Software patents: Letter of Donald Knuth

Boris Borcic borcis at
Tue Aug 13 06:14:12 EDT 2002

As an aside,

Don Knuth wrote :

> What would happen if individual lawyers
> could patent their methods of defense, or if Supreme Court justices
> could patent their precedents?

I've had the definite impression that law debugging as it occurs
here around in Switzerland is essentially a process of programming
foreseeable victims of law bugs to work at their own expenses to
provide appeals courts with ready-mades for telling their shining

IOW, our legislative/justice system seems to me locked into
behaviors that gratify more than they punish the responsibility
of the competent professionnal community for design errors,
by stealing away from defendants the intellectual benefits
from their own cases (as opposed from the material benefits
- just as if wisdom was the private property of judges).

I wonder if the same could be said of other systems, and if
perhaps the programming community should not take the responsibility
to (1) assert a similarity between law and programming, and
(2) demonstrate that judiciary systems admit chronic diseases
that their updating processes are insufficient to heal - they
strive on renewing their own bugs just like MS software.

Best, Boris Borcic
python >>> filter(lambda W : W not in "ILLITERATE","BULLSHIT")

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