The beauty of reading a lot, as a writer (or at least someone who spends time organizing words into sentences - we'll call them 'writers' here), is that you experience a whole lot of different styles, as many musicians no doubt listen to lots of music. The problem, however, is that inputs effect outputs and you end up with words on the page that aren't necessarily yours and yours alone. Sometimes they sound like somebody else and sometimes they even are
somebody else's and it might all be through no fault of the writer. We aren't quite 'borg* but that doesn't mean we don't assimilate everything around us - both consciously and unconsciously. If I stopped to record the origins of every unoriginal thought I have and the off-shoots of previous arguments, I would never have time to record the unoriginal thoughts. You see?
Plagiarism is rampant and not exactly a pretty example of a human trait but is not all of life borrowed upon the works of others? Where, in the big scheme of things, would we be without all of evolution's history behind us? Humans are not one offs - we are version 20,000,000.1.5.2b - a design in a long line of designs that continue to change.
Meanwhile, we're backwards in our thoughts on this matter, believing every originality should be protected, secured, monetized, and locked away behind thick glass. Even the venerable old Mark Twain hated intellectual property pirates
Earlier this week, it was announced that the Supreme Court is looking into a patent dispute between South Korean LG and chip maker Intel
. The general gist of this news is as follows:
Intel licensed a set of patents from South Korean firm LG, then used some of the licensed patents to create parts of the chipset technology it sold to Taiwanese computer makers like Quanta. LG then sued the computer makers in a US court, claiming that the patent license to Intel specifically did not extend to combining Intel parts with non-Intel parts, and that the computer makers in question each needed to obtain licenses from LG.
In english, this is a case of (IMHO) double-taxation. Certainly, the exact legalese of the license may have limited Intel's freedom and perhaps it is their fault to have a) agreed to the license and b) violated it.. but the bigger question is whether these sorts of issues are even worthwhile. Is there any legitimacy in hoarding the innovative powers of our collective intelligence to make a buck? Is that where we, as a society, really want to go?
Nature seems to have worked quite well allowing a free exchange of ideas. DNA and RNA flowing freely, bits and pieces being swapped and replaced and moved about. Anyone not amazed by the amount of complexity that has arisen from chaos should be examined.
At the end of the day, all large global issues (besides, perhaps, war - which itself is a kind of greedy i-want-and-you-can't-have
endeavor) have much to gain from a tearing down of patent law. Hunger, environmental problems, trash, you name it. By organizing our knowledge and technology and expertise into bins closed tight and owned by individuals or large corporations we are limiting how quickly we are able to innovate and, perhaps, bringing ourselves closer to the brink of self-destruction because of it.
As a general rule I am a small-scale cynic and a large-scale optimist but I don't walk a party line; I'm willing to think freshly on each debate. This is a large-scale problem and I sound pretty cynical here.. does that mean we can't solve the problem? Of course not. Does this mean there even is
a problem? Maybe not, but remember that it is difficult to see the forest through all those trees. By considering each of the angles, by mulling the possible ramifications, and logically stepping through the potential arcs that an issue could follow, you're allowing for the possibility of new ideas. You're willing to consider what you had not thought before. And that is true innovation.* yet