What is Hatch's Hit List? Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced the Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (IICA, née INDUCE Act) in the Senate. The bill would make it illegal to "intentionally induce" copyright infringement, but is worded so broadly that it would have all sorts of unintended consequences, one of which is to severely limit, cripple or kill innovation in many different fields. Hatch's Hit List is a daily exploration of some of the technologies and fields that the bill would likely affect. See also, Introducing Hatch's Hit List and the Hatch's Hit List Archives. Send list suggestions to ernest.miller 8T aya.yale.edu.
Today on Hatch's Hit List: Universal Turing Machine
I just read about this new technology, a Universal Turing Machine, and although I'm not well-versed in the complex mathematics of it all, I'm pretty sure that any single Universal Turing Machine can simulate any Turing Machine. According to the Alan Turing Scrapbook:
A Universal machine is a Turing machine with the property of being able to read the description of any other Turing machine, and to carry out what that other Turing machine would have done. It is not at all obvious that such a machine, a machine capable of performing any definite method, could exist. Intuitively one might think that tasks of greater and greater complexity would need machines of greater and greater complexity. They do not: it is sufficient to have a specific, limited, degree of complexity, and then greater amounts of storage capacity for more laborious tasks. Turing gave an exact description of such a Universal machine in his paper (though with a few bugs).
Clearly, these "Universal" Turing Machines need legal controls, such as the INDUCE Act, in order that they not be abused for copyright infringement by those who would simulate copyrighted descriptions of other Turing machines.
Turing machines seem pretty simple, so I can't imagine why someone would need a "universal" one. Why not just build more of the single-purpose Turing machines? The only possible use I can see for a "universal" Turing machine is to copy what another copyrighted Turing machine does. If you give people a Universal Turing Machine, they will inevitably be induced to infringe copyrights with it. Any "reasonable person" can see that UTMs are, in reality, the most perfect copyright infringement devices ever invented.
Clearly, such infringement is what this Alan Turing fellow had in mind. After all, he was a hacker. One of the very first uses of his Turing machines was to circumvent DRM access controls! He, personally, spent many years of his life trying to read copyrighted material that didn't belong to him. Without a doubt, he is one of the "bad actors" that Sen. Hatch has in mind as the target of this bill.
Honestly, if these "Universal Turing Machines" become common, the copyright industry is sure to be destroyed!
Want to know more about the INDUCE Act?
Please see LawMeme's well-organized index to everything I've written on the topic, including Hatch's Hit List: The LawMeme Reader's Guide to Ernie Miller's Guide to the INDUCE Act.