TED Conversations

Pabitra Mukhopadhyay


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Is there anything truly original?

1. Is it ethical to patent ideas, technologies or products that are based on community knowledge and wisdom?
2. Are there ways to reward first proposal instead of original in copyright/patent laws?
3. Is there anything such as scientific originality as contrasted to romantic originality?
4. Is there anything truly original?

I invite you to answer the questions, separately or in one comprehensive way.

  • Feb 23 2014: Pabitra

    In response to your queries....The patenting, or ownership of a community product is impossible in any but a legal context and as such is unethical on it's face. As to the rewarding of first proposals, I am not qualified to comment due to an ignorance of current and relevant international law.

    The third question is very interesting. I would assert that the leap of insight and understanding that comes in science is very much akin, but not identical to, the epiphanies available in other realms of creativity. I am presuming that your reference to scientific originality refers to the theorizing about, and discovery of natures underlying principles. These principles themselves are the very definition of originality, having been constant and unchanging for billions of years.

    John Donne accosts Newton in one of his poems for daring to dissect white light into its component colors, accusing him of "...unweaving the rainbow...", and robbing it of its beauty. Light's properties were of course constants long before Newton, but his shocking discovery of these properties were so visually counter intuitive they became a sensation, with a proliferation of "light shows" and kaleidoscopes.

    Each child taught this lesson, and a thousand others like it, has the opportunity for a leap of understanding, and with it the sharp beauty of a universe that expands and grows more complex and wonderful. Is that first moment of understanding scientific originality, even if untold numbers have understood it before you?

    As to the last question... I strongly assert the each individual moment is utterly unique and we should try to appreciate it as such. Though true success in this is impossible really, the attempt itself is beneficial. But none of it is original, it all rests on the predicates of it's past. You could as easily say that each moment is original, as it's like has not been seen before, nor will be again. Either way, it's valuable.

  • Mar 11 2014: Inspiration is sporadic and comes only a couple times in someone's life. Other 'inspirations' were things that those people saw before, liked what they saw, and came up with ideas on how they could approve upon someone else's inspirations.

    Did you ever see the movie Amudeus? There is a specific part where Mozart looks at a song that Salieri wrote (just briefly) and says that he already has it in his head. He then proceeds to take Salieri's music, tweak the idea, and make something vastly more beautiful out of it.

    The question is: Did Mozart really compose what he played? Well... technically yes. Because it was different enough that it could be considered an original work. Did the inspiration come from Mozart? No it didn't. For that specific song, Mozart's inspiration came from Salieri's work

    Whenever you see an original idea so different and so far from what we know today - you can probably rest assured that the original inspiration came from somewhere else. There is only one exception to that rule and it's called Inception.

    Now before you think of the major motion picture, let me remind you that the definition of 'inception' is - "the establishment or starting point of an institution or activity." We use the word inception in common speech (usually) to refer to the official date that a company was Incorporated. While that's a legitimate use of the word, I think of it as 'the point in time when true inspiration was realized'

    An inception takes years, decades even, to develop. Why is that? Because inception can only be created by a persons past. Deep seeded emotion is the only thing that can create true inspiration. And even then, the person has be totally (or almost entirely) connected to their inner-self for this moment of truth to reveal itself. That's why an inception is impossible to fake - it takes years of emotion in order for it to develop.

    You only ever have one truly life changing inception in your life. This truth either makes you, or breaks you
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      Mar 11 2014: Profound, time has done for me what I have been unable to do for myself.
    • Mar 11 2014: Zeke,

      I like what you wrote even though I think that inspiration can be a constant company in someone's life, especially when one cultivates certain relationships, friendships and ways of being. Case in point Motzart. I also think that deep seeded reflection can create true inspiration… and a bunch of other things too. (yea that framing has multiple interpretations: 1- reflection can also create a bunch of other things 2- a bunch of other things can create true inspiration 3- additional ones...)

      You stated "We use the word inception in common speech (usually) to refer to the official date that a company was Incorporated." and "You only ever have one truly life changing inception in your life. This truth either makes you, or breaks you". I find many truly life changing inception events in my life. In a day this to is an inception event, what is it each will now hold in their minds/bodies/spirits? I wanted to say something about impressions at the point where a company was incorporated into one's life… to show how we come across inception points every time we meet someone or something … the encounter can makes us better, worst and other possibilities … Now we do have a say as to which possibility to realize and how to realize each possibility.

      In a way technically everything is truly original, because it be different enough that it could be considered an original.
      "Did the inspiration come from Mozart"? Yes it did and it was based on the inspired work that came from Salieri coupled with other stuff that tweaked, played, transformed and enriched the idea, into something vastly more beautiful and entertaining. From the movie it seems that Mozart just naturally played along with the music where as Salieri struggled saliently to jut out every note.

      Seems to me Mozart was more fun and entertaining to be around.

      How can one be more like Mozart if one be more like Salieri?
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      Mar 12 2014: Zeke & Esteban,

      I find both of your views inspiring and entertaining. It may be said also what breaks you makes you. Undoing or letting go of what breaks you transforms you. There is a place of mind called Original State. Perhaps starting as a turning point, where a broken fragmented mind starts the journey of becoming whole or returning to Original State, an inception. At first glimpse a ray of Hope appears in a hopeless world further progressing into a world of Illuminating Light. Some call this the day of Awakening and would appear as a single event whereas everyday is a progression of that original inception. It would seem once awake in consciousness it's most difficult to go back to sleep. With the inception comes inspiration, note how the words start with in, as to point in a direction.

      If we are all unique as human beings is that not a sameness we share?
      • Mar 12 2014: Larry,

        Yes, curious how that which includes us into a set is also what differentiates us in the set! For me there are levels of awareness, consciousness, understanding, that go from something into everything and into nothing… Each level is a unique state with infinite better states above it and infinite worst states below it… in a way each level is like every other level for they hold infinite upon infinite of possibilities while actually being unlike every other level. I hold to believe that there are better states! I recognize that others believe other beliefs. Question is why one chooses to believe what one chooses to believe?

