Will the official Soylent recipe be published?


#1

Will it be open source? What kind of license can we expect?

Can I license it for commercial purposes?


#2

From another thread:


"Final formula? We’ll publish it once it’s complete. The Soylent formula is at v0.7 now, and will not be considered final before it reaches v1.0. Obviously it will be complete prior to our ship date in August, and so the final ingredients list and nutritional breakdown will be published before then.

@rob is dedicated to open-sourcing this recipe, I have no reason to believe that it will not be open-sourced once it is complete."
–JulioMiles http://discourse.soylent.me/t/is-anyone-else-worried-about-the-price-of-soylent/3500/29

Though that doesn’t say exactly what the legal license will be.


#3

I’m more interested in the rationale behind the micronutrient choices, both in quantity and salt type. If it was as simple as following the RDA there wouldn’t be any need for proprietary data, but Rob apparently collected a lot of it to adjust the formula… and there is also the fact that Rob was attempting to learn nutrition from first principles, what with the systems biology textbooks and all. The USDA’s RDA was derived through observational means, taking the median group of surveyed healthy people and looking at what they ate. This says nothing of the bioavailability of different salts put into Soylent, nor the expected variance that they have between men or women taking Soylent and how the textbooks may or may not have influenced the final outcome.

In other words, why so many iterations?

So I wonder if there will be any exposition on those decisions. Seeing the official formula would give information in this regard because you could compare the difference in quantities between the RDA and Soylent. But with something like Soylent I wouldn’t leave people to the formula while letting them run dumb.


#4

A recipe does not enjoy any intellectual property protections. That’s why KFC guards their recipe - if you find it tomorrow, you can sell the Colonel’s chicken, and they can’t stop you


#5

@johncoogan wrote that nearly two weeks ago. What, I wonder, has happened to “the collaborative formula development we are aiming for”? If the current “official” formula is unavailable to “the DIY community” and will not be published unti Soylent Corporation has actually begun to produce the product, then I’m afraid I’m unable to see where any collaboration by the DIY community is being encouraged or allowed.


#6

Reading between the lines (and lack of official response when a base recipe has been asked for on numerous occasions), I don’t see the “official” recipe ever being published. Many true open source projects are fully utilized in production environments before ever reaching a v1.0. I know, I deploy such solutions every day.

I’ll be glad to admit “I was wrong” if it actually does get released… but money is a blazingly attractive motivator.


#7

I hate to think that you might be right about the money, aimana. But the sober truth of it seems to be that while they are talking about being forthcoming and open, actions are conveying a conflicting message. I had thought we might actually for once in our lives see a Corporation that would behave in a way different to what we have all grown accustomed to see from the Nestlés and Monsantos of the world, but my hopes are beginning to wane on that score. Truly when this society accepted the fiction that a corporation is equivalent to a “person” at law and that the principals can hide behind the corporate entity to limit their personal liability and responsibility, a fatal step was taken. I wish I thought we might retrace those steps and abolish the concept of the corporation – along with all other “group entities.” In the end all such seem to be antagonistic to the welfare and freedom of the sovereign individual person.

I wish it didn’t look so much like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde transformation were under way here with our friends who became officers of Soylent Corporation.


#8

I think ‘evil corps’ are more the exception than the rule. Many of the corps I deal with on a daily basis act how I would expect a reasonable person in a commercial relationship to act. Perhaps in the US, given the degree to which government has been captured by corporations due to heavy reliance on political donations, the experience is different.


#9

I expect that’s correct, andrew. I’m in Canada where it’s just as bad as in USA, if not worse. Lavish corporate funding of politicians and their campaigns has by and large put the majors on corporate collar and leash. Small fringe parties like the “Green Party” in Canada are hamstrung via lack of founding and the public perception that one’s vote is somehow “wasted” if one doesn’t back the WINNER. Ludicrous, but there it is. Also the “revolving door” between government regulatory agencies and corporations is another unmitigated disaster, effectively castrating the regulators and rendering them subservient to the needs and wishes of the very corporations they were intended to regulate. North American society is deeply screwed up; I doubt things are much better in Europe, though, judging from what I hear in the news about the EEC.


#10

Guys, let’s give these people the benefit of the doubt before we start making accusations about their motives. It’s discouraging to see people assume the worst so quickly.

I’m guessing that the Soylent people have a lot on their plate right now, and I think it’s safe to assume that releasing the official recipe to the community is not at the very top of their to-do list. We’re talking about a small handful of people who have taken on a lot of responsibility in a short amount of time.

