Daily Anarchist Forum
May 27, 2019, 06:40:09 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Welcome to the Daily Anarchist Forum!
 
   Home   Help Search Members Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
Author Topic: Imagine Open-Source Medicine  (Read 4875 times)
Seth King
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
*****
Posts: 3211



View Profile WWW
« on: January 28, 2011, 11:29:37 PM »

I'm currently learning Drupal. In the documentation section there is a chapter explaining how the open-source project works to advance the quality of Drupal with each new version. It really is amazing. I want to link to the site so that people can see how free it really is.

Now imagine a world without Copyright laws or FDA regulations and all of that garbage. Imagine a world where each new medication goes through a similar process that Drupal goes through, where Computer Scientists are instead replaced by Chemists, and Drupal with Medication X.

This is why I am hopeful for the future. After we abolish government, I really believe we're going to see new cures for diseases every month. It's going to be amazing.

http://drupal.org/node/935558
Logged

When are you moving to New Hampshire?
David Giessel
Full Member
***
Posts: 230


View Profile WWW
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2011, 12:17:25 AM »

Didn't "open source medicine" exist to some extent before the war on drugs? Well, not open source, but patent-free treatment.

I do believe with the popularization of alternative medicine (including traditional chinese medicine or "TCM") in conjunction with the skyrocketing cost of western medicine (almost exclusively due to health care legislation) that we are going to enter a new era of actual disease treatment at very low cost ... instead of cartelized symptom management.

Murray Rothbard's characterization of history as a battle between power and market is, I think, a very good one. Technology in the last 50 years has given market a massive advantage which is only starting to be leveraged.

Also, the emergence of high tech industry in China, combined with their lack of recognition of the fictional rights to non-scarce resources known as patent and copyright has been a tremendous boon for the entire world.
Logged

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved." -Seraphim of Sarov

"There is no ideology. There is no guru. There is only us, and this, and the silence." -Mark Manson
shedourskin
Newbie
*
Posts: 6


View Profile WWW
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2011, 03:09:49 AM »

I'm not sure how feasible such an idea is. Open source software is relatively easy; all that is required is a nominal investment of a computer. Medicine, on the other hand... If you're on the cutting edge of research, you're probably utilizing equipment that runs in the millions of dollars and reagents that can cost several thousands per month. Granted, the cost of much of this is probably inflated due to it being purchased with public money. Still, the cost will be prohibitive for most, even for collectives (which would have to share scarce equipment among many researchers)

Although...on second reading of your post, I think I may have misinterpreted you. You envision still having large institutions (such as universities and biotechs), but basically it's all one huge collaboration? Well, that is what academic research is supposed to be, though it falls woefully short due to competition between labs for limited government funds.

On the other side, the mantra you hear from biotech companies is that R&D is so time consuming and expensive that, without patents, drug development is unprofitable. I tend to believe that argument. So, how would institutions secure funding to pay for this uber expensive endeavor?

I think many scientists are in the game for our love of discovery and intellectual curiosity, and would welcome the idea of open-source medicine (in theory, at least). But if we lack funding to actually study anything...
Logged
Seth King
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
*****
Posts: 3211



View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2011, 04:18:11 AM »

I imagine there being both large(voluntarily funded) institutions as well as small time stuff. Currently, one goes to jail for mixing and experimenting with drugs in their basements. Imagine if anybody could experiment, at their own risk, of course.

As with open-source software, the majority of us that use it use software like Drupal, Linux, Wordpress, etc, things that have been tried and true and come with very minimal risk. No more than proprietary software, and probably less so.

Then there are the people who really know what they are doing. People tinker with open-source software and make our lives better all of the time, even though they aren't being paid to. They do it for fun, for prestige, and usually, because they want their own shit to work better than it currently does.

I believe the same will work with medicine. The incentive to create better medicine is there. You cannot deny that. Every person on earth has a friend or loved one that is suffering from some sort of disease. That alone is enough incentive to work for free. Then you have prestige. How would you like to be the guy who discovers the cure for AIDS?

Right now, if you tinker and experiment with drugs, armed men initiate violence against you. I say, take the violence out of medicine. The two aren't compatible.