        Originally upon reading what you just stated, I thought to response to beware how both the positive and negative employ the schema you put forth. 'The determinant point of inception' where a mind/body/spirit starts the journey of becoming. For some it is as you say "At first glimpse a ray of Hope… " for some it is may come as a glimpse of doubt… for some it may be an inspirational event… for some it may be a rockbottom experience… for some it may be a realization… For me the key here is how one responds to the invitations one gets, does one accept the right ones and reject the wrong ones? or does one do it the other way around? Maybe one be proactive and consider multiple meaning… and additional ways… What does the other way around mean? that one becomes the inviter?

        "Before Enlightenment chop wood carry water, after Enlightenment, chop wood carry water." I would include the notion: during Enlightenment chop wood carry water! or to use someone else's words "Put your heart, mind, intellect and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success." Of court 'chop wood carry water' stands for some activity (which may even be doing nothing) There exists a singular difference of doing ordinary activities with different attitudes!

        progressing into a world of Enlightenment focuses on understanding the light by knowing the light
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          Mar 13 2014: Hi Esteban,

          Perhaps yes to the idea that if you know the negative side you know half the story, if you know the positive side you know half the story, if you know both you know the whole story.
          When you know the whole story you can then smile upon the whole thing recognizing that is what it took to get you to that better current state, what seemed to curse has come to Bless.

          I would think one chooses to believe out of ignorance or understanding, a good reason not to set things in stone and remain teachable.

          I have wondered about what you stated about those rockbottom dwellers late in time like me and those early in time who seem to bounce off a very shallow bottom and go about their merry way. Maybe some of us are just dense and stubborn.

          The inviter would seem to be the same as cause and effect. the inviter is cause and the guest is the effect, equal subjects of motives and intentions. I guess that would determine how pleasant the association is or isn't.

          Before the Ted.com topic police throw down on us for you being so far off topic I better get us back on track. Is there anything truly original? I say yes, if it comes from an original source.

          See Ya, going to chop some wood and carry some water now.
      • Mar 14 2014: Larry,

        If one knows the lie (the negative) then one just knows that lie and will be unable to state if some other statement about that matter is veridic or not.
        If one knows the truth (the positive) then one knows that truth and will be able to state if some other statement about that matter is veridic or not.

        Another way to express that idea is that knowing only 'the light' one can experience the full spectrum from 0 light to infinite light… without needing any darkness at all; where as if one knows only darkness one will not be able to understand the light nor see a thing.

        When one know the whole story one can realize that learning the better way is what it took to get one to that better current state. Does one need to make a mistake to know the right answer? I think its a bad idea to think that a bad idea is a good idea because after we had the bad idea we had the good idea. I know how a thing can be a blessing and a curse; for example "may you reap in abundance what you sow"! I also know of things that can be just blessings "may you reap in abundance what you ought to reap". BTW one can only chooses to believe out of ignorance, for when it stems from understanding one knows!

        Setting things in stone and enabling them rocks to consciously move about and somewhat determine their fates, I think is one heck of an original idea. Thank you, I might have never conceived that humans are dense conscious rocks determinate to follow on a set course of actions.

        It's curious how inviter and guest be constituted in relationship to each other; akin to how the archer the bow and the arrow be constituted at the same singular instant and in relationship to each other. I would say that inviter and guests each be causes and effects. How pleasant the association is or isn't? I suppose depends on what each does to themselves and the other.

        I think the ideas we each expressed are truly original, even though some are a bit more original :-).

        What original have you had?
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          Mar 14 2014: Esteban,
          I responded to your post earlier and inadvertently closed out and erased my effort. Since then I received the script below and thought how on time with the conversation. I thought you might like it. Regards

          "I will there be light."
          "Today we are considering the will you share with God. This is not the same as the ego's idle wishes, out of which darkness and nothingness arise. The will you share with God has all the power of creation in it. The ego's idle wishes are unshared, and therefore
          have no power at all. Its wishes are not idle in the sense that they can make a world of illusions in which your belief can be very strong. But they are idle indeed in terms of creation. They make nothing that is real.
          Idle wishes and grievances are partners or co-makers in picturing the world you see. The wishes of the ego give rise to it, and the ego's need for grievances, which are necessary to maintain it, peoples it with figures that seem to attack you and call for "righteous" judgment. These figures become the middlemen the ego employs to traffic in grievances. They stand between your awareness and your brothers' reality. Beholding them, you do not know your brothers or your Self.
          Today we will try once more to reach the world that is in accordance with your will. The light is in it because it does not oppose the Will of God.
          Your picture of the world can only mirror what is within. The source of neither light nor darkness can be found without. Grievances darken your mind, and you look out on a darkened world. Forgiveness lifts the darkness, reasserts our will, and lets you look upon a world of light...............................
          Do you really want to be in hell? Do you really want to weep and suffer and die?
          Suffering is not happiness, and it is happiness you really want. Such is your will in truth.
      • Mar 14 2014: Larry,

        I know the feeling… when that happens to me… I tend to think it was for my eyes only :-) (or someone/ something interfering).

        Thanks for the script you shared… When what one wills to be the will of God… that is the will one share with God … corresponds to ones will and God's will … then such will has all the power of creation in it… (thanks to God). Maybe its simpler to express this in a more practical way… when you choose to do what I choose to do (or the other way around - I choose to do what you choose to do)--- we each get to do what we choose to do AND what the other choose to do. In other words it isn't something about doing something your way or my way its simply about doing something. The same thing happens with willing to do what God wills to be done… on the one hand God knows what He is doing, on the other hand God wants us to be happy and full filed and divine… (because that's God's nature). Finally personally I too desire to be happy and full filed and a bunch of other wonderful things… that only God can ensure I realize. So I put my trust in God rather than myself. Oh and for them who assert creatures created the creator I just have to say that be it one way or the other way both creature and creator now exist in a loving relationship! What does it matter if we are 'material' beings having a 'spiritual' experience, or are 'spiritual' beings having a 'material' experience, when the point focuses on having an spirituo emotional conscious embodiment singularity that even transcends finite temporal domains?

