, and had http been overly protected, it would have been replaced by something else.

    Heck, if http has been patent (and licensed at too high of a cost), it would have spurred more innovation to find an alternative. Instead, we still use a 20 year old protocol.

    Amazing that nobody has come up with anything better since. Hmmm.

     

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  147.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:07am

    Re: Wow! not...3

    ...and that is why you are rude, and perhaps even a little ignorant.

    Most development before patents was done with patrons, rich people paying the bills to see what would happen, and to impress their friends, and not anything else. Leonardo DiVinci worked under a number of patrons over his life, so that he could afford to live and wonder without concern for financial return.

    But hey, you knew that already, right?

     

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  148.  
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    Vic Kley, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:08am

    Inevitable Exponential Tech Advance

    Things are invented and reinvented all the time- that's why a detailed review or search is an important part of creating new technology patents. Its not about invention or reinvention it is about implementation and economies that benefit from such efforts and those that don't.

    For instance in the invention of the integrated circuit an entire suite of other inventions accompanied the idea along with infrastructure and educational resources to support it. This idea became an enormous economic boost to a few but not all first world and second world economies.

    Investors will not bet their money without patents to provide an advantage in technology. This is particularly true in early stage new technologies where learning curve advances can wipe out those foolish enough to introduce new things without an economic lever to insure some return.

    For years Russian and Chinese economies were antithetical to patents and patent ownership and despite brilliant people and willing capital have not made significant technology contributions to the world. Now these entities are trying to change their treatment of patents but they still remain commodity or resources based economies.

    The great fear we should have is transformation of the USPTO into a structure to suppress invention from small and individual entities at the same time China begins to welcome inventors, put teeth in patents and provide a world class market for products.

     

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  149.  
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    nraddin, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I did not repond to you. However I will not...

    The data blog post and links out of it show that patents don't effect growth rate in technology, but the closing statement of the post says 'patents get in the way of such progress'. If the data didn't show a change in progress after the adoption of a patent system then how is it getting in the way? Either patents get in the way and the data would show it, or patents don't and the data doesn't, right? Am I missing another option here? (I mean other than the data is just wrong, but then there is no point in talking about any of this)

     

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  150.  
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    Bonifacio, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: What About The Internet and The World Wide Web?

    "Sorry, but all Sir Tim Bernes Lee did was create a single protocol (http)."

    And the first web server. And the first web browser.

    "There were already other protocols in place, and had http been overly protected, it would have been replaced by something else."

    Other protocols running on the Internet, another invention whose inventors did not try to monopolize their invention.

    "Heck, if http has been patent (and licensed at too high of a cost), it would have spurred more innovation to find an alternative. Instead, we still use a 20 year old protocol."

    Spurred more innovation is just speculation. You have no proof of this.

    The reality is, because the inventors of the aforementioned did not monopolize, a lot of advances in the way people communicate were made.

    "Amazing that nobody has come up with anything better since. Hmmm."

    This is not the fault of TimBL and the Internet inventors. It's just that nobody has come up with anything new yet.

     

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  151.  
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    Bonifacio, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:12am

    Re: Inevitable Exponential Tech Advance

    In the last hundred years, the Chinese may not have contributed much to technology. But you forget that China has been around for more than a thousand years. This era is probably just a downtime for them.

    The Chinese have been contributing to technological advancements and common knowledge to the world long before the European Union and the United States were conceived.

    The same thing with the Indians, who somebody spoke of somewhat lowly. The same thing with the Arabs.

     

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  152.  
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    Bonifacio, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:23am

    Re: Re: Wow! not...3

    What does having patrons have to do with having patents?

    The patrons that you speak of cannot be equated with today's USPTO, not even with the whole US Government. They're totally different monsters.

    And yes, I agree with RD. Tool asstard is a tool.

     

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  153.  
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    RD, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:45am

    And, so what?

    "Most development before patents was done with patrons, rich people paying the bills to see what would happen, and to impress their friends, and not anything else. Leonardo DiVinci worked under a number of patrons over his life, so that he could afford to live and wonder without concern for financial return."

    Thats it? Thats the best you can come up with as an undefeatable argument that Patents are NECESSARY? Really? Um...ok.

    The first part of your statement has NOT ONE THING to do with patents, or the supposed "need" for them. Nothing at all. So SOME people had patrons, so what? That may have paid for something to get done or made (like the Pyramids) but the point is they still did it WITHOUT PATENT PROTECTIONS. You just cant seem to wrap your mind around the fact that for MOST of human existence, progress and creation happened WITHOUT laws to "protect" anyone. And yet things got made. The Coliseum, The Great Pyramid, the wheel, chariots, aqueducts, the Archimedes Screw, most of the Ancient Seven Wonders, and on, and on.