Secondly, ideas aren't property. For that proof I would recommend Against Intellectual Property. So there is no moral legitimacy to IP. And practically speaking, open-source software has proven that one need not financial incentive to innovate.

When I was reading the process on how OSS goes through tests, they mention that most tests are done on non-production sites. Sites that aren't a bummer if things go wrong. Right now, we virtually take that process out of medicine. You have people dying from AIDS and Cancer and a myriad of other diseases, and they aren't "allowed" to take experimental medication because it might kill them. Where is the sense in that. Again, take the violence out of medicine and you will see more advancement.
Logged

When are you moving to New Hampshire?
shedourskin
Newbie
*
Posts: 6


View Profile WWW
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2011, 12:36:03 AM »

Thing is, one doesn't tinker with medicine and research. One commits one's life to it. That's why you get guys like me spending long hours in lab for years on end trying to illuminate just a tiny piece of nature. So this is pretty much how we are going to have to make our living. But I definitely agree that the barriers to conducting backyard science are difficult to traverse (for those who have substantial free time on their hands).

I have not read Against Intellectual Property, but the notion that ideas are not property seems a bit counterintuitive to me. Yes, they aren't physical entities, but there definitely is ownership of them. Let me ask you this: if a company created a new drug that, through some manufacturing process, was impossible to detect its ingredients, would that be different from not adding that process and just having a patent on it? In both cases, only the original manufacturer can produce the product. I suspect you may look upon the two situations differently from a moral standpoint, though.

It also seems a bit unfair, and at the very least highly discouraging, to spend countless hours brainstorming, developing and perfecting a product, only to have it poached by a larger company who can make it cheaper due to their superior purchasing power and distribution. How many great ideas would be lost if the little guys knew they had no chance to successfully implement it, or patent it and sell it off?
« Last Edit: February 03, 2011, 12:38:15 AM by shedourskin » Logged
David Giessel
Full Member
***
Posts: 230


View Profile WWW
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2011, 02:35:11 AM »

Property rights are a human construct devised to mitigate conflict where it concerns scarce resources.

Ideas are not scarce (my use of a specific idea does not preclude your use of that idea, as it would in the case of my use of a specific physical object).

Thus, due to non-scarcity, ideas cannot be stolen, only copied. Copying an idea does not make either party poorer. On the contrary it contributes to potential increased wealth (measured in the supply of goods that the market demands relative to the number of people in the market). "Losses" incurred due to copying are a case of imagined poverty.

See:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4

Intellectual property, so called, is actually a violation of the property rights of those who possess scarce goods as it explicitly prohibits them from using THEIR OWN property as they see fit. E.g. you can't use your chemistry set to make a substance to cure a disease.

In every field where this legal monopoly is not imposed, the pace of development outstrips the utility of old ideas. Automotive racing and computer technology are two great examples (in the case of computers, underlying technology renders old patents useless faster than one could copy the idea anyway).

In fields where this monopoly is imposed, progress slows to a crawl and alternative non "IP infringing" solutions to a given problem are prohibited by law.

Specifically:
Making your scarce good hard to copy is fine. It puts the burden of "guaranteeing" future profit on the producer, where it should be. No company should enforce a guarantee of profit through the use of force. There is no guarantee of profit in a market economy ... that's what makes it a market. Most novel solutions are difficult to copy anyway, or they would have already been discovered. The problem is when you bar someone else from taking their own scarce resources and using them how they see fit, you are prohibiting them from improving their condition through productive labor in order to protect a monopoly privilege.

