Sunday, February 28, 2010

research is wasteful

reading about the government's reaction to the recession (well at least in its own (our) coffers), we can see that it is highly likely they will cut funding to research over the next year(s).

there are two ways to do this - both wrong - one is to spread the reduced funding thinner, the other is to concentrate funding in fewer (elite) places (actualyl 50% of the money goes to the top 5 institutes anyhow).

But what they should do is spend more. Research is wasteful, very very much like evolution - but necessity is the mother of invention and (just like in evolutonary systems) the impact of a big recession might make people more creative - more creativity does lead to more potential outputs, but it also leads to LESS predictability - we don't know what will fit the future landscape (i.e. what is "selected" as most fit, is not something you can do a priori, but a posteriori, only).

No doubt they will get this wrong, which is sad, as doubling the UK's governemt research funding would still leave it at under 2% of the bank bailout last year, and would be likely to yield more profit by about an order of magnitude.

Unfortunately, we are not ruled by people that have a clue.

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