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Privatise the numbers system

Make a legal claim to particular numbers and sell them off to the highest bidder
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A private individual, company or governmental body claims ownership of a particular set of numbers, maybe all real, imaginary and complex numbers for a start, and asks for royalties when they are used. For example, Elizabeth II or BBC Two use those numbers without permission. Someone could claim ownership to them and demand a payment each time they're used, or they could maybe squat a number and wait for someone to use it, then sue them for performance rights. Certain numbers would be hot properties, for instance round numbers, lower integers and pi. Other numbers might appear less useful at first, but become more valuable if, for example, a new physical constant was discovered. Rights to use these numbers are then floated on a stock market style bidding system to determine a reasonable market rate. The number representing that market rate would also of course be available on the open market for bids.

In order for a bank to send you a statement, it would have to pay the owner of the number representing the funds in your account a certain sum. If you wanted to have a 'phone number, that would also cost a certain amount. Each number on a till receipt would become the joint property of the customer and the shop and you could split the cost. Then, of course, the number representing that cost would also only be usable for a fee. The number representing that fee would again only be usable for a fee. And so on. The number of numbers this produced would also be considered the property of a particular person and they would have to be paid for that. That sum would again be worth something. This would continue ad infinitum.

An international organisation would be established to keep track of the use of all numbers and issue appropriate bills, moving money around between the appropriate consumers and owners. until all was satisfied. It would include EFT surveillance, a police force, CCTV cameras to keep track of the numbers being used and so on. It would be staffed entirely by volunteers because of the difficulties in paying people specific wages and the possibilities of corruption owing to its ownership of the means of surveillance. For similar reasons, the staff would be exempt from making payments and forbidden from using numbers in their everyday lives. They would carry a special card with an unknown number of sides which was a reserved colour illegal for anyone else to use under international law which would allow them access to an indeterminate number of goods and services.

After all that, colours could then undergo the same process.

nineteenthly, Nov 07 2009

Panda_20Corporation [calum, Nov 10 2009]

Spoof article on the same idea. http://www.theregis...umbers_a_good_idea/
[DrBob, Nov 10 2009]

[link]






       Surreal and probably quite lucrative.
Aristotle, Nov 07 2009
  

       I think 8th of 7 would have a problem with this. Come to think of it, you're skating on thin eggshells yourself.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 07 2009
  

       Seems to me there are only ten digits. All other numbers are comprised of those.
phoenix, Nov 07 2009
  

       What do you base that assumption on?
Ian Tindale, Nov 07 2009
  

       I'd postulate that the numbers and the concept behind each number already existed prior to the awareness of humans in recognising these numbers just lying around like flowers or mountains. If anything, it is we that is required to plant a new number each time we use one.
Ian Tindale, Nov 07 2009
  

       //Seems to me there are only ten digits. All other numbers are comprised of those.// that depends on what you call a number... for example: which combination of the digits from zero to ten is the solution to the square root of a negative number composed?
xenzag, Nov 07 2009
  

       Numbers are not digits, otherwise you could get round it by simply spelling them out or using a different number base. Numbers are most probably "out there" in practical terms.   

       Lots of other things are also "out there". Examples are radio frequencies, minerals, areas of land and genomes.
nineteenthly, Nov 07 2009
  

       But then, aren't all ideas that are possible, just "out there". The ideas we've had, and the ideas we've yet to have. They already exist in possibilityspace. The ones that are impossible, don't. So there's no inventions, only discoveries.
Ian Tindale, Nov 07 2009
  

       sp: Privatize.   

       <gives head a shake>
Is pedantry contagious?
  

       So [Ian], in that case all ideas should come ready-patented by other people, and there should be a science of forms which maps all possible ideas for whose areas people could claim title.
nineteenthly, Nov 07 2009
  

       What about imaginary numbers ? What about the cube roots of unity ?   

       We are not worried by this idea. Numerical designations are good, and we have prior rights on lots of them. In fact, we spy a nice little earner here .... [+]
8th of 7, Nov 07 2009
  

       Absolutely first class, nineteenthly. (Just to check, are ordinal numbers included also?)   

       I have considered the application of capitalism to natural phenomenon before both on the lavatory and the halfbakery and, having now read this fine idea, I think it necessary to suggest a refinement. In much the same way that powerful European nations landgrabbed much of the dark continent, at the expense of not only the native but smaller competitor nations such Switzerland, banks, being yet rich and devious organisations would doubtless concoct a similar numbergrab, so as to squat upon as much numerical capital as they can muster (with, nae doot, an network of inter-bank licences for the use of key numbers developing), leaving Mr and Mrs Prospective Capitalist, for want of a better word, fucked. Perhaps then the system should be limited to one number per legal person, which allows conglomerates to have a few bites at the cherry but leaves the general public a chance.
calum, Nov 07 2009
  

       Well, it's sort of heading towards nullifying the idea of patents, if what a person patents can be shown to merely conform to an existing possibility that always existed, but nevertheless they're quite clever to have discovered this existing configuration.   

       I don't think privatising is the solution, though. They'd simply be run by Virgin or Stagecoach. To maintain quality they should be subject to a PPP.
Ian Tindale, Nov 07 2009
  

       OK, i like the idea of allocating numbers, maybe as a sort of birthright, and i did think about ordinals but decided they could be thrown in as a freebie with cardinals. In fact, maybe names should be replaced by numbers. Adverbials on the other hand...   

