Misconceptions about academic research


#1

Hello everyone! I have been following this forum for some time now and find it very friendly and educating, with some very interesting topics every now and then. The community is supportive which is the most important thing!

This post is probably not well suited for this forum since most people who support Cardano support its academic research as well, but I would like nonetheless to point out some things which I found myself contemplating lately, in the light of recent events. I do not claim to know any better than the next guy, but since this is a great community I thought of giving out a few words of my own.

So where to start… First of all, the statement that “academics don’t make good businessmen” is at best ignorant to the core, and anyone in the least familiar with the sciences would know better. My father is a University professor of robotics, and he and his team work very hard on multiple international multimillion dollar projects funded by the EU. Can you guess how they got the money? Yes, through a process called peer-review! So if anything, I would say that in todays world it is imperative that academics ought to be good businessmen, which they are in most cases. You go ahead and try to elaborate an invention that will benefit the society in a certain way to a group of people who have barely, if any technical knowledge or background, see how it goes…

Secondly, and this is probably the worst, is that there is this ongoing notion that academics are some kind of ideologues (mostly communists, naturally), and that their “ideologies” are preventing them from moving forward in creating a functioning product. For some reason I see a lot of people who are into EOS, Ripple and coins like those (I’m not trying to call out anyone, just an empirical observation) who seem to be deluded in this way. So lets reflect on this. When you use the words “product” and “ideology” in the same sentence it is much more likely that the word you are looking for is capitalism, and not communism. Let us be clear that I am not defending anything here, just laying out the facts. Now, if you don’t think that capitalism is an ideology we probably have nothing more to discuss, and you need some serious time to question your reasoning. While academics do in the end sort of create products, there is a great difference on the fundamental level, which is helping the society to solve existential problems, unlike capitalist, who are in it for the money, as the word implies.

I know that the world is not so black and white, there are pros and cons to capitalism as well. I guess what I’m trying to say is that people behind Cardano have fundamental core principles which they wont cross at all cost, and if you have a serious idea like theirs you better be standing on some firm ground. Cardano is like that one kid in school, everyone gets an assignment to build a house from cardboard, but this kid builds the roads, the school, the market, the police station, the fire brigade, the hospital…you get the point. All I see in this crypto world so far is everyone racing to solve the same problems, which is great don’t get me wrong, competition is great to drive innovation, but a LOT of money from people is being spent in god knows what ways. We don’t need 1500 Googles or Microsofts. Charles and the team know that those problems will be solved sooner than later, probably sooner than we think. The thing that remains is to ask the question: what’s next? And Cardano is really one of the few, if not the only one, who is asking that question.

Blockchain technology is revolutionary, and I really think that when it comes to revolutionary technologies it is great to have as many intellectuals as possible innovating in the field, the reason being that their fundamental principles and values which have been the part of the academic community for centuries are oriented towards the good of the people, there’s just no denying that. Sure, no one is beyond corruption, but for the most part they have held true.

All in all, I do see that in the future there will be more and more interest from the academic communities worldwide, and all these scammy and shady people we see wont stand a chance.

For now, let Cardano be the light in the dark, shining through the mist of the world, ready to spark a change :slight_smile:


#2

The academic team and peer review is what first attracted me to Cardano.


#3

Thanks for the well thought out essay. I enjoyed reading your perspective. I saw the title and came here half expecting a troll post but found meaningful discussion. That is what I like most about this forum. It is the only place I have found in the Cardano social community where there is intelligent discussion. Being in crypto for a while now I have grown tired of the moon kids.


#4

Awesome post @Dantalion :clap:


#5

You are very welcome! I totally agree, for a healthy growth of a project there needs to be constant discussions and questioning within the community, in a positive way of course. This has really attracted me to Cardano. As much as I respect others opinions, hype and speculation is usually never good for a serious project. It needs time, and people are unfortunately greedy and impatient.

You won’t be seeing troll post from me, so no worries :smiley:


#6

Science is about research, isn’t it? Its purpose is finding new stuff that might be useful for everybody. I have no problem to agree that you will be getting better software if you are based on scientifically proved results. But the two are separate areas because they are full time jobs. For an individual, it will be difficult to concentrate on both: If you are a scientist, you will most likely not be a business man in the same time.

