Open Science

I’m a big believer in the open movement.   It’s both inevitable and beneficial.

Open Source EZ Numbers?  I’m working on it.

Meanwhile, the paper I wrote on how Open Science, juiced up with Prizes, can serve as a valuable addition to patents for innovation in medical research (and beyond) has now been published by Rejuvenation Research.

There are a lot of people advocating that we scrap medical research patents, but as I argue, that’s both impossible and ill-advised.  Yes, big pharma has backed themselves into a “blockbuster” revenue model corner, and price their drugs beyond the means of millions of people who need them, but they are a powerful innovative force nonetheless and we don’t want to disenfranchise pharmaceutical companies altogether.

The beauty of the open movement in regards to patents is that you don’t even need to disallow patents.  All you need to do is disclose information, and then patents will, to the extent that justice isn’t subverted, either not be issued or revoked.

Just as in academia, it’s the same with intellectual property in patents – the more information is disseminated, the more valuable it is.  If you publish techniques on, for example, how to use turmeric as a wound healing agent, nobody can then patent it, and you’ll protect such indigenous knowledge from exploitation.  (Now without some twists and turns, as I detail about turmeric.)

Here’s the abstract:

The largest industry in America is increasingly incapable of serving its customers. Over-fencing of the information commons has led to unaffordable medicine, for want of which millions of Americans and people around the world go without lifesaving treatments. Eliminating patent distribution exclusivity altogether, however, is not feasible, given the entrenched nature of the health-care industry. This paper proposes a program of voluntary Open Science Prizes that would draw large numbers of new players, who would in turn produce much new medical innovation, provide academic priority recognition, and develop a growing body of patent-beating prior art that would serve as public domain firewalls on a new supranational Hyper-Commons.

If you’re interested, you can download the paper here:  www.hypercommons.org.

1 thought on “Open Science”

  1. Paul,

    I love this idea. I don’t know if you are familiar with http://www.econtalk.org but Russ Roberts hosts one of the most popular podcasts there every week. A few weeks ago he hosted Michele Boldrin who proposes doing away with patents. I, like you, am skeptical of this approach even though I really like what he has to add to the debate. But I love the idea of the hypercommons you espouse here. I just emailed Russ and suggested he look at your paper. It would be cool if you could get on the show.
    Steve Spearman

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