       Not sure about raising to powers, though it could be good. Also, i was indeed thinking that imaginary numbers and the like should be included, so that maybe companies could draw their logos on the complex number plane. So, maybe an area of numbers from i to twenty-five times i and across for a couple of hundred could then have the Coca-cola logo on it, and so on.   

       Maybe divide up the number line into tranches which the organisation could sell off to different bidders, so Virgin runs the first thousand or so, Carlton another few hundred after that and so on. But people would bemoan the fact that all the toilets are blocked in the five hundreds and that they don't like the silly way the weather forecast is presented at nineteen hundred.
nineteenthly, Nov 07 2009
  

       Maybe each person in the country could apply to babysit or host a set of numbers each week - only a handful, perhaps. They could apply using a simple form, and pay a small admin fee. They could even choose their own handful of numbers, or leave it up to the administration board to select them for them. Perhaps there could be some kind of reward structure for the effort involved in looking after a small group of numbers each week. How you'd implement this reward structure, I don't know. Maybe it could be distributed in a complex manner, although it might not end up being very fair that way.
Ian Tindale, Nov 07 2009
  

       Yes, the complex money was me too. I did have namespaces in mind, among other things.
nineteenthly, Nov 07 2009
  

       Get real. This is prime pi in the sky stuff.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 07 2009
  

       Just give me 0 - 9. Then, every time you write your number, you can pay me a royalty to do so.   

       I'd eschew pi and any other endless series because no one ever really uses the whole number.
phoenix, Nov 07 2009
  

       That's an interesting question. Anything which uses an approximation of pi to a particular number of decimal or other places could be a hot property, so there'd be a cluster of expensive numbers around pi but pi itself might turn out to be worth relatively little because it's not practical. By extension, people could also try to claim they were really using a different number by a quadrillionth than the one which was practical. So for example, the film "Nine and a Half Weeks" could be renamed "Nine and five hundred thousand quadrillion and one quintillionth Weeks".   

       It would also mean that only pure mathematics would need to use the pure numbers, and since they had no application, they'd actually be cheap.
nineteenthly, Nov 08 2009
  

       The Magnificent 6.999 (nominal) (contents may settle in another country).
Ian Tindale, Nov 08 2009
  

       Yes, well, there may be problems where integers are inevitable, and there's a question of how far one's property might extend. This problem is also known as calculus.
nineteenthly, Nov 08 2009
  

       I'll take 355/113 and make it far cheaper than any of the close neighbors, thus causing a price war.
lurch, Nov 08 2009
  

       Ooh, good idea!   

       I'm also wondering if you'd be allowed to have birthdays if you ran out of money.
nineteenthly, Nov 08 2009
  

       The link to domain-names is an extremely pertinent one - anything can be represented as a number (albeit a long one) and in computing, at some level, everything *is* represented as a number - In the case of domain-name mapping, where a person registers and pays for the global mapping of one number (representation of a domain name) to another (representation of an ip address) and you have a pure example of this idea already in practice. Albeit within the limited scope of having your number mappings logged in the caches of global routers.   

       The problem I see is in the open scope of this idea - show me a thing, and I'll show you an algorithm that links that thing to my chosen number, and bill you accordingly. e.g. Your thing might be "Avocado" my number might be 23423423 and I might happen to maintain a list of things, ordered in such a way that "Avocado" sits at position 23423423 (some of my list might be populated with placeholder items, but that's not your problem)   

       Similarly, if you wanted to send out a bank statement with my current balance of 23423423 on it, but didn't want to pay my royalty fees, they might point out that they happen to own number 98324289343788974 and that they maintain a list of numbers, and 23423423 just happens to be 98324289343788974th on their list, and send me a bill. I could then register number 89732489238942389423423423 and send a further bill due to the fact that I maintain a list of numbers, of which, 98324289343788974 appears in the 89732489238942389423423423th position. And so it goes on, until all the trees have been chopped down to produce increasingly recursive demands on (increasingly thinning) headed notepaper and we all die out due to that will later become known as the Cretinous–Judiciary Extinction event.
zen_tom, Nov 09 2009
  

       This sortof reminds me of licensed radio spectrum. I'm sure it sounded good back when we all used shortwave radios to get our news and entertainment, and the BBC owned the universe, but these days the FCC auctioning off radio spectrum is sortof like me selling moon real-estate or number licenses.
zardinuk, Nov 09 2009
  

       I'll take the limit as you approach zero from the positive side.
RayfordSteele, Nov 09 2009
  

       Will my clock still be able to display all the time?
Ian Tindale, Nov 09 2009
  

       Surprised Microsoft hasn't tried this already.
RayfordSteele, Nov 10 2009
  

       Thanks UB - I enjoyed writing that one too.   

       [bobofthefuture] - brilliant idea, have a free beer!   

       [nineteenthly] - If numbers are fair-game, I wonder whether it's possible to register ownership rights on other Platonic Forms. I'd take a few of the geometric primitives (cubes and cuboids would come in handy in most cities) and maybe try and grab a couple of conceptual forms such as "transaction" and "communication", charging royalties where appropriate. Oh, and and I'm bagsying "royalties" as well, while I'm at it.
zen_tom, Nov 10 2009
  

       Did anyone ever patent patenting?
Ian Tindale, Nov 10 2009
  

       I think it was that Patricia Pending lady.
zen_tom, Nov 10 2009
  

       Ah yes. Patently obvious.
Ian Tindale, Nov 10 2009
  

       Can I patent the Earth?
theleopard, Nov 10 2009
  
      
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