[p2p-research] Building Alliances (invention vs. innovation)

J. Andrew Rogers reality.miner at gmail.com
Sat Nov 7 08:31:30 CET 2009

On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 8:51 PM, Paul D. Fernhout
<pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
> Who is "you"? Who has a "whole thing"? Whose "end to end"? What do you mean
> by "use"? Why do you want to "use individuals"? You're operating from a
> whole paradigm that would place you right at home at an old IBM Research (I
> have no idea what it is like now), but ultimately, peer production is a
> different model of engagement with a commons of ideas, digital artifacts,
> and other people.

You are obsessed with imagined servitude. Hint: in collaborative
businesses that involve people of this caliber, anyone can leave any
time they want because their skills are job security. No one is there
that doesn't want to be. (In fact, our organization is as flat as is
legally allowed by law.)

> Besides, just get someone cheaper from India to do it. :-) And even if they
> do mess it up, the hiring manager will probably be long gone anyway.

Maybe that is how things work in your world, but that is not an option in mine.

> Continually woven throughout your comments here is a "hurry up" kind of
> language. Maybe like "slow food" movement we need a "slow programming"
> movement?

What do want everyone to do, type slower?

> But it's been my experience that most open source programmers want to do
> more but just don't have the time for money reasons. With a basic income, I
> think those holes would quickly get filled.

I doubt it. Remember, we should only be doing things that interest us.
 I could keep myself busy with interesting stuff until the heat death
of the universe.

>> Real software R&D doesn't produce things an ordinary programmer can
>> contribute to. Take, for example, sensor fusion -- a real problem --
>> where you merge unrelated measurements of reality into a single,
>> coherent model on a computer.
> Come on, high school and college students are doing that now. And not just
> with Lego NxT :-)

You are not understanding the problem. Like I said, it is a real
theoretical problem and it has not been solved.

>> Use cases are things like virtual
>> worlds, Microsoft's Photosynth, agricultural modeling in the
>> developing world, cloud-based relational databases, and numerous other
>> applications, all with severe limits based on a "simple" problem in
>> theoretical computer science that has been around for many decades.
> OK. But there are often many approaches that were outlined decades ago that
> we're just waiting for cheaper hardware to use. Hans Moravec talks about
> this.

Nonsense. This is a theoretical complexity problem. They whole point
is that you can throw all the hardware you want at the problem and it
won't fix it.

> Well, nobody I know would work that way. :-)

I've done it, it is fun. A lot of work though.

> Most people are a lot more adhoc that that. :-)

Actually, most people just beat the same dead horse everyone else flogs.

> What does it meant to "purchase the entire body of relevant computer science
> literature" anyway?

Pretty much what it sounds like.  You can get recent papers off the
'net for free, but a lot of older work is much spottier since it only
ever existed in dead tree form.  Fortunately, for most theoretical
areas you can buy one or two canonical texts that give very good
coverage of that fields body of work which you can augment with
individual papers.

There are occasionally interesting ideas in long forgotten papers, but
you usually look for is a set of explicit assumptions in very old
theoretical work that continue to be implicitly carried forward in
later work even when the assumptions no longer make sense in the
current context. It happens a lot in computer science literature and
is often a useful wedge point for developing something new.

> From a typical p2p perspective, people would do what they could from
> publicly published papers on the web. Sure, maybe there might be niches
> somewhere that did not cover. Maybe you are in one. But 99% of interesting
> software would probably be covered.

This isn't software.  It is theoretical computer science and
mathematics. The event horizon is the 1990s, but in some fields no
significant progress has been made since the 1980s. Believe me, I
would prefer to just download it.

> Well, sure, but you have "volunteer" in there which I read as "volunteer to
> solve my abstract technical problem for me so I get all the profits".

Again, you have a really bizarre view of the world. Are you
hypothesizing the world in which everyone is volunteers, or the world
in which these people are partners in a profit-making enterprise? Keep
your story straight.

> If we are just talking about math types having fun, sure, some might slog
> away for years just because they want to (like Andrew Wiles). A basic income
> makes that more possible.

Sure. Unfortunately, that doesn't help for many things.

>> Additionally people that can solve problems
>> like this are exceedingly rare and valuable,
> Valuable to whom?

Valuable in the sense that there is a highly competitive market for
their talent. There is no plausible scenario where this is not true
even if they weren't being paid.

> The whole p2p thing is more that people decide what is valuable to them. And
> their priorities may differ than yours, especially if a project is just
> being done for the money or to dominate some area of activity with a
> monopoly.

Huh? No one is talking about anything like this, but you keep bringing
it up in contexts where it doesn't even make sense.

> Somewhere, I forget where at the moment, maybe Alfie Kohn, it was said that
> all intellectual work is volunteer. It's so hard to measure the output of
> ideas or basic research. To begin with, most people won't understand what is
> going on. And beyond that, how do you put a quota on breakthroughs-per-day?

That's lovely and all, but you are making no sense because nothing
works this way.

>> Google's search algorithm was not original to anyone familiar with the
>> literature.  What was original, and ultimately made them the success
>> they were, was the design of their database that allowed them to scale
>> the way they did.  Again, all they did was take some obscure ideas in
>> academic literature that had never been seriously implemented in a
>> real system and figured out how to put them together. Any other search
>> company could have done the same if they had been able to get the
>> right set of bright polymaths working on the problem that were
>> familiar with some seemingly unrelated bits of literature.
> OK, but they did it and made a fortune. How many other ideas are their out
> there like that which p2p could find and develop? :-)

Plenty, but to be honest most people don't care about that kind of
thing. Only nuts like me enjoy trawling literature. Seriously, how
many programmers do you know that read theoretical literature?

>> There are well-understood theoretical reasons why that won't work.
>> Centralization was required, not a design choice. No need to look for
>> the profit bogeyman when simple mathematics will do.
> There's well understood theoretical reasons why slime can't exist too. :-)
> But it does, and probably a darn good thing, too. :-)

Not exactly the same. One is a mathematical assertion (that actually
has some caveats, but that is for the advanced class).

> I don't see the world you are talking about, using people, forcing people,
> and so on,

Since I don't see that world either, I have no idea what you are talking about.

J. Andrew Rogers

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