An interesting exchange on Andrea Rossi’s web site today reveals his plans for proliferating his E-Cat technology, and also something of his economic philosophy. Rossi had commented earlier in in regard to the patent he has been awarded saying, “We will never reveal all our industrial secrets, of course.”
In response to this comment a questioner asked:
“This technology could save many lives and bring a quality of life to many areas that are suffering. I understand the need to protect your commercial interests and to reap the rewards for a life of hard work. But I must ask, at what point does the recipe for this technology need to be published to the world so that the world at large can benefit? It would be a shame to temper the propagation of this technology, because there is only a few manufacturers and distributors. Certainly you would be wealthy, but only the wealthy would have your technology for a long time.
Is this technology too good to keep secret? If you released the recipe now, I imagine by Christmas there would be e-cats all over the world already benefiting humanity.”
This is in essence a hope that Rossi would open source his technology so that people around the world could start building and developing their own E-Cats. To this suggestion Rossi responded:
“As for the development of the technology: the maximum development can be reached with the maximua investments. Nobody could invest significantly in a technology without having exclusive rights on it. When a thing is own by everybody nobody gives value to it. The story of communism has teached this to us. We and our licensee will put all our force to develope this tech.”
Rossi’s approach, then, is to attract investments by providing exclusive rights to investment partners which gives them more incentive to invest — an exclusive share of the profits coming from the technology. It’s interesting that he invokes communism as an example of a failed economic strategy here. He seems to think that the incentive for development of E-Cat would not exist if the information was given away for free — just as communist economies in many cases failed to harness the ingenuity and dedication of people when they saw no tangible reward for putting forward extra efforts.
There are however, many examples of very successful technologies that have been developed on open source principles — think of Wikipedia or Linux as examples. These software platforms have been built largely by people who have received no material reward, but have put forward tremendous efforts largely for the satisfaction of being involved in a useful project. There are many intangible benefits that participants in open source projects receive, and it appears that the questioner in this case is hopeful that the same kind of success can come with E-Cat technology.
Apparently, however, Andrea Rossi has his own ideas about how his invention should be implemented.