Logo by Pauldelbrot - Contribute your own Logo!
News: Support us via Flattr FLATTR Link
 
*
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register. April 21, 2014, 04:53:48 PM


Login with username, password and session length



Pages: 1 [2]   Go Down
  Print  
Share this topic on DiggShare this topic on FacebookShare this topic on GoogleShare this topic on RedditShare this topic on StumbleUponShare this topic on Twitter
Author Topic: Who Owns The Software On Your Computer?  (Read 2215 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Thunderwave
Guest
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2010, 10:39:04 PM »

@Sockratease

Hmmm, yea the painting wasn't a good example, but my point should be about the copyright of an item.  Though now that I think about it,  it's too fuzzy and not really the same thing as this topic discusses.

But I agree with you on your statements.
Logged
Pauldelbrot
Fractal Senior
******
Posts: 2410



pderbyshire2
« Reply #16 on: October 20, 2010, 02:03:58 AM »

OK - how does your position differ from, say, downloading Adobe's Multi Thousand Dollar Suite of programs for a free 30 day trial - then, after 30 days pass, you do something to the software to make it run forever?

It doesn't, really -- but then, copyright law doesn't forbid it either. Adobe is basically giving you a copy of their $1000-retail doohickey free and asking you to stop using it, but copyright law only says you can't make and distribute more copies, not that you can't use a copy you got legitimately or that the author gets to yank copies back just by saying so.

Quote
Is that not Stealing Thousands of Dollars?

No, because it doesn't cost Adobe thousands of dollars, nor was Adobe even guaranteed that you'd otherwise have paid thousands of dollars. If you use the download for 30 days, then delete it and use the GIMP instead, Adobe is still not making that sale, and Adobe is still out whatever minuscule cost it incurred in the download; nothing is different from Adobe's perspective, which means it's hard for me to make a moral case that it's wrong, and the lack of any clause in Title 17 letting copyright holders unilaterally recall copyrighted works post-sale means it's hard for me to make a legal case for Adobe here either. Instead I'd argue that Adobe's business model has problems, though they seem to be successful enough that it seems it's working well enough for them for now. But it's predicated on setting a very inflated price on goods that don't actually cost all that much, and that's a sure-fire recipe for eventually having low price competition, whether from their own stuff that's been "pirated" or from alternatives like the GIMP.

A related question: should the law explicitly support that sort of business model?

I'd say no. Three reasons. One, such a law treads on the property rights of end users. Real property rights. It means giving every vendor in the marketplace some kind of continuing threads of ownership of their goods post-sale, rendering the whole concept of a sale meaningless and destroying the very concept of private property. No longer would we own our cars, our computers, or even the clothes on our backs. In other words, welcome to North Korea.

Second, companies like Adobe don't need it. If Adobe wants to provide a computing service without giving end users the means to do it on their own without further help from (and thus payments to) Adobe, they can provide it as a web service and charge money after the first thirty days. (That's how World of Warcraft makes money.) If they do that, then there's no ownership issue. Breaking into Adobe's servers is hacking and using fake logon credentials or whatever to access a pay service you didn't pay for would be fraud. And Adobe's business model would not be affected by people doing anything they damned well pleased, privately, on their own client computers.

And third, there's a supposition here that business models like that deserve some kind of special protection from competition. Why? I don't see the logic behind that. Adobe can rent a computing service over the network or get the government to pass a law outlawing disarming software timebombs on your own computer, and let's say they perfectly protect against anyone pirating or otherwise using Photoshop without paying them. And then the GIMP gains a few more features and a better user interface and an easy to use Windows installer and begins to eat Photoshop's market share at a ferocious rate, and Adobe's business model falls to pieces anyway. What are you going to do now, outlaw the GIMP? There are some that would try, claiming you can patent "editing a photo using layers" and similar concepts however implemented and using that to outlaw all competing software that does remotely the same thing. And there are experts all over the software world that will tell you that that would be a disaster and would kill innovation in the tech sector.

