Quantum teleportation and space settlements

Dutch scientists have succeeded in transmitting information through quantum teleportation, and thereby they proved that Einstein was wrong on this issue.

The essence of quantum teleportation is that information is transferred from A to B, without passing through the intermediate space be it through fibers or radio waves. And because the information does not traverse space, it cannot be intercepted, hence quantum teleportation would allow a totally secure connection. The only thing you need to set up a secure channel, is to create a pair of entangled particles.

Besides complete confidentiality, quantum teleportation has another advantage. Radio waves can interfere with each other, causing loss of date and fibers can be broken. Neither of this will happen with quantum teleportation. Also unlike with radio-communication a person using QT cannot be detected by a third party. This is interesting for military operations in space.

Two space settlements can securely communicate with each other if they have each one of half of an entangled pair. And by having multiple pairs, one could construct a secure communication network between several space settlements. But there is one big warning to be made: secured communication is only guaranteed between two parties, once a party has received the information it would be able to intercept the information at that point. So if you send information from A to C through B by QT, you still need to take measures to secure B.

The classification of gender

In most jurisdictions only two genders are recognized by law. However, there are several countries such as Australia, Germany and Pakistan which have passed legislation to recognize a third gender category besides man and woman. In Australia and Germany people can be assigned “undefined”, whereas Pakistan has given legal status to their existing practice of “Hijras”.

Some people believe that biological gender is one’s “true” gender. Only what is meant with biological gender? Genetic or phenotypic gender? From a genetic perspective some one with two X-chromosomes is female, and one with one Y and one X-chromosome is male. But there are people who are XXY or X0 or some other combination. Further some genetic males, have full female appearance complete with full female sex organs (so-called XY-women). And what about XX-men?

In general people are assigned a gender based on their phenotype, whether they have male or female sex organs. But some people are born with both male and female organs. How to classify them?

Then we have people who don’t identify with their biological gender, but with the other gender. The people are usually called transgenders. Some of them seek to undergo a sex-change operation, the transsexuals. Many jurisdiction allow these people to change their legal gender as well.

We propose a four gender classification rather than a three gender one. Beside female and male, we propose to introduce intersex and neutral as legal gender. Intersex are those people with both female and male characteristics, while neutral are those who lack both male and female characteristics.

People are assigned any of these four genders at birth. However, people who feel that their legal gender does not fit with them, will be allowed to request the civil registry to change their legal gender. No operation would be required to have one’s legal gender changed.

Another idea would be to abolish official gender registration at all. But we believe that will cause certain awkward situations. Whatever system will be chosen, we believe in equal rights for everyone regardless of one’s gender.

Overview cooperatives

We want that cooperatives shall play a central role in the economy of space settlements. In this post an overview of entries on cooperatives on this site.

A Cooperative Economy – A general discussion of what cooperatives are and why we favour cooperatives.

A few words on Consumer Cooperatives – A more detailed discussion on consumer cooperatives.

Borrowing versus leasing – A further discussion on funding worker cooperatives.

A Calculation Example – A in-depth discussion of housing cooperatives and hire-purchase as an alternative for mortgage loans.

Banking reform – The proposal that only consumer cooperatives should be able to obtain bank licenses.

Some thoughts on prostitution – Discusses cooperative brothels as a possible measure against abuse in prostitution.

In Radio spectrum in space settlements there is a short note on that mobile phone operators should be required to be consumer cooperatives.

Pigouvian subsidies

In the previous post we discussed pigouvian taxes as a possible method to reduce negative externalities. We originally intended to title that post “Pigouvian taxes & subsidies”. For reasons of limited time we decided to split that post in two parts and discuss pigouvian subsidies in another installment.

Whereas pigouvian taxes are meant to discourage causing negative externalities, a pigouvian subsidy would be a reward for creating positive externalities. To recap: an externality is an unintended consequence upon third parties caused by one’s action. A positive externality means that there’s a benefit for third party.

However, by definition people cannot be excluded from enjoying a positive externality, and hence they cannot be charged effectively for their consumption. Consequently there is little incentive for private entrepreneurs to produce such externalities, though society at large would gain from it. Therefore the production of positive externalities is often in under-supply.

One way to counter this, is that the government would create an incentive for creating positive externalities by offering monetary rewards. Though entrepreneurs cannot still charge their “consumer”, they get at least an opportunity to make money from their activities. Needless to say some checks should be implemented to prevent abuse of such subsidies.

