[I]t’s rarely the case that ideas are born, fully fledged, out of the heads of geniuses, just in time to save the world -- outside the realm of fiction at least. "Romantic myths about creative loners can’t be allowed to overshadow the fact that [innovation]’s a big collective enterprise... a multidisciplinary team, a system designed to maximize discovery,” explained [scientist Eric] Isaacs, who happens to oversee one such facility, Chicago’s Argonne National Lab, the federal government’s first science and engineering research lab. The problem is, the myth of the lone genius toiling away still reigns supreme in the eyes of ordinary Americans and politicians alike. And so policymakers neglect the links in the innovation chain that come after that first Eureka moment. The possibilities often fall by the wayside, leaving scientific breakthroughs in the lab instead of in the hands of consumers or society at large… Capitol Hill’s conception of research relies on a notion that’s practically deistic… But what gets forgotten are the two “Ds” that come after R&D -- “demonstration and deployment,” which are essential to applying basic research to real-life problems and creating commercial products… That’s where the scientists believe the real support is lacking -- not only from the government, but also from the private sector, which has scaled back its most ambitious applied research in recent decades.Given the chronology, it is hard not to wonder if this evaporation of substantial support coincided with the overall so-called "dematerialization" of the American economy, an epoch in which real production was outsourced to precarious labor in more readily exploitable regions of the world and corporations shifted their business models to hype "logo-ization" and fraudulent financial speculative profit-taking, all of which was peddled with futurological propaganda about shifts to a "service" economy, an "information" society, "digital" markets, "branding" power, and "creative classes." It is hard not to worry that many will see as the solution to these problems expansions of intellectual property (no doubt, to "incentivize" R & D) and further corporatization of academic settings (no doubt, to "improve domestic competitiveness" by better exploiting available resources for R & D), when what is wanted instead, in my opinion, is a return to well-regulated domestic production in the hands of a resurgent organized labor pool together with an infusion of non-proprietary research supported by vastly expanded public grants to invigorate open distributed collaboration on shared problems, peer to peer.
Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Randroidal and Futurological Soopergenius Fantasies Distort Our Grasp And Undermine Our Support of Real Innovation