What about the formula?


#1

What happens with the formula now? it will be secret like Coca-Cola?
It will be released under creative commons? https://creativecommons.org/ so anyone can try to improve it and give feedback.


#2

I’d definitely second a CC license for the formula. While some people will make it at home, the overwhelming vast majority will buy boxes of it.

Just like with OSS software, an open formula will serve more to cement confidence in the product that a closed formula would help protect it.

The internet as we know it today would not exist without OSS software like JBoss or Mozilla, and a CC licensed Soylent has the power to have the same effect on nutrition.


#3

I guess there is no other logical choice than CC license.
It should be possible to reverse-engineer the formula, especially when the contents of vits and mins will be known. Plus regulations in some countries probably will force Rob to list every ingredient used.
Besides, Rob is talking about saving the world from hunger and malnutrition. Proprietary license just doesn’t play along with this goal as it would make him a way too powerful person.


#4

While you’re right, I believe you’re expressing it the wrong way.

You see CC as something to be put up with, Rob has no choice.

I see CC as the only way for him to achieve the goals he wants to achieve.


#5

Well, he could try to keep the formula for himself, patent the idea and fight with anybody trying to do something similar. He could start number of manufactures on all continents and be the biggest monopolist in the history of the world. It’s not entirely impossible, is it? :wink:
(Yeah, sounds dystopian. :smiley: )


#6

I don’t think so, the formula can be easily replicate specially by any of the big food companies, nestle, kraft…
The problem for this companies is that this kind of “new food” will be much cheaper, with lower margins, so is a clear threat to them.
If the 80% of my monthly food comes from soylent or any other future brand, I will spend less money on food and the “80%” of my budget for food will go to only 1 company.


#7

Small point, but you’d list Neslte and Unilever rather.
Nestle bought Kraft in 2010 :smiley:


#8

The thing that worries me is that if the legalities isn’t sorted out soon, someone like Nestle might see their chance and grab the patent, and then be total douchebags to humanity for the rest of history.


#9

Is there even a patent? We’re effectively doing basic chemistry here, although I suppose you never know what can be patented.


#10

While you’re completely right that it shouldn’t be necessary to be worried about the legalities in something as basic as this, I believe companies like Monsanto has proven that we should. Even stuff like human genes and cures for cancer are being patented at this point.

Edit: I’ll tag you here, @Julio_Miles, as I really want an answer to how the team is handling this.


#11

I’d be more concerned that a company like Monsanto or Nestle would engineer an ingredient so that they control that one essential ingredient, similar to the way they control the Round-up beans. I think it would be very difficult to patent the mixing of common nutrients and vitamins. To me, it reads the same as a recipe and the only way to keep others from reproducing is to keep it a secret.


#12

I hope you are right. I just want that confirmed by someone, I’m not too familiar with the international regulations of such things. I just don’t want my door kicked down one day for cooking up something someone else has a claim to. A stamp like CC or Open-Source or whatever would’ve been nice, and would show a nice message to all the people sceptical of another nutrition-based company trying to make them healthier. I know I would’ve been skeptical, maybe to the point of ignoring it, had I not stumbled upon Rob’s blog first.


#13

Rob has written in another topic that the formula will be open sourced.


#14

Rob is gonna have to go through time consuming and costly processes for this to be approved by the FDA. The way I see it, he should just keep this as a dietary supplement and avoid the FDA. In reality all this is is a super vitamin/supplement providing EVERYTHING you need. The other problem is that as unique as we all are we each require different amounts of this or that and thats why all the companies make a variety of products to target the different individuals and their needs. I too would like to know exactly what his recipe is but he should keep it a secret. He can easily get around labeling requirements by using “Soylent Proprietary Blend” xxx amount. I truly respect what his ultimate goal is and as long as he continues on that I feel that the big companies wont touch it. They might try to replicate it but doubt they will


#15

Even if the formula is kept proprietary, you always be able to do the same thing Rob did, which is to get the list of all the recommended amounts of nutrients that an adult person needs, and make your own mixture. he’s basically posted the basic ingredients and his monthly updates tell you what needs to change from that mix. His exact formula is patentable, but the idea relies on publicly available facts that aren’t subject to IP restrictions.


#16

Can you provide a source link for this? I’m really interested in this topic!

[EDIT]
Nevermind, found it myself:


and also found this:

Although Rhinehart is ideologically opposed to the patent system, he does plan on trying to make Soylent a business. “I don’t think it’s wrong at all to make money from this sort of thing,” he says. “And people seem a lot more interested in Soylent than they ever were in wireless hardware.”

So, all in all, it seems like he’s not gonna do the Coca-Cola thing. Confirmation from @rob or @Julio_Miles , along with some extra details on the “openness” of the formula, would still be nice, though.


#17

Yup, you’ve got our intentions pretty spot-on – we do intend to open-source the formula in the future. We’re not yet at the point where we can speak more specifically than that, but it’s a definite priority.