Larger companies rarely buy ideas and usually instead buy talent. Microsoft and Apple don't poach ideas from each other, they poach employees who have the capacity to generate the NEXT big idea (where the money is anyway). Who benefits from this system? The inventor. Who benefits from IP at the expense of the inventor? The lawyers. One seems more "fair" to me.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2011, 02:45:41 AM by David Giessel » Logged

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved." -Seraphim of Sarov

"There is no ideology. There is no guru. There is only us, and this, and the silence." -Mark Manson
shedourskin
Newbie
*
Posts: 6


View Profile WWW
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2011, 03:12:55 AM »

So let's say you have a stellar idea of how to use scarce physical resources. A fantastic concept that also happens to be rather simple to implement. You are a small company, perhaps an individual, with nominal means. Once this invention comes to light, it will surely be copied by larger and more efficient manufacturers who will eat up the same scarce resources you need, driving the production price out of your range. Boom, you're out of business and definitely poorer than if you had some sort of protection on your invention, which you created. The consumer in general may profit, but you are definitely poorer. There is nothing imaginary about it. You put your savings into this endeavor, and have been priced out of business.

Maybe this scenario is extremely uncommon. I don't know. But it suggests to me that ideas maybe should have an owner...That said, I think I understand your argument and agree that in a market of free ideas progress will be much faster.

What about something like music? Obviously the cost of hosting and transmitting an mp3 file is virtually free, and dissemination of a song does not make it more scarce. Yet, I feel the musicians should be compensated for their hard work and talent, so I'll pay for their music. Would you agree, or do you feel "illegally" downloading a song is morally acceptable because you are merely copying something?
Logged
Seth King
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
*****
Posts: 3211



View Profile WWW
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2011, 05:28:05 AM »

I used to be as pro-IP as they come. I never used to download music from the internet because I had severe moral restrictions in doing it. Against Intellectual Property destroyed every one of my pro-IP arguments. And now, yes, I download music and have no moral qualms about it. As far as musicians getting paid is concerned, it is my understanding that musicians make all of their money from performing, not albums sales or royalties. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Also, to address your earlier concern, there may very well be people who make their living as pharmacists, but then do research at home on the side. There are always ways to make money being productive while at the same time doing research on the side.

Look at how software goobs do it. They spend their day fixing peoples' computers or setting up security networks for businesses, but also write code in the evenings.

Logged

When are you moving to New Hampshire?
David Giessel
Full Member
***
Posts: 230


View Profile WWW
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2011, 12:16:35 PM »

As it pertains to small inventors, IP is the means which large companies with large legal departments snipe new ideas. Soon as the patent is filed, they can read it, modify it, and oftentimes beat the original inventor to market with a mass produced product at a market price.

One of my favorite examples is a now defunct bicycle suspension company called Stratos. Stratos licensed an inertia damper design from Ohlins and built retrofit kits for suspension forks on the market using this technology. Ok, seems fine so far. Then Specialized comes along and re-writes Ohlins inertia damper patent but uses the specific term "bicycle" in their "new" patent. They then get a court to issue Stratos an injunction to cease all sales of these dampers (which the owner had already bet the company on) because they had licensed an automotive patent and Special-ed had the bicycle patent. Rather than fight the battle (which would have been about a minimum of $200,000 in legal fees with no guarantee that he'd win) he closed up shop. Well done Intellectual Property! Keeping the little guy's idea safe against the big guy, just like every other government enforced regulation...

This isn't to say that the company would have made millions had they simply been allowed to sell the product (he might have gone broke anyway), but as all the other potential manufacturers (including S-ed) would only make such dampers for their own products, Stratos was uniquely positioned to provide aftermarket support for a much broader market segment. This entrepreneurial venture died not because it failed to compete in the market at a market price, but because of a piece of paper and some lawyers.

ENDYN (energy dynamics, developer of automotive bits) used to do a lot of engine development for manufacturers (Ford, Buick, Toyota, Honda, Ferrari) and contractors like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, etc. Lots of really novel stuff like sonic flow, high swirl heads, stratified charge. After a decade or so of this, its owner essentially closed up shop and started working on his own stuff ... then the company re-emerged as one that only sells aftermarket parts directly. No more development for big guys. The owner used to comment in the forum that the "surest way to guarantee your idea will be stolen is to file a patent application for it."