Try to see things from their perspective. They’ve got people lining up at the door who’ve spent a total $600K+ on their product. If you were them, would you be focusing time and resources on releasing the recipe for free? Or would you be focusing on making sure your customers get what they paid for?

This doesn’t mean it won’t happen–it just means it won’t happen right this second.

There’s still a couple months to go before the official launch, which means that nobody’s even broken any promises yet. Have a little patience!


#11

The easiest way for them to get bad press is to release an incomplete (I.E. below 1.0) version of soylent, only to have people make it themselves and either do it incorrectly or have some error in the formula get them sick. The only true way to be able to refute these claims would be more users with the actual official formula responding back no ill effects.

Until they have the final formula nailed down and are ready to start producing it I see no reason for them to make it “easy” to get the recipe. Right now, if you read through rob’s blog, you can find the recipe with a bit of work, and rightfully so, if you’re not willing to slog through the blog to get all the details, you’ll likely not spend the appropriate amount of time measuring out the components and making sure you’re not accidentally overdosing yourself on something.


There have been numerous posts so far saying that once they get the final version to start producing they’ll release the formula.


#12

The scenario you describe is exactly what is already happening now. They have already released an early version of the formula, on Rob’s blog, without ingredient quantities, and everyone here is experimenting, anxiously consulting one another and comparing with what little can be gleaned for Rob’s blog. In some cases it’s the blind leading the blind, too. If that initial first-approximation formula of Rob’s has been refined, improved or altered, don’t you think it would be to everyone’s advantage – Rob’s too – to release that information and make it public? I don’t get your reasoning at all; you seem to imply that it’s somehow safer not to release a better formula (if they now have one) and to let the DIY people continue to fumble along with the vague (no quantities) preliminary ingredients list. I don’t agree with that; I think we already have the unsafe scenario you outlined, and the situation is deteriorating. New people continue to arrive on the forum, knowing little or nothing, and commence blindly experimenting, wondering which of the many formulae here to try, or trying to buy soylent or ingredients from those who are only a little further advanced on this path than they.

It’s a long time till August, in Internet terms. The crowdfunding campaign will close in two days. What will happen then? What will replace it? People are simply not going to wait around in suspended animation for six weeks. This thing has acquired quite a lot of momentum – I hope Rob &Co. don’t waste that. And I hope no one hurts themselves experimenting during the next six weeks until the preorders are shipped. And what of those who arrive too late for the campaign? It hasn’t been stated whether they will be able to order soylent or not, oddly enough; only that an online store would open once the product starts to ship.

I know they are busy. But Soylent Corp. has five officers, one of whom is specifically tasked with customer support. My own opinion (to which I think I’m entitled, having been here as an attentive observer since just before the campaign opened) is that they could be handling all this a lot better. They set up a forum and proposed a wiki as well; one of the officers talked about collaborative community work on the formula. I think it must be admitted that they have backtracked from all that and from the open-source concept and definitely distanced themselves from their fanbase/supporters to an extent that some of us find disappointing or even distressing.

It’s probably dumb of me to even bother pointing these things out; it’ll win me no friends I’m sure. It’s just that I keep hoping that these guys will wake up and realise that they need to do better, if only from a PR point of view even if they really don’t much care about the community they have deliberately (or maybe inadvertently) created. And if they do care about that community – well, if you read all the posts here you will know quite well that some people here need help and guidance and that the best thing they could do to keep someone from getting hurt is to publish a more definitive and authoritative formula pronto.

The worst-case scenario would be that the crowdfunding success has gone to their heads, in which visions of Google-plums are now dancing. I haven’t suggested that until now, because I’m reluctant to believe it. Unfortunately the secrecy and the distancing can only encourage us to believe the worst; that is how human nature works, particularly these days with all the NSA/CIA and other alphabet-soup scandals in the news. I just wish Rob, Julio, John and the others would BE as open and forthcoming as they SAY they are – for them to do that would immediately defuse the growing suspicions and negativity that have slowly been building here. It’s that simple. (In my opinion anyway; others may disagree.)


#13

They have already released an early version of the formula, on Rob’s blog, without ingredient quantities, and everyone here is experimenting, anxiously consulting one another and comparing with what little can be gleaned for Rob’s blog. In some cases it’s the blind leading the blind, too.

