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Comments

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For Now, UK Online Pirates Will Get 4 Warnings -- And That's It

bzipitidoo Re:Changing attitudes, i.e. brainwashing (143 comments)

Sharing is more than easy and natural, it's good. Sharing is so important to civilzations that early ones developed writing systems to facilitate it, and later ones have been improving it ever since. Reading and writing used to be only for the nobility, for the practical reason that educating everyone was more expense than was thought worthwhile, though this was also correctly seen as an excuse not to educate the masses. Words were terribly subversive, best if the people can't read them. The pen is not mightier than the sword if no one can read. Democracies changed that, deciding that 100% literacy was a desirable and nearly obtainable goal.

Now here we are today, and what are our supposedly democratic governments doing? Siding with those who think they have a right to lock away knowledge, those who think the worthy desire to compensate artists justifies all kinds of monstrosities and public expense, and that fair compensation can only be done through Holy Copyright.

Sharing should be encouraged. By everyone.

about a week ago
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

bzipitidoo Re:user error (710 comments)

Er, pegged to the right, I mean. That fridge may have been the least efificient model available in 1995.

I hypermile too. But here again, you'll do better with a better car, rather than sweating to make a bad car do a little better. If we took energy savings seriously, we'd smooth the undersides of our cars for starters. No more of this having the car's guts exposed to the world.

about two weeks ago
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

bzipitidoo Re:user error (710 comments)

I can't quite match you, but I have our house just under 300kwh in the months with the most pleasant temperatures. There are 3 of us, and it sounds like only 1 of you. You live in a place with a friendlier climate, while I am stuck in north Texas. Last year, we used about 5200kwh. Was hovering around 10000kwh in the 1990s. Improvements in lighting, displays, and A/Cs have made more difference than being an activist about turning things off all the time. However, the biggest saver is being willing to live with greater temperature differences, setting the thermostat to 83 in the summer and 70 in the winter.

I'm looking forward to about a 10% improvement now that we have finally ditched our old fridge. It was made in 1995, and the efficiency of refrigerators was greatly improved starting in 1996. It wasn't even efficient for a 1995 model, being pegged all the way to the left on the energy usage label.

about two weeks ago
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People Who Claim To Worry About Climate Change Don't Cut Energy Use

bzipitidoo Re: user error (710 comments)

To be fair, no car, not a little econobox nor a big SUV, is going to do well in a collision with a tractor trailer.

about two weeks ago
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With New Horizons Spacecraft a Year Away, What We Know About Pluto

bzipitidoo Re:We know it's a Goddamned planet (128 comments)

Mass is a big point. Mercury is very dense and quite a bit more massive than Ganymede and Titan and all the other moons in our solar system. Mercury is 3.3x10^23 kg, while the most massive moon, Ganymede, is only 1.48x10^23, less than half of Mercury's mass.

about two weeks ago
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With New Horizons Spacecraft a Year Away, What We Know About Pluto

bzipitidoo Re:We know it's a Goddamned planet (128 comments)

<dramatic music>New Horizons set out on an epic journey of <Carl Sagan voice>millions and millions</Carl Sagan voice> of miles to the most distant, coldest parts of the solar system. Its 5, er, 8 year mission, to explore the last unexplored and most difficult to reach Planet of them all, Pluto, and whatever planets may be discovered beyond Pluto.</dramatic music>

Suddenly, in 2006 Pluto was downgraded to dwarf planet status, and all the Planets were now explored.

Fight? What for? <glorious fanfare>Mission Accomplished!</glorious fanfare> It's over. Get a life!

about two weeks ago
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New Microsoft CEO Vows To Shake Up Corporate Culture

bzipitidoo what should be off the table (204 comments)

Nothing is off the table? Does the table include lying, doublespeak, file format lock in, using proxies to sue Linux users, bribing and strongarming standardization committee members, the whole embrace, extend, and exterminate strategy that they tried with Java and IE, Windows Genuine Advantage, staying in bed with the copyright extremists of the entertainment industry, continued support of organizations like the Business Software Alliance? Is any of that off the table?

