In 2005 I gave a talk at a Linux conference in Madrid (in Spanish) and a similar one a year later at the Hackers On Planet Earth 6 congress in New York (in English available also for purchase and for free) about a concept I called ‘Selfness’. 18 years later an attendee writes me to tell me he has asked ChatGPT about it…

My copyleft and anti-censorship days were very active and intense. Thousands attended the over 100 lectures and talks I gave on the topic (from Stanford and Harvard to Madrid and Oslo), and my work has been cited in papers and books. What I was not expecting is that 18 years later someone (thank you very much, Robert) was not only still thinking about it, but decided to ask OpenAI’s chatbot built on top of the large language model GPT-3 “Artificial Intelligence” ChatGPT about it.


Original text (in Spanish):

La suidad es una idea propuesta por Jorge Cortell, que busca crear una nueva forma de propiedad intelectual en la cual las obras intelectuales, como libros, música, películas, software, entre otros, puedan ser compartidos libremente sin tener que preocuparse por los derechos de autor. La idea es que el conocimiento y la información deben ser libremente accesibles para todos, y que la restricción de los derechos de autor tiene un efecto negativo en la sociedad. La suidad se enfoca en la creación de un sistema en el cual los creadores pueden ser recompensados de otras maneras, como mediante el apoyo financiero directo de la comunidad o mediante la exposición y la promoción de su trabajo. Se espera que esto promueva la creatividad y el pensamiento crítico, ya que las personas tendrán acceso a una mayor cantidad de información y recursos. Sin embargo, es importante mencionar que la suidad es un concepto nuevo y no está legalmente establecido en ningún lugar, y su aplicación práctica requiere de un estudio y discusión más a fondo. Además, existen muchas preguntas sin respuesta sobre cómo funcionaría exactamente un sistema de suidad y cómo se podrían resolver problemas legales y financieros.

English translation:

Suidad (Selfness) is an idea proposed by Jorge Cortell, who seeks to create a new form of intellectual property in which intellectual works, such as books, music, movies, software, among others, can be freely shared without having to worry about copyright. The idea is that knowledge and information should be freely accessible to all, and that the restriction of copyright has a negative effect on society. Suidad (Selfness) focuses on creating a system in which creators can be rewarded in other ways, such as through direct financial support from the community or through exposure and promotion of their work. This is expected to promote creativity and critical thinking, as people will have access to a greater amount of information and resources. However, it is important to mention that suidad is a new concept and not legally established anywhere, and its practical application requires further study and discussion. In addition, there are many unanswered questions about how exactly a suidad system would work and how legal and financial problems could be resolved.

On the one hand, it’s amazing that without many online resources still available discussing Selfness, ChatGPT was able to grasp some of the general concepts and debates around it, and present it in an articulate way.

On the other hand, in its text, ChatGPT discusses the idea of ‘Copyleft’, not ‘Selfness’. Selfness goes well beyond the mere legal and economical debate around copyright-copyleft, and pursues the self-determination of creative works.

Now that I’m a Fellow at Harvard and have a little free time, perhaps it’s time I finish the book I started on the subject, so the original intent of the concept, with its far-reaching implications, is properly understood by future generations.