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Big Gains for Open Aerospace: Interview with Open Research Institute CEO Michelle Thompson W5NYV

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by WE4B, Mar 2, 2021.

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  1. N1IPU

    N1IPU Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The founders were deadset against corporations because of what british corps had done to the colonies. Over the course of a hundred years though the power of congress and state legislators was whittled down and Santa Clara county vs Southern Pacific a Supreme Court decision in the 1880s sealed the deal when it related to Corps being a natural person. Very recent decisions cemented that. Really that's why we are in the state we are in now. People forgot and let these things stand. We concern ourselves to what puppet holds office while the man behind the curtain actually decides our future's. If there is a Satan he hides in the law.
    KN4LGM and WE4B like this.
  2. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Business is co--oool.
  3. AI9IN

    AI9IN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've read through this interview a couple of times and I can't find anywhere where Michelle actually says or even implies what you are claiming.
    Steve AI9IN
  4. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Look for key word "differentiate" and read again.

    Otherwise, it would seem you do not understand what I am "claiming".

    Chip W1YW
  5. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

  6. KA9Q

    KA9Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's not how I read it. I think Michelle said that open source development represents a useful and viable alternative to proprietary development in aerospace, just as it has proven itself useful and viable in software. Open source is especially helpful in aerospace because (as ORI's recent work establishes) it can qualify for the "public domain" exceptions to the otherwise onerous export control regulations.

    This is in addition to open source being the best development model for the amateur and amateur satellite services.

    [Disclaimer: I am the current president of Amateur Radio Digital Communications, a nonprofit founded by Brian Kantor, WB6CYT (SK), that has supported ORI in their export control and other work. ARDC grants about $6M/year to projects within the scope of our charter. ARDC only funds open source work; i.e., if you want to keep it proprietary, don't ask us.]

    It's important to distinguish between "open source" (as usually understood) and the "public domain" exceptions in the export regulations. The latter refer not to a lack of copyright or patent protection, but simply to being readily available to the public. They recognize that it would be silly to require an export license for information in a public talk, published magazine, open web page, etc. In other words, keeping technology secret because of fear of export controls is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because it's only meaningful for the government to restrict the dissemination of information that is already tightly held by its owner as proprietary.

    The government once tried to apply export controls to publicly available software, specifically open source encryption software. Way back in the 1990s, when I was working professionally in computer and network security, I brought a personal lawsuit against the US State Department over its ruling that even encryption software in the public domain, openly published in a popular textbook ("Applied Cryptography" by Bruce Schneier) was still a "defense article" requiring an export license when on machine-readable media. This ridiculous position had the government turning handsprings. I testified twice to Congress on the topic, and even members of Congress got the joke when I said "According to the State Department, only Americans can type." Two other contemporary cases attacked the same export controls from different angles. In 2000, President Clinton, apparently fearing adverse court precedents, finally relented and allowed the open distribution of publicly available encryption software. This policy change led to the widespread use of encryption on the Internet. Encryption certainly hasn't been a panacea for Internet security, but I shudder to think of what the net would be today without it.

    Years later, Michelle and ORI built on this history to establish via formal rulings that amateur satellite technology, developed as open source, qualifies for these same public domain exemptions. (You might think this trivial, obvious and logical, but nothing is ever trivial, obvious or logical when government regulations are involved.) She also suggests that the broader aerospace industry may wish to explore the same path around the export controls for at least some of its work even if the bulk of it remains proprietary. There's a long history of successful co-existence between open source and proprietary software, and the same could be true for aerospace as well.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2021
    K6CLS likes this.
  7. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I didn't misread it.

    If the point is coexistence between both proprietary and open source approaches to aerospace/space hardware, well, that's self evident as how reality works. You don't have to know too much about the early days of Jack Parson's crew (pre Aerojet) to judge the value of that 'open source' approach in the history of spaceflight.

    As I said: room for both. I am happy Michelle has decided to champion that approach.

    Chip W1YW
  8. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't think ANYTHING is trivial. So, no; you are not correct on this. I've run the tortuous path of innovation for over 50 years and know that nothing is easy. You presumed incorrectly.

    I've read CANDIDE a dozen times. I understand the dysfunction of our species--as well as logic allows(which isn't much).

    Again, Michelle and I disagree on the point of the value of 'proprietary', and 'differentiate (not on technology)'. I LIKE what she's doing. I just don't agree with all of her opinions, nor expect to.

    So what?

    There is no right and wrong here.

    Chip W1YW
  9. KA9Q

    KA9Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    Please read what I said in context and stop taking things personally. I was referring specifically to the government's interpretation of its own export control regulations exempting information in the public domain (i.e., freely available). Anyone with a brain would think that this would obviously exempt a floppy disk (current technology in the 1990s!) containing the exact same information in a published textbook. But the government said no: the book was public domain and unregulated, but the floppy disk was a "defense article" requiring a State Department license to export. I had to pursue a lawsuit that bounced between the DC district and appellate courts for years until Clinton backed down in 2000 and rendered it moot.

    Ie., don't assume government regulations are logical and reasonable just because they're written in something that appears to resemble English.
    KA2FIR likes this.
  10. KA9Q

    KA9Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    As for the larger question of the role of intellectual property in technology innovation, in ham radio and elsewhere, that is a much larger and mostly separate issue. I'm happy to have that conversation but it must be distinguished from the very specific issue we've been discussing: the advantageous treatment of open source technology under the US export control laws and regs. Michelle/ORI have argued, as have I, that one very specific advantage of open source development in aerospace (or at least the amateur satellite world) is the ability to use the so-called "public domain exception" in those export control regulations to avoid them. And she suggests that the aerospace industry may wish to avail itself of this approach in selected areas where the advantages to business may outweigh any perceived disadvantage of making something non-proprietary.

    And ORI has now demonstrated, by a tedious and expensive legal process, that the government agrees with their reasoning. Again, this may seem like it should obviously be true, but when it comes to the government interpreting and following its own regulations, nothing is ever simple.

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