WOS 2 / Proceedings / Panels / "Geistiges Eigentum" / Informationsvielfalt: Eigentum an Informationen / Christopher Kelty / skript

Intro to Panel "Information Diversity"

Free Software and Open Source made a couple of things very clear to us. First it taught us how to collaborate in order to make software that doesn't suck and second it taught us a lesson about the strategic importance of licences and contracts. Now, the first of these lessons 'Making software that doesn't sucks' takes it's cue from a certain story of the success of science. Science it is assumed is a decentralised process of knowledge production resulting in a robust system of verification and systematic double checking. Sciences claim always advocates is the original open source movement. However this is a strategic assumption on the part of free software advocates. It is by no means always been true everywhere of science. Nonetheless it is recently become more important then ever to insist that it should be so. The openness of science today must be asserted rather then assumed in order to be assured. More and more the active participants in the sciences are coming to this conclusion and many of them as a result of learning the lessons of free software and open source. So, free software and open source made clear that openness and closeness are pragmatic issues that can be both addressed and directly manipulated via the existing legal framework in particular through something like a free software license. Free software is there for its licenses not just its code and licenses strangely are the one implicitly trusted instrument in a world that is justly paranoid of its technical and legal insecurity.
Now, this lesson of the free software licences and all its mirrored and sometimes incompatible forms is that the legal system can't be reprogrammed, that power like damaging the network can't be rounded around. So, as we turn to sciences and roams of society depending on it we can make some striking comparisons. First among this is of course the production of software that does not suck. And one of the things that Doctor Tim Hubbard on our panel addresses is the production of open source tools for work on the data generated by the human genom project. Donald Gnus would be proud of Doctor Hubbard efforts here because as he would say we all need beautiful tools to make the work we do more enjoyable. And Tim's group is engaged in this project for working on a data generated by the human genom project. But of course directly related to this is that the data these tools work on and the openness of that scientific data itself, in particular the recent race between the public funded human genom project and the private firm Celera which race Tim will also address. Despite the strategic assumption that science is the original open source movement instances of (genius) and scientific openness are fairly rare and certainly (twiddling) ever more each decade. The issue is complicated by the fact that the scientific data most sort after today that which both the tools and the theory need is also the data assumed to be most private. That is genetic and medical data from individuals and populations. Now, to this issue we 'll hoped to bring Doctor Arthur Holden to the conference. But a variety of factors have conspired to prevent us from doing that. And Doctor Holden has been involved in a couple of programs which have been very interesting in this context. The first is I think called 'The snips consortium', the singular nuclear type of polymorphism and consortium. This is a strategic alliance between major pharmaceutical companies to co-fund the production of a snip-snap, a map of single based variations in the genom which is helpful in mapping where the genes are and how they vary in the populations. This consortium results are to enter the public domain does assessable to both pharmaceutical and academic researchers. Of course make no mistake it is not altruism but a stark recognition of the inefficiency of massively duplicating scientific work that motivate this project. The pharmaceutical companies knew that it was simple inefficient for everybody to produce there own snip-snap and therefor formed through the intermediation of Doctor Holden this consortium. Now, this is sort of like in the free software movement you can write compliance and sell propriety software within open source compiler and open software operating system. It doesn't necessarily mean the program you write has to be open source. This is the same thing in the pharmaceutical industry because nobody is gone give up propriety rights to the drugs that people developed. So it is only this intermediary stuff that has been open sourced. This brings us to the second of Doctor Holden's projects which is called 'First genetic trust'. And this is a start up which takes a form of a bank. A bank who's explicit goal is to provide the security infrastructure for the white scale use of private human information for biomedical research. So, in this project in as much as it is a bank is focused on making money of of selling peoples information, but it proposes to do this by creating something that does not yet exist. That is a system of decentralised, encrypted control over personal medical information which is equally available for a price to interested researchers. So, the bank therefor is the contracted agency which serves a legal function first and a technical one second. Unfortunately Doctor Holden won't join but I will bring that up perhaps to him and talk about the snip consortium a little bit more.
Also addressing openness on our panel in complimentary domains is James Love, the director of the consumer project on technology which provides policy research and consultation in particular on healthcare pharmaceutical and e-commerce in Washington DC. One of the things that James work make clear that there are equally as many and probably more issues of law, licensing and intellectual propriety to be addressed in the realms of medicine, healthcare and e-commerce as they are in free software and that there is a massive need for a kind of collaborate education in this realms. His work addresses issues such as compulsory licensing, parallel imports, generic competition for medicines in the poorest countries which need the most. And as in the creation of free software these issues are directly and pragmatically addressable through the existing legal and economic systems. Infect there are probably no more complicated then the rather arcane licensing issues of whether your libraries are staticly or dynamically linked or any other such incompatibilities that come up in the vigorous discussions around the free software licences. They ... gone the critical base of people who care about them to intervene in them.
So, joining us this afternoon also moved from the panel tomorrow night to talk about similar issues related to intellectual property rights and cooperate power is Skœli Sigurdsson who has for the last couple of years been deeply involved in one of the most fascinating and troubling contemporary controversies regarding the statues of scientific information. That is the case of Decode, genetics in Iceland where US based biotec firm contracted with Icelandic government to gain exclusive rights to a massive healthcare data base of information about patients, Icelandic citizens. This was resulted of course in vast political struggles in Iceland which have gone straight to the heard of contemporary democratic processes in scientific ethics.
And lastly we are also disappointed not to have (Pallo Deorio) here from the Centre National de Recherche Scientific and the Institute de Text ecrit "Manuscript" who's projects, Doctor Deorios project is to create an open source system for scholarship on Nietzsche. Unfortunately Doctor Deorio is going to stand out amongst all the biologist here, but we wanted to include him because it is one of the few attempts to carry these insides into the human sciences where software open or not is to often seen as completely irrelevant to the political aspect of scientific or human science as research. So Doctor Deorios Hyper Nietzsche Project adds depth to the open source model by trying to create an easily extensively standard for linking scholarship together and keeping it open whether or not this can extent to the production of collaborative open source style scholarship remains to be seen, but it is only with projects like Deorios that the possibility even arises. I won't say any more and I will turn it over to Doctor Hubbard.

[transcript: Katja Pratschke]

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