Quote
In that example, you agreed to use the program suite for 30 days when installing it

You did? Agreed with who? The last time I checked, you checked a box and clicked a button to make some annoying dialog go away during the installation. That doesn't seem to me to be the same as sitting across a negotiating table from an Adobe rep, with your lawyer at your right hand and his at his, and hashing out an agreement, then signing some documents and Xeroxing them and the lawyers on each side slipping their respective copies into their briefcases. Or anything close.

You seem to think you can agree to something and sign a contract with a dialog box in a piece of software running on your own computer. You own that computer. If you'll pardon the colorful metaphor, it's the contract-formation equivalent of masturbation.

Quote
What then stops you from decompiling it, and using knowledge gleaned from their source code to writ your own version of Photoshop and Friends?

Why, nothing, of course.

Quote
Or even selling those programs after you write them?

That, however, would be copyright infringement.

Quote
There have to be limits on what you can do with such software.

Why?

Quote
Where do you see those limits as existing?

Morally? Where your actions would actually harm someone -- much as your right to free expression stops when your fist hits someone else's nose.

I don't, however, consider "not buying from Adobe" to be harming Adobe. Lots of people don't buy from Adobe. I also don't consider "doing something Adobe doesn't want" to be harming Adobe, in a wrongdoing sense. If I signed an agreement with Adobe representatives not to do it, and then did it, that'd be breach of contract; if I'd verbally promised people at Adobe one thing and then did another that would be non-illegal but dishonest, but clicking some button on some software running on my own computer does not, in my mind, create any kind of obligation to anyone else, whether legal or moral.

And to see why, just read this next sentence:

By reading this sentence and then at any future time clicking your Windows Start button, you agree to pay me one million dollars ($1,000,000) on or before June 17, 2011.

Quote
Where do you draw the line and call an action illegal?

Where it actually breaks the law. In the specific case of copyright infringement, if you make copies available to others without permission. In the specific case of contract breach, if you make an agreement with a person or, via a human representative, with an organization, (including especially signing and submitting a written agreement), for an exchange of something from each side that the other values, and subsequently break your side of the bargain.

Note that altering downloaded software fits neither. No copies are being passed on and interacting with the GUI of some locally-running software is not submitting a signed agreement to any remote organization.

Quote
Please correct me if I am wrong, but that is how your argument appears to me.

And you had it more or less right.

As far as I know, the legal situation in most of the western hemisphere actually allows you to do as you see fit. You are legally entitled to crack any copy protection, and to work around expiration dates and other artificial limitations.

But you have to do it yourself, even make some of the tools yourself, because what's prohibited is the distribution of copies (both cracked payware and tools specifically for cracking). Technically, your homebrew cracked version is already an illegal copy. But since you don't distribute it, no one will ever be able to prove the accusation, and consequently no one will ever legally judge you.

Your homebrew cracked version is not illegal as I understand it. The DMCA prohibits trafficking in tools for cracking copy protection. If someone sells me a disk that's rigged to be hard to copy and has copyrighted content on it, and I make a tool for copying that sort of disk and distribute the tool, that's trafficking. On the other hand, if the tool does not break copy protection it doesn't seem it should qualify. Say it's a tool that locates Harry Potter ebooks (copyrighted works) on a computer's hard drive and scribbles a margin note saying "Harry Potter is kid stuff! Read something more grown up!" onto each one, this is altering a copyrighted work but it's not breaking copy protection. If I distribute a tool that alters a piece of copyrighted software, such as to patch a bug or remove a limitation, likewise that tool is not breaking copy protection (given that the limitation in question wasn't a limitation on making copies of the software, of course, i.e. was copy protection).

And if I merely tell someone how to do something, that's speech. The last time I checked, speech is protected. Even telling someone how to make explosives or how a particular bank branch has weak security is free speech, although acting on that speech may violate laws against unlicensed handling of explosives and break-and-enter and robbery. Telling someone how to break a copy protection scheme likewise seems equivalent: acting on it may be copyright infringement but the speech should be allowed.

Certainly the speech should be allowed if it's allowed when it tells people how to do something much more serious. If I can tell someone that you can kill with a specific poison (if they do it, it's murder) but I can't tell someone that you can break some bit of copy protection with some particular action (if they do it, it's copyright infringement) then there's a huge imbalance in the law, since murder is by far the more serious offense of the two!

