Another email from the pre-forum days (cleaning my folders today, as you can see).
I read that you are very concerned with making your developing technology available to alleviate poverty. Does this mean that your technology will be open source? How will this technology be made available to people that are unable to pay for it?
The person who asked this question does not know that physical technology cannot be open-sourced. Unfortunately, some people don’t know the difference between the economics of ideas and expressions and the economics of physical objects.
Physical technology like focus fusion depends greatly on resources that are inherently finite. For example, if I give you a book, you will have the book and I will not have it with me anymore. Also, physical technology means expenses in trying to create it, to maintain it, to solve its problems, to replace pieces, and so on. Inevitably, since this is physical wealth and physical wealth is limited, the value of such means depends greatly on the amount of physical objects that will make focus fusion possible and the cost of labor that takes to build the focus fusion device, needless to say the cost of labor for the technicians who would maintain it. So, it does not matter how you build your technology, someone will always have to pay for it. Maybe individuals will pay, maybe the state will pay, but someone will always have to pay.
I’m an advocate for free software (“free” in the sense of “free speech”, not “free beer”): software people are free to access the source code, to copy, to modify, and to redistribute in its original or modified form. Software is also technology, but it is different from physical technology. It is the kind of technology that is limitless. Anyone can take a piece of software and copy it ad-nauseam, and no one will ever lose access to it. In essence, when I give you a digital file, let’s say an eBook, I can give you a copy of the eBook, and I’ll never lose mine. This will never happen with a physical book. Free software, and open source software, is possible in this sense, because people have free access to software, an essentially abstract technology.
That’s why the question above confuses both kinds of technology, as if you can make technology open source. Maybe you can make the specifications free, but never the physical technology itself … unless we realize Star Trek’s dream of inventing the replicator.
prosario_2000 wrote: That’s why the question above confuses both kinds of technology, as if you can make technology open source. Maybe you can make the specifications free, but never the physical technology itself … unless we realize Star Trek’s dream of inventing the replicator.
The equivalent to open source for physical things (hardware) is if you don’t maintain any proprietary/secret information. You patent everything, so no one else can patent it first, then you allow anyone to use your ideas in their products for free, or at least for a very low licence fee.
You could release a reference design for a piece of hardware, then allow anyone to go manufacture it. Taiwan/China would start mass producing them, and their profit comes from the marginal increase they sell it over their production costs. Some other company can come out with a cheaper cost of production unit and undercut them. Capitalism at its finest! Open source for hardware would just mean the licensing fees are very, very low, or perhaps zero.