evolution of ideas

Toward the promotion of ideas, I feel like the following things are bad:


Patents are supposed to help ideas by motivating people to have them. The idea is that ideas are easy to copy, and so people won't be motivated to come up with new ideas because when they do, other people will just copy those ideas, and they won't be able to 'sell' their ideas.

However, there are some cons. First, patents cover some 'area' around the idea that is patented. However, it may be that the path toward the next good idea requires incremental, small mutations of this idea. If a patent protects against these small mutations, then it effectively prevents the path toward the next good idea.

Second, when people hear about ideas, it is hard for them not to think in terms of those ideas. So a patented idea is sortof like idea cancer, making it difficult to think of 'novel' ideas.

So, do we really need patents? Will people really not invent without them? There is some TED video about motivations for creativity suggesting that money doesn't help (with some examples of how motivating with money for creative tasks actually makes people do worse). So, maybe the money payoff is not in-fact necessary to get people to come up with good ideas. Also, I feel like idea people kindof can't help themselves but to come up with ideas.

There's also the notion that 'ideas are cheap, implementation is hard', meaning that protection for an idea is typically implementation, and not the idea itself (or in today's online world, the protection is in the brand and the network). Though, Google did sortof copy Dropbox with Google Drive.. we'll see where that goes. I love Dropbox, but I'm glad Google is able to have Google Drive. Google Drive does have differences, and I feel like it will help progress toward the best solution in this space.

Related Work Sections of Academic Papers.

Academics value 'novelty'. When doing science, one view is that each publication reveals a new truth, and if someone has already revealed a truth, there is no reason for another person to reveal it also. Hence, academic papers have a 'related work' section that tries to show how this idea is different from all the stuff that has come before (and it's a plus if you can say that this work 'is built on' or 'extends' some other work, which sounds very friendly and harmoneous, while at the same time saying that your thing is better).

However, papers typically do not in fact reveal news truths, and it matters a lot the way the paper is written, and the nuances of what is reveals, in order to influence where the idea goes. So, is it so bad if two people write a paper about the same idea? They will be different in many ways that seem important for the propogation and evolution of ideas. I would argue not, and hence, it doesn't seem important to 'prove' that the idea is novel with a related work section.

That said, some elements in a related work section help the reader understand what the current work is, and those seem fine to include. (These bits are not making an argument of novelty.)


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