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Help Create An Innovation Agenda For The Next Administration

12 like 2 dislike

Darrell West of the Governance Studies program of the Brookings Institution is seeking to crowdsource ideas, feedback and insights into how the government can promote an innovation economy.  The results of this effort may go into an eventual report put out by West for new members of the next Administration.  Below this post, we've pre-loaded an initial list of 96 different possible agenda items, as prepared by West, for an innovation agenda, covering a variety of proposals touching on these topics:

  • the building of digital infrastructure
  • the promotion of entrepreneurship and economic development
  • improving productivity in the private and public sectors
  • improving education and workforce development
  • strengthening creativity and invention
  • improving university commercialization
  • improving decision making through data analytics
  • protecting digital assets
  • harmonizing cross-border laws to promote the digital economy
  • promoting socially responsible innovation

Now we need your help:

  1. Read through the list of items listed below this post
  2. Vote (up or down) on the items, based on the priority you believe they deserve
  3. Comment on individual items, with suggestions, thoughts, information, clarifications, etc.
  4. Respond to others' comments and discuss the various ideas being proposed
  5. Add your own items if you feel there are ideas that are lacking from the initial 96 items

Together, we can help shape a powerful agenda for innovation.

initiated Aug 13, 2012 in Economics by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
edited Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Masnick

113 Responses

2 like 1 dislike
Abolish patents.
response added Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Linksvayer (1,430 points)   1 4 11
1 like 0 dislike


Use and support social media concepts and applications to improve quality of goverment services.
response added Aug 13, 2012 by kevin bingham (160 points)  
1 like 1 dislike


Create a public sector service reserve unit for volunteers to work a weekend per month on public purposes

response added Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
3 like 3 dislike


Develop certificate program in vital skill areas

response added Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
1 like 1 dislike


Build a legal framework to allow expedited approval of specific types of information sharing inside competing firms.

response added Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
3 like 3 dislike
Criminalize the use of DRM technology, just like any other form of hacking, instead of giving it special legal protection.
response added Aug 13, 2012 by Mason Wheeler (560 points)   3
@leigh There's no such thing as "not running code" or "refusing to run code".  There is only "running a different code path instead."  That may sound like playing silly semantical tricks if you're not a programmer yourself, but it's a very important distinction.

Bringing "freedom" into the argument is a red herring, and I really wish you hadn't.  The trouble with that argument is that it can be used to make any point you want.  My side is about freedom too: the owner of a computer should be free to use his own property as he wishes without some external coder causing it to second-guess his decisions.  DRM takes that freedom away from you.

In any sort of stable, civilized society, there are necessary, rational limits on freedom.  The classic example is "your freedom to swing your fist ends where my face begins."  And DRM technology falls squarely into this category.  A publisher's right to "protect" their software using extralegal measures *ends where my personal property begins.*

It infringes on the property rights of the computer's owner by taking control of the system away from them.  Under what moral or ethical philosophy is that justified?  Name-calling and throwing the word "irrational" around does not make it not true.
@masonwheeler Actually, I am a programmer, and I do understand the distinction - and in this case I think it is still meaningless semantics. If the DRM is not altering anything on YOUR computer, then the choices it is making are entirely contained to the package of software itself, and that is not hacking, nor can it possibly be seen as a crime.

Your logic leads to utterly ridiculous places. By your logic, when a computer game forces you to beat one level before moving to the next, that would be a crime. After all, your computer is capable of accessing and playing any level at any time, so why is the developer unduly restricting what your computer can do based on their own set of conditions?

DRM only "takes control of the system" away from the owner if the owner is not allowed to bypass the DRM -- which is why anti-circumvention laws are the problem, NOT drm itself. I don't know why you are incapable of understanding this. A software creator is not under any obligation to make it EASY for you to install their software - they can make it a huge pain in the ass with annoying DRM and other limitations if they want, and you should be able to use your system however you want to try to bypass that as you see fit. But nothing about including DRM with software is criminal. There is no law about how software has to interact with your computer - people can build software however they choose. By your logic, software bugs would be criminal negligence.

Frankly, Mason, this is getting pointless. You are dead-set on the most extreme possible view - that any and all forms of DRM should be *criminalized* - and that makes you sound like a fanatic. No rational person is going to agree with the view that you could *call the police* and *report a crime* because you lost your Windows activation code. Unless you have a reasonable, non-laughable suggestion to make - perhaps something slightly more moderate, that doesn't resort to hyperbolic comparisons - we can keep discussing this. But in the mean time I'm not going to argue with an extremist.
@leigh From the way you keep coming back to installation and activation, you almost seem to be under the impression that that's the only thing DRM is used for.  Are you unaware, then, of DRM on music and movies, which are not software and don't get "installed"?  Or of programs that have to "activate" themselves every time you run them? (Or, in extreme cases such as Diablo III, continuously while you are running them, requiring a constant Internet connection even if you're not using any Internet-related features of the game at all?)

Are you unaware of the Amazon Kindle scandal, where Amazon reached into people's Kindles and deleted not only ebooks but also their own user-created content that was attached to the books, as part of a copyright dispute?

