Diplomacy and Science Research
Posted on August 21, 2006 Comments (17)
Today more and more locations are becoming viable for world class research and development. Today the following have significant ability: USA, Europe (many countries), Japan, Canada, China, Brazil, Singapore, Israel, India, Korea and Australia (I am sure I have missed some this is just what come to mind as I type this post) and many more are moving in that direction.
The continued increase of viable locations for significant amounts of cutting edge research and development has huge consequences, in many areas. If paths to research and development are blocked in one location (by law, regulation, choice, lack of capital, threat of significant damage to the career of those who would choose such a course…) other locations will step in. In some ways this will be good (see below for an explanation of why this might be so). Promising new ideas will not be stifled due to one roadblock.
But risks of problems will also increase. For example, there are plenty of reasons to want to go carefully in the way of genetically engineered crops. But those seeking a more conservative approach are going to be challenged: countries that are acting conservatively will see other countries jump in, I believe. And even if this didn’t happen significantly in the area of genetically engineered crops, I still believe it will create challenges. The ability to go elsewhere will make those seeking to put constraints in place in a more difficult position than 50 years ago when the options were much more limited (It might be possible to stop significant research just by getting a handful of countries to agree).
Debates of what restrictions to put on science and technology research and development will be a continuing and increasing area of conflict. And the solutions will not be easy. Hopefully we will develop a system of diplomacy that works, but that is much easier said than done. And the United States will have to learn they do not have the power to dictate terms to others. This won’t be an easy thing to accept for many in America. The USA will still have a great deal of influence, due mainly to economic power but that influence is only the ability to influence others and that ability will decline if diplomacy is not improved. Diplomacy may not seem to be a science and engineering area but it is going to be increasingly be a major factor in the progress of science and engineering.
Singapore Acts as Haven for Stem Cell Research
Lately the tiny island-state’s ambition of joining the ranks of Boston and the Bay Area as a biotech hub has been getting a hand from an unexpected quarter: the White House. Bush administration policies that restrict federal money for stem cell research have prompted an increasing number of top scientists to pack their bags and head for this equatorial city.
Two of America’s most prominent cancer researchers, Neal G. Copeland and Nancy A. Jenkins, are planning to arrive here next month to take posts at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology. The husband-and-wife team, who worked for 20 years at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, said politics and budget cuts had left financing in the United States too hard to come by.
This is exactly they type of thing I said was happening in, A Phony Science Gap:
Those who wish to control what science research is not done are going to find they have a much more difficult job than convincing one government. Those that want to control what research is done have an easier time of it because they just have to convince someone to fund it (a government, corporation, foundation, person, non-profit organization, university…). In rare cases they might have to convince a government (any one will do) to allow them to do the research under their laws, but I doubt this will even be something that is needed at all in all but the rarest of cases (though those cases will make for great news and excitement I am sure).
Rulers and officials of these states were aware that such innovations came from innovators, not from scholars who diligently taught the classics. They tolerated and even patronized such innovators (some of whom eventually came to be called “scientists”). By the 17th century, rulers in England and France had also begun to patronize what we would now call scientific societies, devoted to the circulation and critical assessment
of investigations in science and technology.
Because inventions, innovations, and better theories could attract public acclaim and appointments to desirable positions, talented persons were motivated to conduct such investigations. In China, however, there was no need for the state to tolerate inquirers and innovators who might challenge traditional ideas held by officials and rulers. No nearby states provided any threat which might make Chinese rulers eager to benefit from new inventions or new thinking.
Related news: U.S. Rice Supply Contaminated – Genetically Altered Variety Is Found in Long-Grain Rice