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Re: Question About GNU General Public License

From: telford
Subject: Re: Question About GNU General Public License
Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 02:54:21 -0000

Rui Miguel Seabra <> wrote:

> --=-KATNfKsGk8xFReaKsOBf
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> On Tue, 2004-07-20 at 00:46 +0000, wrote:
>> So by your measurement a bacterial disease is software because you can
>> give it to someone else while still having it yourself.

> If you forget how bacterial diseases get transmitted, yes.

> However, you are sick because you have a certain amount of bacteria
> that's bigger than your body can cope, and by sneezing (or whatever) you
> transmitted some bacteria to your fellow neighbour. So in fact the
> amount of bacteria in your body diminished.

If zero-overhead transmission is a requirement then how do you propose
to transmit your software?

Why do you regard the mass of bacteria in a sneeze to be a significant
part of the disease as a whole, and yet ignore the time and materials
required so burn a copy of a CDROM or the electricity consumed by an
internet web server (and all the hubs, routers, modems, etc) ?

> So no, it's not the same thing. Bad analogy. While Star Trek alike
> replicators don't exist, I think you'll have a big problem finding a
> physical analogy.

Even if Star Trek replicators did exist, they would require some input
energy to drive them, this is a fundamental law of physics. If you break
this law then you are doing physics that no one else on earth can do
which makes you either very smart indeed or just plain wrong.

Sorry about that free lunch you were promised.

Let's look at this another way. If there are two islands, one has rabbits
and the other does not. The population of rabbits on the first island is
near enough to constant because population growth is limited by available
food (yes, OK it might fluctuate up and down, it might even be chaotic but
over time the average will be constant).

So now I visit the rabbits on the island and I kill a few for me to eat
and I do this now and then and the population is still constant because I
only kill less than their natural reproductive rate and the limit is still
the available food.

Some of the rabbits that I might have killed, I take to the second island
and let them breed there. Now I have twice as many rabbits to hunt and both
populations are limited by available food. At no stage was the first island
diminished in any way.

But hey, I'm missing the classic physical analogy which is fire. One candle
is burning, another candle is not burning. Touch one to the ather and now
they are both burning. Attribution to Benjamin Franklin ??

>>  On the other hand,
>> a joke must be hardware because when you tell the joke to someone else
>> you aren't going to laugh like when someone tells it to you.

> That would depend on your capacity to properly tell jokes. But I can't
> understand how you, again, make something immaterial as if it was a
> material thing...

You still have not given me a reliable experiment to decide what
is material and what is immaterial. You can make arbitrary copies
of the text of the joke or the image of a cartoon but the actual humor
(the funny content of the joke) you cannot make arbitrary copies of.

>>  Hmmm, a
>> secret doesn't classify at all by your system because once you tell the
>> secret to even one person, it isn't secret anymore...

> You don't understand or you don't want to understand?

I want to point out that when you are classifying "things",
you are dealing with a very large set indeed, including things
that have weird properties. You may decide that for the purposes of
your world, some things don't exist or some properties can be ignored
but that isn't very useful to people who need to work in those

> When A told secret S to B, did A loose any knowledge about S ? No.
> B now ALSO has knowledge of S. It is a secret now shared between A and
> B, and A is no poorer and B has more info than before.

> It will only stop being a secret if either A or B do something that
> makes it public knowledge (like printing it in an add).

Oh well, no need for public key cryptography then.
Maybe you should get the security community interested in your
"just tell the key to someone else" idea, it has proven unreliable
for nearly a thousand years but I have a feeling that this time
it just might work.

        - Tel

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