Subject: Re: "a better world" (was Re: GIF/LZW patent)
From: Bernard Lang <Bernard.Lang@inria.fr>
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2006 18:52:32 +0200

* stephen@xemacs.org <stephen@xemacs.org>, le 28-09-06, a écrit:
> Bernard Lang writes:
> 
>  > and software is intellectual (intangible) creation obeying different
>  > economic laws than "other areas of technology."
> 
> There's no reason to believe that.

fine

I am certainly naive in all this :

what is the marginal cost of producing software ?

what is the role of marginal production cost in economics ?


> What you can say is that the parameters of software production are
> sufficiently extreme that there may be qualitative differences in the
> appropriate policies toward software, and that one should be extremely
> careful with analogies.  Nonetheless, the laws are the same, and the
> analogies may be quite useful if applied carefully.

many (most?) laws are based on approximation of real phenomena.  These
approximations simply fail to make any sense when the relative orders
of magnitude that justified them are no longer in the same relation.

Hence, extreme quantitative change may mean indeed qualitative
change, and the laws are no longer the same.

and this is true in physics too ...  when some values become extreme,
whether extremely large or extremely small, the laws have to be
changed.  For some practical applications, it is perfectly fine to
assume that the sun revolves around the earth, and it is much simpler
to use than other theories.

I suspect that the geocentric theory of Ptolemy is probably better
grounded in actual observation and more accurate than anything
economists have come up with to justify patents.

Extrapolating their weak understanding (I am being generous) to
situations that differ in an extreme way quantitatively, and for which
there is little experience or data available, is, to say the least,
hazardous.


Bernard


-- 
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