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

Singapore, notably conservative on most social issues — including a ban on most types of chewing gum — is emerging as a hotbed for stem cell research, thanks to liberal laws in that field and equally liberal government financing.

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:

This could also be exacerbated if strong scientific communities grow in Europe, China and India (obviously they exist in those locations, so here we are talking about growth of those communities). If those centers encourage those interested in science and engineering, both from their regions and worldwide, to work at those centers that means those scientists will not be available for work in the United States. And they may lure USA scientists and engineers away.

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).

Why Science Did Not Develop in China: A Historical Comparison with Europe (by Graeme Lang):

The multi-state system in Europe had two important consequences. First, it provided continual competition among these states for economic, military, and industrial advantage. This competition produced greater success for those states which could develop better navigation at sea, bigger and faster ships, more powerful and accurate cannons, and so on.

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

17 Responses to “Diplomacy and Science Research”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » China’s Gene Therapy Investment
    October 12th, 2006 @ 7:07 pm

    […] This is an example of the future we discuss in: Diplomacy and Science Research […]

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Educating Scientists and Engineers
    October 29th, 2006 @ 8:25 pm

    Industry wants universities to focus on educating students to more closely meet their needs – such as developing ideas (versus basic research) and complying with regulatory (FDA…) requirements…

  3. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Increasing American Scientists and Engineering Fellowship Support
    December 6th, 2006 @ 7:27 pm

    […] Again I agree. This is why so many countries have been devoting significant resources to improving their science and technology infrastructure – the economic benefits of doing so. […]

  4. USA Still Leads In Innovation
    December 13th, 2006 @ 7:29 pm

    […] I agree that the USA continues to lead – especially in those 2 areas. Those winning Nobel Prizes normally made their breakthrough decades before. My guess is the United States will not have as large a percentage of winners from 2020-2029 as it did from 1990-1999 (and I can’t image many people would disagree). […]

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    January 22nd, 2007 @ 12:14 am

    […] Excellent reading, the report is full of useful information I have not been able to obsorb yet. […]

  6. CuriousCat: Engineers: Future Prospects
    June 19th, 2007 @ 12:22 pm

    The multiple benefits of having research centers here, manufacturing engineering expertise… is huge. See: Engineering the Future Economy – Science, Engineering and the Future of the American Economy…

  7. CuriousCat: Ranking Universities Worldwide
    June 30th, 2007 @ 8:01 am

    the various rankings should be a able to track shifts in the most influential institutions and relative country strength over time. How quickly those rankings track changes will vary depending on the measures used…

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    July 4th, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    the competitions continues to grow stronger and the level of performance to remain at the top continues to increase. And if the USA doesn’t respond with appropriate investments and action it will suffer economically…

  9. CuriousCat: Nanotechnology Investment as Strategic National Economic Policy
    August 16th, 2007 @ 11:05 pm

    “When the United States began the National Nanotechnology Initiative, it became clear to a number of small countries including Singapore, Taiwan, and Israel that it was time to invest heavily in similar frontier areas of science. With a level of decisiveness and determination comparable to the efforts of the United States after the launch of Sputnik, Singapore quickly became a global niche player in nanotechnology…”

  10. CuriousCat: Engineering Education Study Debate
    November 25th, 2007 @ 11:24 am

    As I have said many times the economic future will be greatly influenced by science and engineering. Those countries that succeed in creating a positive economic climate for science and engineering development will find economic rewards those that fail to do so will suffer…

  11. CuriousCat: Science and Engineering in Politics
    February 23rd, 2008 @ 9:09 pm

    a very small percentage have any advanced degrees in science and engineering fields or work experience in them. That being said the political arena is much like a tar pit…

  12. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » The Importance of Science Education
    February 23rd, 2008 @ 9:13 pm

    Smart leaders know the huge positive impacts of a large, well educated science and engineering workforce. Countries that succeed in producing more quality graduates while creating the best economic environment to take advantage of technology innovation…

  13. CuriousCat: Offering Residency to Foreign Engineers and Scientists
    February 24th, 2008 @ 10:40 am

    “Foreign-born engineering, science, and math students in the United States should be automatically granted legal residency when they get a job in this country, said California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren…”

  14. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » China’s Technology Savvy Leadership
    February 25th, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

    “Until last year, the top nine members of China’s politburo were ALL trained engineers! And guess what? The Communist Party made innovation and global leadership in science and technology national goals…”

  15. Crazy Watchmen at Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog
    May 18th, 2008 @ 11:13 am

    […] partners as soon as they can). Other countries are willing to play the role the USA has as the host of centers of excellence that draw those economic, science and engineering leaders of the futur…. Those countries that host these centers benefit […]

  16. CuriousCat: Harvard Plans Life Sciences Campus
    June 1st, 2008 @ 10:15 am

    “They don’t explain what those 5,000 jobs are, but it seems that thousands could be for science and engineering graduates. The value of that to Boston’s economy is huge…”

  17. The Relative Economic Position of the USA is Likely to Decline at Curious Cat Investing and Economics Blog
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    […] today. But the world is changing and the relative position of the United States is declining. The new world requires working with others and the USA needs to adjust to this reality. Too many think the USA can continue to act as though […]

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