Are you unaware of Apple's iOS, where even after you have bought the device, you do not truly own it because Apple has veto power--even retroactively--over what software is and is not allowed to run on it?  (Again, I refer you to the patent dispute over "Speak for Yourself".)  Are you seriously arguing that any no rational person would agree that Apple should not have the right to arbitrarily reach into someone's iPad and delete software that they purchased and installed in good faith?

This is by no means something that is intrinsically an "extreme" position.  It certainly wasn't 15 years ago!  (Are you familiar with the concept of the Overton Window?)  If it sounds "extremist" to you, it's a sign of how far we've allowed the situation to come without ever looking seriously at the ramifications.

What my position *is* is absolutist.  A computer which someone buys is their property, and they should have the absolute right to exercise final control over what will run on it, so long as their use of the system does not actively harm anyone else.  And if their use of the system does actively harm someone else, they should absolutely be required to pursue remedies within the legal system.  That's what it's there for, and people are strongly discouraged from seeking extralegal remedies in disputes involving the breaking of other laws for a very good reason.  Why should copyright be different?  You still have not provided an answer to this fundamental question.
@masonwheeler You're right, "absolutist" is a better word. And absolutists don't often get very far.

Yes, I am aware that there are many forms of DRM - if you were paying closer attention to the conversation, instead of just waiting for your turn to speak, you'd have noticed that I said that multiple times. YOU are the one refusing to make the distinction. You keep saying that "all" DRM should be criminalized and that "all" DRM is analogous to hacking or vigilante justice. It is, frankly, hilarious that you are accusing ME of not recognizing the different kinds of DRM. As I have said multiple times in this conversation, many egregious forms of DRM - such as Sony's rootkit, or the kindle scandal you mention - may violate consumer protection laws, or may make the company liable for certain civil action, or may even in extreme cases violate more serious laws. If laws need to be tightened in some areas where abuse is too easy, that's a discussion worth having. But you're the one asserting that it is *vital* to criminalize *all* drm technology, and that's ludicrous on every level.

Time to start acknowledging grey areas, because absolutism is getting you nowhere.

You said:

"A computer which someone buys is their property, and they should have the absolute right to exercise final control over what will run on it"

I completely agree. Which is why anti-circumvention laws should be repealed. That's where the problem lies - not with DRM itself.

Sorry Mason, but you're just plain wrong on this one. Nobody is under any obligation to supply you with software, data or hardware that runs the way YOU want it to run. They can build it as they see fit, and it's up to you to decide if you want to buy it. You have not offered a single reason why that isn't or shouldn't be true.
@leigh There are also questions of literacy here. If we don't know what DRM is or how it works, we won't really care about it until it's potentially too late. What if my implanted hearing aid company decides to make a deal with Warner Bros to update my software in a way that changes how I hear in order to protect a copyright?

Of course, the whole other side of the DRM/ownership thing is the commons. We may have to get over the notion of owning content or technology altogether.
0 like 0 dislike
Support a full voucher system--available to any student, paying the per student amount currently spent by the public schools--for DC K-12 schooling, as a demonstration project.
response added Aug 13, 2012 by David Friedman (270 points)   1
Do we know that this system won't be misused such that low-populated areas have less vouchers and thus can't do the right amount of funding for great schools?

What about areas where, even if the vouchers are pooled, it will be hard to attract great teachers b/c of the environment, cost of living, remoteness, or other detracting factors?
3 like 4 dislike


Use existing government funds to focus on middle-mile fiber line development

response added Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
Somewhat surprised at how negative a reaction this item has received.  There is a fairly large body of evidence at this point that having gov't invest in core infrastructure for middle-mile fiber can be tremendously helpful in expanding high speed broadband connections.  The key is then allowing competition *at the service level* above the infrastructure.

I think some people are just reacting negatively because they see government funding for something, without realizing all of the details.
@mmasnick Agreed. This is a good idea, and it deserves to be voted up rather than down.
@mmasnick I downvoted.  I think increasing infrastructure spending would be great, and increasing broadband middle mile is good.  But we've been down this road before, and all it has gotten us is most of the country controlled by mono- or duopoly providers of internet service, who charge exorbitant rates, and have successfully lobbied the competition out of many locales.  If we make this a publicly owned network (like Australia is doing), then I'd be all for it.
@joshremer I think the basics of this is more along the lines of what Australia is doing: investing in middle mile so that third parties can compete on top of it.
0 like 3 dislike


Incentives for pooled private-sponsorship of innovation prizes. The resulting IP is then owned by the consortium with equal rights for member to use those patents.

response added Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
3 like 6 dislike


Centralize authority for critical infrastructure protection and prioritize investments.

response added Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Masnick (22,930 points)   59 99 160
@mmasnick I'm up voting this one because I think it's time to nationalize the telecommunication and power infrastructures. Afterwards we can take-up huge public works projects (think interstate highway system) to make the energy infrastructure true inter-operable across state lines and increase broadband penetration in rural areas. Existing companies can then bid on maintenance and consumers will have some real competition for a change. If the electrical infrastructure truly works on a national-level, then I can purchase my energy from different companies across the nation.
As a dialup user, this one is very important for me. Broadband penetration is terrible throughout the US, with carriers not bothering to reach out to low density markets. And even in markets where they do bother to reach out, their monopolies keep speeds slow. Have the government take the lines to people, and then let competition sort out the prices.

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