I just realized that intellectual property is probably a big contributor to environmental degradation.

If environmentally friendly technology was open-source, developing countries would have access to it and it would make its use cheaper even in developed countries.

@phryk I guess in this case it's the patents and trade secrets playing a major role, not copyright, but yeah, makes sense.

@Wolf480pl Yup, tho copyright hurts free education and thus probably can be seen as indirect contributor as well.

@phryk But… How would the inventors make money then? 😲

@phryk Yes, "intellectual property", primarily patents, is a big contributor. — It's just one particular case of how "externalities" happen. Standard short-term vs long-term dilemma.

And, no, it's not about developing countries, but mainly the developed ones — they are the main contributor to the global environmental issues: may sound counter-intuitive, but the situation is due to the amount of resources utilized, not the population per se.

P.S. Wish I could cite some statistics, but anyway. 😕

@amiloradovsky Isn't the transition from developing to developed country the stage where this has the biggest impact?

@phryk Developing vs developed is a vague distinction, and should be viewed quantitatively, or at least relatively.

The "developing" countries, and generally not very technological territories, have little potential to draw a lot of benefits from the lack of patents and/or free availability of designs; plus they usually have lots of other problems, and nobody would sue them in court.
While copyright in education has more effect, since the materials are intended to introduce people to knowledge.

@phryk I have seen this in person. There's no probably about it. I spoke up at a sustainability summit talk when the presenter announced they had patented their tree-watering system. They didn't seem to clue in that they were legally preventing everyone else in the world(with patent agreements w canada/US) from managing trees/water efficiently for the next 20 years by doing so.

@phryk That said: "intellectual property" is a misnomer and you are mostly thinking about patents

@jeffcliff Yeah, but "intellectual property" is the term usually used to group patents, copyright and the like together.

@phryk ... and other things
it is usually a mistake to group even copyrights and patents together. Copyrights, patents, lumber distribution rights and virginity very quickly get into a situation where most of the category have nothing to do with the rest of the category in any way that is important

@jeffcliff I'm still not sure on the Pinker guy. He seems to have some good ideas, but something always seems a little off about his arguments…

Whatever the case, I think this one isn't quite right. It pertains to *intangible property* which might be anything – Intellectual Property is having ownership and deciding authority over a technical pattern.

Nobody can own virginity, tho they can own people, which isn't IP.

Distribution rights don't entitle you to decide how other people use tech.

@phryk – "Intellectual Property is having ownership and deciding authority over a technical pattern." Intellectual Property is an intrinsically meaningless term and defining it in terms of a 'technical pattern' is misleading. Trademarks might be defined in terms of technical patterns, but Patents kind of aren't, and copyright really isn't at all. Patents mean not having authority over technical pattern but over an invention - though you could argue the patentable claims signify a pattern

@phryk Or at least copyright isn't when we're not talking about software / digital works. And the picture is even blurry when it is. You don't gain anything by referring to technical patterns as IP rather than, say, technical patterns (which may or may not be protected by law, paracopyright law or otherwise).

@jeffcliff Which has nothing to do with anything, but… thanks I guess?

@phryk people in the early 2000s and to this day treated domain names as "IP".

@phryk > Nobody can own virginity, tho they can own people, which isn't IP.

Pinker's point is that over the long haul of human history, virginity was indeed considered "owned". To this day there are places in the US where there is an elaborate ritual where fathers give a ring or other object to their young daughters signifying that they are to keep their virginity, because they are owned.

@jeffcliff Yeah, the person was owned, not the *concept of virginity*.

@phryk the concept of virginity is framed *as a property right in and of itself* in those cultures, at a higher priority to the ownership of people.

@phryk or we could say it the other way: "Yes, that's because it's IP" - just like our government can seize pirated DVDs(real objects) because of copyright claims, government can seize women who threaten to become unchaste.

@jeffcliff Which, if set in law, is legally a similar thing to putting someone in prison for violating any other law.