        I hold that the ego better be educated and aligned, just like the mind, the body, the emotions, the attitudes, etc…

        I observe a bit of a bias in the script … towards cultivating a particular way of being… I prefer to maintain and cultivate an alternate bias where peoples help to make "righteous" judgments. The 'figurines' become 'stuff' that employs and is employed to traffic in 'favors', more appropriately interchanges of loving gifts.
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          Mar 15 2014: Esteban,

          Interesting you perceive bias in the script. Guess we are all biased, one way or the other. Putting ones trust in creation rather than themselves cultivates a particular way of being. Choosing one thing over another is biased. So it would appear there is a wholesome use of being biased as well as an unwholesome use of being biased. Was that a biased statement?

          You had asked me the question 'What original have you had?"
          My answer would be outside of Life nothing. Life is truly original.
      • Mar 15 2014: Larry,

        Indeed, we are all biased, one way or the other… of course a bias towards good and better truthful loving ways is preferable :-) and in a humorous way the better ways gives each what they bias towards by giving them what be better and good! Those who love, love love, those who hate, love hate and hate love so love gives each what they desire and sort of encapsulates and surrounds everything with love… thanks I just discovered something I like in the notions --those who love hate hate love--- and those who love love love

        I like to say that we are bound to judge while free to choose how to do it…
        we are bound to believe while free to choose what to believe…
        each must choose while they may do it by doing nothing or doing something…

        I also like to say we are all intelligent to some degree :-) Of course some seem to be at 0 :-) and some at 1...
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          Mar 17 2014: Esteban,

          I would suppose there are extreme examples of the limits of a biased mind from Love to hate. A total contradiction of terms or the perception of bidirectional energy. Your statement of a bias course or direction toward good and better would not appear as bidirectional or a contradiction in the terms. They parallel good is better and better is good. I've learned something.

          Though I am bound to judge I am not bound to pass judgment.

          Zero and one and what is in-between, that's me. The difference between a fool who thinks he makes himself and a man who understands he didn't.
      • Mar 18 2014: I amusingly chuckled with "The difference between a fool who thinks he makes himself and a man who understands he didn't"… thanks for that. …
        BTW each is bound to pass judgement… how each does it differentiates one from others…

        I am glad that you seem to see how a statement of a bias course or direction toward good and better would appear as mono-directional or a self-supporting term. The absolute statement "there isn't an absolute truth" creates a self invalidating accretion and produces a paradox (was going to state assertion and that word got in there somehow and upon looking up its definition it seems to me to fit so I left it there). BTW , note that the absolute statement "there is an absolute truth" creates a self validating accretion too :-) as you said they parallel good is better and better is good. I've learned something. I kind of joke about the notion of there being more than one absolute truth… or there just being that one absolute truth… I believe that there are infinite absolute truths… and more get created each instant...
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    Mar 9 2014: I personally believe that in the world of today, it has become nearly, if not completely, impossible, to come up with a completely original idea without root and without previous inspiration. Two things I have to say about four, which is the one that really interests me, is that it's possible, but it takes a special kind of crazy to do so. Another thing that I'd like to say is that true originality is wholly unnecessary. Most of the ideas that people come up with are stemming from a problem, whether it's an innovative technology or a neat story idea, and there's almost always a source. We want the rest of the world to interact with it, but the kind of originality that you're talking about comes from cutting off from the rest of the world, keeping it away from any inspiration whatsoever and it's even harder to make it original and not revolting at the same time. I may end up sounding like an ass for saying this, but it's being unoriginal that drives modern human ingenuity. And to answer the others, I believe scientific originality does share similarity to romantic originality in the sense that it's hard to have any use for it in its pure form, and the differences that they share derive from the origin and the intention. For number two, I think that we are trying our best to make sure that first proposal does well, but at the same time it's very much a matter of which is better. As for number one, I think if you take all the credit for a group effort, then you're worse than Gene Simmons. Burn!
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      Mar 9 2014: Thanks. You vibed close to how I think.
      It seems that we have many myths to debunk. May be originality is one with which we should start.
      • Mar 9 2014: Pabitra,

        Which one original myth should we start with?

        Ought it be the notion that observer beliefs of reality doesn't and does influence reality?

        Reality can get quite convoluted when reality stems from integrating reality and beliefs; add to that spirit and other individuals and the game really gets more interesting.

        Using slightly different notation, recognize that this here just involves body-mind stuff; considering just a single determining sentient being.

        As you sort of said "Plenty of myths about…"
  • Feb 27 2014: Patents, copyrights, possession of any kind is just another man-made license to steal.
    God has given us everything but that is not enough for some people who want everyone else's share also.
    • Feb 27 2014: Keith,

      You eloquently stated that idea. Thanks.

      I do wonder whether man-made the idea of possession or just got possessed by it.

      Perhaps it was part of a set of possibilities intended to remains as such possibilities ...

      For some possibilities it is not enough for them to be possibilities and desire to become manifested realities and need the 'willing' collaboration of somebody that has a physical-menatl-spiritual existence. Then it is not enough for them to gain control over some people they want everyone else's share also.... and even, if it where possible, to get rid of the people... fortunately God has given us everything to ensure our wellbeing... now and forevermore...
      • Mar 2 2014: I believe it is a measure of a organism to a) know the difference between right and wrong (instinct, we are all born with this) and then b) from birth we enter survival mode until we are strong enough to survive on our own at which point we become accountable for our choices. Now in a just world all would be handled with care and not damaged until they reach the point of accountability but that is not the case. Many are damaged from conception through no fault of their own but some of them recover and/or become even stronger as Nietzsche points out.
        There is plenty of evidence that humans and indeed the whole planet is better off without the possession defect and there is even more evidence of the destruction possession precipitates.
        • Mar 2 2014: Keith,

          Considering that the original temptation in the Bible involves being able to distinguish the difference between right and wrong I wonder if the measure of an organism involves just the ability to distinguish, focus and cultivate what be good and right and truthful. I think we are always accountable for our choices and think that at the core of everything it's about habilitation of certain caring ways of being... Some seem to think that to know jimmy one needs to know alfred rather than just get to know jimmy...

