Greenspun on Software Patents

February 15, 2008 at 9:28 PM

Philip Greenspun just published an interesting piece on software patents. A choice excerpt:

A basic theory of human endeavor suggests that the smartest people who will ever work in a field are those who work in that field when it is new. When a technology is new and exciting, it attracts the best people that it will ever attract. No modern oil painter has ever developed the skill of Vermeer or Rembrandt, guys who pioneered the use of paints that were then new. In computing, among the pioneers were Alan Turing and John Von Neumann. Can we honestly look at Windows Vista and say "Whoa, the guys who built this are way smarter than Turing and Von Neumann"?

If programmers get dumber every year, how come we're smart enough to keep discovering clever new things to patent, things that those pioneers in computer science didn't dream of? We can buy all of our books on and the early Internet pioneers couldn't go shopping online because they weren't smart enough to envision online shopping, right?

(via Daring Fireball)