Also, what you see in natural science a lot: If you are looking for the secrets and the truth in nature, this is a purpose in itself, and the purpose is not to find something useful immediately. I think it will be the same in computer science: Many things that will be developed in this area will be basic stuff, fundamental, maybe even experimental. It will not be useful immediately, and it will have to be made useful in a second step. Can all these complex steps be done by the same people, the same company or the same project?


#7

I absolutely agree, it should be so that there are professionals on both sides to do their respective jobs to minimize faults and bad outcomes. However, and I will look at this from personal experience, it is becoming more and more so that it is required from individuals to be engaged in multiple disciplines in order to adapt to the capitalist desires of our culture. I study animation at a fine arts academy, and it is absolutely crucial for an artist (pretty much for artists in all fields for that matter) to be able to preset a project and articulate ideas to prove that it is worth the time and money. So in a way you are a businessman. I am not saying this is a bad thing, it has many upsides for the individual, mainly developing their social and communication skills. The down side is, in my opinion, that young people especially can get overburdened by the requirements of the industry, and ultimately go astray from their main goals just to deliver a “product”, and this is not something that is being addressed properly form the education perspective, at least where I come from.

So yes, I agree that as a scientist you cannot be a businessman in the same sense, but it is nonetheless a great plus if you have some skill in the field.

On your second point, correct, that is also another use of natural sciences, with the emphasis on “another”. This is probably the main human motivation in scientific research, understanding and explaining our environment, and later on in most cases we figure out ways in which this acquired knowledge can do us good. Many great things will be discovered along the way in cryptography as well. However, there is also something we call Applied arts and sciences. Their specific goal from the star is “we have this problem, how do we fix it?” Or in the case of art “there are certain problems in our society, how do we address them?” This is just a generalization, but it should suffice for the point I’m trying to make. I would say that Cardano stands somewhere in between these two, scientific research for acquiring deeper knowledge and understanding, but also focusing on real life issues.

There is no way these issues can be addressed by the same people, that’s why Cardano has made a great move by cooperating with Emurgo to deal whit the business side of the project. They have a long way to go, but I do believe in them and in their long term vision :slight_smile:


#8

As far as I know, the theory of prime numbers has been flourishing inside pure mathematics for a long time. It was owned and maintained by mathematics only, by very smart people. So its applications in cryptography came out of the blue, and they have not been foreseen or planned by anybody.

Or take quantum theory in physics. Nobody ever said: “Oh, let us try to find a better way to construct power stations.” or even worse: “Let us try to build the best bomb every for warefare.” But of course, nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons are based on quantum physics, and nobody ever planned this when trying to find out about the structure of atoms.

I prefer it this way. Maybe it works the other way also, but it has less beauty: “Oh, we need a better software for blockchain technology, so let us set up the scientific foundation for it.” It makes science a whore, not a beauty, really. It will be used, and it will not be nursed for its own sake. That is my point.

I just saw this documentation about the alpha go project on netflix. Those guys needed twenty years to get from the start to the point where their software could defeat the best go player in the world. That is a whole lot of time. Humans are slow! And it is hard breaking to see how one of the smartest humans on earth has been humiliated by a machine in his very own field of expertise. Unbelievable!


#9

First, nice post.

Second, I have never experienced real, truthful, capitalism, but I’m backing on an ever-growing actual now.

Cheers,
Jonathan


#10

Important essay. Thank you.

On the ideologies of academics -

It is very clear to me that most academics, especially exact sciences’ academics certainly represent some social ideology. Empiricism, peer review, skepticism - these are all scientific principals that generally lead to support of education and transparency. And that’s great - education & transparency are scientific principals. But on top of that, businessmen and politicians have created the religion of pseudoscience, which is much more prevalent than science (especially in the western world). The idea that scientific testing and article writers can “objectively” answer social or ethical questions is ridiculous, but in many places it is the norm.

On capitalism -

I too know that scientists can make excellent businessmen. They appreciate resource management, develop a hell of a product, and learn from their R&D mistakes.
We don’t live in the sixties, pretty much everybody knows that for ventures to succeed they MUST

  • Provide a solution that people want/need
  • Be financially sustainable
    The ethical difference arises in one single concept : Profit
    How much of it do you need? (if any), and what are you willing to do to ensure it.
    It’s a question of human conscience, capitalism is not the factor there.