          Some possible thought are best keep as such just a possible thought... To me it's quire evident that some entities seek to become manifested realities and need the 'willing' collaboration of somebody that has a physical-menatl-spiritual existence. The entities seek to take control of the actions/feelings/thoughts of the 'willing victim' . It is not enough for them to gain control over some people they want everyone else's share also.... and even, if it where possible, to get rid of the people... fortunately God has given us everything to ensure our wellbeing... now and forevermore...individuals just have to recognize what be going on and choose appropriately to cultivate only what ought to be cultivated... if only they would do it right once and for all...
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      • Mar 8 2014: "Religion sells what God freely offers"- Keith W Henline
        Religion is just another greedy senseless corporation.
        "God has no religion"- Gandhi
    • Mar 17 2014: Steal from whom? (Or what?)
  • Gord G 50+

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    Feb 23 2014: I think Plutarch eloquently illustrated the paradox of originality in the thought experiment "The Ship of Theseus". Another excellent description of the paradox is the description of the "analytic knife" in the book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Persig .

    "...And instead of just dwelling on what is killed it's important also to see what's created and to see the process as a kind of death-birth continuity that is neither good nor bad, but just is." - Persig

    The creative process is a continuum that lives and breaths in our collective conscience. Originality is a point in the continuum that we believe expands our consciousness. The value of the contribution has intrinsic value (even if we don't perceive it). Ownership is an extrinsic objectification of the moment to allow it to exist in the marketplace.

    So my thoughts on your questions…

    Originality is the awareness of the dynamic quality of change within the universe. It's an expression of potential. That's why I believe originality will always exist, because potential is as infinite as the universe.

    Ownership is a survival tool. It's an object of exchange. It'll always be defined by the system that governs it. Originality is not a quality of ownership.
    • Mar 17 2014: Hi Gord G,
      Just thought it would be good to know that the ship of Theseus is generally interpreted to be about identity and not originality. The question it raises is whether or not the ship is the same ship when you've replaces all its parts. I think though it's very interesting that you're trying to apply it to the concept of originality. Cool idea!
      • Mar 20 2014: Thanks Bob. True. I wasn't explicit in my post.

        I think they're interconnected and interdependent. When an object ceases to be the same as itself it becomes an original object [contingent upon how one defines change].
  • Mar 22 2014: Pabitra,

    Thanks for this conversation I truly enjoyed it and found it quite original.
  • Mar 9 2014: 1. The idea behind patents is, actually, to make innovations public. We can all read those patents. Anyway. The point is that patents gives the patenter exclusivity for a number of years, not forever. This way we all can read about those ideas, understand them, and have background for further innovations. Patents are the point in the middle between completely public and industry secret.

    2. In theory, we can't patent something that is already "out there." So, if the idea is already in the public domain, it cannot be patented.

    3. Yes. New ideas might put together older ones. Anyway, agent evaluations include obviousness. I know, not perfect, but not being perfect is a different problem.

    4. Yes. There is.
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    Mar 8 2014: I think that most people would assume that there is nothing original, that everything is simply and outstretching or adaptation or amalgamation of something else. this idea merged with that real world application to influence this other idea until the chain of causation is lost, and indeed a good example would be in literature. it is an oft told maxim that all stories from sweeping sci-fi epics to titillating slice of life dramas boil down to the seven basic plots and it is probably true that the majority of good books/other entertainment medium one enjoys are heavily redolent of earlier works in similar or different genre's but does this eliminate originality. Good ideas still occur specifically in the fields of science and philosophy. To me asking whether or not there is anything truly original is like asking whether or not we've mastered all the worthy ideas. in the latter halve of the nineteenth century , it was a common conceit of the academics and intelligentsia of the day to assume that man was very close to unlocking the secrets of the universe, that science was almost as advance as it could get and that there was very little "originality" left. look achieved since then, entire new fields of science have developed that have shwn us that we were farther behind then we ever imagined. as long as people live, breath and die, there will always be new and original ideas in pretty much every field of human endeavor.
  • Mar 2 2014: The Renaissance encouraged and expected artists to improve on existing art and ideas. It wasn't originally about ownership, but moving forward as a society by working collaboratively. This awakening has been stifled by the greedy race of capitalism. Capitalism which is not malicious in the finite, is in turn weaponized by the corrupt in many instances. Creating is the act of borrowing ideas, combining them with other ideas, and hiding our sources as if to appear original...
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    Mar 2 2014: I think goggle of monkey in your pic is original. :)
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    Mar 2 2014: It feels like Fritzie and Brendan are pulling the rope in a tug of war and I am the knot in the middle! But it is immensely pleasurable. :)
    • Mar 2 2014: What kind of a knot?

      just remember that some of them knots can half the rope loading strength ...

      I kind of like knots... all kinds of knots... specialty knots that can tighten and grab or explode and detangle by pulling on the appropriate string...
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        Mar 2 2014: If you like knots we'll have to go fishing someday. I've been looking for that special somebody who knows just the appropriate string to pull to release the entangled mess I have made on my reel with braided line.
        • Mar 2 2014: Sure... of course sometimes its just simpler to release the entangled mess and use a whole new line... it can be entertaining to undo the mess... of course it can be more fun to never get into the mess to begin with... sometimes the best and simplest solution involves preventing the problem... when one does not have the problem any solution is as effective as any other solution at solving that problem :-)
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        Mar 3 2014: Brendan the SOaG (know what that means? ;))
        You are right in as much as imagining I never believed you will remain silent in this conversation. Too tempting for you!

