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  • Jan 27th, 2015 @ 11:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Responsibility

    "That's a different thing. Just because a murderer is capable of taking responsibility does not mean that being incarcerated is taking responsibility."

    Yes, I agree with you. Holding someone responsible and taking responsibility are not necessarily the same thing.

    "in what sense to hate laws not restrict free speech? Restricting the ability for people to say anything they like is the entire purpose of the laws. Note that I'm not arguing whether or not such restrictions are acceptable, just that they are undeniably restrictions."

    The assumption in the way this is being approached is that free speech is an actual thing that can post facto be restricted. In the sense that is implicit, no such right to free speech exists, so there is no restriction placed on it by hate laws, or by privacy or defamation laws for that matter. Where free speech is a valid right it has generally trumped the others, where it isn't a valid right there's no restriction involved since there's nothing to restrict.

  • Jan 27th, 2015 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Responsibility

    I was referring to the more meaningful argument that hate laws intrinsically restrict 'free speech' not the inane argument here.

    Arguing that it is merely punishment is entirely equivalent to saying that since many murderers don't experience being responsible for their actions that the laws prohibiting it aren't based on society holding them responsible. Since capacity for responsibility has to be demonstrated in a criminal case, it is relevant from society's perspective. Switching to the criminals' perspective is just that, not an argument in any meaningful sense

  • Jan 27th, 2015 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Responsibility

    Your argument hinges on the notion that the laws protecting free speech, in any of the countries involved in the various incidents, have ever been interpreted as protecting any kind of speech, and then had certain restrictions amended. This is simply not the case.

    In the U.S. and Canada, as well as England and those European countries that in fact do have laws protecting speech acts, only certain types of speech acts have ever been covered. In the U.S. for instance only speech "contributing to public debate" is protected under the First Amendment.

    “On the whole does [speech] enrich public debate? Speech is protected when (and only when) it does, and precisely because it does.” - U.S. Supreme Court

    The type of absolutist 'free speech' being posited here is no more than a myth. It hasn't existed in any actual society in history.

  • Jan 27th, 2015 @ 5:40am


    Free speech doesn't imply freedom from responsibility for what is said, as all hate speech law recognizes. You have the right to say what you want, and you have to take responsibility for what you say. The two are not contradictory.

  • Jan 26th, 2015 @ 3:41pm

    Infinite vs interminable

    Intellectual property is not 'infinite', it is interminably reproducible at a marginal cost.

    The problem is not infinite vs finite property, nor is it limited to IP in the first place. The problem, which is showing most clearly in IP at the moment, is in the notion of property itself. The following quote is full of the inanity of the common notions of property:

    "Property that is infinitely reproducible is just like money. However, money is borrowed into existence and interest is paid on that process. Since more government resources are required to protect IP, therefore IP income ought to be taxed at a either a greater marginal rate or add new margins over the current margin of USD250,000."

    First, money is not property, it is a measure of exchange. The substantialization of money as 'capital' is the biggest myth of our society. Most of the 'capital' or monetary accumulation cannot be realized in terms of either real estate, goods or services, and as such is for the most part fiction.

    Second, anything whose value is dependent on something outside itself, i.e. a social or technological network of relations, can never be simple property. My iPhone is a perfect example, without continued support from the cellular networks and software developers it becomes almost instantly worthless. Thus anything other than a 'mere' thing can never be fully owned. The "internet of things" will create an analogous problem in physical products as we see currently in IP, except the problem is not interminable reproducibility, but the more fundamental loss of the commonly assumed meaning of ownership itself.

    The above is not limited to IP or technology. The same is true even for real estate - without demand to utilize it, it isn't worth anything. Or to put it in more realistic terms, the less the median person can afford, the lower the value of the rentier property of the wealthy must eventually drop to, since at any higher price demand will disappear.

    The resources necessary to protect property are as interminably reproducible as the 'property' itself. When property is nearly non-reproducible, the resources needed to protect it are extremely limited, as examples like Fort Knox or the Mona Lisa demonstrate. This limitation disappears further the more reproducible anything is.

