Some cool china nickel machined component factory photos:
A Bitcoin You Can Flip
Image by jurvetson
My son has become fascinated with bitcoins, and so I had to get him a tangible a single for Xmas (thanks Sim1!). The public essential is imprinted visibly on the tamper-evident holographic film, and the private important lies underneath.
I as well was fascinated by digital cash back in college, and far more specifically by the asymmetric mathematical transforms underlying public-crucial crypto and digital blind signatures.
I remembered a technical paper I wrote, but could not discover it. A desktop search revealed an essay that I completely forgot, anything that I had recovered from my archives of floppy discs (whilst I nonetheless could).
It is an article I wrote for the college newspaper in 1994. Ironically, Microsoft Word could not open this ancient Microsoft Word file format, but the totally free text editors could.
What a enjoyable time capsule, under, with some decision naivetés…
I am attempting to reconstruct what I was considering, and asking yourself if it makes any sense. I think I was arguing that a bulletproof framework for digital money (and what much better testing ground) could be utilized to secure a digital container for executable code on a rental basis. So the expression of an idea — the certain code, or runtime service — is locked in a secure container. The idea would be to prevent copying rather of punishing soon after the truth. Micro-currency and micro-code look like equivalent exercises in regulating the single use of an issued number.
Now that the Bitcoin experiment is underway, do you know of anybody writing about it as an alternative framework for intellectual house?
IP and Digital Money
Digital Cash and the “Intellectual Property” Oxymoron
By Steve Jurvetson
A lot of of us will quickly be working in the information solutions or technologies industries which are at present tangled in a bramble patch of intellectual house law. As the law struggles to discover coherency and an internally-constant logic for intellectual home (IP) protection, digital encryption technologies may offer a much better resolution — from the viewpoint of minimizing litigation, exploiting the inherent rewards of an info-based company model, and preserving a totally free economy of suggestions.
Bullet-proof digital money technology, which is now emerging, can provide a protected “cryptographic container” for intellectual expressions, thereby preserving traditional notions of intellectual house that safeguard specific instantiations of an idea rather than the idea itself. For instance, it seems affordable that Intuit should be able to shield against the widespread duplication of their Quicken software (the expression of an concept), but they ought to not be able to patent the underlying thought of single-entry bookkeeping. There are strong financial incentives for digital money to create and for those techniques to be adapted for IP protection — to generate a protected container or expression of an concept. The speedy march of information technologies has strained the evolution of IP law, but rather than patching the law, info technologies itself might give a far more coherent answer.
Info Wants To Be Cost-free
At present, IP law is enigmatic because it is expanding to a domain for which it was not initially intended. In establishing the U.S. Constitution, Thomas Jefferson argued that ideas must freely transverse the globe, and that ideas have been fundamentally diverse from material goods. He concluded that “Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of home.” The troubles surrounding IP come into sharp focus as we shift to getting more of an info-primarily based economy.
The use of e-mail and nearby Television footage aids disseminate information around the globe and can be a force for democracy — as seen in the Television footage from Chechen, the use of modems in Prague for the duration of the Velvet Revolution, and the e-mail and Tv from Tianammen Square. Even Gorbachev utilized a video camera to show what was happening after he was kidnapped. What seems to be an inherent force for democracy runs into problems when it becomes the topic of home.
As larger-level programming languages turn out to be a lot more like natural languages, it will become increasingly tough to distinguish the concept from the code. Language precedes thought, as Jean-Louis Gassée is fond of saying, and our language is the framework for the formulation and expression of our tips. Restricting application will increasingly be indistinguishable from restricting freedom of speech.
An economy of suggestions and human attention depends on the continuous and free exchange of ideas. Due to the fact of the associative nature of memory processes, no thought is detached from others. This begs the query, is intellectual house an oxymoron?
Intellectual Home Law is a Patch
John Perry Barlow, former Grateful Dead lyricist and co-founder (with Mitch Kapor) of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that “Intellectual property law can’t be patched, retrofitted or expanded to include digitized expression… Faith in law will not be an successful strategy for high-tech businesses. Law adapts by continuous increments and at a pace second only to geology. Technologies advances in lunging jerks. True-globe conditions will continue to change at a blinding pace, and the law will lag further behind, a lot more profoundly confused. This mismatch may prove not possible to overcome.”
