Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Robots Vs Patents

  [vote for,

Personally I consider some of the most interesting things happen with a technology a few decades after it is revealed. Often this is because the time wasn't correct for it, then at a later time, a time came along that was correct, which happened to be that time at the time. Often, however, it is simply because a patent was in place, and nobody moved forward on it out of fear, until long after all of this cooled down. Eg, the invention of the transistor occurred almost exactly as soon as some prior patents expired.

Now, I know patents protect the hard work of an individual and reward the individual or their owner by giving a period of time with which to capitalise upon their hard work in discovering the thing. However, this tiny funnel in which one person can get a bit more wealthy than the rest of them for quite some time isn't really useful overall for humanity (it's only useful for that one or few people with the patent). The real work begins after the expiry, where the contribution of a great many other minds on the topic can produce diversity, efficiency and overall improvement.

Instead of protecting all the hard work in inventing stuff, what I'm suggesting is use robots. Using AI to say 'no need to put in any hard work in the discovery, I'll discover it all for you, make apparent what once was occluded, you can just get on with using it'. I think this will accelerate human development considerably, as a patent is about a third to a quarter of a lifetime, in general. Think how much further ahead we'd be otherwise.

AI should soon be able to, within a specific domain, exhaust configurations then deduce and document resulting characteristics, thus 'getting there first'. This obviously won't work for everything.

I've been looking at the many and varied configurations of transistors, some of which are named after the one who got there first. The Widlar Current Source; the Wilson Current Mirror (named after a ball); the Blackmer cell; etc.

These are quite creative configurations, each quite simple in itself. I imagine there may be some further useful configurations, as yet hitherto undiscovered or undisclosed to us because we've not 'invented' them yet (ie, realised they were possible, all along). (And also because too many modern designers tend to just bolt together ICs without regard to what's in them and how they work at the fundamental level). Imagine an AI that could run a wide variance of possible configurations under a fanout of conditions, and take note of how useful each one is, for whichever uses it can imagine. This is the hard part, not the rapid run through of permutations - deciding what 'useful' might mean. However, imagine we'd arrived at a useful definition of useful, and it used that. I suggest we'd end up with at least a few more undiscovered useful ways of connecting transistors etc.

If it can do it to a defined domain such as electronics, there must be a lot of similar defined domains that an AI could permutate through and rapidly exhaust all reachable outcomes of 'usefulness'. Then we can just get on and enjoy life, using the stuff instead of trying to find where most of it is hidden first, then when someone finds it behind the curtain or down the back of the sofa, it remains untouchable for most of the rest of your working life.

Ian Tindale, Feb 15 2017

Chuck and Bob https://youtu.be/DwDbd4jQpkA?t=20
[not_morrison_rm, Feb 16 2017]


       yeah, whatever, my AI said you're going to say this
theircompetitor, Feb 15 2017

       ^Vaguely reminiscent of the Chuck and Bob blindfold magic trick in Soap.
not_morrison_rm, Feb 16 2017


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