Re: Algorithms to generate permutations

From: Ben Livengood (ben.livengood_at_gmail.com)
Date: 08/09/05


Date: 8 Aug 2005 23:18:40 -0700


> In my view, machines have *always* implemented
> "algorithms." In my view, there is nothing
> particularly unique about a mechanical machine,
> or an electronic machine, or a software machine.

I agree. The universe is the result of a big algorithm, so clearly
pieces of it like machines and computers (and humans) alike are running
algorithms. The first problem is that it's intractible to decide
whether two arbitrary algorithms are equivalent. That makes it
difficult for the patent office to decide whether one program infringes
on another's patent. The second problem is that the patent office
wasn't supposed to issue patents on mathematics. They didn't notice
that algorithms are mathematics in a fundamental sense, and they didn't
notice that everything is the result of an algorithm.

The question has never been about the true nature of invention or the
universe, it's been about the problem of feeding the inventors fairly
and keeping the inventions flowing. Personally I don't like the idea of
software patents, and I think they'll become unnecessary when we
develop strong AI that doesn't mind thinking for free. Until then, I
would just like the ability to use GPL software and write my own
software as a hobby without the fear that some corporation will take
offense at the products of my own mind. I might even like to build
something mechanical and pretend that since I made it I own it, instead
of some inventor I never heard of whose lawyers patent everything under
the sun. Owning information is a difficult proposition, because it
requires an energy expendature not to ensure that it stays in your
posession, but to enforce that it doesn't additionally end up in
someone else's posession. What exactly am I owning, the information, or
some portion of other people's minds?

My solution? Fund the universities and stop issuing patents. For free
market competition between thinkers, use peer reviewed journals. The
only other way to maintain invention in a *true* free market without
arbitrary information restriction, is to sell services.



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