If MS's new CEO isn't acknowledging that they went too far with that stuff, and that the company will go in a new direction, stop being anti-social, stop being evil, then the new CEO represents no real change, just some minor adjustments.

about two weeks ago
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By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem

bzipitidoo Re:AI is always "right around the corner". (564 comments)

One quibble with your reply. The rules of chess are not complicated. Yes, the pawn has several special cases, and castling is unlike all the other moves in chess, but these do not complicate the game that much. It's more complicated than checkers, but not by a lot. A complicated game is something like Star Fleet Battles or Squad Leader. Those games have hundreds of rules.

The complexity of chess is in how to play well, not how to play by the rules. That was another factor that made chess so attractive to the AI community.

Some people seemed to feel that we could take a good chess playing program and just apply it to any old problem. The techniques can be applicable to other problems, but it sure isn't as easy as some hoped.

about three weeks ago
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No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

bzipitidoo Re:I simply haven't seen it (401 comments)

want to live in NorCal

Huge problem. Few can afford to move there, even fewer want to. Do you allow telecommuting? If you don't, why not? You're asking for programmers. If any job can be done remotely, that one can.

about three weeks ago
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By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem

bzipitidoo Re:AI is always "right around the corner". (564 comments)

Researchers once thought chess made a good proxy for intelligence. Not every smart person is good at chess, but it seemed every good chess player was also smart. They worked for decades to make chess programs that could beat good chess players. When that started happening, it was obvious that the programs had no general intelligence at all. They were good for chess, but had to be reprogrammed even for very similar games like checkers. When the ultimate triumph of beating the world chess champ happened, it was more of the same. No real intelligence, just faster hardware and refinements to the search algorithm.

The conclusion is that chess is not a good measure of intelligence after all. We don't have a good grasp of what intelligence really is, let alone how exactly to measure it. IQ tests have all kinds of problems, not least that the typical IQ test is very narrow. Maybe wealth or number of children or friends could correlate with intelligence, but there are lots of problems with that too. Is it smart to have wealth beyond one's present and future needs?

about three weeks ago
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Oklahoma's Earthquakes Linked To Fracking

bzipitidoo Re:Okay, so this has what to do with fracking then (154 comments)

Is peer-reviewed data with a peer-reviewed statistical correlation really that unfair of a requirement?

Maybe. If that's demanded for proof that the sky is blue, water flows downhill, the sun rises in the east, 2+2=4, or God exists, then it is an unfair requirement. Don't ask for proof for simple conclusions that anyone can reach with Occam's Razor. Don't demand proof for the unprovable. Raising those aren't expressing honest doubts, it's playing politics, using doubt to block further inquiry, delay remedial action that might impact someone negatively.

Rather, ask for proof of the counterintuitive. It makes sense that messing with the underground will cause changes in the underground that manifest as earthquakes, and also contamination of underground waters. Prove that fracking does not cause earthquakes. Peer review the proof. I suspect it can't be done, because fracking can and does cause earthquakes.

about three weeks ago
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Oklahoma's Earthquakes Linked To Fracking

bzipitidoo Re:Okay, so this has what to do with fracking then (154 comments)

Standard denialist garbage. What amount of fact is enough to convince you? Think about that for a moment. What data would you have to see, to be convinced that fracking is causing earthquakes?

