The Murder of Genius

It seems that a lot of scientists have taken their own lives over the last decade. Many have been murdered, too. It’s easy to see why they pose the greatest threat to the 1% and the current status quo. New inventions have the power to change everything. Maybe Mensa  should become a secret organization.   Members who aren’t willing to allow their intelligence to be utilized to maintain the status quo may be in danger. One example of a genius who wanted to change the status quo was Aaron Swartz. He was persecuted until he took his own life.

Aaron Swartz was, in addition to being a young man of conscience, a poster child for the terms “computer whiz” and “child prodigy”.  He was still just a child of 12 when he created the Info Network, a forerunner of Wikipedia.  By the age of 13, he’d already become a co-founder of Reddit and one of the authors of Creative Commons.

He didn’t want to use his talents just to make money, but to make the world a better place by increasing people’s ability to communicate with one another, to exchange valuable ideas and information.  His belief that knowledge should be freely shared with humanity resulted in his arrest after downloading scholarly articles from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Tragically, on January 11th, 2013, at the tender age of 26 and facing 35 years in prison and over a million dollars in fines, he took his own life.  His death was a blow to humanity as well as the information technology industry and entrepreneurs worldwide.   The contributions he made to today’s young entrepreneurs are invaluable.  A documentary of this brilliant young man’s life reveals in part the extent of humanity’s loss as the result of his death. 

One of those contributions was in raising public awareness of the extent to which knowledge is power and that the concentration of that power being in the hands of too few is dangerous for a free society.  It’s also dangerous for the free trade that entrepreneurs depend on when power corrupts and leads to unfair business practices that prevent competition in the marketplace. 

Another of his contributions to the world of business was causing widespread recognition of the need for laws governing internet commerce.  According to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics, internet commerce accounted for 80.3 billion dollars in sales in the first quarter of 2015 alone.  Aaron Swartz stressed the need for such laws to be applied equally to large corporations to avoid conflicts of interest and the further monopolization of knowledge.

Largely due to his efforts to change the laws he was prosecuted for violating the controversial SOPA, or Stop Online Piracy Act, which was later defeated by voters. Swartz also argued that scholarly and academic works that were funded wholly or in part by the public in the form of tax dollars should be made available to the public for free.  In short, he presented an ethical argument against private profit from public investment. Since there is no greater threat to entrepreneurs than unfair competition, the world of business is indebted to him for these hard-earned lessons. 

The question now is, how do we stop those in power before they murder again? What kind of world can our children look forward to if there are no new inventions? No more progress towards eradicating hunger or creating a more just global society? What kind of world can we look forward to if the only inventions permitted to be developed are those allowed by those who rule today and their descendants tomorrow? Keep in mind that their rule is not dependent upon their intelligence, but only utilizing weaponry invented by past intelligence. To me, such a future seems bleak indeed.

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