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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Recommended read from The Supreme Court's baffling tech illiteracy is becoming a big problem

"But this fixation on technological analogies is more than just an idle curiosity. It has real-world implications that are not to be underestimated. Recent years have borne out that if a technology under scrutiny cannot be analogized to a historically protected invention, it may be doomed. In 2006, for example, Chief Justice Roberts doubted that eBay was an actual invention. He asked the lawyer, Seth Waxman, what the invention of eBay was, and when Waxman explained it as an electronic market, Chief Justice Roberts responded flippantly, saying, “I mean, it's not like he invented the internal combustion engine or anything. It's very vague.”

When Waxman pushed back at Roberts, pointing out that "I'm not a software developer and I have reason to believe that neither is Your Honor,” Roberts fully explicated his contempt for the technology. “I may not be a software developer, but as I read the invention [of eBay], it’s displaying pictures of your wares on a computer network and, you know, picking which ones you want and buying them.” He next said about the multibillion-dollar Internet corporation: “I might have been able to do that.”

This came from the man who four years later asked the difference between a pager and an email.

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