On Sun, 22 Aug 1999, Patrick Wilken wrote:
> >Very bad also that they are now shifting government sponsorship of research
> >to the one area that does not need it: applied reseearch. In other words,
> >the government sponsors particular firms at the cost of other firms, in
> >areas in which those firms woudl have invested anyhow. The one thing that
> >firms are unwilling to do (basic research) is left to die on the vine.
I don't think I saw who originally wrote this [an interesting feature of the current email distribution method is that things show up out-of-order :-(]
At any rate, I can make an argument that the government should only fund applied research. Some of us believe that the singularity is coming and that we all become "effectively wealthy" beyond many of our wildest imaginings -- 10 kg of nanobots can assemble a lot of interesting (personal) stuff from the air & dirt & sunlight over a 1 year period. So, given this perspective one would like to get there as soon as possible. That would imply that *any* research not focused on this is a waste of money and time. After the singularity you will have much more money and time to go back and do *lots* of "un"-applied/theoretical research.
Now, with regard to what research should be funded, I would list in order -- atomic force microscopes, construction of molecules that self-assemble, micro&nano-electronics, AI-research, molecular nanotechnology, biotechnology, complex-systems, MEMS and throw in a good dose of particle beam weapons for defense against nanotechnology based machines.
I will admit that what is "theoretical" and what is "applied" is a very slippery slope in some of these areas. It seems to me that the time that things go from "theory" to "application" is getting shorter and shorter. I will also grant that setting priorities within these areas is very difficult.
> If the same sorts of
> energy spent on football and cricket were spent on sicence and technology
> Australia would already have a base a on Mars and another in orbit around
> Jupiter. *sigh*.
I would agree with this in the U.S. as well, though I have no interest in having a base on Mars (not when we can dismantle it and turn it into computers & O'Neill colonies).