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It's sneaky and underhanded and shady and evil.

Let's use a different real-world example. An acquaintance shows me an "attic treasure" that I know is worth at least $20k on the open market. Do I offer them $100 and not tell them what it might really be worth? Does it depend on how well I know them?

In my case, even if I did not know the person at all and never expected to interact with them again (basically, the recipe for non-cooperation, according to Axelrod's https://smile.amazon.com/Evolution-Cooperation-Revised-Rober...), I'd offer them about $5k (given some reselling risk and effort on my part, which I believe is worth at least some of the difference). If they were smart then they'd refuse and do their own homework. If they simply wanted to accept the price, they could.

I would NOT offer to take it off their hands for free. "More space in your attic!"

I'm sure that Google didn't owe this woman anything and didn't know her from a hole in the wall but... This is just machiavellian ruthlessness.

Don't be greedy, people. Make mutually-beneficial deals. It's not zero-sum (even though the particulars on how it's possible to not be zero-sum still escape me and hurt my head).




The analogy breaks down, though - in Google's disfavour and in OP's favour.

OP knew that she had something valuable. But she also thought of it as a free good (libre, not gratis). As I interpret it this is because she knew that her work builds on the work of others.

At Google, they probably knew about the intellectual background of OP's innovation, too. And yet, they tried to patent it. So much about their intellectual honesty.


> (even though the particulars on how it's possible to not be zero-sum still escape me and hurt my head).

If I have a hamburger patty and a hot dog bun, and you have a hot dog bun and a hamburger patty, we both win if we trade (it's not zero-sum).

You can generalize this across more than one party and more than two goods pretty easily.


Assuming no caloric difference between the buns and between the meats, the perceived increase in value is purely aesthetic/intangible though!


The analogy wasn't really about hot dogs and hamburgers, but about complementarity.

Assume that you have something that has a complementary relationship with something I have, but doesn't have a complementary relationship with anything you have. Assume that I'm in the same situation in relation to you. If we trade objects, we both benefit. Hot dog buns and hamburger buns are designed to be complements of certain respective forms of ground meats, hence the naming scheme.


> the perceived increase in value is purely aesthetic

Aesthetic value is still value. Most people would prefer not to eat Nutraloaf three meals a day.


Eating a hamburger in a hot dog bun would be messier than eating a hot dog in a hamburger bun, so the person with the hamburger and hot dog bun has a stronger incentive to trade.


>(even though the particulars on how it's possible to not be zero-sum still escape me and hurt my head)

The earth isn't a closed thermodynamic system ;)




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