    And DaVinci...again, so what? He had a job, he got paid well for it. And that has what to do with the supposed "need" for patents? Also keep in mind, DaVinci didnt invent EVERYTHING he did for a specific client. Much of his work and research was him just figuring things out, because he had an a amazing mind for it and the DESIRE to do so. I'm quite certain that DaVinci would have created/experimented/invented stuff even without patrons. Its what people do. Well, not people like YOU who are lazy entitlement babies who think they must have the world handed to them on a platter without having to do any work. DaVinci worked, and worked hard, and he did it whether he had patronage or not.

     

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  154.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    ...and you still didn't point to it. Where is this report?

    Wow. You are willfully misreading. In that post I told you where one report was of perhaps two dozen -- and you pretend I didn't point you to anything. Go read Eric Schiff's research. If that's not enough, read Lerner & Jaffe's research. If that's not enough, read Bessen & Meurer's research. If that's not enough, read Boldrin & Levine's research. If that's not enough, read Petra Moser's research. If that's not enough, read Torrance & Tomlinson's research. If that's not enough, read MacLeod's research. If that's still not enough, let me know, and I'll break out the next dozen.

     

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  155.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    Re: And, so what?

    One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of what DaVinci did, both with and without a patron, was not revealed in his lifetime. I wonder how much innovation might have proceeded had there been a patent office in his day where his inventions might have been available for others to use for future innovation?

     

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  156.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I have read all of these studies (and more), but in each instance I found their conclusions less than convincing; not because I dispute their knowledge of economic theory (I am not an economist. My pre-law education, both undergraduate and graduate, was in an engineering discipline), but because in each instance I did not believe that the initial data set for the study was particularly relevant. Hence the acronym "GIGO" seemed quite apt.

    Moreover, in several of the studies the authors commented with great fanfare on the current construct and interpretation of substantive law. Unfortunately, in far too many instances their comments were plainly wrong.

    Adding to my level of discomfort is that these studies were replete with "weasel words" such as "might", "maybe". "possibly", etc.

    Do patents hinder "innovation"? Based upon what I have read the only intellectually honest answer I see is "maybe, but we cannot be sure that causuality can be demonstrated". At the other end of the spectrum I believe the only intellectually honest answer I see is the same. In short, no one has been able to my satisfaction the causuality needed to establish the negative or positive effects of a patent system.

    Until someone can cogently demonstrate causuality one way or the other, I reserve judgement on the pros versus cons of a patent system.

     

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  157.  
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    RD, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Good!

    "Until someone can cogently demonstrate causuality one way or the other, I reserve judgement on the pros versus cons of a patent system."

    Good. Go crawl back and hide under your rock. Because what you want will not, indeed CAN NOT happen. You cant prove a negative in this manner. You cant prove something DIDNT NOT HARM something by not happening.

    So, its been nice arguin' with ya! Guess we wont need to hear from you any more, thanks for stopping by!

     

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  158.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Good!

    It seems I misspelled "causality".

    That having been corrected, perhaps you are better able than I to identify and articulate the causality in the articles upon which Mr. Masnick fervently relies.

     

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  159.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 6:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    I have read all of these studies (and more), but in each instance I found their conclusions less than convincing; not because I dispute their knowledge of economic theory (I am not an economist. My pre-law education, both undergraduate and graduate, was in an engineering discipline), but because in each instance I did not believe that the initial data set for the study was particularly relevant. Hence the acronym "GIGO" seemed quite apt.

    Really? Fascinating. Can you go through each of the studies and explain why? Considering each one looked at vastly different data, it's quite an amusing stance to insist that none are relevant. Many of them looked at multiple sets of data and I've yet to see a single one had the data challenges.

    Moreover, in several of the studies the authors commented with great fanfare on the current construct and interpretation of substantive law. Unfortunately, in far too many instances their comments were plainly wrong.

    I believe you've been reading the wrong studies then. Because the studies I've talked about for the most part do not comment on law these days. They merely look at the data.

    Adding to my level of discomfort is that these studies were replete with "weasel words" such as "might", "maybe". "possibly", etc.

    Hmm. Apparently you're unfamiliar with basic academic research, which could explain your false interpretation of the studies.

    Do patents hinder "innovation"? Based upon what I have read the only intellectually honest answer I see is "maybe, but we cannot be sure that causuality can be demonstrated". At the other end of the spectrum I believe the only intellectually honest answer I see is the same. In short, no one has been able to my satisfaction the causuality needed to establish the negative or positive effects of a patent system.

