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Old Jun 16th 2014, 07:39 PM
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Michael Michael is offline
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Default Re: All Our Patents Are Belong to You

I tend to be rather pessimistic and cynical about the approaching doom facing our species coming from the double-whammy of fossil fuel depletion combined with the impending effects of climate change.

Given that we've known about these problems since the 1970's and have done so little about them, I struggle to see any ground for rational optimism on either issue. For us as a society to effectively respond to these impending challenges that are so fundamental to the survival of our society with such inaction is, unfortunately all too common in the pages of the history books.

We need some leadership on these issues. Lots of leadership. We need to see new leadership and innovative ideas arise to address these challenges. It will take decades to make large-scale fundamental changes necessary. The longer we delay, the greater the challenge. And yet, over the course of the last forty years, we've seen very little progress in anything perhaps except our obsession to measure the tracking rates ever more closely. I'm exaggerating here, but only for proportional effect. Over the last forty years, we've seen lots of massive new developments, lots of remarkable new consumer products, and many major political changes and upheavals. But we haven't seen very many hopeful signs of responding to the fossil fuel problem or climate change at all. Most of the news in that sector is pretty bleak.

For us as a society to respond on a large scale to these major challenges requires leadership. Not just some politician, even though they are important figures, but private enterprise more than anything must step forward with ideas and solutions. If our private capitalist corporate sector continues to be as aggressively rapacious and litigatious as it has been over the last few centuries, and especially the last few decades, we are certainly doomed. If they can't respond to these issues in a meaningful way, and not just sit back and look only for new opportunities to exploit, we're in deep trouble. I'm not knocking the opportunity for private interests to make a profit from some new energy-saving invention or whatever, I'm just saying that if that's the only contribution we're going to get from the capitalist private sector, we are truly doomed.

That's why I think this announcement by Elon Musk is significant. It is the first 'hopeful' signs that I've seen that some 'nouveau riche' billionaire capitalist actually understands that the challenge the world is facing is so much larger than the company's next quarter profit line. So much so that he's willing to put something on the table. That's encouraging. But only if some others follow suit. One guy doing this is great, but that's just one guy and one particular issue. We need this kind of thinking, and more of this kind of leadership on a way larger scale - and we need it yesterday.

(Let's hope that this is successful and that he's not subsequently forced to recant the policy due to some litigatious parasites or competitors or whatever).

P.S. I suppose I should have put this thread in the Economics section, I couldn't decide which is more relevant!
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