June 22, 2007  ·  Lessig

The response to my channel changing has been overwhelming — literally, with the emails and well wishes. Thank you (and I’m sorry for the slowness in responding). Some have asked whether this means all IP disappears from here, or elsewhere, as of now. Answer: No. I’ve still got a bunch of things in the pipes (an op-ed in the Post; a couple more Internet Policy videos, a book, and some committed talks), as well as a cert petition in Kahle that would be much clarified if the 10th Circuit decided Golan.

Meanwhile, thanks again for the kind words, and many great ideas.

  • Harry Porterfield

    I like the new focus, I’ve always been envious of your intellectual abilities.

    I presume you’ll focus primarily on legal aspects of corruption, but I think some background in evolutionary psychology is critical. Robert Wright has written some great stuff in his books “The Moral Animal” and “Non Zero”

    Steven Pinker is an evolutionary psychologist at Harvard http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/ (He is also a member of Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists). His book “The Blank Slate” is a fast but powerful read addressing some human nature questions.

    At Stanford Law, Henry T. Greely has some neat stuff on neuroethics. You know him far better than I do.

    I have found I’m far more skilled at hacking the genome that I ever will be with words or code. I think it’s interesting how there are limits on our neural networks, which even though we feel we have free will, we don’t. I would be interested in looking into the neural bases of corruption. Most people are good and treat people in their “tribe” well, but there is so much ‘tribal competition’. I don’t understand how one group is willing to forgo moral behavior in its interactions with another while still retaining that same moral behavior for themselves. This can be broadly applied to killing in war vs killing because someone because she wanted you to do the dishes. javascript:cnnVideo(‘play’,'/video/law/2007/06/22/dixon.ga.man.stabs.mom.wxia’,’2009/06/21′); Like wise a congressman is willing to screw over one group to protect another. I think it’s fascinating how we can see some groups as ‘self’ and others as ‘non self’.

    While you are looking at corruption in economics, I think having a neuroscience foundation would be beneficial.

  • Harry Porterfield

    Great, now I’m thinking about this rather than my experiment! Matt Ridley wrote an interesting thing for The Edge http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_11.html about corruption in government. I still am biased towards the neuroscience aspect of the topic, it would be interesting for me to do a masters on. Or, better yet, you could do a formal PhD in the subject. It’s really the polite thing to do, and you are a very polite person. That way you would not have to correct people when you are called Doctor.

    This would be an interesting conversation to have over a couple beers.

  • John McAward

    I do not believe that we can realistically expect sitting legislators to vote for public financing of political campaigns when incumbency provides them with a huge fund raising advantage over their out of office opponents. Yet our democracy’s survival depends on greatly reducing lobbyists’ donations that skew the votes toward their interests which often are not compatible with the overall interests of the elected officials constituents.
    Forty-five years ago, a suit initiated by the mayor of Nashville, Tennessee was decided by the Supreme Court and it served as a landmark case that changed the voter imbalances in legislative districts. Baker v. Carr better known as the one man, one vote decision restored the balance between rural and urban districts.

    See http://www.factmonster.com/us/supreme-court/cases/ar02.html for a good synopsis of the case.

    I contend that to stay true to the spirit of Baker v Carr, ANY contributions to a candidate for public office must come ONLY from residents of the election district.

    Why not bring a case in federal court that argues that outside contributions to an officeholder distort the Baker v Carr decision? If a challenge reaching the Supreme Court were successful, the DC lobby influence would be immediately hobbled. But it would have another beneficial effect.

    Members of Congress and state legislatures would be forced to spend much more time in their districts listening to voters and raising money. They would not gain any advantage by attending lobbyists’ dinners or traveling to corporate retreats because the mother’s milk of politics could not be served at such events.

    John McAward
    677 Crane Prairie Way
    Osprey, FL 34229

  • Anonymous

    It seems to me the legal question for Larry to take on — much like he has probed the fundamental purpose of intellectual property protection — is the extent to which money should be equated with speech. As long as amassing money is equated with amassing political support (i.e., support from the body politic), there will be work for Larry to do in his new job.

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