jjoseph

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Knowledge is Worth Paying For

On the other hand, often, even in renaissance times, knowledge was guarded by guilds, families etc. Recently reading Alex Bellos' "Adventures in Numberland" he writes that Niccolò Tartaglia was the first person to solve cubic equations in europe, but refused to share the secret. Girolamo Cardano, begged Tartaglia, who eventually relented and in a roundabout way shared his secret but swore Cardano to secrecy. Cardano shared it with his secretary, Lodovico Ferrari, who improved on it to find the solution to Quartic Equations. Cardano had a dilemna which he eventually solved, though Cardano felt betrayed.

The problem seems to be akin to the one faced by the pharmaceutical industry, inventors need sufficient renumeration, and protection from intellectual theft, but society needs transparent, acessable information.