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Saturday
Jun142014

Science and the public

Elon Musk recently released news that he would be opening up all of the patents held by Tesla Motors. This move followed days of numerous articles discussing his hinted plans to share proprietary information stemming from his Supercharger patents. If business analysts were considering that expected strategy to be a risky bet, then it would appear Musk is now all in.
"Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology."
It is often found that science and its academic heritage come at odds with the practical, market-driven business world. The former lives in an idealized setting, where your peers in your specific field are your colleagues, never your competitors. The latter is the real world; self-preservation rules supreme, and an eye for what is best down the road but is currently a potential loss is left blinded. The sustainable action for all, for an industry, for society is often not the most marketable decision. This move by Tesla challenges that paradigm. Adapt and improve a technology. Claim it and protect it to collect the rightful spoils but avoid malicious defense. Share the idea and invention openly in an effort to assist all in progressing. What's wrong with that methodology? We often forget that there is no end to discovery. Our cup of knowledge will never be full. We will always reach new heights with more contributors at the table, with more minds collaborating, with the exchange, not the seclusion, of ideas. Perhaps more industry leaders could learn from this move.