Quote
I am not a lawyer. My explanation may be a mess, but that is largely caused by the whole thing being a mess.

You're right that the whole thing is a mess.

Quote
Immaterial wares just don't behave like the tangible stuff that most of our laws were made for. Before the internet, data was always tied to a tangible medium; and methods and processes could not easily be detached from the artisans who applied them. These days, copying bits is so cheap as to be effectively free. And methods/processes can be encoded into programs, effectively turning them into data as well.

That's why ultimately copyright enforcement is going to be useless. Even if applied perfectly. Adobe might make Photoshop hack-proof and force everyone to pay through the nose to use it -- and the GIMP will eventually eat their market share, or something else will. The natural price in the marketplace for photo-editing software is zero, because the marginal cost of photo-editing software is zero, and trying to artificially prop it up is doomed to eventual failure.

But it's not the end of the world. The GIMP proves that you don't need to be able to charge hefty margins on photo editing software for the marketplace to produce photo-editing software, at the same time as it threatens Adobe's business model. It may be the end of certain business models and even of certain actual businesses, but it's not the end of the world; the automobile ended the era of horse-drawn carriages and reduced the buggy-whip industry to just a sliver of what once was, but it wasn't the end of the world, and we're pretty sure it's actually better because of the transition.

(Before someone jumps up and shouts "global warming!", I invite them to compute how much methane would outgas from a population of horses large enough to support modern road transportation needs, and then multiply by 29 for that is how much more potent methane is than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and then compare to current vehicular emissions of the latter gas.)

Quote
In the old days, the act of making a copy was involved and difficult enough to act as a physical barrier. These times are gone. But the law, and society in general, and even technology itself (think of all the privacy issues and security breaches that you keep hearing of every single week), have big trouble keeping up.

They'll fail. We have laws on the books now that are unenforced and irrelevant; copyright will probably join them fairly soon. I doubt the political will exists to actually repeal it but it will become antiquated and disused at some point simply because it will have become useless to assert it instead of conducting your business differently so that it didn't matter.

Is it just me or is any hack on privately owned software illegal to discuss openly on a public forum such as this?

Are you kidding? Let me quote something to you.

Quote
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

There's a few exceptions for obscenity, hate speech, yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, and inciting violence, and that's it. Discussing the means to perform an act (even a criminal one) is legal.

There are criminal conspiracy laws, but they require two things: 1. An agreement to a criminal scheme, and 2. An act in furtherance of the scheme. If we decide to rob a bank and then one of us goes and buys the ski masks, that one might be charged with conspiracy to commit robbery at that point; probably not without further, more serious steps such as an actual attempted robbery would the charges stick. And note that it has to be a crime; copyright infringement is a civil matter. Conspiring to break into a remote server might be an offense if there was a specific plan to actually perpetrate the hack and if some step was taken to carry out that plan.

Conspiracy law requires an act in furtherance precisely so it isn't an unconstitutional ban on speech; merely discussing a plan cannot be illegal in and of itself.

Quote
I should remember a time when there were some great game makers out there in Japanese only, and even translating them is illegal.

Shortsighted thinking on the part of the copyright holders. Translating them makes them accessible to a broader market. If the copyright holder wasn't selling to that market anyway they lose nothing; and if they were, they should have done the translation themselves, so why didn't they? Better is to exploit the network effects of having more users to make it more valuable for the subset that are paying users; they can then sell more (or charge more, or even both) in the market they do sell to.

Quote
Certainly what you do privately is up to you but that must stay private or you risk the chance off being sued.  It's like buying a Rembrandt and then painting over it.  Just because you own it does not give you the right to change it.

Huh? Of course it does. It might be silly, and even a travesty, but under property rights law it's not a crime to buy something, even something one-of-a-kind, and then deface it. It being copyrighted wouldn't change that, either -- I mentioned before your right to buy a book and scribble notes in it, or rip pages out, or whatever.

You own it ; but it will at times come with "terms of use"

If you own it you decide the "terms of use". The most a manufacturer is legally allowed to do if you use a product in a way they don't like is void your warranty and generally refuse to support it.