    Fair enough. After all, some things can never be proved with certainty. But I find it amusing (ok, downright ridiculous) that you want to brush off about 2 dozen studies that all take different approaches and different data and *all* come to the same conclusions. You can quibble here or there... but.. um... honestly? It's pretty screwed up to then claim that there's nothing to be concluded from the sum of all of them. Even if we throw out the ones that you think are particularly bad. They all still come to the same conclusion.

    I guess if you make your living from the patent system, your brain might have such an insane level of cognitive dissonance to pretend every bit of evidence to the contrary is somehow bogus. But that says a lot more about your mental state than the quality of the research being discussed.

     

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  160.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Just as you say you are entitled to express your opinions concerning law, I feel entitled to do likewise when it comes to discussions (be they by economists, law professors, and a raft of other professional disciplines) concerning arguments in favor or in opposition to patent law (the same can likewise be said of copyright law, as well as a host of other laws that in one way or another impinge upon how business is conducted).

    It is not that I am "blowing off" any of these pro/con studies. It is that after years of first hand experience working across many industries, technical and otherwise, I have witnessed the decision making process first hand and long ago realized that it is in substantial part quite unlike what are the initial assumptions made by so many on both sides of the aisle. So many of these studies assume rational actors. That is not an unreasonable assumption, that is until one sits on one side of a desk and talks with authors, inventors, their employers, their investors, and whoever else might think he/she has a stake in the matter. The reality from my perspective is that for the most part the system and how persons operate within that system is more accurately characterized as irrational, bordering at times on giving new meaning to "chaos theory".

    Within some companies patent applications are never filed, no matter how meritorious or groundbreaking an invention. In others "if it moves patent it", "if it sits still patent it", "when in doubt patent it". These types of companies are at the margins, each having a definite and totally predictable approach, "black" and "white" if you will. They are also not the general rule. That distinction belongs to everyone else between these extremes, and it is as to them that my "chaos theory" comment pertains.

    Time constraints, not to mention my limited typing skills, do not admit to a detailed discussion of the type you would like to see. If I may suggest an alternative, feel free to call me at any time (mine is a listed number within the Orlando area) and I will be pleased to engage in a one on one conversation that perhaps will help you better understand more of what undelies my opinions. For such assurances as it may provide, I do not bite, I do not raise my voice in argument, and I do try to provide what I believe to be thoughful/relevant commentary.

     

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  161.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    So many of these studies assume rational actors. That is not an unreasonable assumption, that is until one sits on one side of a desk and talks with authors, inventors, their employers, their investors, and whoever else might think he/she has a stake in the matter

    Um. I thought you said you'd read those studies. Nearly everyone (I think every one except one) was not about a model or a theoretical assumption. They were all looking at actual historical data.

    Clearly, you have not read the studies. Fair enough. But don't lie.

     

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  162.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Clearly, you have not read the studies. Fair enough. But don't lie.

    Clearly, you appear to have read but not understood my remarks (not only here, but in numerous other instances involving other articles presented on your site).

    As for your above comment, I would have though such a misguided attempt to attack another's veracity was beneath you. Apparently I was mistaken.

     

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  163.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 28th, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: don't cherry pick from the data.

    Clearly, you appear to have read but not understood my remarks (not only here, but in numerous other instances involving other articles presented on your site).

    I asked you to explain why those studies were garbage. You claimed it was because they assumed rational actors. They did not.

    Please tell me how I am to interpret that other than the fact that you are lying? I'm not attacking you. I'm stating what appears obvious from what has been discussed.

     

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  164.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 2:30pm

    Without naming names, just a few observations:

    Studies based upon Patent Office stats are worthless to all except academics who need to publish papers of "perish". Work within the patent "system" for any length of time and the forgoing is immediately obvious.

    It is less expensive to retain trade secrets than to participate within the patent system. Having crafted policies for at least one Fortune 20 company I can state with a high degree of confidence that "trade secrets", which are usually referred to as "proprietary information", place a much larger time and $$ burden that the cost of a patent for each discreet item.

    Patents can somehow be relevant to measuring innovation. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The vast majority of "inventions" that are created on a daily basis are never even introduced into the patent system for a variety of reasons having nothing to do with trade secrecy and the patent system itself. I daresay that in the majority of situations patent applications are filed without the slightest thought being given to the business objectives of a company. It is indeed a rare circumstance where legal counsel actually takes the time to compare the subject matter of a potential patent application with the client's LROP.

    From Boldrin and Levine, "It is just terrible what James Watt and his contemporaries did to set back development of the steam engine. Why, when their patents were in place innovation was severely hindered. Once they expired things took off and accelerated rapidly." Of course there could easily be hundreds of reasons besides patents that limited steam engine development, and that accelerated development happened after the patents expired could very well be merely coincidental.

