[ExI] Private and government R&D [was Health care in the USA]

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Mon Jun 29 12:52:32 UTC 2009

2009/6/29 Max More <max at maxmore.com>:

> Frank Tipler once recommended to me a book on why government support of
> basic R&D was overall a bad idea, but I can't remember what it was. Will
> have to ask him. However, Ron Bailey reviewed another book on the topic. An
> excerpt:
> Kealey shows in nearly every case the crucial inventions of the past two and
> half centuries were called forth by markets, not invented by scientists
> working from ivory towers. These include the steam engine, cotton gin,
> textile mills, railroad engines, the revolver, the electric motor,
> telegraph, telephone, incandescent light bulb, radio, the airplane­the list
> is nearly endless.

What you're listing here is engineering achievements, not basic or
pure science. Pure science is by its nature something private industry
won't fund: a particular project is very unlikely to produce
commercial returns, and if it does it may be decades down the track
and the initial discovery probably won't be patentable. No company is
going to invest in high energy physics in the hope that it may lead to
wormhole technology. In 50 years time when it becomes evident that
this is just an engineering problem there may well be multiple
commercial entities willing to spend the development money, and at
that point they would be getting centuries of expensive, publicly
funded physics research for free.

Stathis Papaioannou

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