September 2011

Sonia Arrison on technology and longevity

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Sonia Arrison, writer, futurist, and senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, discusses her new book entitled 100+, How the Coming of Age of Longevity Will Change Everything from Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith. The process of aging, according to Arrison, is not set in stone, and the way humans experience age can be changed as technology evolves. She discusses the different types of technology including tissue engineering and gene therapy, which are poised to change numerous aspects of human life by improving health and increasing lifespan to 150 years and beyond. She also talks about how increased lifespans will affect institutions in society and addresses concerns, such as overpopulation and depletion of resources, raised by critics of this technology.

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Annemarie Bridy on scaling copyright enforcement

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Annemarie Bridy, professor of law at the University of Idaho, and visiting associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh, discusses her new paper, “Is Online Copyright Enforcement Scalable?” In it she looks at the advent of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and the copyright enforcement problem it has created through the lens of scalability. In solving difficult problems of scale in their effort to revolutionize the distribution of information goods, the designers of P2P networks created a problem of scale in the form of “massive infringement.” Bridy discusses how to to approach solving that new problem of scale–massive infringement. Bridy argues that the DMCA has proven to be remarkably scalable for enforcing copyrights in hosted content but has altogether failed to scale in the context of P2P file sharing, leading to the dysfunctional workaround of mass John Doe litigation. She discusses alternatives to mass litigation, including dispute resolution systems and “three strikes” proposals.

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Tim Lee on patent reform

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Timothy B. Lee, adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, a contributor to Ars Technica, and blogger at, discusses the recent patent wars and the prospects for reform. Over the last two decades, large software companies like Microsoft and Apple began acquiring a significant number of patents, gaining the power to shut down or demand payment from any software company that might inadvertently infringe those patents. Lee talks about Google’s entry into the patent game, particularly with the acquisition of Motorola. He also discusses the theory behind these patent wars and how the use of patents have been altered from incentives for innovation to a litigation shield. Finally, Lee talks about different proposals for patent reform, including a first to file scheme that is part of the America Invents Act.

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Michael Nelson on digital preservation

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Michael Nelson, Associate Professor at Old Dominion University, developed, along with colleagues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, “Memento,” a technical framework aimed at better integrating the current and the past web. In the past, archiving history involved collecting tangible things such as letters and newspapers. Now, Nelson points out, the web has become a primary medium with no serious preservation system in place. He discusses how the web is stuck in the perpetual now, making it difficult to view past information. The goal behind Memento, according to Nelson, is to create an all-inclusive Internet archive system, which will allow users to engage in a form of Internet time travel, surpassing the current archive systems such as the Wayback Machine.

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