Tuesday 5 April 2011

Residual Knowledge Clauses and Neural Prosthetics

David Wanetick (Managing Director, IncreMental Advantage) is no stranger to this weblog (see earlier posts here, here and here). Well, he's back again with "Residual Knowledge Clauses and Neural Prosthetics".  As David explains:
"IP Licensors are often reluctant to divulge their inventions to potential licensees for fear of misuse of their inventions. Licensees, on the other hand, do not want such disclosures to preclude their ability to commercialize their research in the same field. 

Thus Residual Knowledge Clauses are often used as a bridge to allow individuals who have been exposed to the other side’s knowledge to use what is in their memories in a non-mission directed manner when practicing their field of research. This is fair to the engineers and scientists (as well as their employers) who attend meetings in which the other side discloses their inventions. If it were not for Residual Knowledge Clauses these researchers would be precluded from utilizing their talents which would be to the detriment of their careers and their companies’ competitive positions. 

This sounds all well and good. But, my question is, “What happens to Residual Knowledge Clauses when neural prosthetics turn the human memory into a reservoir of photostatic recollections?” In the not-so-distant future, a researcher who witnesses a computer simulation or reviews technical drawings will effortlessly retain all of the details in his memory for years to come. Moreover, New York University Professor Gary Marcus postulates that neural prosthetics will eventually incorporate Google-like master maps, allowing people to search their memories with the efficiency and reliability of a computer search engine. 
This issue is not a matter of science fiction. Rather, already for several years, research has been conducted to harness technology to boost memory capabilities all over the world. In Canada and Israel, deep brain stimulation (in which electrodes are implanted in the brain) is being tested to activate a patient's memory circuits, thus enhancing memory performance over a long period of time. Experiments demonstrating that memories can be replaced with microchips have been conducted in rats at the University of Southern California. In the United Kingdom, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills commissioned a report that concluded that one new job of the future will be memory augmentation surgeons. 
Perhaps Residual Knowledge Clauses will have to include language such as, “Researchers may practice art that is retained in employees’ unaided human memories.”".
David welcomes our readers' comments on this issue.  So do we.

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