Some Possible Paper Ideas

1. 3-D Printing and The Death of Patent

Arguably, the easy copying and transmission of data in digital form is in the process of making copyright law unenforceable, since most of what it protects is or will be in digital form. 3-D printing is a technology with the potential to do something similar for patent law—make it possible for ordinary people to produce physical objects from data with equipment they themselves own. Discuss. One congressman's reaction.

2. I.P. and Molecular Nanotechnology

Molecular nanotech, building machines engineered at the atomic level as living beings are engineered, is a technology with the potential to radically change the world. Once general purpose assemblers can be built, most of the cost of products built via nanotech will be the cost of designing them, not the cost of building them, giving an economy much like the current software economy. How will or should I.P. apply?

For information on molecular nanotech, see, especially the book Engines of Creation.

3. Games such as Magic the Gathering or Settlers of Catan owe their success in part to novel ideas embedded in them, ideas frequently copied by later games. Are such ideas protectable under current I.P. law? Should they be?

4. Cloning is an ancient technology for plants, a new one for animals. Current I.P. law provides some protection for plant varieties that are asexually reproduced. Now that we can reproduce animals asexually, ought similar protections be created? What if the animals are human?

5. There is, and long has been, serious disagreement over whether I.P. is a good idea. The two obvious alternatives are the present system or the abolition of patent and copyright. Are there other interesting alternatives, ways of radically revising IP law short of abolishing it that might preserve desirable consequences of the present system while eliminating the undesirable ones?

Feel free to send me any ideas you have that you do not plan to use yourself, so that I can add them.