KEI remarks on accepting the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions
Knowledge Ecology International
October 5, 2006
Thank you. Thanks in particular to Elspeth Revere and Kathy Im.
This award recognizes the collective efforts of our very devoted and
talented staff and board. The money and the recognition will make it
possible for Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), our new
corporate entity, to do more.
What is KEI about? At one level, we are concerned about fairness,
and access to knowledge. We also are supportive of creative and
inventive communities. To reconcile our interests, we promote new
paradigms for the creation and management of knowledge resources.
Why knowledge goods? Because knowledge is essential for so many
things, including freedom, the exercise of political power, and
economic, social and personal development.
Knowledge goods are also fundamentally different from physical goods
and services. They can be copied. They can be shared. They do
not have to be scarce. The rich and the poor can be more equal in
knowledge goods than in many other areas.
One KEI focus concerns medical inventions, including medicines. We
have played a key role in persuading the world that governments
should override exclusive rights of patents when necessary to obtain
less expensive generic medicines. We have promoted the idea that
governments should refashion trade agreements to focus on global
sharing of the costs of R&D, rather than dictating rules for patents
or raising drug prices.
In the United States and elsewhere we are asking for a radical change
in the system for incentives for supporting medical R&D. We want to
replace marketing monopolies for new medicines with new rewards for
inventions that improve health care outcomes. By this time next
year there will be a much larger national and global debate on this
new paradigm for supporting medical R&D.
This work, as well as our other projects, will benefit from the
resources and prestige of this award. Thank you.