As to proof, how do you know anything is real? We might be living on a roughly spherical shaped object lit by a much larger nearby roughly spherical object, or we might not. We could be living in a giant simulator that is so good, supernaturally good, that we can't tell it apart from reality. God could have created the universe in 7 days. How can we tell? We can't! We understand that we can make good conclusions from observable reality, no matter whether it is real or not. To the best of our knowledge, what we observe is real, but we understand there could be a deeper reality. Whether there is or not does not affect our work.

about three weeks ago
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NSA Considers Linux Journal Readers, Tor (And Linux?) Users "Extremists"

bzipitidoo Re:Yeah, right. (361 comments)

You didn't go far enough. Many of the people in control at these agencies are of average stupidity and somewhat greater than average paranoia, and they fear and distrust smart people just for being smart. They are political hacks who kissed up to the right politicians in the right ways. One of their qualities is blind loyalty to their masters. This problem was at its worst during the Bush administration. Remember how it was nearly treasonous merely to argue against going to war in Iraq? We had little choice but to watch the idiots charge into the War of Choice.

They want smart people on their side, but constantly fear that those same people might turn traitor according to a very broad definition of treason. They want those smart people thinking only about the technical details and not any larger implications. They reserve for themselves the right to think about larger pictures as long as they aren't too large, and seem to really believe that's acceptable. They and their masters do the thinking and smart people are supposed to do nothing else other than make it happen. They are blindly loyal to their masters, and expect their underlings to show the same blind loyalty to them. A smart person just thinking about larger pictures is potentially treasonous. They also want contradictory things, and will suspect inability to accomplish two opposing goals could be treachery. You could do it if you really wanted to, and you're just giving them bull, is what they're wont to think. Why don't you want to do it? They think smart people can do almost anything, particularly black hat stuff. But at the same time they constantly suspect incompetence, especially when hearing protests that something is impossible. They actually want to see smart people humbled on occasion and when they think they've seen a mistake, they jump all over it, indulge in a bit of bashing just to enjoy bringing a smart person down to their level. Sometimes they resort to threats, think that can make things happen. They totally fail to see their own double standards and hypocrisies, and that their thinking is irrational, stupid, and vicious, and drives smart people away.

about three weeks ago
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The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

bzipitidoo Re:Longevity (196 comments)

There are often good reasons to go cheap. If better technology is waiting in the wings, it doesn't make sense to invest a lot of money in high quality, long lasting implementations of inferior tech. Look at the homes of the rich of the early 20th century and earlier. They have high quality obsolete tech all over the place.

For fluorescent lighting, I replaced magnetic ballasts with electronic ballasts. They are more efficient. I also experimented and replaced a 2x40W fixture with a 2x32W. 32 watt fluorescent bulbs are smaller diameter but emit as much or more light. Trouble was, it was going to take 10 years for the switch from 80 watts to 64 watts to pay itself back, and that's only if the lights are on at least 8 hours of the day. When the LED night lights arrived, we started leaving those fluorescents off at night. Now it looks like they will never be paid back. Cheaper to toss the 32w bulbs and electronic ballasts, and switch to LED.

LEDs aren't the final word. Even more efficient to just use a skylight, and go to bed when it gets dark. We as a society are hurting ourselves with far too liberal use of artificial lighting. Messes up our circadian rhythms, causing hormone imbalances and obesity.

about a month ago
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The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

bzipitidoo Re:Longevity (196 comments)

I have noticed a high failure rate for LED night lights. I don't recall the exact numbers, but out of some 20 purchased, 4 or 5 failed after only a few months.

Another problem is high variability. Even in a package of 4 supposedly identical models, some LED night lights will be much brighter than others.

Perhaps another place to get data is traffic lights. How often do you see LED traffic lights with dead pixels, so to speak? I see that all the time.

about a month ago
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Nathan Myhrvold's Recipe For a Better Oven

bzipitidoo Re:Cost (228 comments)

The point is, we can have a much better oven without an increase in price. Same amount of material, or even less material. There is low hanging fruit that is being ignored. Consider how long it took for toaster ovens to get timers. Years after the introduction of microwave ovens, all of which have timers and automatic shutoff, most toaster ovens still had nothing more than a cheap thermostat.

