The distribution of information – questions

I have heard a story about a pharmaceutical company which did not disclose information about their vital antidepressant drug; namely, that it didn’t work very well in a key demographic group http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7281305.stm

I want to pose some questions

  1. Should academic research be universally available? (eliminating the need for subscription services to journals, and simply to have everyone to access them)
  2. Should the findings of industry be released in the same way as academic research (e.g. Engineering and technology, biochemistry and microbiological research in relation to industry) – for example; if a company found some new brilliant pesticide; should it be easily available in the same way a journal paper would?
  3. What about something like source code for vital software? Should, say, big companies like Microsoft, if (assumption) they had some innovation which had many brilliant applications which could help the lives of many, disclose their code out in public? Compare the open source community with the more commercial kinds. I do consider that sometimes code for things like computer games may not be disclosed so far as to allow royalties…but there is a difference between disclosing the whole game available without royalties (undesirable), and just something more basic, like the game engine (desirable? – might spark more creative work…)
  4. What about research, findings, proofs, or innovations that may be used directly towards evil. What if, we had a way to make a super computer virus, or an unbreakable encryption method, some equation to make a chemical weapon, or a finding about a social phenomenon that we may not like to hear about for some social-context sensitive reason.

Questions that I have not yet ventured to answer. Is the freedom of information desirable?

Sinistre

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