Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Liberty, Unity, and Justice – the rights of communities and a manifestation of the “care economy” in these United States.

When in the course of modern politics, we arrive at a turning point of corrupt politicians and dangerous fanatic representations, we must come together as free and independent thinkers united in our hope for better things. Our promise for progress must be centred around people, as all lives matter; and we must be sensitive to the values of social and environmental justice, as they must be enabled by the fairly elected public servants along side of well-functioning and socially responsible institutions, both equally charged with the province of representing their people well in these times.

But there is now an ever more dangerous accumulation of wealth and the concentration of power giving rise to inequalities that transcend Geopolitics. Financial and tax regulations put in place are mere token solutions, further eroding the moral standings of individuals leaving communities vulnerable to corruptions and misguided policy directives. There is no state in these United States, as a unity of its communities, that is focused on assessing cultural impacts, sustainability and vibrancy of cultural developments. Yet we are gregarious creatures, are we not? Culture is fundamental to our social life and inclusion is the process by which we recognize our differences and come together to capitalize on them through our similarities. Social policies thus play an essential role not only in reducing poverty but also in fostering economic development. But we must be free of the welfare state and shift our aim to changing behaviours. We have to provide incentives for voluntary participation. Sustainable environmental management and resource use must strengthen the resilience or adaptive capacities of individuals and their communities while also achieving their social goals. Merely reducing the problem of inequality by affirmative actions ignores many structural conditions and constraints that determine individual opportunities, choices and outcomes. It also fails to address key drivers of inequality in the economy. We therefore have to pay close attention to macro-policies that prioritizes job creation, provide accessibility to community supported infrastructure and care services, protect worker's rights and privileges, support indigenous innovations and decentralize production, and formulate social programs to target all forms of discrimination.

Together, we the people of these United States of a land to be freed, can shape the participations of empowered populations; can transform social policies that extend beyond the residual roles of the mere welfare states; can target the alleviation of poverty and integrate political and economic functions necessary to provide security and opportunity. Together, we share the burdens and benefits of growth, of the cost of care for others, in compassion and forgiveness to the terrors of hatred and darkness in men's hearts. United, we must be attentive to the broader functions of social policies that threatens progress, generating social tensions over scarce jobs and resources, undermining our health and productivity, and disenfranchising our future generations.

If we do not act, we risk failures leading to violent conflicts and greater environmental degradations; we risk not just our freedom, but our entire earthly existence.

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." 
- Declaration of Independence of these United States

Friday, April 8, 2016

Shared Information Economy - a Reframe

McKinsey & Company recently wrote that business innovation involves identifying and dissecting long-held beliefs about how value is created and the reframing these beliefs in order to innovate. One of the most long-held beliefs in business is the concept of exclusivity in ownership. However, the mere suggestion of re-examining intellectual property ownership (e.g., patent)’s role in business is controversial. It often draws criticism and a fear of losing private-sector funding. There is also a lucrative cottage industry of non-market participants (e.g., patent trolls), which likely will impact the conversation.

But any meaningful dialogue about change and business innovation must involve opening information and must involve a closer look at how intellectual properties (e.g., patents) are leveraged in the development process. In an economic sense, patents are especially problematic. Patents limit a business model's life span, usually to as little as ten to twelve years. Upon patent expiration, the technology enters the public domain. Developers have to lean-out their operations fast, and that's becoming ever more challenging in a global marketplace. Patents are capital intensive (before and after the grant of the patent). They silo information and inhibit scientific progress. In addition, there are anti-trust and price fixing concerns with the patent-driven vertical integrations that naturally occur. To further complicate things, patent laws, regulations, and enforcement mechanisms lag behind development and market trends.

There is also no guarantee that patents will translate to market dominance. In the United States, Inter Partes Review (“IPR”) jeopardizes even patents that have been already been granted. In developing jurisdictions such as India and China, patent enforcement often is wildly unpredictable and costly to defend (e.g., Gilead's struggle with its patent for hepatitis treatment in China and India).

Reliance on patents can also hinder an industry's growth. For example, according to a 2015 industry report, bioengineered drugs continue to increase their market shares against conventional drugs. Patenting these biologics will be more difficult and unpredictable than patenting for the more traditional drugs, because this type of therapeutics frequently involves laws of nature or natural phenomena that are excluded from patent protection. Patent examiners and courts will struggle, as they did when the information technology industry first began to challenge the patent paradigm. This will put the market sector on an elevated risk platform. Investors will avoid early R&D,further starving the capacity needed to engineer biologic-based therapeutics. The success of this biopharma market sector, and the industry generally, will likely depend on a reframe of how we understand and leverage patents and other intellectual property types in the various emerging open-innovation models.

The Reframe - Information is Open, Sustainable, and Free.

Patents and ownership have become linked in our conversations about research, development, and innovation in the business process. Development often starts with patent-leveraged investments to conduct product testing and trials. The patent grows in value with positive results. Once market validation is evident and regulatory approval, if any, is granted, the patent gains even more value.

This allows for additional investments in manufacturing, advertising, and other operational expenses. This is our current model, but it is premised on the idea of scarcity—an antiquated frame of mind derived from our understanding of real and tangible property ownership. Yes, it is true there is only so much land and resources in the world, and it is important to exclude others from exploiting what you own. With intellectual property, however, the reverse is true: there is an abundance of possibilities of ideas when we put our intellectual capacities together.

