Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Make the Makers Make Better Things

While a lot of left leaning progressives focus on carte blanche equality of distribution and replacing any square foot of industrialism with nature -I'm a leftist progressive who believes an ever optimized ubiquitous technology is the only thing making the universe a better place.

The point of technology is not to make as much money for a group of stockholders as possible ( 1980's to present Republicans ), make it meaningful and free to the poorest poor ( 3rd world fetishists ), or make big explosives to defend the regime ( Iran, N. Korea, Soviets, etc ). What should be the criteria?

Technology should make humans as functional as possible.

The above is philosophical. Now I'm moving on to an odd case study, and hope my friends/readers can come up with better supporting stories.

The US military Jeep was developed in a strange way. See this Wikipedia account. One thing the Wikipedia account leaves out is Bantam submitted the design and prototype that won the first round of qualification, but the Army knew it lacked in some respects. Get this: THE US GOV SHARED THE DESIGN DOCUMENTS WITH THE COMPETITORS, NOT SECRETIVELY BUT OPENLY.

I contend that intellectual property rights over-protect the investor, rather than technological advancement. In the case of the Jeep, government pressured private companies to produce the vehicle the soldiers wanted, not what the vendor marketing and lobbyists force-fed soldiers. Ironically, Jeep went on to become a marketing dream, an international survey determined it was the most widely known vehicle type in the world. This case points to the plausibility of corporate protection of critique and improvement of its inventions as counter-productive, that we would have better and more popular products if there was stronger pressure to get the technology right or improved, rather than sit passively and hope a company gets it right.

1 comment:

The Editor said...

An interesting thing is that large companies often take out patents on things, then keep the patented information as secret as possible. What is wrong about this is that patents provide stronger protection than secrecy and giving other entities a chance to critique the patent could easily result in the creation of something far better.

The only reason I can think of for hiding your already patented information is because you do not trust the government and if that is the case, why file the patent with them in the first place?

This is why technology is only advancing at the rate that it is. If technology knowledge were shared more freely, even within the limitations imposed by patents, technology could advance at a much faster rate than it is now.

Lord Rybec