Are you saying cracking tools themselves are illegal? John http://www.openwall.com/john/ springs to mind, but that's a password cracker so slightly different. This is supposed to go to show the tools may not be illegal - they can also be presented as security enhancing rather than cracking tools. A sysadmin would use this to detect which of the users on a system use weak passwords and advise them accordingly. Try also a google search for wireless+cracking+ubuntu.

Yes. This goes to show why it is foolish and dangerous to ban tools (or worse, speech) rather than ban specific bad uses of those tools (e.g. breaking into someone else's computer to snoop and trash their files). And we already have laws against the bad uses: laws against hacking, laws against vandalism, privacy laws, laws against burglary, and so forth.

If I understand the law on these matters, it's only illegal to discuss specific ways to hack specific software.

Not even that; see above. Now if we discussed how to hack fbi.gov in specific details and then one of us took a further action, such as port-scanning fbi.gov, that might be enough to put us afoul of conspiracy law. And (unfortunately; see above about banning tools) if we made a script to crack a copy prevention scheme and distributed the script we'd run afoul of the execrable DMCA.

Quote
Problems arise on sites that do things like post working serial numbers, or post patches, or even posting actual cracked software  (or even posting links to such things hosted elsewhere).  All of the above is illegal.

Posting numbers can't really be illegal in any sane legal system. Posting actual cracked software is obviously copyright infringement and posting patches may violate the DMCA.

Quote
My request that a member refrain from endorsing illegal hacking was just that.  A request.

The only hacking I endorsed was hacking that is, or should be, perfectly legal: hacking your own stuff to make it work better for you.
Logged

hobold
Fractal Phenom
******
Posts: 453


« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2010, 08:27:35 AM »

Is it just me or is any hack on privately owned software illegal to discuss openly on a public forum such as this?
You are not allowed to release specific "circumvention methods", say, a step by step guide to crack a particular piece of software. In doing so, you would be distributing a "tool" that is meant specifically and exclusively to be used for illegal purposes.

You are legally allowed to discuss the broader topic for educational purposes. After all, you cannot sensibly teach programmers to come up with copy protection if you cannot tell them about the possible attacks.
Logged
hobold
Fractal Phenom
******
Posts: 453


« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2010, 08:33:58 AM »

Are you saying cracking tools themselves are illegal?
With regards to this point, the laws in the western hemisphere are rather ... diverse. Some jurisdictions prohibit the sale, but not the making and possession of such tools. Others prohibit possession, making and sale. Some jurisdictions permit the tools; some others limit their application to a whitelist of strictly legal purposes; and some jurisdictions rule out a specific blacklist of illegal uses.

It's a mess.
Logged
hobold
Fractal Phenom
******
Posts: 453


« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2010, 08:56:15 AM »

And if I merely tell someone how to do something, that's speech.
The concept of free speech, as used in the United States of America, does not exist in that same broad generality anywhere else in the world. It is very relevant to these matters in the USA, because it is one of the few old and established "laws" that does in fact govern "immaterial wares".

Where I live, as an example, the constitution only protects the weaker concept of "free voicing of opinions" (and the general absence of censorship - but there is an invariant small blacklist of specific Nazi topics that are in fact censored here in Germany). In other words, I am allowed to say that copy protections suck. But I might not be allowed to publicly explain in detail why exactly a specific protection scheme is technically bad (because it's too easy to circumvent).

(And the whole EULA thing complicates matters even more; partly because most EULAs contain one or two illegal and unenforceable points buried in all the fine print. But they still make for an imposing threat to the unsuspecting consumer.)
Logged
hobold
Fractal Phenom
******
Posts: 453


« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2010, 09:10:06 AM »

That's why ultimately copyright enforcement is going to be useless. Even if applied perfectly. Adobe might make Photoshop hack-proof and force everyone to pay through the nose to use it -- and the GIMP will eventually eat their market share, or something else will.
This is why patent law is the new tool used by software businesses. Copyright is indeed headed for irrelevance, but who needs copyright when you can prohibit the competitors from re-creating some functionality at all?

In the long run, I agree that those societies which largely abandon the concept of intellectual property will be victorious. They are enjoying a speed of innovation that will quickly leave the old establishment behind. But for us here inside the old establishment, it's going to be a long and painful process. I am now in my fifth decade, and I don't expect to see this settled during my remaining lifetime.

