Re: poly: Why interest rates may stay low

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Wed Mar 04 1998 - 10:50:36 PST

Hal writes:
>However as Robin has clarified his point, it appears that instead he is
>referring to a different kind of property right: the right to prevent
>others from beginning development on a new technology. ...
>I can certainly agree that most new technologies will not be protected
>by this kind of property right. Generally, anyone can enter the race to
>produce a new technology, with the property right coming only at the end
>when the end product gets patented.

Yes, it would seem very hard to develop such property rights, and probably
wouldn't be worth the substantial enforcement and other costs involved.
Consider that almost any property right was once up for grabs in an open

For example, Microsoft owns the right to many attractive investments, but once
upon a time there was an open race to become the dominant OS. Investors in that
initial race looked at the prospect of later high returns in deciding how hard
to try for this prize. So looking at the whole game that far back, this no
property rights analysis applies.

Even land was once up for grabs to the first to control it. It doesn't
matter how many more layers of property rights you add on, as long as there's
an open race to get the first/top property right, this analysis applies.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Wed Mar 4 18:54:37 1998

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