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Discuss science and technology topics here.
6 posts • Page 1 of 1
Pondering why scientific advancement has essentially ground to a halt and the powers that be seem to have given up on science, it occurred to me that a major problem is globalization.
To understand this, you first need to realize that by the 20th century, science had reached a level of complexity such that only governments could support it. In the 19th century, bored rich guys and lone innovators could make major breakthroughs, but they reached a limit to what they could achieve. Private industry cannot sustain complex scientific advancement. There are two reasons for this. The first is that from their initial conception to profitable applications, major scientific ideas typically take several decades, and there is no rational business case for investing in stuff that might pay off years after you are dead. The other reason is that companies generally want to do research in secret to protect their intellectual capital, and science cannot be done in secret. Science is a form of rhetoric with lab equipment and requires widespread participation to allow new ideas to enter the fray and to allow the best ideas to win via widespread independent testing.
It might be said that in a globalized world, multinational corporations are effectively the government. In a sense they are, but they cannot take on the functions of traditional national government. They are not tied to particular locations or communities and therefore have no constituency they are loyal to or vice versa. Therefore, with no sectional interests to protect other than their own, they cannot help but act in a predatory/profit seeking fashion, like smaller corporations. Hence a mintyer mouthwash that will pay off in three years is always going to be a more desirable investment for them than technology to mine the moons of Saturn in fifty years. Global government agencies also can't do science because there is no independent criticism to keep them honest. For example, the reason that outright hoaxes such as HIV/AIDS have been able to proceed is that the US CDC controls so-called AIDS research with other research organizations being colonies of the CDC, so that any heretics blowing the whistle on their scam can be marginalized.
In the past, governments competed with each other to fund science to promote their own prestige and that of their people. It was of nationalistic as well as practical importance that scientific advancements were made on their own soil. Since they were not so much interested in immediate profit, the results were generally openly published in journals where they could be scrutinized, independently tested and built on. Major technological breakthroughs arising form the science would generally occur to scientists in several countries at the same time, since they were reading the same journals. Their respective governments then scrambled to fund secret research to be the first to develop the technology, which was often initially used for military purposes. Because there was no international authority with the power to enforce universal patents, once the technology became generally known it could be fed back into the system and used as the basis of future scientific and technological advances.
It was this very special mixture of cooperation and competition that made the early 20th century a golden age of science. With the current global system, this kind of thing is no longer possible.
I disagree with this. If anything, with the internet and cloud computing, bored rich guys and lone innovators could make major breakthroughs more easily today than before. The reason they don't has nothing to do with politics and economics, and everything to do with culture. We live in an extremely anti-intellectual culture. So those with the intellect to do something simply feel no motivation to do anything. I am an example of this. I come from a scientific family and in a sane culture, I would have spent my life in science or math. But I hate modern culture and I don't want to contribute to it. Universities used to be environments of free thought but today they are environments of political correctness, so I don't want to be in academia. As an example of the contrast, my father was nuclear physicist in Hungary under Stalin. He refused to do work that he thought would contribute to the Soviet atomic weapons program. He was also outspokenly against Stalin. Yet he was tolerated under Stalinism because Stalin had the sense to value intellect and the culture at that time generally valued intellect. Compare this to my experience. I excelled at math and was friends in highschool with John Nash, son of the well known mathematician. He was even better at math than me, and we used to hang out and discuss math and play chess without a board, keeping the games in our heads. We were relentlessly ridiculed as nerds by the American idiocracy that we lived in. The teachers hated us because we were smarter than them. No one supported us. Nash went crazy. My second smartest friend who I met later killed himself. This is what happens to smart people today, mostly insanity or suicide as a result of living among a bunch of hostile apes. When you call blacks apes, I just don't get it because I see all of humanity around me as a bunch of unfriendly apes. The way this was solved in the past was that there was aristocracy of people who had the brains to achieve power and rule over the masses of human apes, and this aristocracy had the sense to value intellect since it could contribute to their power. But now we live in a degenerate democracy. The people who should be in a stable aristocracy are today the bankers who are too busy competing with each other in the race to steal all the middle class wealth before it is all gone to have time to worry about supporting things like art and science. Hopefully when this process as finished, and the people are starving as they well deserve to be, and the bankers are more settled in their wealth, they will again have the time to support intellectual activity.
I don't see how. To do science you need actual physical experiments to generate the data to input into your computer simulations. Therefore you need expensive things like electron microscopes, DNA synthesizing machines, mass spectrometers etc., technicians to maintain them, lab techs to use them, smart people to direct the lab techs, universities and technical institutes to train everyone and a quorum of all of the above in different places under different command structures to contribute to, argue and test each others' inputs. Then maybe paper analysts viewing the cloud could chip in. One would have to be very bored and rich indeed to sustain all that. You would say this has ended because people are militantly stupid, but it is a chicken and egg thing. One could just as well say the stupid have lost respect for intelligence because under the current system there are limited practical benefits to being intelligent.
All that expensive equipment is needed to test and verify theories, not to develop them. Consider Einstein's story. He was a patent clerk, just a middle class employee, when he developed the theory of relativity in his free time. Only later was that theory tested with expensive equipment. There is not reason why something like this couldn't happen today, except that people like Einstein today feel no motivation to do this kind of thing.
We both understand the source of anti-intellectual pressure which basically has an evolutionary source. Thankfully the international bankers will soon fix this problem by bankrupting the middle class and making them starve which will re-introduce survival as an evolutionary factor which will again give intelligence value.
This is somewhat true.
By definition, to function, science is supposed to be Open. Indeed, science is arguably humanity's greatest achievement, our most successful, Open Process, for discovering the truths about our universe and then harnessing that knowledge for the benefit of all mankind. In contrast to other human processes (politics, which is an intrinsically contentious undertaking focused on controlling and distributing scarce resources), Science is supposed to be an objective, essentially collaborative endeavor, in which, even when competing, all participants are building on the efforts of one another to improve our collective understanding of reality. In practice, of course science has always been subject to manipulations, government or corporate agendas, distortions, human biases, and other messy realities.
Since the 1980's a series of extremely troubling trends have converged to threaten the very foundations of science and innovation at precisely the time when we need to harness the power of distributed collaboration to solve global problems. There has been an unprecedented explosion of patenting (and the advent of patents for software and biological materials and processes that were never considered patentable subject matter). There has been an erosion of public trust in science, and the institutions of science are under increasing strain (be they government funding agencies like the NIH whose budgets are shrinking, or major research universities which appear increasingly schizophrenic as they struggle to reconcile their ostensible public benefit missions with intense pressure to commercialize technologies developed largely with public funds).
http://science.kqed.org/quest/2011/09/2 ... -movement/
Aut Vincere Aut Mors
Ah you Jews, you just don't get it. There needs to be a lot of ACTUAL PHYSICAL WORK behind the scenes for you to feed on in one way or another.