But I very much expect it to turn out as you stated. "Information wants to be free" is not just a slogan for thieves to hide behind. It's not just a crazy ideology of a few computer nerds. In the informational world, "information wants to be free" is a law of nature as fundamental as thermodynamics is in the physical world. It's not the kind of law that you can break.
Logged
Pauldelbrot
Fractal Senior
******
Posts: 2410



pderbyshire2
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2010, 12:35:54 PM »

You are not allowed to release specific "circumvention methods", say, a step by step guide to crack a particular piece of software. In doing so, you would be distributing a "tool" that is meant specifically and exclusively to be used for illegal purposes.

The law must surely make a distinction between speech and a tool. A tool has to be more than just speech -- compilable code, or an executable, or a physical device.

The concept of free speech, as used in the United States of America, does not exist in that same broad generality anywhere else in the world. It is very relevant to these matters in the USA, because it is one of the few old and established "laws" that does in fact govern "immaterial wares".

Where I live, as an example, the constitution only protects the weaker concept of "free voicing of opinions" (and the general absence of censorship - but there is an invariant small blacklist of specific Nazi topics that are in fact censored here in Germany). In other words, I am allowed to say that copy protections suck. But I might not be allowed to publicly explain in detail why exactly a specific protection scheme is technically bad (because it's too easy to circumvent).

Then you should lobby in your country to have true freedom of speech as we do here in North America.

Quote
And the whole EULA thing complicates matters even more; partly because most EULAs contain one or two illegal and unenforceable points buried in all the fine print.

"One or two"? smiley I think it's a wee bit more than that.

Quote
But they still make for an imposing threat to the unsuspecting consumer.

That's the idea. I'd like to see asserting terms and conditions that are unenforceable by law be considered a form of fraud, myself. For starters, every single assertion that something is "for home viewing only" or "permission is required to republish" or etc. that does not acknowledge the existence of fair use. Copyright has grown like a cancer and in that it has been exceeded only by copyright overreach: claiming "rights" that don't actually exist in Title 17, including frequently the "right" to make fair use go away just by decreeing it, ditto first sale, and "rights" to control various post-purchase uses other than the performance and distribution acts that are covered by Title 17.

Actually, I'm increasingly of the opinion that we're better off without the whole mess, in its entirety. Open source is big business these days and has proven that you can make money off software without restricting copying. The recording industry music copyrights are defacto unenforceable and the recording industry, troubled though it is, is still afloat, and more music is being created than ever. Only the creme de la creme of book authors ever see so much as a dime in royalties. About the only creativity that might be seriously crippled by the loss is filmmaking and judging by the churning out year after year of predictable sequels, actioners, disaster flicks, romantic comedies, and so forth, filmmaking may not be that big a loss. And what truly interesting experiments in that area are occurring all seem to be posted for free on YouTube!

Copyright seems less about incentivizing creation of anything these days and more about keeping a few people rich. Movie moguls and record label execs and, most of all, lawyers. Not one of whom is actually an artist, though they'll all claim to represent artists.

This is why patent law is the new tool used by software businesses. Copyright is indeed headed for irrelevance, but who needs copyright when you can prohibit the competitors from re-creating some functionality at all?

An excellent point. Therefore I respectfully submit that we ought to outlaw software patents, and maybe give some serious consideration to getting rid of the rest of them too. Gene patents -- ridiculous. Why does the USPTO keep granting patents on inventions that have four billion years of prior art? Machinery patents -- the machine is obsolete before it can be fully copied by industrial spies these days. Drug patents -- the case with the strongest arguments for (cheap to reproduce, enormous R&D costs) and the strongest arguments against (if I'm dying of a treatable condition and I can afford to pay the marginal cost to produce one dose, should my life be sacrificed on the altar of incentivizing R&D?) Show me a way to significantly cut R&D costs in that area and I'll say get rid of those patents too. Ditto if someone invents a cheap way to back up and restore human personalities or port them to better hardware.

