Must-Read: Ben Thompson: TensorFlow and Monetizing Intellectual Property

Must-Read: Ben Thompson: TensorFlow and Monetizing Intellectual Property: “Ten years ago Bill Gates suggested that open source software…

…was the province of “modern-day sort of communists” whose views on intellectual property were hopelessly outdated…. “We’ve had the best intellectual property system…. Intellectual property is the incentive system for the products of the future.” Gates’ perspective was understandable…. Microsoft is still a big company… but an even bigger company today is Alphabet…. Its Google subsidiary announced it was open-sourcing TensorFlow, its formerly proprietary machine learning system…. Machine learning is super important to Google…. At a superficial level, this doesn’t make sense: if machine learning is core to Google’s future, then what is the point of giving it away?…

There’s a parallel to be drawn to my piece last week about Grantland and the (Surprising) Future of Publishing. The fundamental nature of the Internet makes monetizing infinitely reproducible intellectual property akin to selling ice to an Eskimo: it can be done, but it better be some really darn incredible ice, and even then the market is limited. A far more attainable and sustainable strategy is to instead focus on monetizing complements to said intellectual property, resulting in an outcome where everyone wins: intellectual property consumers, intellectual property copiers, and above all intellectual property creators.”

November 12, 2015


Brad DeLong
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