I think it’s important to stay aware of our academic stereotype -
Generally academics are considered harmless, which implies the flip-side - they’re also considered useless.

We should promote our harmless image with those who wish to harm Cryptos.
But when we approach rural nations we will need to convince them that all this Crypto Fugazi is real, and there our academic reputation will not serve us.

This is why I think Emurgo and Community Associations will be so important - If we find a way to bring the treasury to the people, even in small ways, then we could sustain a “doers” reputation as well.


#11

I absolutely agree whit what you say about the beauty of science, uncovering mysteries that lead to great discoveries has a much more profound impact on the civilization as opposed to progress for progress sake.

I guess it’s the double edged sword of research, there will always be those who are corrupt and malicious, which I just cannot comprehend, but that is the way of human nature…

The progress in AI is absolutely incredible! I really wonder what the future holds in that regard, it will be most interesting to witness.

Alas, time! Our ever present enemy, never to be released from its bonds, ever to decay slowly into the oblivion of infinity!


#12

Thanks Jonathan!

I myself have also never experienced the full “potential” of capitalism, but I can see it spreading it’s roots deeper and deeper into almost all aspects of human activity. Just pay attention and you’ll see.

The thing is, however, that an ideology that puts the individual on the pedestal is not compatible with the sociopolitical concept of democracy, it’s just a complete paradox. It is reaching critical mass though, just like any bubble.


#13

Spot on…


#14

Couldn’t agree more on what you’ve said, thank you for your thoughts!

I would just like to add the fact that people tie academics and intellectuals with the establishment. I am not sure where this prejudice comes from exactly, I would assume it is related to the fact that pretty much from the dawn of civilization the leaders where always the ones more educated and wise, so knowledge ought to imply power, as Sir Francis Bacon has famously said. Although leaders today are also (mostly) highly educated, their complete lack of competence in the past decades has led to the mass judgment from the public, and with completely fair arguments. People are tired of the establishment, just take a look at who the USA elected for their president, in thinking that Trump is the opposite of the establishment, which he absolutely is not. They are playing a very serious game, and they don’t know what they’re doing.

This, however, also struck a heavy blow to the academic community, and it is reflected in the Crypto as well. People like to follow trends and like to conform, which is absolutely fine, until you star hurting others around you, then it is a dangerous territory, and very soon it can turn into fear, and fear drives the desire to defend and protect. Problem is, people wont question what it actually is they are protecting, until it’s too late, and they’ve been used and outplayed in their own game.


#15

I agree a movement for a distributed economy will have to work very hard to become accepted, especially in more domesticated nations (US & China alike present huge problems).

Just because the technology is available it doesn’t mean people will know how to use it and change social orders. We can, and may, see the old power dynamics reproduced in Cardano, just as we see other cryptocoins squabbling with their power now (I won’t name names) in an attempt to apply old mindsets to blockchain. It’s likely that some coins will become “more closed”. See the example of Germany in 1939, or Egypt today - just because you give people the tools to be their own masters it doesn’t mean they’ll know how to yield them.

In this context I think Cardano should remain “always compliant” with the establishment, but not try to resolve the fears of nonbelievers, at least not at the beginning.
If Cardano grows organically and creates “ancestor communities” made up of people who are “mostly Satoshi” then we may see power structures start to shift.

Beyond compliance Cardano should be “Not of the establishment” and to anyone who knows something about ADA, it very clearly is. We should just watch out for the folks (on both sides of the globe) who’d like to make it all “just a bit more organized”


#16

Brilliant line of questioning near the end of your reply. I had never even conceived of thinking in that direction. So, I see a nice footprint of computer evolution. If a colony of programmers and coders can only achieve so much within their basic unit of existence. Resulting in survival of the fittest. If Cardano is put into a position of survival is it necessary for their survival to hand off the technology to another company to mature. Or does it rest, mature and grow within Cardano? This next part rests on whether as the highest form of sentient being on this planet. Does this allow me to consult outside entities? We aren’t in the stone ages any more, so, we can reach out, can perspective, allow outside minds to see something ADA can’t.