Jul 06, 2022 10:19 PM
green, ptwlu, carolingia, and bicameral
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This time one of the other Marlatias who hasn't spoken yet jumps in; it's unclear how they coordinated on this but they did it without missing a beat. "...I suppose it's possible that our stickiest characters are somehow much further in that direction than anything your world has come up with? If so I think that would be apparent sooner than it would cause problems. It seems likely our population is much more prone to this happening, and this package still doesn't merit a warning like that." 

     "Marlatia is - polite?" the most junior Marlatia offers. "Not pushy? I'm sorry, our language has a specific word for the concept. What I'm saying is that even though Marlatias have the - stickiness - they're still pretty willing to go back to sleep if they wake up somewhere they don't seem to be wanted. There are some templates that are less polite that way and we didn't bring any of them with our delegation." 

The senior Marlatia nods. "It's probably fine but we would recommend not reading several million words of content about Leareths until we know how people from other worlds vary on the risk assessment."

     The onetime-Underworld-assassin snorts. "My friend ended up with one by accident – it's not that she was upset, but it would be awkward in this setting." 

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"I expect we'll be interested in importing the content, so we can determine whether it works at all for us."

     "If it substitutes well for suicide--"

"--I imagine it would be especially popular among suicidal parents of young children."

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"I think I want to put you in touch with someone who works with suicidal parents," the senior Marlatia says. "It - sounds like this may be a higher priority in your world than in ours. I don't think it's common for us but it does happen, so there will be people who specialize in it and would have advice." 

(Project manager is already formulating a message to send back through their project intranet.) 

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It seems unlikely that the specialists will have useful advice, given that they evidently have significantly less experience with the topic, but the diplomats have relevant job skills and are not going to say so!

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"At some point we should obviously compare the full suite of baseline physiological and psychological health interventions. I am sure there are some that your societies have developed and we have missed and vice versa." Suicidality is not really an issue for Listeners who aren't going through a puberty, probably the Carolingians are just putting different (worse) chemicals in their drinking water.

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"Agreed, we'll have a report compiled with an overview."

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"As will we."

The Church of Truth is going to insist on handing over a full scientific archive as soon as possible, but the diplomats don't have to immediately volunteer this fact, in case it's needed as a bargaining chip.

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The Listeners will bring in some more staff to handle breakout groups for negotiating treaties for rules of war and intellectual property, and one "staffer" with a testosterone-dominant system to do espionage or backchanneling or just get into fights if they wind up designating a Chaos zone. Also an "anthropologist" to keep an eye on that.

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...explain this "intellectual property" thing, it's translating as "trademark infringement" or maybe "plagiarism".

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On Green it's like wanting to keep a secret except you have no privacy feelings and your motives are more about proprietary control and financial gain?

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Oh! Trade secrets! Like when a company makes their top people sign nondisclosure agreements about the secret spice blend! Sure, Carolingia has that.

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...secret spice blend? That sounds like a very weird case for allowing intellectual property. What if someone is allergic to a secret spice?

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People with spice allergies probably don't buy things where one of the ingredients is listed as "secret spice blend". Or the company might list known allergies their spice blend can trigger, especially if they're mostly just keeping the exact proportions secret. It doesn't come up much, spice allergies aren't very common.

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...after conferring briefly amongst themselves the Green delegation concludes that each of them is allergic to at least one spice.

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Not exactly like trade secrets, the whole point is that it should not be secret - It's usually more efficient if you just tell everyone the secret and then they agree to pay you some percentage of their gains from using the knowledge. Listeners have various legal regimes to incentivize this sort of behavior, and rules for how these legal regimes interface with each other. We've been assuming your worlds also had similar regimes in place and we just need to work out the interface, but it sounds like the whole idea is new to Carolingia?

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The overhead of figuring out how much of a thing uses a particular bit of knowledge has generally seemed unenforceably insurmountable to Green regimes that do intellectual property at all, which isn't most of them.

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...If people don't know how much they expect to gain from using a particular bit of knowledge how do they decide whether to use it or not?

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Bicameral sends a couple of the Marlatias over for this conversation, while sending other breakout groups to discuss similarities and differences between Chaos and Carolingia's "male homosocial environments", to more thoroughly convey the expectations that would hold if they did choose to designate some of the cave as Chaos, and to explain the multiple personalities thing in further depth to anyone who wants to know. 

"So the goal here is that the person who invested in building or designing something is financially compensated for the labor, out of the surplus value that their work produced? We also have systems for that, though we mainly do it by paying out bounties – or funding someone in advance to work on a project, if they have a proven track record. Most people have diminishing returns on wealth and if inventors and architects and such were collecting a percentage of the gains forever, it would end up - kind of disproportionate? Though sometimes the bounties are very big, or paid out multiple years in a row if an invention is gradually catching on and seeing more use. Anyway, ordinary people - and organizations, too - pay into various funds that are used to pay out as bounties, which ones in what proportion depends some on their own work and what tools they use there, and then there are contests or judging panels that allocate those funds. Attribution for work done is separate." 