    The fundamental cost associated with non-intellectual goods is energy, if the ability to maintain a fictionally high cost of energy is lost, then non-intellectual goods may become as reproducible as intellectual goods.

    Even without the latter, though, the notion we have of ownership is outdated. How many people are quite sure what they in fact own when it comes to an iPhone or a Kindle? The licensing on software at least is very clear: you don't own anything.

  • Jan 6th, 2015 @ 5:03am

    People are too single focused.`

    "People are only experts in one or at most two areas for the most part, leading to idiocy when they speak on other topiccs. Solution there, it seems to me, is to only trust polymaths."

  • Jan 5th, 2015 @ 8:57am

    Re: promoting the fallacy

    "Technology isn't focused on the real problems in the world. Solution there, it seems to me, is to innovate more usefully."

    Thing is, you're both wrong. Innovation in technology doesn't arise from need per se and in general. That fallacy comes from not looking at innovation as it is, in the particular and actual manner that it occurs.

    Innovation is based on the manner in which technology itself appears. Technological things have an ontological oddity in that they can "stand-in" for technology itself. Other things cannot. The result is that any given technology produces the potential that innovation innovates to replace it with. What produces the features in the next iPhone, or produced the iPhone, iPad and various other things from the Apple Newton? That they dfemonstrate their own inadequacy in an immediate and tangible way and thus in a sense create the need to innovate.

    Need in general has never been the prod to innovation, specific needs that first become thinkable only on the basis of an inadequacy of any given technology in realizing the essence of technology are always the prod of actual, particular innovations.

  • Dec 10th, 2014 @ 8:30pm

    Technological Innovation

    An interesting tangent to this discussion resides in something peculiar to things that are predominantly technological. The more technological a given thing, i.e. the more defined it is by the technology used versus use-value or branding etc., the more it acts as the outline or prefiguration of what will replace it by acting as a stand-in for an idealized device that will encapsulate technology itself. As a result innovation is the biggest spur to both innovation and the demand for that innovation in these products. The larger the subset of all-technology a device encapsulates, though, the less successfully any it can perform that subset, given an approximate equivalence of capability between vendors that choose to support more functions and those that support less.

    To give an example, the Newton prefigured the Kindle, the iPad and the iPhone, but wasn't as successful at the specific functions of each, and as such implied its own replacements, leading to the innovations that created those. Neither the Kindle nor the iPhone nor the iPad successfully stand-in for all technology to the degree that the Newton did, but like the Newton, they point to it by encapsulating much of the underlying meaning of technology in a specific device. In this case, the splintering of platforms spurred innovation the most because the need for a more complete platform is felt more strongly while simultaneously the usefulness of each, their success at implementing the smaller subset, is enhanced. Because it's an interplay, however, every evolution of the splintered platform brings each fork closer to the other by incorporating more of the others' functionality.

    Thus the main spur to both innovation and the demand for it is innovation itself. That spur is accelerated by an interplay in the market between generalizing and specializing. Since the adaptation of platforms tends to move towards completeness, eventually it opens a space for disruption, where a new specialization acts as an ex-aptation and re-splinters the framework.

  • Dec 5th, 2014 @ 4:13pm

    Technological 'things' are not property, not real in the metaphysical sense.

    You recognize that technological 'things' like e-books are not 'real things' in the old sense. Nor are the devices on which they are read.

    Nor, in fact, were things ever property. That was the basic error of metaphysics. The attempt to continue it is doomed to failure.

    It would be more useful to determine what, in fact, a thing properly is today, rather than pretending it's something it's not just to feel more comfortable.

  • Dec 4th, 2014 @ 10:23am

    Riot Gear

    The small town I was born in is rather famous for riots, in fact the original 'reading of the riot act' was performed there in 1853. As recently as 2001 during a riot over unemployment 21 people were injured, of whom 15 were police in riot gear (that's right, only 6 were unarmed civilians with no riot gear).