Downloading music isn't stealing. It does not decrease the present wealth of anyone, just their expected wealth (imagined poverty). If I make a track that I think is going to go platinum, and it sells 100 copies, I'm not tens of thousands of copies sold "poorer" in reality, only in my mind. The money I expected to make was never in my possession, so the fact that it didn't materialize is only imagined poverty relative to "what could have been." You're right, there is real loss of initial capital due to the failed venture. But that is a result of my misjudgment of the market conditions for that given product. This is the signal that tells an entrepreneur what to pursue and what not to pursue. If there's not profit in something, it's not worth doing. If you need legal crutches to "walk" in the market with everyone else, it means you are probably not making the most of your comparative advantage. It doesn't mean everyone else's legs should be broken by the government mafia.

That said, I only do it if I can't find a track on Amazon, iTunes, BeatPort, AudioJelly, etc ... because my time is worth more than the tracks cost and I am getting a known level of quality. Back in the days of CDs, it was absolutely worth my time to "steal" music because the labels insisted on delivering content in an inconvenient "high overhead" medium, so not only was the cost lower to download, but it took less time to acquire too. That said, most of the music I "stole" back in the late 90s I have the CDs for (I'd order them after getting hooked on a track) because it was the type of stuff that sounds totally flat when encoded into a 128 kbps MP3. Throwaway junk that gets top 40 play sounds fine at 128 kbps, but small label stuff that is produced with care, rather than manufactured, really needs to be .wav (which you can download from some stores now) or be on vinyl. Similarly, you can get all the ones and zeroes that make up a modern movie or "live" album, but people still go to the theater and to live shows. Why? Added value that has real cost (and therefore a real price).

Also, how much market share have the big labels lost due to the internet music revolution? How many small label tracks are being sold (or not) instead? How many bands have risen to fame from nothing because they could deliver their content at zero cost to people who would otherwise not have heard it? Is listening to broadcast radio stealing? Or is that OK because it's a label approved/cleansed playlist?

Music copyright serves the same purpose as patents. Cartelize an industry to shove low quality content down people's throats at monopoly prices by cleansing the market of competition.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2011, 12:36:22 PM by David Giessel » Logged

"Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved." -Seraphim of Sarov

"There is no ideology. There is no guru. There is only us, and this, and the silence." -Mark Manson
shedourskin
Newbie
*
Posts: 6


View Profile WWW
« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2011, 01:28:49 AM »

You gents make some compelling arguments, and I think I will have to check out AIP - though I won't be pirating it Wink

But one thing that still doesn't sit well with me is the implicit idea that time is not a scarce resource. Obviously time differs from physical resources in that it cannot be transferred from one individual to another (except in cases where you hire help). But, individually speaking, time is scarce. And if I use that resource to make music, or write a book, or develop software with the idea of selling my creation, how can another who obtains this product without any compensation to me not be considered a thief? If physical entities are our metric of value, then why would I pay the barber after he has given me a haircut? It has already been done. And there was no transfer of physical resources.

A somewhat related example: when we pay for a computer, we're paying for much more that the raw materials that went into its production. We're paying for the time and expertise required as well.

There are dozens of other examples: Stealing cable, stowaways. I'm sure you could think of many more. Things whose acquisition does not result in a further drop in resources, but nonetheless goes against the spirit in which it was created (we won't get into the ramifications for business if, say, transit authorities always looked the other way for stowaways). Additionally, if a majority of people were to steal their cable, leaving less customers for the cable company, perhaps they would raise rates for those loyal customers. In this case, wouldn't your actions be stealing money from those customers who now have a higher bill?

I don't know. I haven't thought this through completely. But it seems like it's a legitimate concern. Have I left out a crucial detail?

Anyway, sorry to have strayed so far off the path of open-source medicine (and IP, for that matter).

Logged
Seth King
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
*****
Posts: 3211



View Profile WWW
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2011, 06:13:06 AM »

You gents make some compelling arguments, and I think I will have to check out AIP - though I won't be pirating it Wink

You don't have to pirate it. It's offered for free on the internet by the Mises Institute.

https://encrypted.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCUQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmises.org%2Fbooks%2Fagainst.pdf&ei=mt5LTfDiF5T6swOs75X2Cg&usg=AFQjCNG60uUYbaHcqvPQ8zbpE_Up4nUOog
Logged

When are you moving to New Hampshire?
JustSayNoToStatism
Daily Anarchist Crew
Hero Member
****
*****
Posts: 1747


View Profile
« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2011, 03:14:54 PM »

Shedourskin:

I remember being in the exact same position as you. Here's my best way of explaining it.