A pigouvian tax might, maybe surprisingly, also reduce negative externalities. If a certain good can be produced in two ways, A and B, and one is cheap for a business but has a lot of negative externalities, while the second method is more expensive but has much less negative externalities. In this scenario the government could either tax A or subsidies B. If it would subsidies B, the costs of method B will be lower and if the subsidy is sufficient B will be less expensive than A.

Pigouvian taxes and subsidies are just two tools among many, to regulate externalities. What tool is most appropriate should be decided upon a case-by-case base.

Pigouvian Taxes

Introduction

In economics externalities are the effects of one’s action on third parties. An externality can be positive or negative, and in general the occurrence of externalities is unintended. Negative externalities are those effects which cause harm upon (non-consenting) third parties.

Because of the harm principle the government is justified to create regulation to reduce the amount of negative externalities. There are several ways to do so. First the government can prohibit or restrict certain activities. Secondly the government can discourage certain activities.

Pigouvian tax

One method to discourage certain activities is to impose a tax on such activities. The idea is that by making undesirable activities more expensive, people will either limit such activities or to abstain completely from it.

The first question is how much tax should be levied. There are several things to be considered: the cost of enforcement, the effective deterrent and the compensation of harm caused.

Every tax has to be enforced, and tax enforcement is not for free. Ideally the revenues of a tax should be larger than the costs to collect it. Once we know what it takes to enforce a pigouvian tax, we could determine the minimal tax liability.

A possible problem, however, might be that this minimal liability, does not actually deter people from performing undesirable activities. This because the benefits they can gain, outweigh their tax liabilities. Hence the tax should be large enough to cancel any net benefit. On the other hand, this second minimum could be lower than the costs of enforcement.

Another way to look at the height of tax liability, is to take the cost of compensating negative externalities into account. For instance if water wells have been polluted, there are costs involved in restoring the water wells. On the maxim “the polluter will pay”, it’s reasonable to charge those who have polluted with this costs.

On the other hand, pigouvian taxes are meant to prevent the occurrence of negative externalities. Economically, the costs saved by this prevention should be counted as a benefit. Consequently, it does not actually matter if the revenues raised by a pigouvian tax does not cover the costs of its enforcement, as long as this tax succeed in reducing negative externalities.

Also the success of a pigouvian tax should not be measured in terms of revenues generated, but in terms of harm reduced. In a best case scenario a pigouvian tax will generate zero revenue, because everyone quits producing negative externalities. A pigouvian tax should not be imposed solely for the purpose of raising public revenue. Nevertheless the revenues raised in this way, should be used for public causes.

Intellectual rights in Mordan

Intellectual rights can be divided into main categories: copyrights and patents. Intellectual rights are also known as intellectual property, but we believe this is actually a misnomer because property usually refers to the ownership of tangible object, while nothing is more abstract than ideas.

The concept of intellectual rights, especially if called intellectual property, is quite controversial. On one hand there are people, in particular among the far-left, who oppose the very concept of intellectual property. We do not want to abolish intellectual rights, since inventors, writers, musicians and artists invest much of their time, efforts and money in developing new ideas. Many of these ideas are quite influential and important for society, and hence these people deserve a decent reward.

Instead we believe that intellectual right should be reformed. In this post we will discuss some ideas how to organize intellectual rights in the Humanist Republic of Mordan.

Copyright

All works of writing or music will eventually become part of the public domain, usually several years after the death of the author. However, the duration of patents is usually a fixed period of time (usually 21 years). We propose a fixed term for the duration of copyright of 25 years after initial publication.

The collection of copyrights was not that difficult in earlier times, since printing books and making gramophone records was a costly process. The sale of books and gramophone records could easily be overseen, and hence the collection of copyrights. When copying machines and tape recorders became widely available, clandestine distribution became a serious concern. The widespread use of Internet has made copyright enforcement virtually impossible.

If we accept the premise that authors and artists deserve something for their efforts, we need to find a solution for this problem. The industry with its established interests, typically lobbies for better enforcement of traditional copyrights. Not only do the proposals made by the industry, pose serious threats to civil rights, they also place a serious burden on society. The costs of effective copyright enforcement in its traditional form, as huge and are paid by the state. If these cost were fully passed on to the industry (in the form of taxes), they would probably go bankrupt.

