[LINK] Software vs hardware [was: Open letter on abolishing software patents ...]

Stephen Wilson swilson at lockstep.com.au
Wed Jul 28 22:36:21 AEST 2010

Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au wrote:
> On Wed, 28 Jul 2010 18:15:33 +1000, Stephen Wilson
> <swilson at lockstep.com.au> wrote:
>> And I repeat what I think is a critical question: How would you propose 
>> differentiating between programmed logic and wired logic when doing away
>> with software patents?  I don't think it can be done. 
> Funnily enough, that's almost exactly what product liability law does.
> See this (regrettably) almost timeless piece from over 20 years ago:
> http://www.rogerclarke.com/SOS/PaperLiaby.html
Aaaah ... while programmed logic and wired logic are indistinguishable 
when they're working properly, the important thing about software that 
complicates product liability insurance is that software fails in 
unpredictable ways.  Software doesn't obey the laws of physica; it 
doesn't age or deteriorate, and mean time between failure cannot be as 
easily modeled as it can for hardware.  Program failures aren't random; 
they're generally the result of systematic design errors.  And when code 
fails, the effects can be unconstrained and unpredictable (whereas 
hardware component failures are usually localised in their side effects).

Insurers hate all that. 


Steve Wilson.

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