Suppose you build the greatest statue the world has ever seen. You built it in your yard, it's giant, and it's one of the wonders of the modern world. You spent a lot of time, a scarce resource on it. You were very productive. But people just drive past on the street to enjoy it, and don't have to pay you at all.

You see, spending resources to make something does NOT entitle you to earn a living off it. What you've made, at the moment, isn't a scarce resource. Anyone can look at it, and derive enjoyment from it. If you want to make a living off something, it's up to you to figure out how. The answer isn't to have the police go around and beat people who view your statue without paying royalties. The answer is to find a way to keep your creation scarce, be content with not making a living off it, or stop making things with no way of making an income off them. If you want to make money off sculptures, you make them small enough to sell to others. Or if you like to make the huge ones, you could try to obstruct the view with a wall or something and then have people pay to get onto your property and see it.

Think about drive-in theaters. If I can sit on the road and watch the movie, then I won't pay. But they figured out a way to prevent this, by putting the speakers right next to the car, so free-riders can't enjoy the full movie.

1) Physical property and intellectual property are mutually exclusive.
2) Intellectual property without physical property is worthless

We must choose one. And the choice is obvious.
Logged

"I like to eat. Instead of a monarch I propose we have a Chef be final arbiter in matters. We'll call it anarcho-chefism."
-MAM
shedourskin
Newbie
*
Posts: 6


View Profile WWW
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2011, 08:59:32 PM »

Seth: Thanks for the link. I'm on it.

JSNTS: Your example definitely makes sense to me. I guess an unfortunate corollary is that I would have to erect a physical barrier around my magnificent statue if voluntary contributions could not sustain me and my artisan lifestyle. But even more unfortunate is how products must be designed to fail, surplus crops must be thrown out, and -worst of all - desires must be manufactured, all in an effort to keep demand high. This, in conjunction with its reactionary and short-sighted nature, is probably what gives me the most reservations about having an unfettered free market (and why I cannot fully commit to the Libertarian cause)
Logged
shedourskin
Newbie
*
Posts: 6


View Profile WWW
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2011, 09:04:37 PM »

...And I'm still trying to wrap my head around how open-source medicine could work. The barriers just seems so high. Take animal testing, which would surely be an important aspect of this endeavor. That must be regulated somehow, right? We wouldn't want people torturing animal colonies in their basement. And the viruses and bacteria people would need to conduct experiments; would you want your neighbor harvesting HIV next door? Stuff like that would make it very difficult for people to just tinker with things at home. I think the "tinkering" would have to exist overwhelmingly in large institutions. The trick is getting these institutions all communicating with one another. A healthy mix of competition and cooperation...
Logged
Seth King
Administrator
Hero Member
*****
*****
Posts: 3211



View Profile WWW
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2011, 04:26:36 AM »

All "free and open source" really means is no more patents and you know what's in it.

All "no more patents" really means is, armed men will not kidnap you and steal your property if you use your own property to recreate a pre-conceived design.

I think what many people in the pro-IP crowd don't understand is that there is no such thing as invention, only discovery. Edison did not invent the light bulb. He merely discovered that Tungsten made a great filament, coupled with low atmospheric pressure and high voltage brought light and heat. All of the laws of nature of the universe have already been invented. Humans merely discover them.

It is gauche to think that humans invent anything. Ideas were created long before we came around and they'll be here long after we die.

You mention having a tough time grasping time not being a scarce resource. Time isn't a scarce resource because you spending time does not exclude my use of the same time. If you eat an apple, it is scarce because you eating it means I cannot eat it. It is tangible. Time is intangible. You spending five hours on a project does not preclude my spending five hours on a project.

Ideas are also intangible, hence, unownable.

You bring up several other questions which really don't pertain to IP, and that's okay. But that's a little bit more deep. Better to get the basics down, which is why I have four main books in my STORE section, including Against Intellectual Property.
Logged

When are you moving to New Hampshire?
Pages: [1] 2
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!