Quote
In the long run, I agree that those societies which largely abandon the concept of intellectual property will be victorious. They are enjoying a speed of innovation that will quickly leave the old establishment behind.

Take a look at Estonia -- rapid development of internet and tech infrastructure. China's mushrooming manufacturing economy. India -- filmmaking(!), music, and software. Brazil -- software, filmmaking, etc. Korea -- manufacturing, software, biotech.

Of course that's just history repeating itself. The fledgling US had weak to no "intellectual property" laws -- short copyrights, no foreign author copyrights, and no patents. It burgeoned rapidly compared to the European nations with their stronger "protections". Protection is not quite the right word for it -- it's protectionism in disguise, and protectionism is a discredited philosophy for how best to promote domestic industry and economic growth. Current US foreign policy even explicitly mentions copyright as key to protecting the domestic film and music industries, and any student of history knows what happens to the "protected" industries: foreign competitors rapidly outproduce them. Bollywood is going to be hosting the 2020 Academy Awards at the rate the US is "protecting" (read: smothering to death) its domestic creative industries.

Quote
But for us here inside the old establishment, it's going to be a long and painful process. I am now in my fifth decade, and I don't expect to see this settled during my remaining lifetime.

Heard of iPS cells? Your life expectancy assuming current technology gets you to 2030 with your ticker still working. Only we won't have current technology. We'll have grow-you-some-replacement-parts-quick-and-cheap technology easily by 2030. Maybe even repair-them-in-situ technology. So despair not. smiley

Quote
But I very much expect it to turn out as you stated. "Information wants to be free" is not just a slogan for thieves to hide behind. It's not just a crazy ideology of a few computer nerds. In the informational world, "information wants to be free" is a law of nature as fundamental as thermodynamics is in the physical world. It's not the kind of law that you can break.

You're very close with that one, but in fact it's not just "as fundamental as thermodynamics", it actually is thermodynamics. Information and entropy are almost the same thing and their spreading around is the natural thermodynamic evolution of a system. Particles entangle and we get decoherence -- thermodynamics applied at the quantum level makes the whole universe turn into a sheaf of distinct parallel worlds. Cosmic growth ultimately powers it -- given the Bekenstein bound, doubling the radius of the observable universe quadruples its degrees of freedom and thus its information storage capacity. Data, as everyone well knows, expands to fill the space available, so the universe branches and all these different possibilities get realized. And of course the average one of these is messier than the last. Out pops the second law, but it's really about information all along. And of course there's Jefferson's famous observation that an idea forces itself into one's possession and one cannot dispossess oneself of it; that's obviously a thermodynamically irreversible process right there.

Hence the Sisyphean nature of the things the record companies are trying -- it's exactly like trying to keep a boulder at the top of a steep hill when the thermodynamically favored state has it at the bottom and its gravitational potential energy converted into heat.
Logged

hobold
Fractal Phenom
******
Posts: 453


« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2010, 03:40:13 PM »

"Information wants to be free" is not just a slogan for thieves to hide behind. It's not just a crazy ideology of a few computer nerds. In the informational world, "information wants to be free" is a law of nature as fundamental as thermodynamics is in the physical world. It's not the kind of law that you can break.

You're very close with that one, but in fact it's not just "as fundamental as thermodynamics", it actually is thermodynamics.
I know. I just don't think I can explain the connection well enough. I may be convinced, but I am not sure I could convince others by any scientific standard.


Thus far I have tried not to debate my opinions, but stay with claims that I could defend objectively, scientifically. The trouble is, as much as there may be an emergent irresistible force that propels the whole intellectual property issue towards the point of maximal entropy - the exact ducts through which we funnel all those bits will not emerge from first principles. There will be a lot of opinion, ideology, and politics involved. Sysiphus' hands will slip, and the boulder will roll downhill - but it will follow a path painstakingly carved into the mountainside by various groups with very different interests.

Or, in other words, it will matter surprisingly little that the end result is fixed and unavoidable. There will still be many battles fought before this story concludes. And those battles do need to be fought, for the bigger picture of society. There will be a disruptive transition, bringing benefits and downsides. We cannot really afford to let things just run their course, but must put effort into the other cornerstones of our laws: fair sharing of costs and rewards of this transition.

