Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Public Licensing

Obviously a lot of the thinking that's gone on around how to keep software designs public, per the intent of its authors, is starting to inform licensing more generally. Some types of inventor have always wanted their work to benefit humankind. Toys, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing processes -- I expect to see more and more open source licensing protecting these assets from overexploitation by a greedy and undeserving few.

The corporation, having sneakily insinuated itself into our codes as a pseudo-human (see Unequal Protection by Thom Hartmann), has tended to suppress our very human desire to benefit one another. However, the power of this particular institution, in its LAWCAP form at least, is on the wane, in part because much of its core infrastructure is in the hands of philanthropic engineers with an appreciation for general systems theory (i.e. of what it will take for us to succeed macroeconomically).

What does nature herself provide, in terms of common heritage? Should we consider DNA sequences found in nature to be under some kind of BSD type license, or is she more GPL? Such questions will frame the ethical debates of tomorrow, thanks to people like Richard Stallman, one of the great moral philosophers of our day. Unbridled human selfishness, on the other hand, will be seen in retrospect for what it was: a pathology and design flaw that nearly got us wiped out as a species.