Meeting with a political person

MJ Ray markj at
Tue Jan 22 15:05:22 UTC 2002

Nick Hockings:
> Software is different though, it is applied mathematics. I would prefer to
> sa y maths is the first science, and therefore its works are also
> descriptions of nature. This may fail in the case of software since is
> seen as "created" rath er than "found" by most people.

Is this the correct view, though?  Personally, I agree with your view and
think that mathematics is really just spotting patterns in reality by clever
use of abstractions, so is discovered (like a fact) rather than invented
(like a process).  However, the exploitation of those patterns may be argued
to be a process, even though the representation of that process in software
is merely another pattern to be discovered.  If something can be created by
a random automaton, does it have value as a process?

It's a confusing issue.  I don't think that patents are at all useful for
protecting non-manufacturing processes, though.  They seem to be used mostly
for economic terrorism against your competitors.  I think that with the
current globalisation trend, patent law needs a rethink.  Unfortunately, any
rethink will be lobbied hard by the patent holders... maybe we should patent
any likely way for patent law to be rewritten, to demonstrate the absurdity
of the system?  Or has someone got one already?  ;-)

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