[Evosaur-general] Decentralization of Production

Andrew Yu andrew at andrewyu.org
Fri Oct 21 10:01:30 CEST 2022

(Copied message, originally sent to abstract-beauty at andrewyu.org.
Relevant here.)

Dear all,

Here are my thoughts on the current situation on the oligopoly of the
CPU and general technology market.

Many markets, especially the computer hardware market down to the basics
such as the architecture/chipset-like level, are Economics of Scale,
meaning that the cost of production per unit decreases as the total
number of production for one entity.  This naturally gives rise to
oligopolies, also known in the technology industry as companies like
Intel and Microsoft.

An oligopoly is a market structure in which a market or industry is
dominated by a small number of large sellers or producers.  People often
confuse this with monopolies, for which the latter Francis Wayland
defines as ``an exclusive right granted to a [hu]man or a monopoly of
[hu]man, to empoly their labor or capital in some particular manner'',
which cannot exist in a free market (i.e. free of government
regulations).  The technology industry in most countries is an
oligopoly, not a monopoly.

The harm of oligopolys (and monopolies, which are similar in this
context) are commonly discussed in Economics, such as the lack of
competition causing prices to be solely in control of one economic
entity, who may set insane prices in seek of profits, which is
especially harmful for products that serve basic human needs, such as
food and water.  And in modern times, technology is often a necessity
for daily life, exacebating the harms of a relevant oligopoly market.

There is yet another practical harm of a oligopoly technology market:
about the rights of users.  When CPUs are produced by almost solely
Intel, AMD, and a few others, they are now free to add their backdoors
and ``management engines'' into the CPUs that we users use daily, and
their seek for profit pushes them to do so.  We now have to work with
spyware in our computer hardware, and we can't do anything about it,
because the oligopoly nature of the market doesn't allow us common
people to monitor, produce, develop, or otherwise deal with our own
technology except for the ``expected usages'' that the oligopoly
superimposes on us.

One way out is to decentralize the development and production of CPUs
and related goods.  Individual cities and towns should be able to
produce computers, from the very basics, for their own people.
And I know this sounds like an anti-internationalisation self-sustaining
propaganda chiche economic outcome, but if you think about it, such an
essential part of life (like technology) would be better served by
people who'd be less likely to massively implement spyware that would be
of any use to them.

Initiatives to decentralize development of CPUs and other computer
components, such as LibreSilicon, have existed for a short time (in
comparison to the time that Intel and AT&T have existed).  We're nowhere
near what Intel could make, however, partly due to the insane patents
around their technology.  Patent trolls exist and often target free
software and free hardware projects, and thus applying the idea of
copyleft as it works for copyright, to patents, may aid practical
development.  And at this point, we can't really develop upon existing
foundations, so we have to ignore pre-existing knowledge and develop our
own architecture and CPU from the start, paying attention to copyleft
licenses and copyleft-in-patents to hopefully prevent patent trolls from
taking over the world again.  (This is also what the Evosaur project is
attempting to do.)

Please tell me your thoughts on this.

Andrew Yu

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