It's a similar story in housing. The features of the site are routinely ignored. Air conditioning coils should be placed on the east side of a building. It would be so easy and zero cost to simply flip and rotate the plans to position the coils there, but they don't. In most places, half the energy used by a house is spent on mere heating and cooling. Houses should have much better insulation. Instead, money is spend on useless bling like the unnecessarily complicated rooflines that will cost a fortune to reshingle. A simple roof would be better and cheaper. Then there is the completely stupid fireplace that was recognized as inefficient in the 18th century by none other than Benjamin Franklin. He advocated a wood burning stove. But we still put badly deisgned fireplaces in every house today. They are not serious methods of heating homes, they are entertainment devices so people can watch pretty flames. But a lot of people are fooled by them, think a fireplace can serve as heat if the furnace is out of commission.

What's with this knee jerk thinking that improvements are always costly?

about a month ago
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CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

bzipitidoo Re:So....far more than guns (454 comments)

High bridges are magnets for suicidal people. Not only is death nearly guaranteed, it's nicely public and dramatic. Might even shut down a major route for a few hours. The Golden Gate Bridge has had problems with suicides ever since it was built. Authorities are finally taking some preventative measures, like adding netting so it's not quite so easy to throw yourself off. We have rails that make it difficult for cars to drive off the side, but human bodies slipped through the cracks, so to speak.

If high bridges are so attractive as a means of suicide, it makes sense that a tool purposely built to kill would also be attractive.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

bzipitidoo Re:I recommend (176 comments)

DOSBox is good.

I recommend against a native DOS setup like FreeDOS, unless you don't care about graphics and audio. FreeDOS actually works fine on modern hardware. The problem is that there are no drivers for modern video and audio. As far as I know, there are no emulation layers either-- no way to glue a Soundblaster interface to a modern audio interface with a DOS driver that DOS games can use. Graphics are worse. Without drivers, you're stuck with 320x200x256 color VGA or 640x480x16 color EGA/VGA. Ever try to use Windows at 320x200 resolution? Many old DOS games had their own graphics drivers for the most common graphics hardware, and simply will not run if the hardware they're built for doesn't exist. An emulator like DOSBox takes care of those issues.

As to well aged Linux, there's a huge dividing point at the change from libc5 to libc6 which happened in the late 90s. Binaries compiled in the days of libc5 are going to complain and crash because they can't work with libc6. Expect lots of library hell. Another big change is the still ongoing shift from 32bit to 64bit that reached a tipping point in the mid 2000s. Nearly everything from the early 2000s is going to be 32bit. Although 64bit OSes include many 32bit libraries, you'll likely find it easier to just install a 32bit OS. There are extensions for using more than 4G of RAM in 32bit mode, but it may be easier to just work within 4G.

Digging out and installing an old Linux distribution is going to be more trouble. If it's from the days of libc5, X won't have drivers for GeForce or Radeon graphics hardware. You'll have to settle for slow performance and low resolution from standard VESA modes, or even VGA modes. 1024x768 is nice to have, but don't be too surprised if you have to settle for 800x600 or even 640x480. Another problem is USB. An old Linux probably can't read a USB keyboard and mouse, must have the old PS/2 connectors. Then there's the hard drive. An old Linux may not be able to handle SATA let alone SAS. Has to be SCSI or IDE. The hardware may be able to help here, as the BIOS may have options to run an emulation layer, provide the old bus interfaces that the software expects. To install vintage Linux, likely need a CDROM drive, or even a 1.44M floppy drive.

about a month ago
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Hospitals Begin Data-Mining Patients

bzipitidoo Re:Time to Legislate Data Mining (162 comments)

Few issues are completely one sided, but slavery is about as close as you can get. That roof over their heads is just cheap rationalising to help the masters feel good. Like patting yourself on the back for feeding someone a fish today, when you could have taught them how to fish but you won't because you want to keep control. You even go as far as stopping them from figuring out how to fish on their own, on the notion that they can't handle such dangerous knowledge. Slavery wasn't even really good for the plantation owners. Their world view was seriously warped by the prejudice they ingrained in themselves. They really believed their self justifying propaganda about blacks being inferior, latched hard onto the whole idea of the White Man's Burden. Laboring under such wrong thinking leads to systemic weakness.

