Re: poly: Why interest rates may stay low

From: Perry E. Metzger <>
Date: Sat Feb 28 1998 - 15:36:01 PST

Hal Finney writes:
> It seems that what happens here is that a barrier to competition arises
> similar in effect to property rights. The company name becomes a valuable
> asset, and it is protected. The company's technology becomes a de facto
> standard and the costs to reproduce the tech closely enough to compete
> are very high.

Actually, they aren't *that* high. People have gotten close enough to
duplicating Windows (see WABI and WINE for example) at fairly low cost
that I'm not at all certain that the investment needed would be very

I think there are other reasons this doesn't happen.

> However this does not seem to change Robin's general point, which is
> that the kinds of technological improvements we expect to increase
> productivity over the next few decades are unlikely to be protectable
> in this way. There will be specific companies which can carve out very
> successful niches. But the general increase in automation, greater use
> of computers, improved health and vigor of employees, new materials,
> microtech and some limited nanotech, these are likely to be largely
> commodity technologies.

Sure, in the long run, many things become commodities. None the less,
it appears the rate of return on the cutting edge of technology is
pretty high for a lot longer than one would expect the capacity for
"straight copying" to predict.

Received on Sat Feb 28 23:40:07 1998

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