        You must have noticed that my questions are in an increasing order of philosophical challenge. Originality is a vexing idea both philosophically and functionally. The patent and copyright laws seem to address only superficially this idea yet most of our economic incentives are based on that. Its time we rethink our position to check if we are stifling creativity instead of encouraging it by these laws.

        Information does not inspire me. What one does with it inspires. You and I may pretty differently deal with same set of information. What is important to me is what's your take on it.

        Originality started of as an extension of romanticism and not long ago it was more related to work of literature and arts. With time it over-arched the whole of human faculty and technology, if not science, highjacked it of late. It's a pity not many responded to my question no. 3 except Fritzie. But then discoveries imply a-priory existence of things so it is hard to imagine an original discovery. Invention goes quite close to being original but misses it by an arm's length - inventions are unique recombination of existing elements but not original.

        I am not against the innovation, improvisation and refinement which science does to our benefit. But I believe there is no such thing as scientific originality ( I am ready to be persuaded otherwise, no problem) in a way comparable to literature or arts.

        I think, and I hope with some respectable degree of credulity, original is created without a-priori reason, necessity or reference to other originals. With this criterion, it seems hopelessly futile to find something physically or metaphysically save and except for initial sets of forces and particles out of big bang (Indian sages would laugh at that as they insist that there had been many big bangs before).
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        Mar 3 2014: BTW, how is that for a plunge o viking!
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        Mar 3 2014: Let your wish be granted Brendan Maloney, sir!
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        Mar 3 2014: I loved that viking helmet and that smirk on your face. You look like a person who can gamble away hard earned wealth like Yudhisthira did just for the heck of it. Your new avatar is cool too but less challenging.
  • Feb 28 2014: In response to the first question, originality and the ability to patent ideas, technologies, products, and intellectual property is a very important civic issue that has a kairos today, especially thanks to difficult questions about online piracy and distribution methods.

    I would contend that the patent system is ethical. The patent system is not permanent, at least in the United States, so eventually the idea, product, or technology becomes part of the community knowledge, so no one is excluded from using or taking advantage of a new idea, product, or technology forever. Also, the United States patent law allows some leeway for research purposes or thought and diagrams.

    The patent system does have the somewhat negative effect of temporarily isolating an idea, product, or technology to a single entity when another person or entity could use that idea, product, or technology for a much more efficient or beneficial purpose. However, this exclusion is only temporary, and could provide motivation for the creation of further original ideas, products, or technologies as other people and entities strive to achieve the same effects without using the patented idea, product or technology.

    As for the community knowledge aspect of the question, considering that all individuals in a community will be influenced by that community, what patent, idea, or technology could be made without community knowledge or wisdom? Patents should be issued with enough thought and consideration to conclude that the idea, technology, or product is not currently a keystone of the community, since patenting that key aspect would greatly disrupt the community by limiting it to the individual or entity that holds the patent. The overall patent system is an ethical way to encourage development of new ideas, technologies, and products by allowing creators to benefit, though the patent system is not the only encouragement, needs or just the thrill of discovery also drive innovation.
    • Feb 28 2014: Joe,

      I would contend that the patent system promotes the idea that individuals and societies can just take what they want without reattributing a thing to the author of the idea; akin to commandeering supplies from those who have them. Kind of pretentious that the usurpers gives (for a fee), the temporary provision to delay taking the stuff away. I postulate that we need a better system to promotes ideas and collaboration based un mutual enrichment and sharing the values generated. Individuals and communities ought give enough thought and consideration to appreciate and reciprocate each other for the idea, technology, or product individuals and collective present, especially when someone put forth a keystone for the community... of course in a way every stone in the construction can be a keystone since taking it out would greatly disrupt the whole structure and limit it to the individual piles of stones, rather than a structured that holds them all together in a much better configuration.

      BTW thanks for your words they have stimulated me to construct a new metaphor which I find rather useful ...

      Is there anything truly original of this new metaphor involving "-every stone in the construction can be a keystone since taking it out would greatly disrupt the whole structure and limit it to the individual piles of stones, rather than a structured that holds them all together in a much better configuration" . Sure there is... thanks for helping me construct it... now you other me can hold it... and employ it...
      • Mar 8 2014: The patent system was established to allow authors of ideas to protect their creation and keep it under their control. While abuses of the patent system may occasionally wrongfully grant a patent, the overall system is based on crediting authors for their creation. The patent system forces credit to be given to authors, so individuals and societies can't simply take what they want.

        While a system based on mutual enrichment and trust is a great idea, the implementation and codification of a system of that nature would be next to impossible considering that even the current patent system is occasionally abused. It would require tremendous effort to achieve the level of cooperation needed.
        • Mar 8 2014: Joe,

          Actually the implementation of a system based on mutual enrichment and trust is rather simple and requires little codification … granted it can be quite open to unscrupulous abusers … or just the opposite… I remember the days when to be of society one required to properly behave … in fact some individuals word of honor and names where equivalent to sighed contracts. Virtues where truly appreciated and valued more than money. Now days it seems that many value charlatans charismatic allures… rather than the righteous virtuous. We can see it in everyday conversations and interactions; some claim there isn't a right way and every way is right if one just looks at it in a certain way.

          There is a significant difference in a system where individuals take the responsibility and where individuals follow whatever the system dictates. often in detriment to the individual and to benefit the system, or the other way around! either way its actually the same win-lose rather than win-win.

          The patent system forces credit to be given to first proposal rather than to the authors, it also takes away individuals autonomy and forces them to conform to the system and pay society for the privilege of not having society take their stuff… kind of like paying bullies for protection from the bullies … to truly incentive enriching interactions a whole different interactional system needs to be used… one where each individual chooses to collaborate and help each other… I could go on into the details … Like many things the spirit of the law is often trampled by certain interpretations of the letter of the law… In fact based on history optional tends to become requirers ...
      • Mar 15 2014: The real point of concern with such a system of "mutual enrichment and trust" is, like you pointed out, the very real possibility of abuses of such a simple system. There has never been any point in time without individuals who would not abuse a system for personal gain. A system based on individuals taking up responsibility requires cooperation between all members, and could fall apart from the dissent of a few members. This hypothetical system would require an extremely idealized society in order to function.