From its origins in the Industrial Revolution where the invention of tools took on a new value, patent and copyright law has protected the physical conveyance of an notion, and not the idea itself. The physical expression is like a container for an concept. But with the emerging information superhighway, the “container” is becoming a lot more ethereal, and it is disappearing altogether. Whether or not it is e-mail nowadays, or the future goods of the Info Age, the “expressions” of suggestions will be voltage conditions darting about the net, extremely a lot like thoughts. The fleeting copy of an image in RAM is not extremely diverse that the fleeting image on the retina.
The digitization of all forms of information — from books to songs to images to multimedia — detaches info from the physical plane where IP law has usually found definition and precedent. Patents can not be granted for abstract tips or algorithms, however courts have not too long ago upheld the patentability of application as lengthy as it is operating a physical machine or causing a physical result. Copyright law is even much more of a patch. The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 needs that operates be fixed in a durable medium, and where an concept and its expression are inseparable, the merger doctrine dictates that the expression can’t be copyrighted. E-mail is not currently copyrightable due to the fact it is not a reduction to tangible type. So of course, there is a proposal to amend these copyright provisions. In current rulings, Lotus won its case that Borland’s Quattro Pro spreadsheet copied components of Lotus 123’s appear and really feel, however Apple lost a similar case versus Microsoft and HP. As Professor Bagley points out in her new text, “It is tough to reconcile beneath the total idea and feel test the results in the Apple and Lotus situations.” Provided the inconsistencies and financial significance of these troubles, it is no surprise that swarms of lawyers are studying to practice in the IP arena.
Back in the early days of Microsoft, Bill Gates wrote an inflammatory “Open Letter to Hobbyists” in which he alleged that “most of you steal your software … and need to be kicked out of any club meeting you show up at.” He presented the financial argument that piracy prevents suitable profit streams and “prevents great application from being written.” Now we have Windows.
But seriously, if we continue to believe that the value of details is primarily based on scarcity, as it is with physical objects, we will continue to patch laws that are contrary to the nature of details, which in several circumstances increases in worth with distribution. Little, fast moving firms (like Netscape and Id) safeguard their suggestions by obtaining to the marketplace quicker than their larger competitors who base their protection on fear and litigation.
The patent workplace is woefully understaffed and unable to judge the nuances of application. Comptons was initially granted a patent that covered practically all multimedia technologies. When they attempted to collect royalties, Microsoft pushed the Patent Workplace to overturn the patent. In 1992, Software Advertising Corp received a patent for “displaying and integrating industrial ads with laptop software program.” That is like patenting the notion of a radio commercial. In 1993, a DEC engineer received a patent on just two lines of machine code generally used in object-oriented programming. CompuServe announced this month that they strategy to gather royalties on the broadly used GIF file format for images.
The Patent Workplace has issued effectively over 12,000 software program patents, and a programmer can unknowingly be in violation of any them. Microsoft had to spend 0MM to STAC in February 1994 for violating their patent on information compression. The penalties can be costly, but so can a patent search. Many of the software program patents don’t have the words “computer,” “software,” “program,” or “algorithm” in their abstracts. “Software patents turn each choice you make whilst writing a system into a legal danger,” says Richard Stallman, founder of the League for Programming Freedom. “They make writing a big plan like crossing a minefield. Every single step has a little possibility of stepping on a patent and blowing you up.” The really notion of seventeen years of patent protection in the rapidly moving application sector seems absurd. MS-DOS did not exist seventeen years ago.
IP law faces the additional wrinkle of jurisdictional problems. Where has an Net crime taken location? In the country or state in which the laptop server resides? Numerous nations do not have the exact same intellectual property laws as the U.S. Even within the U.S., the law can be challenging to enforce for example, a group of music publishers sued CompuServe for the digital distribution of copyrighted music. A complication is that CompuServe has no understanding of the activity because it happens in the flood of bits transferring in between its subscribers
The tension noticed in making digital copies revolves about the concern of house. But as opposed to the theft of material goods, copying does not deprive the owner of their possessions. With digital piracy, it is significantly less a clear ethical concern of theft, and far more an abstract notion that you are undermining the business model of an artist or software program developer. The distinction among ethics and laws typically revolves around their enforceability. Prior to copy machines, it was tough to make a book, and so it was obvious and visible if somebody was copying your function. In the digital age, copying is lightning fast and hard to detect. Given ethical ambiguity, convenience, and anonymity, it is no wonder we see a cultural shift with regard to digital ethics.
Piracy, Plagiarism and Pilfering
We copy music. We are seldom diligent with our footnotes. We wonder exactly where we’ve seen Strat-man’s PIE and the four slices before. We forward e-mail that may contain text from a copyrighted news publication. The SCBA estimates that 51% of satellite dishes have illegal descramblers. John Perry Barlow estimates that 90% of individual tough drives have some pirated computer software on them.