Such opinions, ideologies, and politics are really at the heart of this very discussion thread. The science part of it is fairly clear and not up for debate.


(BTW, my survival instincts seem to be defective. I don't strive to live forever. Nor am I suicidal. It's just that I recognize death as being a requirement for darwinian evolution to function. And I recognize that it's the species that matters, not the individual. But this is another train of thought that would follow opinion and ideology rather than science.)
Logged
Pauldelbrot
Fractal Senior
******
Posts: 2410



pderbyshire2
« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2010, 02:50:48 PM »

At this point I think the best that could be done by governments is to declare an official phase-out date for copyright: they all expire on that date and after it no more come into being. Set it reasonably far ahead -- a few years. Then leave it up to private industry to plan for it, arrange their affairs, position themselves for the market shifts. As the deadline looms the effects of copyright will become less, since everyone will know it won't last much longer. This produces a gradual transition, terms initially being still longer than the commercial life of most works but shortening steadily at one year per year right till the end.

As for your musings on death being necessary for Darwinian evolution, the question to ask yourself now is is Darwinian evolution the best way for humans to adapt going forwards? I'd argue that we have long adapted less by genetic change than by learning and inventing, and learning is something most people can do at any age. To the extent that older people are less able to learn and adapt that is just another negative consequence of aging that we should hope someday to cure. And of course human genetics will soon be increasingly malleable to directed, intentional amendment. At some point we will have fully reverse engineered ourselves, and with that comes the capability to create version 2.0, port ourselves to new hardware, and the like. Of course the prospect of version 2.0 someday arising and displacing version 1.0 may seem daunting, but we're eventually replaced by our offspring -- the next Darwinian generation -- as it stands; whereas in the future we may be able to individually upgrade to 2.0 instead of having to die and leave the world to newborn version 1.0001s. Put that way suddenly it's the old way of human improvement that seems daunting.
Logged

hobold
Fractal Phenom
******
Posts: 453


« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2010, 11:09:34 PM »

As for your musings on death being necessary for Darwinian evolution, the question to ask yourself now is is Darwinian evolution the best way for humans to adapt going forwards?
Of all the optimization algorithms known to mankind thus far, the only one that is (statistically) guaranteed to find the optimal point under any and all conditions, is a specific kind of random walk - with extremely slow convergence (step size is proportional to 1/log(time)).

I believe that means the concept of "intelligent design" is fundamentally flawed, even when we ourselves are the intelligent designers (or some would say: "even when a supreme being" ...). Making any smart choices can only help short term, while you are still very far from the unknown optimum. In the long run, trial and error according to die rolls is the only known good bet, hence the "best bet".

The power to design Homo Sapiens Sapiens 2.0 will come to us eventually. There is even a chance that we might use that power wisely. But our own survival instincts will bar us from just moving over and making room. I cannot rule out the possibility that the terrified masses will just burn all scientists at the stake ... or that some crazy dictator tries to build his army of supersoldiers and is all too successful ... interesting times. smiley
Logged
Pauldelbrot
Fractal Senior
******
Posts: 2410



pderbyshire2
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2010, 04:45:41 AM »

We have to "move over and make room" now. In theory you'd be able to upgrade yourself to 2.0 without loss of personal identity and continuity, by contrast.

And as optimization processes go, evolution is slow and quite dumb compared even to version 1.0 of us. Evolution never managed in four billion years some things that our brains managed in a million: traveling to the moon, ejecting objects from the solar system entirely, obtaining detailed visual reconaissance from Mars's surface, heavier-than-air flight at supersonic speeds, various achievements in computing and telecommunications, figuring out Fermat's Last Theorem, and on and on. We've designed machines that evolution would have taken numbers of years to produce so large they'd require Knuth up-arrow notation to describe. And that's version 1.0. If you think 1.0 isn't smart enough or is too short-sighted to solve some problems and find some clever parts of solution spaces, wait'll you see 2.0.
Logged

Pages: 1 [2]   Go Down
  Print  
 
Jump to:  



Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines

Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS! Dilber MC Theme by HarzeM
Page created in 0.884 seconds with 30 queries. (Pretty URLs adds 0.027s, 2q)