        The patent system allows individuals to reserve the rights to their creation. Individuals are free to not patent a creation and share it with everyone for free. While the patent system requires a fee, the patent allows the creator to be the sole beneficiary from the profits of their creation. Ultimately, the patent system benefits authors and inventors in most cases.
        • Mar 15 2014: Joe,

          such a system of "mutual enrichment and trust" is actually guarded from abuses by the existing interplay of interrelationships in the system… in fact many operate in such dynamics already … both in positive and negative ways… some such simple system are easy to get into and quite difficult to leave… and some are much more difficult to get into and quite easy to leave… A system based on individuals taking up responsibility requires individuals taking up responsibility and creating cooperation with other members, yes it could fall apart from the dissent of a few members who enter and corrupt the practices. The notion that "this hypothetical system would require an extremely idealized society in order to function" seems to me to seek and characterize the system in a particular way that justifies 'rejecting the notion without further exploration'.

          Originally I was thinking of bringing up the notion that a sense of safety can lead to riskier actions resulting in an actual higher exposure to risk. I am certain that individuals here would NOT dare play russian roulette with a fully loaded revolver say for a $100,000 dollars…. the same individuals here would readily and repeatedly play russian roulette with a fully unloaded revolver for a much lower amount say $10 dollars… the thing is when we introduce uncertainty into the game … and also include a bit of certain incentives… some individuals may choose to partake in the deadly dare depending on the particular circumstances.

          From what others here have said, presently the patent system allows extortioners to legally steal the creations of others by being the first proposers. In a way this system appropriates and administers the creations of individuals and decrees who be the sole beneficiary from said inceptions. By franchising entitlements to the right … I am curious who gave them the right to do such a thing?
      • Mar 20 2014: The "existing interplay of interrelationships" is based on the cooperation and respect members have for another, but as soon as one member becomes dissatisfied, the system could fall apart, losing the crucial interrelationships it needs. There certainly are some systems of mutual trust, but a system of mutual enrichment and trust would have a hard time with replacing the patent system due to the very large number of members with their varying goals and motivations. There is not much further exploration to be had with this hypothetical system, real consequences of the system's practice may only be observed if the system actually exists.

        The patent system is about protecting the rights of inventors to the fruits of their own creation, without a system in place, inventors could suffer from others stealing their inventions and failing to give due credit or payment. The patent system is usually run by the government, so its authority comes from the government and its enforcement of rules and laws. While abuses of the patent system can and do occur, there are also appeals processes to help inventors.
        • Mar 20 2014: Joe,

          There are certainly systems in existence! (at least in certain domains and with certain characteristics) The system could continue to exists even if one member becomes dissatisfied and falls apart for others would keep the existing system.

          In regards to the patent system … from what I know it is about granting a temporary right to first proposer… the individual who secures such right may then appeal to the courts to present the case of some violators and if the authority decides in their favor… proceed to the next step… rather than facilitate innovation and mutual enrichment it hinders collaboration … as you appropriately sort of mentioned it usually is run by third party rather than the individuals involved in the matter. Granted, sometimes resorting to a third party is helpful… I just think that in this particular case individuals better realize that it's better business to do mutually enriching interactions… and keep repeating them...
        • Mar 20 2014: Joe and Esteban

          I am very glad you are talking about this "system" because it has everything to do with what is happen now in my life

          I have been vigilant to oportunities, and in university for 1 diciplin we have to write an article, and i saw that as a big oportunity

          The way i see is a chance to write and become an expert on my own ideas and expose it, get in the spotlight, the more people sees it, the more they want it, more they will come to me, not because they have to, because patent, but because i am the specialist on it

          I think that contest for ideas or other kind of incentives may be relevant to the talk
  • Feb 25 2014: Absolutes are hard to come by. One could juxtapose the question;"Is there anything which is not unique?". Practically, one has to simplify the question, to human endeavors, at which point we acknowledge that every word is an evolved conceptual construct. If two people come to similar notions, is the later less original? If someone takes another's idea and builds upon it. Isn't their addition afforded some importance? We seek to show some credit to those who discover and yet, the common good is not served by binding up knowledge. There is no narural law for this, only that which we agree to. We comprimise by making patents effective for a finite time. Other countries use a form of manifest destiny to justify ignoring patents. It might be best to make the creation immediately available to all, and set an annually dimminishing percentage profit share arbitrarily. Art or science, why draw a line that gets thinner all the time?
    • Feb 25 2014: Bradley,

      BTW how is it that someone manages to take another's idea and builds upon it when in actuality each creates their own ideas? Does someone have the right to restrict what I can think about based on what they think about?

      Why isn't each idea afforded it's own importance?

      I think that some individuals do not seek to afford nor appreciate properly those who ''create' 'discovered' or 'cultivate' originally produced ideas.

      FWIIW ... I come across absolutes all the time ... Heck that first sentence in your post is one example of an absolute claimI came across recently ... You absolutely declared "Absolutes are hard to come by"... which is absolutely wrong especially if one considers the fact that "Absolutes are easy to come by"...

      Yes it might be best to make the creation immediately available to all, stipulate the retribution to comply with the authors user guidelines and allow each to comply with them rules. The thing is that presently the honor system needs a bit of reinforcement and fair prices set. Just imagine that each one who employs an idea pay a fraction of the value such idea generates for them to the one who produced it... and this is done by all... even an insignificant amount can add to hug he profits... if sufficient instances pay...
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  • Feb 23 2014: I will answer if I can come up with a truly original thought on the subject.
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    Feb 22 2014: Originality exists in the confidence in being wrong sometimes. That confidence frees up the imagination to go where it likes, without having to stick to the familiar 'beaten track'. If we always have to be right, then we are by nature, following everyone else because everything has to be evidenced with previous knowledge. This is tantamount to living in the past, just recycling all that is already known. Not original in the truest sense.

