अनिल एकलव्य ⇔ Anil Eklavya

May 3, 2009

Rhetorical Questions on Ownership

If I compose a poem
While visiting your home
And having a post-meal nap
In your home
Does the poem belong to you?

If I write a poem
On the last page of the notebook
That you gave me and
Which contains the addresses
Of the people to whom I deliver
Items of furniture
As a means of survival
Does the poem belong to you?

If I live in a small room
Crammed with all my current
And parts of my old life
And I pay the standard rent
Regularly for the room
Like everyone else
Does a poem written in that room
Belong to you
Because I used a room owned by you?

If I burn my blood
Day and night, apart from
Doing my work under your pay
And manage to finish
A life sapping and lifespan reducing epic
Does the epic belong to you
Because I wrote it while working for you
And sometimes using your pen and ink?

But you didn’t pay me for writing it
You didn’t even ask me to write it
Most probably you didn’t even want me to
Because you don’t care for things
Written by nobodies who are working for you
And which are not worth much in the market

It may be a two penny epic
But does it belong to you?

If it happens to become a million dollar one
Does it then belong to you?

If I sit on the railway station
While waiting for a train
In the station restaurant
And write a poem on the tissue paper
Provided to me by the restaurant owner
Does the poem belong to the restaurant?

If my laptop is not working
And I borrow yours
And while I am using it
I write a poem using your laptop
Does the poem belong to you?

What if I even used
One or two words written
On the calendar hanging on your wall
Written on the cover of the notebook of addresses
Or on the hoarding visible
Only from the window of the room
Rented by me and owned by you
What if I referred to images
I see on the railway station
Or flashing on the T.V. in the restaurant
Something on the screensaver of your laptop
Or a line written on the notes
With which you paid me
Does the poem belong to you?

The poem that you keep reading
And may be keep damning
But don’t have to pay me extra for
Does it belong to you?

It does, does it?
Well, as a reader
Or as a property owner?

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April 11, 2008

Patent Madness

So we have one more reason in support for the idea that patents are a bad idea. The latest is the news that a company called Digital Reasoning has been awarded a patent on what looks like contextual similarity. What the ‘news report’ says includes:


This breakthrough patent grants broad protection for how artificial intelligence, including neural networks, genetic algorithms, and vector space models can be used to learn the meanings of symbols – such as words, categories, or numerical values. Understanding the subtle meaning of terms in context has been one of the “Holy Grails” of artificial intelligence. Not only is Digital Reasoning® fully able to accomplish this feat, it is now patented.

Here is one comment about this:

Anyone from the ACL/ML/AI community can immediately recognize this and start citing their favorite papers on these topics starting from at least a decade ago. A promotional video from the company on YouTube can be found here. Excerpt from the video: “… We treat the text representation of human language as a signal … “.

I think everyone should stop taking patents seriously. Wishful thinking?

Here is another:

Do the people ‘in-charge’ have any clue about the previous/current reseach done in the related field? How can they accept such stuff? Doesn’t make any sense, whatsoever.

But then they had accepted patents on haldi, neem and basmati. I am worried about jal jeera and pani poori.

Also, ganne ka ras.

Madness.

No need for me to say more as so many others have already talked about this:

In August last year there was a news item about Yoga devices being patented in the US. Small mercy that the Government of India succeeded in cautioning the U.S. Government against granting patents to Yoga postures (asanas).

There was a time (in India) when patents were awarded on processes, not products. That meant that even if some company had patented a method for producing a particular medicine, someone else could come along and find a better way and sell the medicine cheaper. Now, since the patents are granted on products, under orders from the empire that rules the world, that kind of thing can’t happen.

It can a be matter of life and death for millions of people.

I look forward to the day when self-respecting researchers won’t proudly list the patents they have been able to obtain.

Patents are among the most evil inventions of humankind.

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