Topic of this article: What the government gives away for free.
The title is alittle misleading but true from a certain point of view. The Verge reported today that NASA is going to auction off patents for artificial intelligence. First, I didn’t know NASA even needed patents (I’d think the government would use anything they wanted whether ordinary civilians came up with it first or not). Second, as much as I’d like to comment on artificial intelligence (and will eventually), the most interesting part was, of course, the public responses to the selling (in the comments section). Someone pointed out that the stuff NASA creates should be public domain. That’s the case with pictures from the Hubble, and probably most other forms of media. But those things are definitely not as valuable as blueprints, patentable items, or hardware. Most people didn’t seem to mind that NASA was selling patents, especially since it helps pay back a tiny bit of the investment in those areas. I do wonder, what bit of government do we think we own? We don’t really “own” it, do we? We pay taxes, and supposedly according to the Constitution of the U.S., the government “derives” (whatever the heck that means) its power from the people, but that doesn’t mean we own even the slightest speck. And why should we? Sure, there are public parks and conveniences that the governments (federal, state, and local) pay for, but we don’t need a bunch of radicals marching on to military ground and demanding there be public access to missiles. Okay, so that’s an extreme example.
There are things the government does give away that the public can enjoy. If you haven’t heard of it (and I’d be very surprised), there are national and Smithsonian museums that are really good places to check out, especially for you skeptics who don’t believe these things even exist (oh wait, you might not believe the museums exists either. darn it). My family visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., oh and guess what: admission is free.
If you would like to read an overview of the museum, you can read about it here.