    That's not to say that true originality is strictly without external influence. An original idea can be influenced by something or many things already in existence, and still be called original, as long as the overarching creative idea has moved significantly forward and the influences are acknowledged.

    I think originality collides with too many obstacles (like copyright/patent laws, as you have said) for people to even have the desire to make their originality public. A lot of that is to do with personal possession, and possession of such an idea has potential material value.

    I wonder if the act of transposing original ideas into material possession has anything to do with a general diminishing of creativity?

    Have we become too hidebound by materialism, scientific dogma, and legislation for originality to flourish? I think we have. Many bright ideas never see the light of day for all the reasons given.
  • Mar 21 2014: Nothing is original in this world . But, one or more than one entities come together and combine together then a new entity is created whose property is totally different and new from the properties of the individual entities.

    You have two eyes I also have two eyes
    You have one brain I also have one brain
    You have one nose I also have one nose
    You have one mouth I also have one mouth
    You have 32 teeth I also have 32 teeth


    Internally we all human beings have the same thing but externally we are different. And each one is original.Even if the clones will be made then also the clone will be original.

    Abstract ideas are not patented , but the concrete working solutions are patented because creating a concrete working solution needs specific knowledge , intelligence,time and emotion and lot of efforts . So, patent protects the efforts and hard work put into creating a workable solution in the form of granting an exclusive marketing right.

    Abstract Ideas not copyrighted , but the expression of the ideas are copyrighted .
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      Mar 22 2014: :-) :-) I have 31 teeth to be honest. One molar had to be given up as it was creating trouble with others.
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    Mar 20 2014: Although most of our knowledge or wisdom is based on common or shared training and experiences, we do have varying intuitive and imaginative abilities for translating and building upon this information. So, yes, our perceptions are unique and truly original.
  • Mar 20 2014: In response to question 4, yes. Originality does exist. Whether it is in the form of a newly synthesized molecule or a character brought to life by the imagination of an author, original work and creations abound. Thinking along the lines of everything drawing on inspiration from previous works, far down at the beginning of the line there must have been an original something initially, when there was nothing that existed beforehand for inspiration.

    Originality is part of why systems like the patent and trademark systems exist, and it plays an important role today as new challenges are brought by advancing technology. Where is the line drawn between sampling a song to create an original work or creating a knock off riding on the coattails of the first version? If a remix is popular, should it be released for free, should money go to the remix creator, or should money go to the original artist? What is the scope of a patent? In a new invention, should the whole be patented, or should each component get a unique patent, especially with the complicated systems powering today's technology and devices?

    Originality is needed for change. Even if a creation or idea draws heavily from previous works for inspiration, there must be some original component that has never been seen before added in order to create something new and different.

    The inception that leads to originality exists in everyone, and can allow us to create new solutions and a better world.
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      Mar 20 2014: Are new, unique and original same? You have used these ideas as interchangeable in your above comment. Each day is a new day, each person is unique but what is original in that sense of meaning?
      • Mar 20 2014: It depends on how you are defining original. I'm using it a bit more loosely as something that has never been seen before, something that has been made personally and directly. From your previous post, where you said, "Original is something that never really existed before, not inspired by other, cannot be linked, referred or compared with anything known," and using that definition, there still must be things that are truly original, since even if everything has come from or is linked to a previous creation, somewhere at the beginning there must be something original from when there was nothing to draw inspiration from.
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          Mar 20 2014: If you accept my definition (I am very uncertain if that is acceptable to many) even for argument's sake, do you think someone can by plan and design create anything original? Or do you think Original, if all, just happens? In the later case, how can one be credited or rewarded for 'originality'?

          Definition or no definition everyone has an idea about originality. I am just questioning if we simply go by a notion (ORIGINALITY) without any careful reasoning about it.
        • Mar 20 2014: Joe one can always compare the original to the rest of stuff!

          Besides if to be original something must stem from nothing then it is linked to it...
      • Mar 20 2014: Originality can arise from plan and design, the observation and preparation of many chemical reactions can lead to a design of a new synthetic pathway to create an original molecule. Originality can also arise serendipitously, like with the invention of the microwave. Even if one happens upon some great idea or invention by luck, they can still be credited and rewarded, since they provided some original creation.
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          Mar 20 2014: I am not sure, but that sounds creationist, does that not? No molecule is original, it is a unique combination. Vast majority of them happen under natural forces and it is hardly tenable there is conscious planning and design behind their genesis.
      • Mar 20 2014: Pabitra,

        Seems you changed the definition of original to include conscious planning and design behind stuff created.
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          Mar 20 2014: Did I? I think that originality can be planned and designed was proposed by Joe. It just sounded creationist to me because creationists insist there is conscious/intelligent plan and design behind the Universe.
        • Mar 20 2014: Just to clarify, I am not trying to use a creationist argument. Molecules are not necessarily all unique, what is one molecule of acetone from another? It is quite tenable that there can be conscious planning and design behind the synthesis of a molecule. It's what the entire pharmaceutical industry is based on, the deliberate synthesis of molecules with useful properties.
  • Mar 18 2014: Nothing is truly original
    • Mar 19 2014: So was something and everything that came before nothing and with it and after it. :-)
  • Mar 17 2014: Thomas Edison used in practice a method I thought I'd invented until I read that Edgar Allan Poe had come up with a similar idea called Imagination Iteration. Mine is Intuitive Iteration. The most fundamental characteristic of II is that facts and logic must never override intuition so when we talk about science and reason we have left out one of the the legs of the three-legged stood---intuition. We should always refer to intuition, reason and science, not just science and reason.
  • Mar 17 2014: Every tiny particle in universe is original and every new combination is an original one, so everything is original and at same time not.
    Is like people are all so much alike, having arms and legs, so are we just copies from one another?
    Even so we are all unique, made from unique parts.
    Same goes for ideas.

