close this bookVolume 1: No. 01
View the documentNews -- ACM, neural networks, simulation
View the documentNews -- Japanese/U.S. labs, software protection
View the documentNews -- information sources, funding sources
View the documentPeople
View the documentQueries -- Taxes
View the documentOpinion -- Networking

Canon is opening an intelligent-peripherals R&D lab in Palo Alto, with salaries rumored to include $70K for new Ph.D.s (and three times that for the most experienced managers or scientists). NEC has a research lab in Princeton, NJ; Hitachi is opening R&D labs in Farmington Hills and San Francisco; and other Japanese companies have been opening U.S. labs and plants. Newsweek reports that ASCII Corp., Tokyo, is planning to open a computer/television lab in the U.S. Much of the recent activity seems to be in multimedia and man-machine interfaces. (Speaking of which, IEEE now publishes Multimedia Review -- quarterly since Spring 1990 -- and the almost-monthly Virtual Reality Report.)

NEC's nationwide Japanese network now carries a database from the Kinokuniya bookstore chain listing 260,000 people, 140,000 books, and 750,000 articles. Access costs $1.50 per minute. [From MicroTimes, quoting the Japan Marketing Group.] In the U.S., Lotus has backed off on plans to publish a CD-ROM database of marketing data even though the ROM did not identify personal addresses. (Identical marketing data remains available via mainframe batch processing.)

Microsoft will set up an Asian R&D center in Tokyo in another year, growing from 200 to 500 engineers. [Also from JMG, 400 Groveland Ave., Suite 312, Minneapolis, MN 55403; (612) 871-7889.]

Tom Schwartz mentioned, at an AI Forum meeting, that the Japanese legislature is considering allowing foreigners up to 50% of intellectual property rights on joint projects in Japan, reversing a long-standing policy of the Ministry of Finance.

Tom also points out that copyright protection for neural networks is useless since alternative weight sets are easily constructed. (Trade secret protection is equally useless since black-box networks can be used to train others.) Software patents are thus likely to be employed. (GTE has been granted a patent on "momentum" in neural-network backpropagation. Publications prior to patent application can invalidate such patent claims.)

The League for Programming Freedom is opposed to software patents and interface copyrights, which apparently endanger the spontaneity and code sharing of the creative-hacker lifestyle (as well as the innovative code that results). Examples: U.S. Patent 4,197,590 on use of exclusive-OR for writing a cursor to the screen, and Patent 4,398,249 for natural-order recalculation of spreadsheets. Contact league@prep.ai.mit.edu for information. (I consider their case overstated.) Or contact Richard Stallman, rms@ai.mit.edu, for a lively discussion. Other prominent members are Richard Gabriel, Gerald Sussman, and Mitch Kapor. Membership is $42 for the employed, $10.50 for students, $21 otherwise.

To copyright your software -- which the League does not oppose -- call (202) 707-9100 for the U.S. Copyright Office Hotline (101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20559). The fee for filing Form TX is just $20.