    The problem is not a technology gap here any more than there (where the technology of riot gear is only on the losing side). It's a misunderstanding of reality itself, without which one would be unlikely to become a cop in the first place.

    "Police" started as thugs paid by the wealthy to enforce the privileges of the wealthy. They haven't changed in this, nor will they. They are there to serve and protect the privilege of the privileged. The rest is pretense, dissimulation and outright lies.

  • Dec 3rd, 2014 @ 5:22pm

    Idea of Property

    For over two millennia the idea of 'real' has intrinsically meant 'property'. To be 'real' something had to have spatial extension, durability, etc. This no longer works, not just for so-called 'intellectual property' but for the technological itself.

    The problem is that we have different determinations of what is being sold. For flickr et al, they are selling a print and a frame, what it happens to be a print of is irrelevant, since it makes no difference to them what they put on the print. To the originator of the image, they're selling a copy of the image. To the buyer, it's a mixture of both.

    As paper with a picture on it and a frame it fits into the old idea of real, something that can be owned. As an interminably reproducible image it doesn't. You could look at an e-book in a similar way - I don't buy an e-book, I purchase a right to have it available on whatever device I want to read it on. The device is, like the printed image, a mixture of property in the old sense and not, since although it's tangible property, a simple software change in the distribution system can render it worthless.

    Technological things, whether digital images, e-books or iPhones are not 'real' property in the old sense. Laws and licenses based on an outdated notion of what a 'thing' is only lead to more confusion. Trying to stuff it into the old category by calling it 'intellectual property' (or 'virtual' for that matter) also adds to the confusion.

    The problem is that what 'matters', to both producer and consumer, is precisely what is non-material in the sense of a physical, locatable object. Materiality itself in quantum mechanics doesn't mean 'physical', it means mattering-to in the sense of relevant, important, or in the way we use material in the legal sense, as what is material to a case versus what is not relevant.

    When we value something, we put a price on it, 'value added' in business calculates how much of what matters, is valuable, in a given product was contributed at various stages - conception, production, distribution etc. Until we learn to define a thing by what in it matters, what is of value, we can't properly assess where the value in a thing was added, thus we can neither price it properly nor distribute the proceeds fairly.

    In this situation the distributor is claiming 100% of the value of the thing. From their perspective that makes sense, but people purchasing prints don't want 'any' print, they want a specific image. Thus the image 'matters' and is a significant part of the value of the thing. No, it doesn't cost the originator anything that more copies are made, nor does it 'cost' film companies if their films are interminably duplicated and distributed digitally at a cost of at most pennies per film. However if they are not compensated films won't get made.

    The creative commons license, rather than having the two, should have only the non-commercial license - if nobody is making money off something, there's no question marks. The commercialization of technological 'things' needs to be rethought, since none of the modes in which we've tried to account for technology has worked, and it hasn't worked because we haven't bothered to properly think about what a technological thing IS in the first place, and how it can have value, and thus be valued and priced.

  • Nov 21st, 2014 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Benefacio

    If something is indistinguishable, then by definition it is the identical thing. (this was proven by Leibniz, and is as true of electrons as it is of ideas - since electrons are identical, there can only be one electron that is actual in any quanta of time).

    As a result your argument falls apart. The problem is that your underlying definition of 'idea' itself means 'exchangeable property'. We mistake things if we see 'property' as something added to a thing. Since the time of Plato property as something exchangeable has been the true meaning of both 'real' and 'thing'. The term 'real estate' brings out that meaning clearly.

  • Nov 21st, 2014 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Problem is with property itself, not just intellectual property

    To explicate further. In the change from a dead-tree edition book to an e-book, the essence - what makes a book a book or 'bookness' has also changed, not just in how a book is determined as such, but in the sense that a book's 'essence' is not something invariable beyond or behind the real book but is itself a mutable, finite determination.

