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 www.foresight.org, especially the
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.