The ultimate reason the Confederacy lost was that when they started the war, they were already way behind economically, and that was thanks to slavery. Slave powered economies simply are not competitive. Very static, resistant to change, and lacking innovation. They deluded themselves that southerners were more manly than northerners. Hoped that, a few other advantages like King Cotton, and most of all the advantage of being the defender would be enough to tip the scale against the Union's huge numeric advantages. But often their leadership would squander the defensive advantage by making reckless assaults, possibly out of that misplaced sense of greater manliness. Lots of battles in Confederate territory have more confederate than union casualties. General Hood was the ultimate in reckless aggressiveness, and President Davis put him in command because he wanted aggressive action. The result was that Hood got his army killed, first seriously reduced at Atlanta, then finsihed at Nashville.

What I don't like is the "blame the victim" angle of this data mining. Instead of this approach of mitigating things the consumer did, as if they might be bad for our health, why not grill the store? Like, instead of haranging the consumer about a pizza they ate, what about a talk with the pizza vendor for using too much salt or fat or whatever? One thing that the US does is pour way too much salt on our food. There is precedent. I think bars are legally constrained not to sell alcohol to someone who is drunk, and/or required to prevent them from driving away.

about a month ago
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Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

bzipitidoo Re:IF.. (561 comments)

For much of the 20th century, it was thought chess made a good proxy for intelligence. Skill at chess correlated with high intelligence. Though it was clear that lack of chess skill didn't mean a person was stupid. This correlation was believed so strongly that the AI community bought into it and tried for decades to make a computer beat highly skilled human chess players. When this effort finally succeeded, it only further confirmed what many had suspected for some time, which is that skill at chess can be obatined through sheer brute force calculation. It doesn't require intelligence, whatever that is exactly, though that helps. We need better measures and definitions. And, yes, most IQ tests aren't it.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Not a crime?

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bzipitidoo writes "
  • Loitering
  • Speeding
  • Shoplifting
  • Copying
  • Presenting hacks at a conference
  • Refusing to divulge passwords
  • Drugs
  • Sexting
"
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Laredo to be largest city with no bookstore

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bzipitidoo writes "The last bookstore in Laredo, TX (population 230,000) is closing, which fact may be played up as a sign that civilization is declining, at least in Laredo. Is this a tragedy or a blessing, or neither? The city still has public libraries and Internet access and through that Project Gutenberg and online ordering of books. The bookstore is only a business-- it isn't devoted to raising the level of culture, or literacy, it is only there to profit. Perhaps this is only a sign that bookstores are obsolete."
Link to Original Source
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The topics covered in Communications of the ACM

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 6 years ago

bzipitidoo writes "The flagship publication of the Association for Computing Machinery, the professional society for Computer Scientists, is Communications of the ACM. In the 1970's CACM had many articles of technical and scientific interest. In the 1980s, CACM shifted emphasis, and today its articles are mostly about the business and management of software engineering. The next most common subject is security and military problems. The remainder tend to be mushy social science in tone, and often have a tie in to business or security. Is that all the ACM thinks Computer Science is? CACM shouldn't be an Applied CS in Business and Military Special Interest Group journal, as the flagship journal, CACM should be a general CS journal. If one never reads any other journals in CS, one could wonder whether CS is becoming "played out", with every year bringing fewer and fewer research papers about algorithms, or programming languages, or other fundamentals of CS, and that's why CACM has shifted emphasis. But then something like the June issue of Scientific American, which was a better issue on CS than any CACM issue in the last decade, comes out. Or, something big happens, such as the solving of Checkers. What's with the ACM and their main publication?"

