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  • Jan 24th, 2014 @ 9:43am


    I have wondered for a while about the "long wave" cycle of innovation. There have been a number of such cycles observed, where there are furious burst of technological innovation, leading eventual consolidation in a few very large companies and something like stagnation. These have lasted some 70 to 50 years (the pace has been increasing and the wavelength decreasing). One explanation I have seen was that a trigger releases a burst of innovation that drives the first, explosive round of new innovations and associated companies/institutions/organizations, followed by a slowing of innovation as all avenues are explored, followed by consolidation. Having seen the computer revolution from the inside, I think this explanation is backwards: The initial trigger release everyone to innovate but after a while the new organizations grow to a size where they can suppress smaller, newer organizations, which lets them consolidate, giving them more power to stifle innovative competition, and so on in a vicious circle that kills innovation and the resultant economic growth...

  • Dec 14th, 2012 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re:

    It's very easy to view the world with dismay, if you look at it through American lenses, but the simple fact is that but for the financial meltdown, which has nothing to do with Robots and little to do with Robber Barons (none, outside the financial industry), there would be more jobs Today than at any prior point in human history (indeed, we may have recovered to that point already), viewed world wide. One problem is that human population is growing, so it is perfectly possible for employment and unemployment to both grow at the same time.

    A particularly American issue is that the US government ran a "strong dollar" policy for three or four decades that only really broke down within the last two or three years. A strong dollar means adverse terms of trade, which means less manufacturing in the US, which means fewer manufacturing (and related services) jobs. I takes industry time to respond to changes in terms of trade, and the less imminent the threat of bankruptcy, the longer the time required. I wonder how much of the recent employment woes have been just accumulated costs of this overvalued currency phase.

    Another thing to remember is that the recent recession was atypical, in that it was caused by a financial meltdown. Such recessions typically take a lot longer for recovery to kick in and tend to be relatively jobless (consider Japan from the early nineties on, which has been basically stagnant for two decades).

    On the flip side, it does take time for displaced workers to find new fields and if the pace of automation is increasing, it could increases the long term rate of unemployment by increasing the "normal" number of temporarily unemployed and by increasing the average time it takes them to find new employment (as changing career takes longer than changing employer in the same field).

  • Dec 11th, 2012 @ 8:22pm

    Re: Strawman?

    I believe this style of argument is called a "straw man". You claim that your opponent said something obviously false which he or she did not in fact say, but which is at least superficially similar in the hope that you will dupe the audience with this sleight of hand and hance "win" the argument.

  • Dec 11th, 2012 @ 6:07pm

    Some observations.

    The percentages on their own don't necessarily mean anything. First has the absolute number of "non-troll" cases changed? If the total number of cases had dropped, even a rising percentage of troll cases could be indicative of a decreasing problem. Not that there is really any chance of that, but the percentages alone don't really tell the story.

    Second, there are genuinely worthy non-practicing entities out there, which solely invent/design and then license their inventions/designs. A prime example of these is the ARM foundation. If such an entity were to sue someone, it would be counted as a "troll". We don't really know how many of these cases are by, or on behalf of, such entities or individuals. The real problem is the genuine economy destroying rent seekers who buy up patents from failed companies at pennies on the dollar and then extort as much as they can from genuine innovators.

    I personally don't think the problem is misuse of the patent system, it is the very basis of the system. Letters patent were bad for the economies which granted them when the criterion for their grant was being a crony in good standing with the government. They are no better now. The problem wasn't the reason for the grant, the problem was the artificial monopoly, and it is still a problem Today.

  • Oct 3rd, 2012 @ 10:34am

    Dodds is doing what he's paid to do.

    The MPAA is an industry association. It's views and leadership should properly reflect what the members want, and that's what Dodds is delivering. They problem isn't with the MPAA, it's with the large film studios. Until they change, the MPAA can't and shouldn't. I haven't seen any evidence of the MPAA creating policy and forcing the studios to follow it (unlike the RIAA, where it seems to have bullied labels into following its pronouncements and policies).

    While I'm very largely in agreement about how the "culture" industries need to change, criticizing Dodds for doing what he's paid to do strikes me as somewhat wrong-headed (though criticizing him for being willing to do it strikes me as perfectly justified).

    The problem isn't Dodds lack of vision, it's the studios who wouldn't accept anyone who had an displayed such vision.

  • Oct 2nd, 2012 @ 7:58am


    Isn't it strange that a country with no industries has industrial production almost at an all-time high? (See: The only reason that the US will nto be producing more than ever this year is the truly awful 2008 recession, when production fell about 15%.

    Just like with agriculture in an earlier era, just because industrial manufacturing has declined relatively as an employer and as a share of the economy it doesn't mean that there has been any absolute decline.

  • Sep 12th, 2012 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Re: If Simulations Are Good, The Real Thing Must Be Even Better

    Plus, depth perception is only good for about 6 feet. Beyond that, you're essentially seeing 2-D anyway.

