Re: Submolecular nanotech

Anders Sandberg (
19 May 1999 01:40:22 +0200

jonwill <> writes:

> Efficiency of funds spent on R&D could be increased through a
> global research consortium that monitors all such activity to help
> coordinate and guide all R&D efforts. Such a system could eliminate
> wasteful duplication of effort, and provide a mechanism for sharing
> of available research knowledge with and between the different R&D
> undertakings. The consortium could fund a committee of experts to
> track promising technologies and provide guidance in spending
> allocations.

Hehehehe... I hope you are aware that you have given half of the oldtimers a heart attack. Fancy hearing that view on this list :-)

Seriously, this proposal is seriously flawed by its centralism: beside the obvious problem of corruption and waste (which increases at least proportionally to the amount of money/resources a central bureaucracy handles) the consortium would also have little incentive to be good at what it is doing; if research doesn't progress as fast as it could, the consortium would just shrug and say that it needs more resources. The problem of generally predicting which areas will become useful is likely impossible to solve in practice and in principle, the centralized structure will limit the information flow to the expert comittees.

This is not just a matter of opinion or organisational theory, experience seems to have borne out that centrally planned research initiatives have been less efficient than free research (the obvious example is Soviet research, although the EU framework programs are looking more and more worrying too).

It is better to have groups that independently select what to study and invest in, based on their knowledge (which they have a strong incentive to do the most with, since it is their money). Collaboration and avoiding duplication can be achieved in a decentralized fashion such as the current scientific networking or net databases of "who's doing what".

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y