Which has *nothing whatsoever* to do with intellectual property.

Slaves aren't intellectual property in any sense of the word. They're slaves!

@phryk It's worth pointing out that
Lysander Spooner was one of the first people who ever used the term 'intellectual property' and who thought about ideas in these ways. The very first people who were considering the idea considered reputational property/chastity/virginity as an example of one. It's simply false that they have nothing to do with eachother - the history is the same, for the same reasons. Because it's an expression of control over how we think and who is allowed to think what

@phryk and it's not the same as 'any other law' if it's explicitly written using property as a basis. There is a difference being put in jail for violating property rights and being put in jail for, say, apostasy or speeding.


Even Spooner specified that IP only applies *if you discovered the idea or concept*. It has to be the fruit of your intellectual labor.

If he really argued that IP applies to virginity, then his argument is simply inconsistent.

@jeffcliff Not all intangible property is intellectual property.

@phryk again, you say this as if 'intellectual property' has boundaries that can be defended, which have not been defined to be well into the intangible

@phryk that is a misreading of spooner. Spooner's IP extended far beyond discovery.
IP is the thing that's inconsistent, here, and it's curious that you place the blame elsewhere

@phryk Software patents very much entitle you to decide how other people use tech.

@phryk No not "because" they are IP. That is a fact about software patents and IP is a meaningless term that does not clarify what patents do and do not do.

@phryk if _all_ IP were made open, the question is....

why would they choose the environmentally friendly IP over that which ruins the planet but brings more short term gain?


The current state of affairs is that they **can't** choose the environmentally friendly solutions due to law being severely fucking retarded.

Of course there wouldn't be any guarantees but consider this:

We've reached the point where environmental degradation has an impact so big that we're bound to see more and more riots about environmental issues.

Capitalists might want to change to better tech before getting hung from their factory chimneys.

@StuC But the big hope I would have for this sort of arrangement of course is for it to jumpstart a top-to-bottom open-source lifestyle.

While patents only apply to commercial operations (i.e. we can legally reproduce them), we still don't have access to the knowledge about and designs of that tech.

Also as soon as you're selling kits of the tech you painstakingly reversed, patent law fucks you over again.

@phryk And still, the single largest consumer of energy in the world is the US Military. For no clear purpose whatsoever, other than killing random people.

I will believe that people really want environmentally sound policies when disbanding the US Military is at the top of their list.

@phryk GM are in possession of so many vehicle patents that even Elon Musk backed down with his vision for the underground traveling he was so excited about.
They also contributed to China building airports instead of high-speed trains...

@maloki Huh, I thought China had a thorough IDGAF mentality about intellectual property.

Was "industrial espionage" just not fast enough?

Also if you can still find a source on this, I'd be very interested.

@phryk I found this which may not support what I said, but I don't mind being wrong. Was a long time I heard about it.

Maybe there's something about the issues in this article though.

@maloki IIRC, Chinas MagLev trains are at least partially reverse engineered Transrapid technology from Germany.

So, yeah, that project has seen delays because of intellectual property.

Don't see the article (neither the related China Star one) mention anything from the last century tho, which I expect is when China built most of it's airports.

I might be wrong on that one, tho. :P

@phryk Perhaps. Though it turns out that a Big Part of the Problem is simply that we're pushing environmental limits. There are few if any solutions.

Or rather, the solution is to Pull Back From the Edge. And we're not.

@dredmorbius There's a lot of potential solutions.

From a transition [hydro|aero|aqua]ponic agriculture to constructing big algae towers to bind CO² from the atmosphere, there's actually LOTS of things that can be done to get the environment into a less fucked up state.

The main thing of course is that most of our industry is just producing useless shit and we should probably fucking stop that. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sign in to participate in the conversation

Follow friends and discover new ones. Publish anything you want: links, pictures, text, video. This server is run by the main developers of the Mastodon project. Everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!