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Comment Re:Kicking in an open door (Score 1) 210

That's not the issue. The VCs don't want to put money into something that isn't patentable, because they're not as likely to get their money back out again. If you don't have a patent and can't get one, that's bad. If you don't have a patent and might not be able to get one, that's almost as bad. If you've got a patent, clearly it's patentable, and that's good.

Haven't you ever watched Dragon's Den / Shark Tank / Soul Sucking VC Rage II?

Comment Re:The Laffer Curve? (Score 1) 210

You're talking about scientists or their pre-science equivalent - crazy people driven by the joy of discovery who can't wait to tell everyone when they figure something out. I'm one of those. Patents are essentially irrelevant to those people anyway.

Patents work when there are people who are driven by commercial motivations. Blacksmiths, iron mongers, stone masons, Microsoft.

Of course, most of the people you mention did have patrons anyway. You don't think Darwin sailed around the world looking at pretty birds on his own dime, do you? One of Isaac Newton's principle patrons was Charles Montagu, the founder of the Bank of England. Patrons didn't necessarily direct people's inquiries (although they certainly did sometimes), but they did pay for them.

Comment Re:don't help and there's more than innovation (Score 1) 210

I disagree. It's crucial that patents NOT be analysed per domain. It's crucial that that basic requirements for a patent be applied consistently and as objectively as possible.

The problem in the software domain is that most "innovation" is trivially easy and stupid things get patented. If you applied the non-obvious requirement consistently you'd find that only a few software patents, the ones that are actually deserving, would be allowed. You don't have an idea for a new drug in the shower and run out and patent it. New drugs are the result of a considerable investment in time and research by skilled practitioners. One-click and "on the Internet" are in-the-shower inventions. Things like marching cubes, SIFT and the FFT are not, and probably deserve patents.

The problem is, how do you do it? The likely answer is, patent peer review.

Comment Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (Score 1) 77

Ask yourself what the result of being hit with a 2lb drone falling from 500 feet is, and then try this comment again

It's got wings and propellers to lower its terminal velocity and spread out the impact, so it's going to hurt a lot less than a 2 pound rock. It'd probably hurt as much as getting hit by a falling red-tailed hawk, and we let those suckers fly around major cities without flight plans or a pilot's license.

But regardless, I stand by my point: a 2 pound drone will hurt a hell of a lot less than a 2000 lb helicopter.

Comment Re:Even more fundamental assumption (Score 1) 210

It doesn't. Protection encourages dissemination. With no intellectual property protection, many innovations and creations are kept as trade secrets. For every Newton you can cite, there were thousands of minstrels who didn't share their songs and blacksmiths, bakers, cobblers, stone masons, swordsmiths, etc. who didn't share their secrets. You used to have to be initiated into a guild to learn any of those things. Some of those guilds became extremely powerful because of it.

Overbearing protection discourages application, not dissemination. Since you can't use an idea you don't know about, there's a balance between the two.

Comment Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (Score 1) 77

Honestly, I don't buy into the "everything's coming up drones" hype for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Nobody's going to droneify a passenger jet, the safety calculus just doesn't work. But for aerial reconnaisance (police, traffic, news, search and rescue) with no cargo, the story changes. You can't make a useful manned aircraft that weighs less than half a ton or so, so you have to ask a new question:

If it's flying over your children, would you rather it weighed 2000 pounds or 2?

Safety's still an issue, of course, but I'd be willing to accept much less stringent safety requirements if the only consequence of a worst-case scenario crash was some bruising and a nasty cut that might need stitches.

Comment Re:Precision Agriculture (Score 2) 77

I don't think the people in the article were claiming it was an end-all solution, or that it was particularly new. They're doing ag extension work in California wine country, where the fields are small, the profit margins are huge, and the crops are difficult to move through with ground-based machinery. Very different situation than what you're experiencing in the Northwest, I'm guessing, and probably ideal for a UAV.

Comment Re:Another nail in the coffin of general aviation (Score 1) 77

Meh. These drones still have pilots, they're just not on board the plane / helicopter. A lot of the skills will be transferrable, and for those that aren't, there are always simulators. Pilots trained on nothing but video screens may be missing some kinesthetic sense of the aircraft, but I'd argue that that's not very useful for modern fly-by-wire passenger jets in any case.

Comment Re:Monsanto loves crop dusters (Score 1) 77

Wow, is that a specious argument. "You can spray RoundUp from a cropduster, and RoundUp is bad, therefore crop dusters are bad". By the same argument, I can use a car to do a drive-by shooting, therefore cars should be outlawed.

There are a thousand other things you can spray from an aircraft: pyrethrin insecticides, narrow-targeted herbicides, antifungal and insecticidal bacteria, insecticidal nematode eggs, and so on. Many of these practices meet organic standards.

Comment Re:The current government is doomed. (Score 3, Insightful) 153

Yes, this is a non-story in Australia.

The current government's incompetence is going to allow something much worse to take over

No, the incompetence of the Australian voter will be responsible for that. However numerous polls also show that the majority of voters would have preferred to be choosing from Rudd vs Turner. Turner leads the traditional side of conservative politics, the side that still has some principles and common respect for their ideological opponents.

The fundamental problem in Oz is that the mining unions are pulling the strings in the Labor party and the mine owners are pulling the strings in the Liberal party, and Murdoch controls 70% of the press. On many subjects the union and the bosses are in lockstep agreement, eg: the unionists ousted Rudd because of his mining tax plans, their bosses ousted Turner because of his plans to regulate carbon emissions. Neither the union leaders or mine owners want anything to get in the way of digging holes in the ground, everybody seems to have forgotten about Tony's prediction of economic Armageddon, the carbon tax was instituted a year ago and we are still one of the healthiest economies on the planet.

Disclaimer: I believe we should exploit our resources but not at the cost of our natural life support systems, for instance coal mines on cape york are potentially a threat to the great barrier reef. The reef is not only a valuable tourist attraction it is also a massive fish nursery, The shelf waters around Australia's coast are the breeding ground for much of the southern hemisphere's fisheries, the planetary food web is not something you can put a price on, it's essential natural infrastructure that (if given a chance) is so productive it allows some of us enough time to do things like dig massive holes and sell magic rocks to China.

Comment Re:"may head off backlash" (Score 1, Troll) 229

That is what environmentalist want.

This is why people calling themselves environmentalists have opposed:

1) all hydrocarbon development of any kind, including natural gas and fracking (which oddly enough plays well with the coal lobby...)

2) wind power because of the non-existent "negative health impacts of infrasound"

3) solar power under the false auspices of "concerns about toxins"

4) long-range power transmission (building new transmission lines or upgrading/expanding old ones) because of concerns about the non-existent "electro-sensitivity" of some psychologically disturbed individuals

5) nuclear power development because "environmentalists" have prevented anything being done to improve waste disposal or development of newer and safer reactors over the past 30 years

And so on.

Every self-proclaimed "environmentalist" will tell you they are all for "new technology" but turn out to be absolutely against any particular project you specifically mention.

Given that someone calling themself an "environmentalist" is opposed to every single option other than returning to the stone age, it is a little difficult to reclaim the term at this point.

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