There is increasing concern about the disappearance of technical knowledge from the public domain, both on grounds that is presents a security danger and because it is economically valuable "Intellectual Property". I argue that this development is not anomalous at all but a great historic trend tied to our transition to the information age. We are in the process of losing a human right that all of us thought we had but actually didn't--the right to learn things we can and better ourselves economically from what we learn. Increasingly, figuring things our for yourself will become theft and terrorism. Increasingly, reason itself will become a crime.
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About the speaker:
Professor Laughlin earned an AB in mathematics from UC Berkeley in
1972 and a PhD in Physics in 1981. He served two years in the US Army.
After MIT he went to Bell Labs's theory group, and from there went to
the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he still consults.
He jointed the physics faculty of Stanford in 1984. He is a member of
the National Academy of Sciences and is the recipient of many awards
including the Oliver E. Buckley Prize, the Earnest O. Lawrence Award,
the Benjamin Franklin Medal for Physics, and Onsager Medal. He shared
the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory of the Fractional Quantum