  • Sep 10th, 2012 @ 7:42am

    (untitled comment)

    Intent matters does it? So if I leave a $20 bill in the middle of the road, intending to come back later and someone picks it up, I can have the person arrested for theft, while if I leave another $20 bill in a similar situation intending for whoever finds it to benefit, I can't??? I can see the argument in a situation where you have no choice and where your intent is clear (like leaving your clothing in an open cubby at a school gym class - and yes, I did go to a school like this) but where you have a simple alternative, like encrypting your network? No, the fact that others have eavesdropped is 100% your own fault and responsibility. Having the state protect us from ourselves by enforcing what we intend is but one small step from having the state decide for us what we should want and then enforcing that. That's somewhere no sane person should want to go (except perhaps for the mendacious who believe they will be the rulers who decide).

  • Sep 10th, 2012 @ 7:34am


    So you think that digital radio should be handled differently from analog radio? Why? Your argument makes no sense. A freely distributed CD should be legally different from a freely distributed broadsheet? Because it is "encoded"? Total B.S.

  • Sep 7th, 2012 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: blind leading the blind

    I don't get why it's wrong to use the phrase marginal costs. Amazon was pricing the books lower than what it paid for them in some cases weren't they?

    First, "Marginal cost" is jargon, a technical term for economics. Using it here is just being pretentious and trying to coat a weak argument in pseudo-respectability. Second, it kinda implies variability based on volume. There is no variability in this situation. Amazon has to pay a fixed price, so the term is inappropriate. Third, the usual use of the term is "marginal cost of production", which properly belongs to the publisher and is 0 (since amazon does the copying).

  • Aug 30th, 2012 @ 11:57am

    Re: facepalm...

    From the jury instructions:

    A utility patent claim is invalid if the claimed invention is not new. For the claim to be invalid
    because it is not new, all of its requirements must have existed in a single device or method that
    predates the claimed invention, or must have been described in a single previous publication or
    patent that predates the claimed invention. In patent law, these previous devices, methods,
    publications or patents are called “prior art references.” If a patent claim is not new we say it is
    “anticipated” by a prior art reference.
    The description in the written reference does not have to be in the same words as the claim, but all
    of the requirements of the claim must be there, either stated or necessarily implied, so that someone
    of ordinary skill in the field looking at that one reference would be able to make and use the
    claimed invention.

  • Aug 29th, 2012 @ 12:13pm

    (untitled comment)

    Well, it does get rid of those without the mental wherewithal to figure out how to create an account... At the very least it will probably get rid of anyone who can't spell the same word/phrase the same twice in a row. That has to increase the pool a little more erudite...

  • Aug 27th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

    Why are Apple suing rather than competing? Maybe...

    Because the only times that Apple has successfully innovated is when Steve jobs was in control. Which isn't the case at the moment. And never will be again.

  • Aug 21st, 2012 @ 8:44am

    (untitled comment)

    This is really funny.There are works of Shakespeare that we have Today originated from knock-off copies by competing play companies (the Shakespeare orignals having been completely lost). In Elizabethan times, the London theatre scene was intensely competitive and if one had a smash hit, the others would try to stage it as soon as they possibly could. In most ways, content theft was a bigger problem for Shakespeare than it is for content creators Today.

    Hardly a debating point in favour of strict copyright laws.

  • Aug 21st, 2012 @ 4:53am

    The obvious reason for a written policy...

    Is to avoid lawsuits. You can get rid of a "trouble maker" and point to the written policy. So long as you can demonstrate a violation, the policy is reasonable and legally sound and the policy was in force when the individual arrived, there is very little the "trouble maker" can do through the courts.

  • Aug 21st, 2012 @ 4:47am




  • May 10th, 2012 @ 6:25am

    (untitled comment)

    How ironic that Samsung (maker of 10 of the 20 top selling android phones, and the 2 top selling android phones in the world) is a South Koerean company.

  • May 8th, 2012 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re:

    I beg to differ.

    The jury was asked to decide whether Oracle had proven that Google had infringed on Oracle's copyright in the Java API, assuming Structure, Sequence and Organization of an API can be copyrighted (the last part was an explicit instruction from the judge and a matter of law that the judge will decide, but did not want to do until after the trial). Pretty reasonably, given the judge's directions, the jury found that Google had infringed. As a secondary part of the same question, they were asked whether the infringement was excused by fair use. This was the issue the jury could not decide. Given the state of copyright law in the US and the judge's directions to the jury, there was nothing unreasonable or confused about the jury's finding. With all due respect, Mike, while perhaps your view is how a reasonable law OUGHT to be, you are the one who is confused (about how the law IS).

    This is all explained fairly clearly within this Groklaw article: You do have to hunt a bit for the explanation, though.

  • May 8th, 2012 @ 8:03am

    Re: Special situation

    If you really think this is a special situation, you need to go read Eric Flint's introduction to the Baen Free Library ( The free library allows you to download, free of charge, ebooks that authors have "donated" at their own discretion. If Harry Potter is such a special case, why are 25 Baen authors giving away works that could be charged for? Note that David Weber's "On Basilisk Station" became the best seller in Baen's backlist AFTER it was made available as a FREE ebook.

    Potterville is NOT a special situation, nor is it a new phenomenon - the Baen free library has been in existence since at least October 11, 2000 and is still going strong.

    Again, ask yourself why 25 authors would allow their works to be freely distributed if they didn't get any benefit from it?