Theres a difference between “Here’s the general idea you’ll need to figure some out on your own” versus “here’s exactly what you need”

Posting v.8 (or whatever they’re on) would do more harm as people would consider it the gospel and would just blindly mix it and start consuming it. This is a BAD IDEA, I can’t stress this enough, no matter how much you say “this is not the final version” if you post the entire formula people will start using without making sure it meets all their needs or supplementing it at all.

Right now, they can say, there’s no formal formula posting. People on the forums are sharing their own formulas, etc. If they release a non final formula and people start having an adverse reaction, it doesn’t matter how many disclaimers they post about it not being final, they WILL be blamed.

EDIT:I think you vastly overestimate the amount of people actually DIYing Soylent. While yes, a large amount of the forum community is participating in mixing their own, there are over 5k separate orders, of which, what? Being generous maybe 100 people are actually mixing their own thats only about 2% of their customer base.

Yes, most of us here on the forums were around before this exploded in popularity through the crowdfunding campaign, but you have to realize they need to do what’s best for all of their customers, not their admittedly vocal 2%

So yes, @rob posting a non final version of the formula would definitely help current more rigorous forum members who are already involved in the DIY scene. What about the other 98%, those who will see the formula, think “well rob posted the numbers they must be good” Theres more people to think about now then just us more rigorous followers.


#14

I wish I could say you’ve convinced me, but the more you flesh out your argument the weaker it’s sounding to my ears. And when you get to the point of explaining “what they can say” and why, you enter a realm of lawyerly cynicism from which I shrink. I am not a lawyer; I don’t know whether you are or not. I understand the presumed advisability of such considerations given the litigious society in USA these days but I don’t have to admire it.

I don’t know anything about what the Soylent Corp. officers’ actual thoughts, motivations and attitudes really are on these questions. I only see how it looks and regret that it’s damaging their image and alienating some of their core fanbase. The winds of change tend to blow swiftly on the Internet and they may find that, once the excitement of the fast-moving crowdfunding is past, most of the enthusiasm and growth potential may just evaporate, particularly if many of the early adopters and enthusiasts feel that they were ignored or walked away from. There are already more “meal replacement drinks” and shakes on the market than one can easily count; I never realised until I began searching the topic and trying to get a feel for the subject; Soylent could easily become just another failed nutrition shake, not even of interest to bodybuilders and slimmers (because not aimed at either sector) – it could fail at market penetration. The “feeding the world” aspect is a feel-good talking point, but actually making it happen is a challenge nobody has mastered yet – in many instances the people who are most in need of nutritional aid won’t even avail themselves of it. The politics of third-world nutritional aid is an enormous can of worms as well. I don’t expect to see Soylent changing anything dramatically in this area anytime soon – that’s at best a long-term aspiration.

Even when the Internet’s sticking dollars into your ears, you still have to learn to walk before you can run. If the initial fanbase can’t be kept happy and made to feel included not excluded, it doesn’t bode well for further development.

But enough. I won’t convince you, just as you have failed to convince me. I’ll just have to hope that I’m being too pessimistic and that things are better than they appear just at the present moment. I do wish them all the good luck in the world and hope that the money and the popularity don’t spoil things as sometimes happens. I just wish they’d find a way to make all of us here feel more included, more an integral part of the soylent success story. We’ll see how it all plays out over the next two or three months, I guess.


#15

At this juncture, I don’t think waiting another 60 days for the official formula to be released is going to kill the community here. It would, however, be nice if they documented each iteration and explained why they made the changes they did.


#16

Formula V.8 Posted With Changes:

http://blog.soylent.me/post/53485019917/soylent-v-8-alpha-ingredients


#17

Nice, but (as with the previous “recipe” post) – no quantities given, and no sources. And WTF – “medium chain triglycerides (fat)”!!? Gonna want to Google that one to see whether it can be found as an industrial food ingredient anywhere!


#18

I remember the reason mentioned for not releasing quantities was that if he said ‘this, that and the other’ and someone did it and gave themselves two heads or died of malnutrition or something, he could be sued. Probably the same reason for this. It has been said that it’ll be released when it’s done.


#19

That’s the trouble with going commercial, especially with something as controversial as this. Lawyerly considerations come to the surface pretty quickly. I shall not be at all surprised if they get sued multiple times once the product gets out there; I wouldn’t dare attempt something like this, personally, given the frighteningly litigious society that the USA has become. People down there sue at the drop of a hat.


#20

Yeah, sadly. On the bright side, with the nearly 8x funding, even with the need to make extra Soylent, they should have enough left over to get it well tested and evaluated.