Subject: Re: Open letter to those who believe in a right to free software
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <turnbull@sk.tsukuba.ac.jp>
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1999 19:13:10 +0900 (JST)

>>>>> "rms" == Richard Stallman <rms@gnu.org> writes:

	rms> But that just puts the hard part of the issue into figuring
	rms> out the preference function.

    Not hard at all.  Trivial, in fact.

    Measure it.

    rms> But when alternatives arise rarely, it is hard to measure a
    rms> probability or assign a utility function empirically.  The
    rms> data is not good enough to support one.

The ones we're interested in on FSB arise every day, when people walk
into the computer shop and out with a CD-ROM or go back to the same
old job.

    rms> And some of the alternatives that may occur in the future
    rms> have never occurred before.

This is quite true of radically new products, but even with new
products the techniques of "hedonic analysis" are quite useful and
robust.

    rms> Some microworlds can be modelled effectively without taking
    rms> all this complexity into account.  But there are limits to
    rms> how far that approximation is valid.  It can't model
    rms> politics.

There's that word "cannot" again.

Was a time when it was said "Lisp can't do numerical computation
efficiently."  They were wrong, weren't they?

    rms> If you could model politics with an economic model, I think
    rms> you would probably find it is a chaotic system, and the model
    rms> cannot predict beyond the very near term.

Not my field.  Suffice it to say that James Buchanen got the Nobel
Memorial Prize in Economics precisely for modeling politics by
economic models.  I don't think much of Buchanen's work myself, but
that little detail just mentioned keeps me from saying so without
adding a large bright neon IMHO.


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