    All knowlege is based in some fundamental pre-assumptions, thats why Socrates said that all he knows is that he knows nothing. So i think this question is too much fundamental, and on this lower levels there is no real true answer.

    But even so, its not the answer that enlight us, it is the quest for it
  • Mar 17 2014: What do you mean by "first proposal" and "original" in question 2?
    Also, what do you mean by "scientific originality" and what do you mean by "romantic originality" in question 3?
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      Mar 17 2014: First proposal is the the proposal of something to be patented to reach first before the patent office. It is not necessarily original, if not outright copy of someone's idea. The right is that of 'first reached first owned - not of conceiving, discovering or inventing a novel idea that one demands as 'original'.
      Original is something that never really existed before, not inspired by other, cannot be linked, referred or compared with anything known.

      Originality in creativity is actually a derivative of romantic originality. Modernist concern with issues of originality develops out of modernism's relation to romanticism, the romantics having invented the notion of originality as we know it.
      Scientific Originality (self defined) may be a misnomer - as science does not really work the way literature does. It is a process of constant refinement and borrows heavily from preceding work. Scientific Originality is something close to proposing gravity as space-time geometry.
  • Mar 15 2014: In response to the third question, scientific originality has a much larger contribution from discovery than romantic originality. Scientific originality could encompass new discoveries, like new species or new galaxies, and it can also encompass new methodologies, like new synthetic schemes for a molecule or the creation of new molecules. Romantic originality has less of a discovery portion and it relies more on the creator's unique perspective and creativity in order for an original work to be made.

    Discovery can play a role in romantic originality. A painter may find that a different filament in his brushes creates a unique effect, and may apply that to create an original work. However, the work's originality is much more based on the painter's creative use of the effect. Other painters can make use of the effect, so what would distinguish the original painter's work would be his use of the effect more than his discovery of it.

    Discovery in scientific originality often leads to new work and research, but the initial discovery is still very important. The discovery of a new celestial body prompts investigation into its age and distance from earth and other characteristics, but its discovery is still very important, since beforehand, its existence was unknown. What distinguishes the original research and discovery is that that scientist or researcher was the very first person to see the existence of that celestial body.

    While both scientific and romantic originality can rely on discovery and often influence future works and research, discovery tends to play a larger role in scientific originality which investigates the world based on observation.
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      Mar 17 2014: Hi Joe,
      Is there really scientific originality and discovery or do we simply come to see what already exists? Somewhat reminds me of Columbus discovering a new world called America. There were native people already existing here. Doesn't quite stack up but would sound better to the Queen than I have found nothing new there were already people living there. The only reason something is found is because it exists from origin. In that sense I see nothing new but what is only new to me and that doesn't create anew.

      I will not get into romantic originality, my wife would probably kill me for such views, I will quote Bob Dylan, "romantic facts of Musketeers foundation deep somehow but I was so much older then I'm younger than that now".

      Last night I saw the movie My Left Foot, very, very unique in original form but all form comes from original content that makes diverse forms possible.

      The term research would imply looking again at what was not seen before.

      Scientific observation is a great and fantastic tool but will only go so far.
      • Mar 20 2014: It's hard to discover something that doesn't exist. That celestial body has to exist in order for someone to be able to discover it. It is not quite like Columbus, partially because no person in the world was aware of it previously. However, scientific originality and discovery could arise from the creation of a new molecule or even element. The molecule had never existed before, and no one had ever observed it before, and that inception of the molecule could be considered original.

        Scientific observation allows for the construction of models to help us simplify, understand, and describe reality. However, it is impossible to ever prove most models and hypotheses, the most we can usually do is just support them.
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    Mar 10 2014: Neil Tyson has picked up where Carl Sagan has brought us in the study of the Cosmos. Anyone who is truly interested in the reference points of our origination may desire to study the immense effort.

    Carl Sagan

    Neil Tyson
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    Mar 9 2014: Pabitra, your questions is superb.

    I believe that everything and everyone must be UNIQUE just in order to survive as an individual person or event.

    Nothing can be repeated in the exactly the same ways, because of that, we may not perfectly repeat or copy anything.

    We are governed by one of the most powerful unavoidable law of nature (you can escape gravity somehow, but you cannot escape your own uniqueness till the very end of your life.)

    Your question dives into heavy philosophy of old sages - it started blooming in ancient times but has been conveniently ignored since.

    Our mentality, pop culture, sciences, technology, and mass production are based on crudeness of perceptions - only this way we can recognize the "same" stuff, ideas and methods, and very roughly, everyone can repeat or use the "same thing".

    My answer: because we have extremely crude and limited physical sense-perceptions (here is another law of nature we never learn) we easily see similarities in "things", their structures, features or qualities, we can only MIMIC them.

    Ironically we trust identical units and symbols in math but have to make endless adjustments in our calculations when it comes to ever changing reality.

    The original idea or for instance, an original painting, is usually very different from the mass produced copies or imitations.

    However, I think, in common cases when one's innovation is based on a new combination of known parts, formulas, or physical details or materials produced elsewhere, this innovation becomes very easy to re-produce by others. In this case we need to be protected to some point, by obtaining Patents.

    P.S. I personally love when people use my original ideas/production as if these things were their own - unfortunately people twist everything their ways. This is what I mean - the law of nature - No exact repetition or copies of any sorts
    • Mar 10 2014: Vera,

      I used to believe in the idea that stuff could not be repeated in the exactly same ways until I realized that identical copies could exist; at least for all practical purposes. Now days I can choose whether to believe in the idea that Nothing can be repeated in the exactly same way OR somethings can be repeated in the exactly same way… depending on which belief I choose to hold sort of determine if we agreed or disagreed on certain issues you expressed. I basically agree with what you said above when I hold that identical copies don't exist… and still I also realize that I also hold something that you will likely choose not to behold… non the less the veracity of it remains intact.