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Re: <nettime> L.A. Times column, 8/14/00 -- Tech Policy
Ronda Hauben on 18 Aug 2000 22:45:08 -0000


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Re: <nettime> L.A. Times column, 8/14/00 -- Tech Policy


Gary Chapman <gary.chapman {AT} mail.utexas.edu> wrote:

>Gore essentially believes the federal government's role is to support
>research and development in so-called critical technologies related to
>energy, transportation, the environment and the Internet, among other
>fields.

Clinton-Gore have led the attack on the Internet by promoting
privatization of the Internet and promoting research to benefit industry
rather than supporting basic research and a determination of the needed
government role in the development and scaling of the Internet. 

An early speech Gore gave about the Internet promoted the principle of "as
much private as possible." 

There has been no effort by Gore in determining the public interest with
regard to the important new development that the Internet represents and
making sure that the public interest is supported and protected from
corporate attacks.

There were means of getting Internet access to all in the US like the
Free-Net movement. Gore and Clinton, however, were intent on giving all
they could of this important public sector development to the private
sector. 

Today I hear that people don't read their email because their mailboxes
are clogged with junk. 

Basic science research in computer science and technology now means doing
research that industry doesn't plan to do for 5 years. 

That is not the kind of research that has made it possible to create the
Internet. That is the kind of research that is concerned with how to
transform the Internet in to a commercenet. 


>Walker, however, believes that the government should invest only in basic
>scientific research and leave technological development to the private
>sector. Bush's platform on technology calls only for larger investments in
>military R&D, a $20-billion-per-year increase. 

It isn't that the Republican Party is interested in supporting basic
research.

But basic research is needed, research that looks ahead 10 and 20 years
and that looks at what science is interested in, not what industry wants
as its next product. 

At one time ARPA made it possible for computer scientists to do basic
research in the US.

The US Congress, in the name of attacking military research, actually
attacked basic research, and ARPA was forced to become DARPA. 

The basic research being supported by ARPA had to either become a second
cousin to product oriented research, or could no longer be done. 

Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party in the US are the
friend of basic research or of support for the needed science and
technical development that will make it possible for the Internet to get
the kind of research support it needs to scale and to have its vital
functions protected by appropriate public institutional forms. 


>Gore's model is sometimes called "technology pull," meaning that the goal
>of accomplishing something grand, in scientific or technological terms,
>pulls the technology toward the goal. Examples include the Apollo space
>program in the 1960s and the goal of halting global warming.

This means that products are pushed and the basic science research which
doesn't show its achievements in a year or two is not supported. 

>Walker's approach is more like the Cold War decades of military R&D
>spinoffs, combined with a faith in the "black box" model of science, 
which >means that the government simply dumps money into the mysterious
black box >of science and out comes something good for society.

I don't know what Walker's view is of basic research, but what Gary
Chapman has written above is an attack on both basic research and on
public understanding of basic research. 

Government support for scientific work is not "government simply dumps
money" into "black box science". 

The development of interactive computing and the Internet grew out of
research into the nature of the human and computer relationship and how to
understand each partner in this relationship. 

The different centers of excellence created at universities in the US by
J.C.R. Licklider in the early 1960s was the basis of beginning important
computer science research that spread interactive computing, time sharing,
and the computer networking around the US and around the world. 

This reporter's attack on "mysterious black box of science" is an attack
on the support of basic research.  Scientists look at the nature of the
phenomena they are investigating. That doesn't have an immediate product
or application that is produced but sets the basis for all kinds of future
developments. However, if the basic research is not done, then the
pipeline is empty for the future. 

>If Gore is elected president and if the House reverts to a Democratic
>majority, Gore is likely to revive many of his technology investment plans
>that were nixed by Republicans six years ago. He may even restart the
>Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, the nation's only
>technology forecasting agency that was killed by budget cuts in 1995. 

mmmm - 1994 - that was the year that the privatization of the US backbone
to the Internet was to happen (it actually happened in 1995). 

That was the plan of the Clinton-Gore presidency-vice presidency. 

The technology investment was to enrich corporations at the expense of
access for all in the U.S. A number of corporations got handouts worth
millions. And the Internet became filled with ads and speculation and the
precious scientific development that was done by public support for
scientific activity in the US has been polluted and abused. 

Neither the Republican nor the Democratic parties in the US have any
vision for the future or for how to provide for the public benefit.
Support for basic science and technology research can set a basis for new
developments. But there also needs to be ways found for support for public
interest objectives rather than for commercial objectives for the results
of research.  Instead there are DARPA supported studies supporting people
who are promoting the corporate view of the world of the future rather
than studying what networking development has happened and how and what it
needs to grow and flourish. 

Ronda
ronda {AT} ais.org
http://www.ais.org/~ronda
http://www.columbia.edu/~hauben/netbook/


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