"[Science fiction] has become big business, where books are merchandised and promoted and distributed and placed on sale like slabs of bacon or cans of soup."
This would be a godsend for the smaller companies of the world - and a big company's worst nightmare. An AIRE (Artificially Intelligent Reverse Engineer) automates what is today an elaborate and one-of-a-kind analysis.
Reverse engineering (or forensic engineering) is a real-world field with a variety of legal uses. One such use is to reverse engineer a software product to tease apart its various elements in a particular light; for example, you might be looking for elements that could be patented. Another is to look at products that are in the public domain or have been made available due to deregulation; can a product be improved, given the availability of better software methods? Or can a complex product, with software residing in several integrate circuits, be improved with more modern ICs? Take a look at Micro Technology Services and TAEUS, both companies that work in this area.
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