Journals

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Public digital libraries and the law

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

The advantages of a digital library over a traditional book repository are tremendous. No more need for multiple copies of popular books, no reason to have late fees, due dates, charges for lost or damaged books, or indeed the entire system built around library cards and records for tracking who has which books and when they are due. Anyone could download a copy of anything, anytime, and do so without interfering with anyone else's access. Stacks and shelves filled with tons of paper books would all be replaced with computers. This would take less space, and perhaps less maintenance. And it would allow all sorts of extra functionality, such as the ability to search, and have hyperlinks to related works. Card catalogs and cumbersome indexes of magazine and journal articles would not be needed. Also, can handle different sorts of data, such as books and movies, with the same system. Cities could save a bundle.

Currently, though technically doable, this magnificent vision is politically impossible. Copyright law stands squarely in the way. I cannot see any way to have a digital library that is freely accessible, and copyright law. It is the ability to copy any info quickly that makes a digital library so much more powerful, useful, and cheaper than a print library. We should abandon copyright law, and compensate and encourage artists with other means. The benefits of public digital libraries, and of the free exchange of ideas they could promote, are worth much more than copyright law. But because we do have this antiquated legal regime, the few digital libraries that exist are mostly behind paywalls or are private, and contain very small, highly specific collections, and we cannot see the full benefits. Copyright law must be retired.

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bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Some people instead advocate reforms such as limiting the length of these monopolies (to something like 5 years), not granting so many frivolous patents, not allowing the patenting of software, and reducing the penalties for violations. All those are good reforms to Intellectual Property (IP) law. But I think they don't go far enough, and the root of the problem can be summed up with one word: monopoly. Anti-trust efforts aim to eliminate monopolies, not mitigate them.

Even very short duration monopolies are enough to retard progress. That still provides grounds for expensive lawsuits and threats over alleged violations. By removing patents and copyrights altogether, we remove all basis for these complaints, and save us all a lot of legal expenses. We also save hugely on enforcement and the costs of a larger justice system. If anything should anger us, it is the misuse of our own police forces, paid for by us, in support of these businesses highly dubious ends. And most of all, we stop what has become the primary uses of IP, the blocking of competition and the robbery and extortion of the disadvantaged. People who want less government should support the abolishment of current IP law. As matters stand, many businesses have realized that building a portfolio of patents for defensive purposes is less costly than having an "IP gap". The quality of the patents does not matter, all that matters is that they have some of this peculiar form of currency, and so the quality has lately been poor. The least costly route is total disarmament, where no one need budget for patent portfolios.

Supporters of IP display a blind religious fervor that these laws are a net benefit, that they achieve the intent of advancing science and promoting art enough to justify the costs of these monopolies. I have never seen a reasoned argument, with honest statistics, in support of this position. Of the rational studies I have seen, most focus on one aspect, and conclude that the status quo is indeed bad. We need a study of the real costs and benefits of the current system, versus some alternatives.

What replacements do I propose? Nothing, or patronage. Nothing is of course the easiest, but the intent of the patent system was to buy off inventors-- give them something in exchange for revealing their secrets, and if there is no incentive of any sort for that, many will keep as many secrets as possible. A worse outcome is that people won't bother inventing or creating art. This fear is perhaps overblown. Nevertheless, we can strike a balance to encourage the creating of as much art as we can stomach. A patronage system can provide the incentive. A payment is a far less damaging thing to give inventors and artists than a monopoly. The next problems are valuation and collection. We can surely work out ways of figuring compensation amounts that are as fair as possible, given the huge difficulties in guessing how valuable an idea will turn out to be. Collection is the other big problem, with the first notion being a tax. But there are other ways. A levy can be agreed upon. And it need not be government that does the collecting, valuation, or disbursement, nor the people who pay directly, it could be quasi-governmental private entities managing the system. And paying into it would be advertisers and manufacturers of equipment that benefited from the knowledge, and charities.

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first post! :p

bzipitidoo bzipitidoo writes  |  more than 6 years ago Apparently I'm not invisible anymore! I have some fans-- and freaks! /wave! I've been spending a little less time on Slashdot the past 2 weeks to spend a little more time on another hobby at http://www.gassavers.org

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