[ExI] Lessons from Tesla?

Dan danust2012 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 29 22:30:52 UTC 2014

On Monday, September 29, 2014 2:28 PM, Kelly Anderson <kellycoinguy at gmail.com> wrote:
On Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 2:48 PM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:
>> I am pretty tired of Tesla hype. Yes, he was awesome and quirky,
>> but the one main reason he failed seems to have been lack of
>> business sense.
> The Wright brothers also lacked business sense. Airplanes came
> of age quicker than patent law and courts would have allowed
> only because of the onset of WWI and laws that made their
> patents "national interest". It is one of a very small
> collection of examples where I grant that the government did
> the right thing in pushing technology forward.
> It is common among inventors to be poor at business. It may be
> my own failure as well. We shall see.

I'm inclined to question the example, and not simply because of its broken window fallacy implications -- i.e., what roads (even outside the aircraft industry) weren't taken -- but because patents themselves are an example of government intervention. It's not like it was a free market in aircraft development and manufacture. Instead, the patent system granted [temporary] monopolies. Yes, the government altered the policy during the war, but this sounds a lot like the old saw about the government breaking one's legs but then providing a really fine wheelchair, then touting the benefits of said wheelchair.

(Don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying absent patents everything would move faster and all of us would get our deepest technological desires to come true. Even so, there seems to be much evidence that patents do more harm than good. See, for example,http://www.ics.uci.edu/community/news/press/view_press?id=89 )


 My latest Kindle book, "Born With Teeth," is now available at:
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