Better would it be to make downloading and sharing e-books, music and videos legal, and introduce alternative methods of compensating authors (as opposed to the corporations who currently collect copyrights). An interesting suggestion is made by the French organization Association de Audionautes, they propose to levy a lax on internet service provider subscriptions to fund an alternative compensation system. Quite predictably the industry opposed this proposal, but we need to recount that the industry is primarily concerned with generating profits for their shareholders, and that the interests of the artist are of secondary importance for them.

By counting clicks on legal download sites and peer-to-peer sharing sites, it will be not difficult to obtain accurate estimates how many copies of intellectual works are in circulation. The funds raised by the above mentioned levy, can be divided proportionally over the respective authors and artists (and by-passing the industry).

In order to facilitate a smooth implementation of this policy, it’s important that there will be a trade union of authors and artists. This trade union will be the official discussion partner of the civil authorities in this matter, and the corporations which currently dominate this industry will be ignored.

Patents

Lone inventors who invent important stuff, are nowadays extremely rare, and most modern inventions are the result of expensive research and development programs of universities and private businesses. The idea behind patents is that a temporary monopoly would enable inventors to earn back their investments. But patents are not without criticism.

One example of patent controversy are patents one genes. Since genes are natural things, and not human inventions, we oppose such patents. Another controversy are pharmaceutical patents. Pharmaceutical corporations are accused of making medication unnecessary expensive through the use of their patents. We propose that the government will fund all medical and pharmaceutical research, and all resulting medication will be license free.

Software patents are yet another common controversy. Earlier we have proposed a “prize” system for encouraging programmers to develop open source software.

A serious issue with which should be dealt are patent trolls, companies which hold patents but do not manufacture anything and only exist to collect patent fees. Patent trolls should be prohibited and prosecuted.

Overview areas of law

On this site we discuss legal issues from time to time. In this post we present a summary of legal terms as we use on this site.

Constitutional law is the area of law that deal with the organization of the state, the relations between different organs of the state and fundamental rights.

Administrative law deals with the relations between citizens and the government.

Civil law deals with the relations between citizens. Also called private law, as this area of law does not deal with the state. The other areas of law are considered to constitute public law.

Criminal law deals with punishing of crimes.There is some discussion whether criminal law should be private or public law, we contend that criminal law is a hybrid between public and private law, since the societal effects alongside the private aspects of crimes.

International law deals with the relations between sovereign states.

Fiscal law deals tax issues. Strictly speaking fiscal law is a subfield of administrative law, but is usually treated separately.

Procedural law deals how legal procedures, such as court cases, should be conducted. Whereas substantial law deals with the contents of legal issues.

Animal law deals with the relations between humans and animals. In most legal systems animals are still treated as property, but due to our commitment to animal welfare we intend to give animals a separate status in our new legal system.

A Proposal for Name Law

We propose that: 1. all persons should have at least three given names. 2. Family names or patronymic names are not mandatory. 3. Further persons should be allowed to change their name simply by registering such change by the civil authorities.

Ad 1. The three name rule will reduce the likelihood of persons having the same name, and if there any persons with identical names, additional names can be added.

Ad 2. Abolishing mandatory surnames should end all discussions whether people should get their father’s or mother’s surname, or a combination thereof. Further family names are not universally accepted outside the western world.People who desire to have or to give their children a “family” name, can use one of the given names for this purpose.

Ad 3. Consistent with liberal ideal of self-determination, people should have control over as much aspects of their own life, including their own name(s). Persons who don’t like the names given by their parents should be free to change those as they see fit. The government’s role in this is registering any name change in its registers. The only reason to refuse this, is to prevent identity theft.

Timber and paper in space settlements

The inhabitants of space settlements need to establish their own supply of wood, both as timber as for the production of paper. Importation of wood from Earth will be a costly affair, and unfortunately it takes several decades for trees to grow to commercial height. Alternative sources for tree wood have to be found.

We can use hemp as a resource for production of paper. One advantage of hemp is that it is a fast growing crop. Further hemp has a lower lignin content than wood. Lignin is an unwanted substance in paper, and hence has to be removed from pulp. A serious challenge is that hemp has a low cellulose content (relative to wood), however, through genetic engineering the cellulose content of hemp might be increased.

Another application of hemp is the production of fiber boards. Fiber boards can also be made of bamboo, a fast and high growing grass. Certain types of bamboo, known as timber bamboo, can be used as timber either directly or as resource for engineered wood.

Another alternative for tree wood is rattan, also a fast growing plant. Furniture and baskets made of rattan are well-known, and there is no reason why space settlers will like them less than terrestrials.