Also, importantly, none of this really applies in the Underworld, which is transpires seems to run mostly on a...gift economy? Despite easily soaking up 25% of Bicameral's total GDP, in a completely decentralized way. Most industrial production is done on the Surface, but most art and fiction happen in the Underworld, meaning that authors' compensation is also done in a completely decentralized way. Though it sounds like there's enough surplus sloshing around, brought in by people whose main career is on the Surface but who value their Chaos time, that the Underworld can support something like 0.5% of the population living full-time in the Underworld as musicians or visual artists or writers or actors, etc. 

If other worlds want 'intellectual property' to apply to creative works, Bicameral is...genuinely not sure how they would implement that, short of making it illegal to consume other worlds' art or media in the Underworld at all but that would make people sad? They could maybe open some new bounty funds, and allocate payouts based on - some sort of survey data about the popularity of various media, to estimate the value provided? Though it'd be biased a little by the fact that a solid fraction of the population either has strong principled objections to recounting any of their Underworld activities on government surveys, or else has a sufficiently sharp delineation between personalities that they literally won't remember while operating in Lawful areas. 

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Carolingia mostly just relies on the fact that whoever invents something first has a head start on making it, and on buying up supplies of the materials or stocks in relevant companies! Often companies will invent something and then keep it secret for a little while, but they have a pretty strong incentive to sell the idea to other people before it gets leaked and no one will pay them for it anymore. Occasionally there's something that no one has quite the right incentives to work on, but hey, that's what government grants are for.

Trying to apply all this to creative works sounds ridiculous. We're not seriously going to do that, right? Can we just buy subscriptions and tip artists like normal people?

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For...ever? No, no, that would be insane, patent proportions decay over time, and stop being paid out entirely after a while to simplify bookkeeping. For most inventions, once a hexadecade has passed, it's not like the inventor provided some unique irreplaceable service, someone else would probably have invented the same process by then if it's truly useful.

Listeners do not particularly enforce intellectual property on creative works. That's just a matter of stopping blatant plagiarization and making sure derivative works credit the original.

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Thank goodness.

The patent thing sounds nifty if you can swing it, Carolingians don't think they can but probably there's some mutually acceptable way of letting companies pay for Listener ideas in the same way that they'd buy a Carolingian trade secret.

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Bicameral is pretty sure they can work with it! As long as it's understood that whatever laws they agree to can't and won't be enforced in the demarcated regions where laws aren't a thing! 

It probably won't even require designing any new systems or adding data collection for the administrative staff of most polities to know how much the population is using Listener inventions or products, and everyone will be delighted to pay into a bounty fund for that. Or they could try to interface in some more direct way, it sounds like the Listeners don't, on a logistical level, do this based on analysis of a worldwide database? And it might be interesting to run some randomized experiments on trying to switch one of their local polities to a Listener-like system to see how well it works and whether people prefer it? They'll put that up in one of the public policy debate forums and probably have an implementation plan in a couple of days. 

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Green could... run kickstarters for importing specific ideas? If they can be described enough that people might want to buy them without knowing the full detail, that is, which sounds tricky.

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Back on their side of the caves they have some experts working out some schema for determining and distributing patent fees for ideas whose patents have or would have expired internal to their world of origin and are the collective property of that world. To pick an example that is not self-serving, they've inferred that Green has very relatively advanced genetic engineering, and would like to be able to pay fairly for access to those genelines and any underlying methodological advances. For a one-time knowledge transfer it's probably...acceptable... for this to come in the form of a lump-sum interworld payment (Pending normalization of other trade relations and settling of currency exchange rates, but that's a whole other vat of bacteria) accompanying sharing of all public-domain information, but people on all of their worlds are going to keep inventing new things and so some longer-term elegant arrangement does need to be put in place eventually.

As a cludgey stopgap, pseudocharitable corporate entities could be created that could, with the negotiated consent of the patentholder, release new Listener patents into the Green and Carolingian public domains, and subsist on donations. And by "could be created", Listeners mean that if nothing better is figured out there'll be tons of people creating them if there's no better solution negotiated. The main problem they're foreseeing now is patent theft, since Green's suggestion of describing patents without disclosing all the details suggests that Greens are unwilling to simply not use ideas that they haven't paid for, nor to impose an enforcement regime to disincentivize that? In theory Bicameral's Chaos regions are a similarly thorny problem, though in practice it sounds like very little actual manufacturing is done there.

Also, the other worlds should really consider having a patent system of their own, since it encourages innovation and will in theory lead to greater long-run prosperity. They're... actually just going to give away the concept of patents for free and not just because the bot's out of the box, it sounds like more trouble than it's worth to negotiate patent fees for the concept of patent fees.

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Greens look over the concept of patents. It doesn't seem obviously that useful and the regulatory overhead would be awful but maybe there is a specialist use case in obscure grommet manufacture or something that will decide it's a brilliant idea?

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