Or as final month’s Red Herring editorial points out, “this atmosphere of electronic piracy appears to have in turn spawned a freer attitude than ever toward great old-fashioned plagiarism.” Articles from significant publications and WSJ columns appear and circulate extensively on the Net. Laptop Photos magazine replicated a complete article on multimedia databases from New Media magazine, and then publicly apologized.
Music and voice samples are an increasingly widespread art kind, from two Reside Crew to Negativland to regional bands like Voice Farm and Consolidated. Peter Gabriel embraces the shift to repositioned content material “Traditionally, the artist has been the final arbiter of his operate. He delivered it and it stood on its own. In the interactive globe, artists will also be the suppliers of details and collage material, which people can either accept as is, or manipulate to develop their personal art. It’s element of the shift from ability-primarily based function to selection-making and editing perform.”
But many traditionalists resist the modify. Museums are hesitant to embrace digital art simply because it is impossible to distinguish the original from a copy according to a curator at the New Museum of Modern Art, “The art planet is scared to death of this stuff.” The Digital Audio Tape debate also illustrated the paranoia the music business 1st insisted that these DAT recorders had to purposely introduce static into the digital copies they produced, and then they settled for an embedded code that limited the quantity of successive copies that could be created from the a master supply.
For a healthier reaction, appear at the phenomenally profitable organization models of Mosaic/Netscape and Id Computer software, the twisted creator of Doom. Just as McAfee constructed a organization on shareware, Netscape and Id encourage widespread totally free distribution of their item. But after you want support from Netscape, or the higher levels of the Doom game, then you have to spend. For industries with sturdy demand-side economies of scale, such as Netscape web browsers or Protected-TCL intelligent agents, the creators have exploited the economies of information distribution. Software items are especially susceptible to growing returns with scale, as are networking goods and most of the info technologies industries.
However, the Application Publishers Association reports that 1993 worldwide losses to piracy of business application software program totaled .45 billion. They also estimated that 89% of computer software units in Korea had been counterfeit. And China has 29 factories, some state-owned, that press 75 million pirated CDs per year, largely for export. GATT will impose the U.S. notions of intellectual home on a world that sees the concern extremely differently.
Clearly there are robust financial incentives to defend intellectual home, and affordable arguments can be created for application patents and digital copyright, but the complexities of legal enforcement will be outrun and potentially obviated by the relatively fast developments of yet another technologies, digital cash and cryptography.
Digital Money and the IP Lock
Digital money is in some methods an extreme instance of digital “property” — given that it can’t be copied, it is possessed by one entity at a time, and it is static and non-perishable. If the methods for guarding against pilferage and piracy function in the domain of money, then they can be employed to “protect” other properties by getting embedded in them. If I wanted to copy-defend an “original” operate of digital art, digital money strategies be employed as the “container” to protect intellectual house in the old style. A bullet-proof digital cash scheme would inevitably be adapted by these who stand to acquire from the existing technique. Such as Bill Gates.
Several businesses are developing technologies for electronic commerce. On January 12, many Higher-Tech Club members attended the Cybermania conference on electronic commerce with the CEOs of Intuit, CyberCash, Enter Tv and The Lightspan Partnership. According to Scott Cook, CEO of Intuit, the motivations for digital money are anonymity and efficient little-transaction World wide web commerce. Anonymity preserves our privacy in the age of increasingly intrusive “database marketing” primarily based on credit card buy patterns and other personal info. Of course, it also has tax-evasion implications. For World wide web commerce, money is much more effective and less difficult to use than a credit card for little transactions.
“A lot of men and women will spend nickels on the Web,” says Dan Lynch of CyberCash. Banks will quickly exchange your present cash for cyber-tokens, or a “bag of bits” which you can commit freely on the Web. A competitor based in the Netherlands referred to as DigiCash has a Net web page with several articles on electronic cash and completely functional demo of their technologies. You can get some cost-free money from them and devote it at some of their allied vendors.
Digital money is a compelling technology. Wired magazine calls it the “killer application for electronic networks which will adjust the international economy.” Handling and fraud costs for the paper income system are developing as digital color copiers and ATMs proliferate. Donald Gleason, President of the Wise Card Enterprise unit of Electronic Payment Services argues that “Cash is a nightmare. It charges income handlers in the U.S. alone around billion a year to move the stuff… Bills and coinage will increasingly be replaced by some sort of electronic equivalent.” Even a Citibank VP, Sholom Rosen, agrees that “There are going to be winners and losers, but everyone is going to play.”
