Thursday, December 27, 2007

Problem 1: IP

I have started a small series about the problems I think about regularly and have found no answers yet. Here's the first installment:

For all the non-ComSci folks out there, IP= intellectual property. Its the buzzword used by everyone these days to protect their innovation.

Intellectual Property is the basis of patents, licenses, copyrights and everything guarding unauthorized use of knowledge. If I be audacious enough to proclaim that knowledge should not be hoarded and should be made freely available to all, the age old argument of "reward for innovation" crops up.. nobody can innovate with an empty stomach and it would definitely be bAAAAd to have some smart ass marketing guy steal your years of research and create a million dollar startup out of thin air.

The situation is worse than it seems to be. This became visible to me when I left the academia. Without the academia's massive library at my disposal I need to have ACM and IEEE subscription to get a decent article on any advanced topic. If all the work done by the academia is such a closely guarded secret, how can they even complain about the growing divide between the industry and itself? I refuse to pay $20 for a single paper!! I have been meaning to check the latest in digital search trees and all google, and yahoo search engines leads me to is some totally shallow ppt or to citeseer, which inturn redirects me again to ACM/IEEE.... Arrrghh

Let me stop picking on academia for a second and focus on the rest of the world. Piracy (of ideas, content) exists when supply does not match the demand. Apple is cribbing about fake iPhones in China, had they launched it there(one of the fastest growing economies), they wouldn't have lost the market . Software piracy falls in the same category.. its very rampant in India, being an Indian I can tell that no one would pay $300 for a genuine copy of Windows on $400 machine that they assembled at home. Most of the sales guy tend to concentrate on only the local markets.. bad strategy in my opinion.

We live in a predominantly closed society. If everything was open, we would have a better chance of surviving the future... Just like Maemo and Ubuntu were spawned off from Debian, some new and better OSes would have spawned from Windows(XP?) and OSx. We would have better algorithms and the knowledge distribution would have been uniform rather than spiked throughout the world. This is not to say that you wont have cheap knockoffs of a Macbook pro.. but atleast it will give Apple/MS an incentive to innovate.. it will be a tougher competition, not lack of it.

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