22nd February 2006 - 01:27 AM
Quote: "The big paradox is that the computer science revolution is just unfolding," Chazelle said. "Why, then, are students are running away from it; why is there this decline when the field has never been more exciting?"
A paradox is only a paradox as long as you don't have a new model that incorporates both of the seemingly opposite phenomena.
The reason is freedom, or lack of it.
There are different classes of "programmers". There are the guys that find computer science challenging and fun to do but follow the dogma of CS of the time. Then there are the people who see what others can't. The people who think to themselves: "Why are they doing things this way? Isn't it obvious to them it's better to do it THIS way?". The renegades, the future "Einsteins" of CS in a way.
Well these kinds of people will be the last to try to make a living out of CS in the U.S.A or Japan. Why?
Even if they don't realize it conciously. The smart ones will feel, correctly, that the way the system is set up at the moment will punish exploring the undiscovered country of computer science. It will punish the brilliant minds with anxiety and fear because anything they discover will either be taken away from them or sued out of existence by the big players with their huge patent portfolios.
Let me ask you a question.
Do you think the explorers that first colonized America would have gone forth into the wild west if they had a rubber band attached to their wagon that would yank them back as soon as they found some prime piece of land to colonize? A rubber band held onto by the old money of Europe that they were running away from.
Or would Einstein have gone into physics if anything he came up with would be attributed to his idiot colleagues. Colleagues who would then block any newer discoveries if they even remotely resembled what Einstein came up with? Einstein would realize that he would be working against discovering even newer revelations by coming up with the intervening steps of discovery. A catch 22. A dictatorship of knowledge.
Something similar exists today in the US and Japan today. Early programmers learn that there is a bad pattern of programming called "spaghetti code". It's a pattern of programming that creates seemingly invisible connections in your computer code that will create unforseen consequences that will crash your program. It's almost impossible to debug using the human mind so the early programmers correctly said: "*** this, this system is obviously flawed. Instead of trying to figure this out it's better to completely scrap the system and create a new one, a new programming language that prevents spaghetti code in the first place".
Well guess what, people who see the invisible, people who have the potential to become the new "Einstein of CS" see that ANY program he/she creates is automatically spaghetti coded, automatically hooked, automatically rubber-banded to the big corporations by law. By SOFTWARE patent law. ANY program anyone writes will always have a couple of algorithms that are patented. That's just the nature of programming. Anything the programmer creates can be taken away by a corporation that gets greedy or an attorney who wants to climb the corporate ladder. Why would a genius, who subconciously gets this automatically, ever risk his livelyhood and maybe even risk the greater future discoveries of other "explorers" by going along with this system?
He or she will rightly say "*** this, this system is obviously flawed. Instead of trying to figure a way out of this problem it's better to completely forget about programming and either go into law-school... OR GO TO A COUNTRY WHICH DOESN'T HAVE SOFTWARE PATENTS! Yeah, that's IT!"
A personal story, the day I heard that the European Union was planning to introduce software patents, I felts physical terror. I KNEW it would destroy any future success a lone programmer, a rogue explorer would be able to have in a world where US corporations would say: "Yeah, it's a revolutionary program all right, but eh, you used a scrollbar so you either sell your company to us or sue your program out of existence". I almost became religious after the programmers of Europe and abroad united to defeat software patent law in a front of logic and rationality.
The U.S.A and Japan better realize that they will either stunt the potential of their own future "Einsteins" or suffer a brain drain of brilliant programmers into Europe where there's still the freedom to explore and reap the benefits of their discoveries.
The more they try to keep their control over ideas into their hands and squeeze, the more the good programmers will squeeze through their fingers. Wasn't it mainly out of principle against total control that Einstein fled to the US? The world is run by greedy idiots, swear to god.
Hopes that solves the "paradox"