Honors Seminar: Humanities 320

Review Examination II (Spring 2005)

Prepared by:

Joseph Malkevitch
Department of Mathematics
York College (CUNY)
Jamaica, New York 11451

1. What is the difference between wealth and income?

a. Give some examples of situations where a person might be wealthy but have little income.

b. Give some examples of situations where a person might be wealthy and have lots of income.

c. Give some examples of situations where a person might not be wealthy but have lots of income.

d. Give some examples of situations where a person might not be wealthy and also has little income.

e. Can you name well known people who are in each of the classifications above?

f. Does wealth contribute to happiness? (If so, in what way(s)?)

g. Does income contribute to happiness? (If so, in what way(s)?)

2. What kinds of "property" are there? Do all cultures treat the notion of property in the same way? How do capitalistic, socialistic, and communistic societies view property?

3. What is meant by intellectual property? What are some of the ways to protect intellectual property?

4. Do you think software should be copyrightable? Do you think that software should be issued patents? Why was the attempt to protect software using copyright unsuccessful?

5. Do you think drugs should be issued patents? Do you think that genes should be issued patents? What about cell lines?

6. What is a monopoly? Are there any monopolies in the United States in the private sector? Are there government agencies that are "monopolies"?

7. Where is the research for the technologies of the future being carried out?

8. Do you believe that animals other than humans can think? Do any other species other than humans use written language? Do species other than humans communicate? If so, how?

9. What are the most important changes to society that you believe will come about due to the cell phone? Many people think cell phones are nuisance. Can you give examples of some nuisances created by cell phones?

10. Give a discussion of the "fair use" doctrine? Do you think that the Supreme Court made the correct decision in allowing the sale of VCRs? What fair use issues arise in conjunction with software? What fair use issues arise with regard to CD-ROMs? What fair use issues arise with regard to xerography? Do you think the concept of fair use is "fair?"

11. If a technology has no "legal use" should it be allowed?

12. What are some of the proposed "legal uses" of file sharing software?

13. Where was the patent and copyright system for the United States described originally? Who had the power to implement the details of this system?

14. Do you think that the patent system has fulfilled its promise of rewarding the innovative and encouraging innovation?

15. The development of the telephone and other utilities in the United States was often done by allowing monopolies? Why was this done? Was the phone company during the period that it was a monopoly allowed to set any price for its services that it wanted?

16. Many cable companies at the current time are monopolies. Can these companies set any price that they want?

17. When there was only a single phone company in the United States, could the phone company set any rate it wanted for phone service?

18. When there are more companies that provide a service it is common for the price to come down. Does the same principle apply to having more doctors and more hospitals?

19. Explain why it is common for agreements on standards to occur for widely accepted new technologies. What are some areas that standards are set for television? What are some areas that standards are set for phones? What are some areas that standards are set for laptop computers?

20. Some people argue that technology has contributed to "progress?" How would you define "progress?"

21. How can happiness be measured? Can one compare happiness between people?

22. What is meant by the Lorenz curve? When is a Lorenz curve a line segment which makes a 45 degree angle with the horizontal axis?

23. What has been happening to the Lorenz curve for the United States in recent years?

24. What should be the status of letters that a person X sends to a "friend" or company after X becomes famous? Are such letters forever the "private property" of the person who wrote them or should anyone (scholars?) be able to use these letters freely in biographical essays or books before X dies? What about after X dies? Is the person who received the letters able to sell the letters received to anyone for whatever price can be obtained?

25. There has been a recent trend to allowing patents for "business practice." The idea here is to give intellectual property protection to creative ideas in the way business is conducted. What are your views about the pros and cons of this new trend?

26. Why couldn't Einstein patent E = mc2?

27. Is it possible to patent equations?

28. Historically, patents were not granted for the discovery of a "theoretical idea" such as a mathematical theorem. How have recent developments in computer science affected this issue?