    We can't use the term 'real' in the old sense at all to do with an e-book, since a 'real' has extension, location and durability that e-books completely lack. 'Virtual' is a transitional modifier, but in the old sense of 'real property' it's no longer 'real' nor 'property', yet in some sense it 'is' and is 'mine', so the problem is in the way we define a thing in the first place. The e-book loses certain determinations in the change, and gains others (for instance, a significant gain is the difficulty involved in theft of an e-book).

    Because it's not a continuation but a disruption it's neither progress nor regress, since both imply an underlying continuaty that is lacking.

  • Nov 21st, 2014 @ 3:40pm

    Problem is with property itself, not just intellectual property

    Modern technology brings with it an ontological disruption, i.e. what things 'are' fundamentally changes. Heidegger referred to what determines what something is in the modern age as "Gestell", which simultaneously means Enframing and Apparatus: the technological thing itself can substitute for its essence and vice versa. This means that the meaning not just of property, which is the real meaning of 'thing' or 'object' within the older view of reality, but also of essence has changed. The meaning of property has changed, but so has 'ownership', 'value' and 'exchange'. It's not a reformulation with invariants that ensure continuity, there are no invariant terms.

    We can see the effects in the difference between owning property in the old sense of something durable such as a book, and the new sense, where with a change, for instance, in the common e-book format or the delivery system the 'object', whether the e-book itself or the apparently more traditional 'device' on which I read it, can suddenly become worthless, since most of its value is in the network of delivery that supports it.

    Techdirt spends a lot of time on both intellectual property, in the sense of something like an e-book, and also on technological things that initially appear like property in the old sense, but do not have the same mode of being. The difficulty is that trying to discuss things that are essentially different, that is they are different and their essence is different, using old terminology doesn't work; it becomes difficult to make any sense of the argument being put forward.

    The failure of things like web ontology language are implicit in these changes, since what ontology itself means has also changed. When a disruption has no invariants between the 'before' and 'after' it's impossible to discuss the properly new with terms that make invalid assumptions based on what used to be implicit in them.

  • Jan 6th, 2012 @ 4:41pm

    It's not simply a matter of removal of scarcity.

    Technology has always revealed things, as Heidegger pointed out, in terms of their resource value. Things can be revealed in plenty of other ways, but by being viewed as resources exchange values can be applied to virtually anything. This mode of showing of course eventually was applied to human beings themselves, and "human resources" came into existence.

    This holds fine while "technology" refers to the network of meaningful relations between technical things, something that was true until technology succeeded in containing its own context and being able to replicate that context, as the general purpose computer and even more so the internet can and do. Removing scarcity from the economic landscape in certain areas is only one effect of the "system" of technology becoming easily replicable to any arbitrary number of systems.

    At that point it is precisely the view of something as a resource, with a concomitant exchange value, that becomes irrelevant. What can be given an exchange value is what is equivalent between multiple instances of a type of item, but if that item can be replicated at will the exchange value becomes infinitely small. Worth as opposed to value, on the other hand, refers specifically to what is unique to a given instance. A live concert is still *worth* something because the experience is unique for each person at that specific time and place.

    As another example, the laptop I'm typing on, as it came from the factory, has a very minimal exchange value, particularly when you compare it to what that value would have been, were an equivalent available, fifteen years ago. However as it came from the factory it had nothing unique about it. Having spent plenty of time setting it up to work the way I want it to work, much the way a carpenter might set up his workshop, it's *worth* to me is far greater than its exchange value.

    This type of change will affect more and more industries due to the qualitative change from a technical artifact being a tool, to its being a personal, customized network of tools; a workshop, not a hammer. That's what we've let out of Pandora's box, and the battle to stop factories will look like it should have been easy compared to the difficulty people will face trying to stop this revolution.

    Industries that are based on selling things with a predictable exchange value now have to face the difficult challenge of providing worth to their customers. Being unique, worth is inherently less predictable, and inherently more difficult to judge, and the corporate configurations of most current businesses will not prove flexible enough to weather the change. Which means of course that newer, more flexible models of doing business will inevitably wipe out most of today's big business, just as they did during earlier periods of significant change.