    Look at what happened in Italy once pharma patents were allowed under national law. A vibrant industry contracted significantly in total number of companies. Maybe so, but then again maybe the types of products being produced reached the end of their useful life and were supplanted by other products. Maybe mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, etc. were a factor. Maybe something else caused the contraction. Of course readers will never know since no market analysis was ever presented considering alternative bases for such a perceived contraction.

    We ran a study using law students who had never been exposed to IP law and presented them with simple choices to see what they would choose and the overall economic benefits realized from each choice they made. Of course, we would never dream of utilizing real, live business men and women who actually make such choices on a daily basis.

    I think I will look at exhibits from an exposition, analyze which were patented, and then somehow divine from the results the role patent systems play in the innovation process. Of course, an underlying assumption is that people act rationally when it comes to participation in the patent system, an assumption that in many, many instances is without merit.

    A long time ago I stated I spot economists with expertise in their discipline(s) and the ability to analyze data and place it within the context of economic theory. Unfortunately, much of the data they select and rely upon is of marginal (at best) relevance.

    Note I am not providing a line-by-line analysis of each study upon which you rely. Moreover, I can say with a high degree of confidence that much of the data utilized by those seeking to establish a causal connection between patents and increased innovative activity likewise suffers from marginal (at best) relevance.

    How should you interpret what I happen to say? Perhaps it is simply enough to accept them as one man's views based upon his interaction with several thousand persons in a multitude of disciplines and a multitude of industries.

    How should you best point out concerns you may have about what has been said? There are a plethora of ways to do this, none of which include insulting a person by openly challenging their veracity.

     

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  165.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 28th, 2009 @ 5:17pm

    Re:

    Studies based upon Patent Office stats are worthless to all except academics who need to publish papers of "perish". Work within the patent "system" for any length of time and the forgoing is immediately obvious.

    Um. I'm sorry, but that's hogwash. If the study is ABOUT THE PATENT SYSTEM, it makes no sense NOT TO LOOK AT THE PATENT SYSTEM.

    I know you like to try to debunk anything I write, but, dude, you're really losing it.

    Patents can somehow be relevant to measuring innovation. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    That's the point that WE HAVE BEEN MAKING. In fact THAT'S THE POINT of almost all of the studies I pointed you to. Patents are not a good measure of innovation at all. What most of those studies actually did was compare patents to actual innovation. So you seem to be agreeing with these studies that you were just dismissing.

    Again, I have to question your veracity in claiming that you've read them.

    From Boldrin and Levine,

    I was talking about their academic papers, not the book. You were quoting the book.

    Look at what happened in Italy once pharma patents were allowed under national law. A vibrant industry contracted significantly in total number of companies. Maybe so, but then again maybe the types of products being produced reached the end of their useful life and were supplanted by other products. Maybe mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, etc. were a factor. Maybe something else caused the contraction

    Indeed. And if there's was the only study that showed a similar result I would agree with you. Only problem? It's not! We can point to at least half a dozen similar studies that showed the *same impact*. At some point, you realize that you can start to discount the other facts. A basic regression test will get you to the point where you realize that patents *are* the meaningful variable.

    Unfortunately, much of the data they select and rely upon is of marginal (at best) relevance.

    Again, you have failed to point to a single problem with the actual data. The one "problem" you stated was one that we agree on -- that patents do not equal innovation. Of course the studies find the same thing. So I'm still not sure why you claim you disagree with them other than that you don't like their results.

    How should you interpret what I happen to say? Perhaps it is simply enough to accept them as one man's views based upon his interaction with several thousand persons in a multitude of disciplines and a multitude of industries.

    No. I could accept that if you were stating your opinion in general. But you expressed your opinion on the quality of these studies. And I asked for details, and your details proved that you lied (yes lied) about reading them.


    How should you best point out concerns you may have about what has been said? There are a plethora of ways to do this, none of which include insulting a person by openly challenging their veracity.


    I'm sorry. Perhaps where you live it's rude to point out when someone lies. I, however, prefer direct speech. If you lie to me, I will call you on it until you show otherwise.

    I'm sorry if you don't like it. But so far all you've shown is your upset that I caught you in a lie. You have not demonstrated that you did not lie.

     

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  166.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 6:37pm

    Re: Re:

    I am of an age where civility is deemed an important trait. The following quote attributed to Mr. R. Greenburg of the NYT illustrates what I mean.

    "I appreciate people who are civil, whether they mean it or not. I think: Be civil. Do not cherish your opinion over my feelings. There's a vanity to candor that isn't really worth it. Be kind."

    Sage advice, indeed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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