Why is that? If it requires a significant investment to arrive at an algorithm you can do in your head, one which would others would want to use, isn't it in our best interest to offer a monopoly on use of the algorithm to the inventor? That would give him a way to recover that investment from the people who benefit from the algorithm, and thus an incentive to make the investment.
See here's the thing with the IP Maximalist arguments of which this is a classic, absolutely sterling example (and BTW I am terribly glad you made it here because if I had presented what you said and merely claimed it was what was motivating you underneath it all, no one would have believed me..) OK here's the thing-
They represent a complete reworking of the way civilization and its members would conduct themselves down to the smallest, most invasive detail.
And they want to impose this without feeling the even the smallest duty to conduct a shred of what civilization calls "scientific inquiry" into the possible effects the imposition of their proposed program would have.
And why is this? Because they know... ladies and gentlemen they KNOWWWW... what's good for everyone else, and through the courts and legislators they've found the leverage they need to impose their vision on society.
What's the problem with arguing with a fanatic? Only this- their ideas are so fucking crazy that no one is actually prepared to address their specific claims.
Usually society is inoculated from this shit just because, without anyone having to go to the bother of working out exactly why, their ideas just get rejected by most other people.
Without the assistance of other members of society, they're going nowhere.
Maybe they become a writer with a cult following or maybe they start their own religion but they aren't getting at the levers of power in society.
Enter the IP Maximalists. If a little IP is good, then more MUST be better. This is the sum total of the proof they offer for the radical reworking of society they seek.
The gulf that exists between what they're thinking - when they reveal it- and what the average person thinks is worth remarking on.
At least they're confused about the basic nature of society. People are revolted at the idea of patenting a thought process but the IP Maximalist cheerily offers it up as a smacking good idea.
What does this say? That the IP Maximalist has no intuitive understanding about the basic nature of social interactions and what purpose those interactions serve in society.
Let's just hang a cash register and some barbed wire around everything. Nothing inherently repulsive in that! We'll hash out the *right* level of abstraction in the courts.... and that itself a fine use of societal attention, money and intelligence.
It says that IP Maximalists have a strong and narrow scope of comprehension and are good at focusing in on one aspect of reality, the value of IP, but utterly blind to the larger picture of society their ideas have to exist in.
The fact that people are offended by their ideas baffles them; the IP Maximalist looks around uncomprehending at their distress. What's wrong? What did I say? I didn't intend to offend anyone ...
OK Giraffdata, suppose we permit the patenting of algorithms that you can do in your head. What sort of regime would have to be imposed between people in order to facilitate the prosecution of violations, never mind find them?
OK GiraffeData, what effect over time would the existence of such a regime have on human intercourse and our perception of each other and attitudes towards each other?
I just got done reading a review of a study by a psychologist, you know a scientist, someone who lives under the constraint of having to PROVE her ideas are true. Of course compared to your program, each of their ideas is VASTLY more modest in scope and effect than what you're proposing for society, so perhaps this won't interest you, but nevertheless maybe other readers will see my point.
In this study she was able to show that the mere MENTION of money casually, in passing, had the effect of making the study's volunteers LESS altruistic towards strangers.
Now I can imagine all kinds of arguments being made that the idea of money makes people more altruistic because they have to cooperate to get it so the more we inject the concept of money into everything, the more altruistic people will become!
The difference is, one is just an idea, a philosophy, a hypothesis about how people will behave in hypothetical circumstances and the other is what a scientific study shows to be true about humans.
This is one study. It doesn't prove anything definitively and forever, even about people's behaviour in the rarefied and contrived circumstances which were realized in the study .
How many studies have the IP Maximalists done? Zero. Their ideas are purely exercises in inductive and, god help us, deductive reasoning using at best tangentially related statistical studies produced by academic economic departments and ideologically motivated "think tanks".
People are revulsed by the IP Maximalist program for reasons that have nothing to do with the internal logical cohesion of the myopic set of ideas they propose. They're revulsed because a few million years of evolution have left them with brains which naturally reject this kind of thing as BAD for society, even before any psychologist performs any experiment. This intuitive sense goes by different names. History or tradition or common sense or culture.
If a few million years of evolution left you with another kind of brain, then at least know that just as everyone else can understand the difference between a software patent and a hardware patent, so also everyone else finds the idea of patenting thought algorithms, play plot devices, business methods, incentive schemes, arrangements of data, arrangements of ideas, arrangements of human activity, the mere presentation or interaction order of just anything- useful and novel or otherwise, and finally, yes software, as inherently revolting and highly destructive to the fabric of society.