[Fwd: IP: Fact Sheet on Export Controls on High PerformanceComputers]

Josip Loncaric josip at icase.edu
Fri Jan 12 09:46:33 PST 2001

"Robert G. Brown" wrote:
> There doesn't exist the plowshare that cannot be beaten into a sword.
> So why try to regulate plowshares?

A valid point -- but my understanding of the purpose behind regulation
is to slow down the diffusion of technology.  We can all agree that
completely preventing this diffusion is impossible, but the trick is to
maintain a significant differential between us (U.S.) and potential
adversaries.  This is hard, because technology changes rapidly, and
obsolete regulations can backfire.

Some humility is in order: 96% of the world's brains live outside the
U.S., and their creativity can route around minor impediments.  The risk
to the U.S. is loss of market share and consequently relevance in
over-regulated areas.  In the long run, this can be more damaging than
too little regulation.

Technological differential can only be maintained through constant
inventiveness, whose fruits are temporarily protected by minimally
intrusive export controls, frequently updated to avoid slowing down
innovation.  Messy and hard to manage, but I do not see a better


P.S.  Restricting exports of commodity items makes no sense, and the
press release which started this discussion (finally!) accepts that.

Dr. Josip Loncaric, Senior Staff Scientist        mailto:josip at icase.edu
ICASE, Mail Stop 132C           PGP key at http://www.icase.edu./~josip/
NASA Langley Research Center             mailto:j.loncaric at larc.nasa.gov
Hampton, VA 23681-2199, USA    Tel. +1 757 864-2192  Fax +1 757 864-6134

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