What type of government/system would maximize the pace of scientific research?

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  • #1
Simfish
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Now, I'm *not* advocating that such a government should be created. It's possible that such a government could be dystopian (although I don't think that it would be dystopian).

Of course, scientists are often at their most creative when they aren't stressed out, so it's important for them to have opportunities to relax. Furthermore, many tools useful for science were developed through investments in something else. E.g. The Internet was initially motivated by military applications, and now, graphics cards for computer games are now recognized as very useful for scientific computing. Capitalism has often resulted in the creation of useful technology. Of course, science funding is still a very small fraction of the federal budget, and multiplying this funding several times would still hardly make a dent in the federal budget.

While some may be justifiably concerned about acceleration towards the "technological singularity", I do believe that increasing scientific funding would increase the research that could warn against the risks of more advanced technology. Many private companies will be very interested in research that accelerates progress towards the singularity, but would not be as interested in investigating the risks of such research.
 
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  • #2
Historically a government in the middle of a war that it's losing.
 
  • #3
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anarchism
 
  • #4
Evo
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Historically a government in the middle of a war that it's losing.
Amazing how much technology was produced from WWII.
 
  • #5
Simfish
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Historically a government in the middle of a war that it's losing.

This? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wunderwaffe. Were the Wunderwaffe weapons really as "huge" of a jump as they seemed to be? Even the jet plane came out before WWII - it merely reached mass development during WWII. The same seems to be true for the assault rifle. Granted, the V2 was definitely a huge jump. Still, what Germany did was amazing considering how it had so few strategic resources and also how it kicked out many of its most productive (and creative) scientists.

Also, what about technology that help "feed" other technologies? Rather than technologies that were an end in themselves? The huge tiger tanks seemed to be an end in themselves.

Were there examples other than the Wunderwaffe? Maybe the development of radar when Britain appeared to be losing the war. But what else? Did Japan invent anything amazing? Or Italy?

Of course, war does bring about one thing: people are willing to work harder for lower wages and are willing to tolerate more discomfort before starting to protest. War certainly does change the flow of technology sharing (it increases technology sharing among allies and decreases it among enemies).
 
  • #6
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Unfortunately, fascist or a dictatorship due to the fact that it would take the will of a small group to dedicate the the power of the nation behind one goal. For instance neither of these systems would be concerned with the opinion of a large group of policy makers or the popularity of the plans with the general populace. The reason that the other government types made such huge gains during WW2 is the people trusted their governments to dedicate funding in such a way that they could win the war without worrying about the many other issues that the money could be spent on.

This is probably a overly simple explanation, but I think it makes since.

(On a side note: I'm not advocating these forms of governments for the advancement of science so please don't take it that way.)
 
  • #7
Corporate plutocracy resembling Fascism at a constant state of war. (If you don't work you're viewed unpatriotic)

That's just my dystopian view though.
 
  • #8
Evo
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  • #9
Simfish
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Good points everyone. I think a good question to ask would now be this: What if the war lasted longer? Would the research discoveries come at the same pace? Does war merely accelerate the technologies that were already close to fruition given the current theory? Or does it also expand theoretical blue-skies research as well? Did the most theoretical/abstract fields lose out because many scientists turned to work on applied problems instead? (like the amazingly productive Manhattan Project?)

Certainly though, the Cold War was quite beneficial to all fields of research (and the physical sciences in particular). Not so sure about the biological sciences.
 
  • #10
Simfish
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As an additional question - have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan been as beneficial for scientific research? Or not? Numerous scientists (of course scientists tend to be left-leaning to begin with, although this was not the case long ago) seem to be complaining about how much money they're draining away.
 
  • #11
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National Socialism, ftw
 
  • #12
MATLABdude
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Vorlon said:
Who are you?

29mkv44.jpg


Shadow said:
What do you want?

Babylon_5_-_Shadows.jpg
 
  • #13
CRGreathouse
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Good points everyone. I think a good question to ask would now be this: What if the war lasted longer? Would the research discoveries come at the same pace? Does war merely accelerate the technologies that were already close to fruition given the current theory? Or does it also expand theoretical blue-skies research as well? Did the most theoretical/abstract fields lose out because many scientists turned to work on applied problems instead? (like the amazingly productive Manhattan Project?)

Good question. I don't have an answer, but I suspect that the benefits to abstract fields is pretty high during these times, even though no direct efforts are expended in that direction. I'm thinking of things like the Monte Carlo method here.

As an additional question - have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan been as beneficial for scientific research? Or not? Numerous scientists (of course scientists tend to be left-leaning to begin with, although this was not the case long ago) seem to be complaining about how much money they're draining away.

I think they have been fairly productive (esp. with prosthetics, since the dead to wounded ratio is lower than ever), but of course these conflicts have been very small compared to, say, WW2, and so we'd expect smaller results. As above, I don't know how much this just moves funding around vs. increasing the amount of funding.
 
  • #14
Pythagorean
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A fascist regime led by me. Even a monarchy is too much mollycoddling.

I would probably execute worthless scientists occasionally to make the worthwhile scientists work harder. And by execute, I mean install a newly developed piece of hardware to their brain that will make them mindless grunts that run on a cheap corn pig slop that I would subsidize by allowing only corn farmers to live.

Corn and Science, 2020.
Don't bother voting for me, I'll already be there :wink:
 

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