The digital cash schemes use a blind digital signature and a central repository to protect against piracy and privacy violations. On the privacy problem, the techniques utilised have been mathematically proven to be protected against privacy violations. The bank cannot trace how the cash is getting used or who is utilizing it. Embedded in these schemes are effective digital cryptography strategies which have lately been spread in the commercial domain (RSA Information Safety is a leader in this field and will be speaking to the High Tech Club on January 19).
To protect against piracy calls for some extra work. As quickly as I have a digital bill on my Mac difficult drive, I will want to make a copy, and I can. (A lot of organizations have busted their picks trying to copy protect files from hackers. It will never ever function.). The difference is that I can only devote the bill after. The copy is worthless. This is attainable because every bill has a exclusive encrypted identifier. In spending the bill, my pc checks with the centralized repository which verifies that my specific bill is nevertheless unspent. Once I spend it, it can’t be spent once more. As with a lot of electronic transactions today, the security of the system depends on the integrity of a centralized pc, or what Dan Lynch calls “the big database in the sky.”
One of the most crucial limitations of the digital money methods is that they are tethered to a transaction among at least 3 parties — a buyer, seller and central repository. So, to use such a scheme to protect intellectual home, would demand networked computers and “live” files that have to dial up and check in with the repository to be operational. There are several compelling applications for this, such as voter registration, voting tabulation, and the registration of digital artwork originals.
When I asked Dan Lynch about the use of his technology for intellectual house protection, he agreed that the bits that now represent a bill could be employed for any quantity of items, from health-related records to photographs. A digital photograph could hide a digital signature in its low-order bits, and it would be imperceptible to the user. But these bits could be utilized with a registry of correct image owners, and could be employed to prove misappropriation or sampling of the image by others.
Technology author Steven Levy has been researching cryptography for Wired magazine, and he responded to my e-mail questions with the reply “You are on the right track in considering that crypto can preserve IP. I know of a number of attempts to forward plans to do so.” Digital cash may supply a “crypto-container” to preserve conventional notions of intellectual property.
The transaction tether limits the short-term applicability of these schemes for application copy protection. They will not perform on an isolated computer. This undoubtedly would slow its adoption for mobile computers because the wireless networking infrastructure is so nascent. But with Windows ’95 bundling network connectivity, quickly most computer systems will be network-ready — at least for the Microsoft network. And now that Bill Gates is acquiring Intuit, as an alternative of dollar bills, we will have Bill dollars.
The transaction tether is also a logistical headache with existing slow networks, which may hinder its adoption for mass-marketplace applications. For example, if a person forwards a copyrighted e-mail, the recipient might have to have their laptop do the repository verify just before they could see the text of the e-mail. E-mail is slow sufficient right now, but in the near future, these strategies of verifying IP permissions and paying proper royalties in digital cash could be background processes on a preemptive multitasking laptop (Windows ’95 or Mac OS Method eight). The digital money schemes are constant with other trends in software distribution and improvement — particularly computer software rental and object-oriented “applets” with nested royalty payments. They are also consistent with the document-centric vision of Open Doc and OLE.
The user of the future would start functioning on their stationary. When it is clear they are undertaking some text entry, the word processor would be downloaded and rented for its present usage. Digital pennies would trickle back to the people who wrote or inspired the numerous portions of the core plan. As you use other software applets, such as a spell-checker, it would be downloaded as required. By renting applets, or potentially finer-grained software program objects, the licensing royalties would be automatically tabulated and exchanged, and application piracy would demand heroic efforts. Intellectual house would turn into precisely that — home in a industry economy, beneath lock by its “creator,” and Bill Gates’ 1975 lament over application piracy may now be addressed 20 years later.
——–end of paper———–
On additional reflection, I need to have been considering of executable code (where the runtime requires a cloud connect to authenticate) and not passive media. Verification has been a discomfort, but perhaps it is seamless in a net-solutions future. Cloud apps and digital money depend on it, so why not the code itself.
I don’t see it as particularly useful for still photos (but it could verify the official owner of any exclusive bundle of pixels, in the sense that you can "own" a sufficiently massive number, but not the essence of a work of art or derivative works). Frankly, I’m not positive about non-interactive content in common, like pure video playback. "Fixing" computer software IP alone would be a huge enough accomplishment.