Valuation of patents and the IP portfolio has generally been difficult and imprecise. In a complicated transaction involving very expensive and risky product trials, regulatory approval, and manufacturing (e.g., pharma products), exactly how does one value a patent to “de-risk” the process? Is it by excluding others from the development process, by shifting the risks to large-cap players, by delaying the risk to more mature developments, and by starving the development pipeline? Or does it make more sense to leverage value for collaboration? In modern accounting, valuation is highly dependent on the subjectivity around the product's exclusivity of market. What happens if exclusivity of market share is replaced instead with a focus on collaborative capacity?

The Shared Information Economy 

The sharing economy is a recent phenomenon enabled by connectivity and information technology. The possibilities are boundless. For example, a shared information economy of bioengineered therapeutics can do wonders towards cutting development cost and time for therapeutics, enabling rational market and treatment decisions, enforcing quality and ethical standards, and delivering to the underserved.

 To reframe how we work collaboratively in a share-information economy, we have to find a sustainable balance between self-interest and ecosystem health (see Howard Rheingold, TED 2005). The purpose is to enable distribution of knowledge, data, and developments freely and globally. This will be disruptive to the current commercial model, but it will also become more distributed, connecting the “publish or perish” academic culture with practical support structure and application development opportunities to utilize the rapidly accumulating knowledge set.

The key is finding good opportunities, retuning efficiency, leveraging existing intellectual property rationally, copyleft, and participating in the development process fully—together.
  • Open science and open data access and exchange is the driver of this process. 
  • Open reproducibility acts as check and balance for products developed under this model and should improve quality and safety. 
  • Open standards should improve efficiency and emergency demand response time. 
  • Open product trials should improve overall system integrity. 
All of this together will make a community of open businesses thrive, like Linux.

For an advocate of human progress, open business innovation is a path forward. A friend once said: “It is social engineering if you really think about it. Let's call it for what it is. But in the end, this is about changing the world and saving lives.”

Thursday, April 7, 2016

An Open, Sustainable, and Free World – the “dot(Us)” Manifesto

Information is not power. Information far exceeds the possibilities of power. Power is limited to the underlying presumptions of exclusivity: protection or exploitation. Some keen observers do tell us that with great power comes great responsibility, but not many are open minded like that and we have yet to explore the possibilities that come with those great responsibilities.

Power also makes the average person hungry and fearful. It leads our demise because it limits our possibilities in a model of scarcity and hierarchy. While we await for the overman, the philosopher king, we missed our opportunities to do something more productive together—in a common human experience.

So stop saying “information is power.”

For those who are open to rethinking: power in the form of information is capable of great things, but information in the form of power leads to control and misdirection. In fact, information in the form of power has led us to our current unsustainable human experience: from media to therapeutics, from politics to business, from the way we learn to the way we live, everything seems to be under lock and key. And we are at the mercy of mercenary conduits carrying what information is meant for us to see, directed at goals we are not meant to know, and retaining power in the hands of the few, the rich and powerful, to maintain the status quo.

Well, Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same hoping for a different result. So stop repeating “information is power” because it repeats the same vicious cycle of separation, isolation, and unchecked self-delusion and destruction.

Information is “open, sustainable, and free.”

There is a global awakening to this paradigm and with this awakening, there is a fundamental shift occurring in our generation. The free society of netizens are entering the shared information economy and the global community is beginning to understand the whole is in fact greater than the sum of its parts. Our collective consciousness is transitioning from assets to knowledge, from scarcity to abundance, from hierarchy to network. This shift from the traditional functional, hierarchical economic and social orientation to a process-centric orientation is driven by a demand for efficiency and effectiveness in light of our unsustainable trajectory. Enabled by the Internet of Everything, we are connecting dots and drawing up resource nodes on the digital map of our human capacity. As our collective human experience transitions, we are seeing an increase in information access and transparency, and a reinvention in institutional philanthropy and an emergence of distributed and disruptive social enterprises—Open Data, Access, Research, Development, and Innovation; all of which are becoming measurably impact driven.

The alternative is a price too high to pay: power for the rich, exploitation the de facto economic model, and we are blinded, poisoned, and slowly separated and removed from the common human experience. To be human under these conditions becomes a privilege few can afford; more and more are increasingly ignorant of what it truly means to be human and are herded into barns built for sheeple awaiting their expiration dates.

Stop living like this.

What can we do? Information is under lock and key after all. Companies hold rights to information and charge for access. It's legal and the laws are drafted to favor their disposition. “There is nothing we can do,” someone once stated candidly to me.

But there is something we can do, together. Isn't there?

We can begin by believing that information is open, sustainable, and free. The right to access information is universal and inalienable right to our common human experience. But the open, sustainable and free information is also a responsibility. It is something we have to demand and fight to achieve and protect. Do this in light of unjust laws, become morally upstanding pirates, share your wealth in knowledge as it is your moral imperative to give information freely, openly, towards our common goals of sustainable future together.

Only those blinded by greed and misdirected to power will refuse to make information open, sustainable, and free. In the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare you opposition to those with the locks and keys.

This is dot(Us) – a call to civic hackers, legions of advocates, believers of new frontiers and brave worlds; this is a guerrilla movement to open, sustain, and free information from power, greed, and corruption. This is our story, in the digital age of everything—a story in the making. The future generations are counting on our participation, here and now, to make a difference.

CC-BY-SA Jin Kong

2016 Cincinnati