Monday, February 25, 2013

#56 / Seeds And Software

The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday in its business section that a currently pending case in the United States Supreme Court, Bowman v. Monsanto, may have big impacts on the software industry. That is because our law permits individuals and corporations (corporations are persons, right?) to "patent" genetic sequences that are then introduced into living things. The genetic sequences that determine how living things act are analogous to the software programming that determines how computer programs operate. Arguably, the law that applies to one should apply to both.

The Chronicle story is worth reading. And those interested in the truly massive impacts that the Supreme Court decision could have, not only legally, but practically, are also referred to an excellent presentation on the Democracy Now news program with Amy Goodman.

The legal rules that govern our world are preeminent examples of how we can "create" whatever kind of (human) world we want. There are no inevitabilities in the world of law and politics. That has not been true, heretofore, of the living World of Nature, which preexists us, and which we emphatically did not create. I find it fascinating, in a "horror movie" kind of way, that humans are now directly assuming the right to create and control life. 

I doubt we will find that human-created world of "nature" as congenial and ultimately as welcoming as the true World of Nature that we did not, and do not create through our own actions.

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