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Re: rant on the morality of confidentiality

At 5:09 AM -0800 1/8/98, Jim Gillogly wrote:
>Vladimir Z. Nuri wrote:
>> scientists who agree to government secrecy to develop
>> their inventions are agreeing to a lot more than
>> mere secrecy. they are committing to a paradigm that
>> is at odds with science itself, which only advances through
>> the open literature.
>Why limit your annoyance to government scientists?  Scientists
>in private industry are in the same position, developing (e.g.)
>algorithms and analytical methods protected by trade secrets.
>Society recognizes this tendency and tries to advance science
>anyway by offering patent protection.  You don't make money by
>giving away your intellectual capital.  Seems to me that schools
>and independently wealthy scientists/foundations are the only
>ones who don't merit your censure on this count.

Scientists even in schools and foundations are often secretive, too.

The notion that "science" is about blabbing one's latest discoveries or
theories is overly simplistic. Many scholars and scientists choose not to
publicize their work for years, or decades, or, even, never.

Consider Andrew Wiles, Princeton math professor, and the prover of Fermat's
Last Theorem. He labored in secrecy for many years, only going public when
he felt his results were complete. (As it turned out, they were not, and he
needed another year or two to fill in some gaps.)

Corporate scientists now outnumber academic or foundation scientists, and
they are quite understandably under various restrictions to keep results
secret, at least for a while.

Science does not "only advance through the open literature." There are many
other checks and balances which accomplish the same effect. I could give
dozens of examples of where the open literature either did not exist or was
not used...and science still advanced.

--Tim May

The Feds have shown their hand: they want a ban on domestic cryptography
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
ComSec 3DES:   408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^2,976,221   | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders aren't even speed bumps on the information superhighway."