Sunday, February 19, 2012

Soundbites: Presidential edition

I highly recommend this article on "animates" in the French Enlightenment. One can think of them as an early type of robot. After a couple of centuries of thinking about this stuff, you would think we would have progressed more in our thinking!

"I think the educational system has become a major factor stopping people from thinking about the future."


"You can’t just write checks to the thirty smartest scientists in the United States. Instead there are bureaucratic processes, and I think the politicization of science—where a lot of scientists have to write grant applications, be subject to peer review, and have to get all these people to buy in—all this has been toxic, because the skills that make a great scientist and the skills that make a great politician are radically different. " Peter Thiel

A great article on the future of cognitive enhancement in The Atlantic.

Speaking of enhancements, Slate wonders how life will change when, through drugs or engineering, our memories are perfect.

How to translate academic-ese.

Increased undergraduate debt increases the probability of attending graduate school.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Research Works Act - seriously?

I am not a fan of the academic publishing industry, and have written before on the need for more openness in the publishing process. My position is very simple: it is not ethical for taxpayers to be forced to buy access to scientific articles whose research was funded by the taxpayer.

I am very dismayed at the introduction of the Research Works Act, a piece of legislation designed to end the NIH Open Access policy and other future openness initiatives.

Sigh... even in academic publishing, we're socializing the risks and privatizing the gains. Here, I agree completely with Michael Eisen's statement in the New York Times:
 "But the latest effort to overturn the N.I.H.’s public access policy should dispel any remaining illusions that commercial publishers are serving the interests of the scientific community and public."

As this bill was written by representatives taking money from the publishing industry, perhaps we should include lawmakers in that group as well.