[IRTalk] Saving Science - The New Atlantis

Hilton Gibson hilton.gibson at gmail.com
Thu Aug 25 21:39:10 SAST 2016

Science has been important for technological development, of course.
Scientists have discovered and probed phenomena that turned out to have
enormously broad technological applications. *But the miracles of modernity
in the above list came not from “the free play of free intellects,” but
from the leashing of scientific creativity to the technological needs of
the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).*

The story of how DOD mobilized science to help create our world exposes the
lie for what it is and provides three difficult lessons that have to be
learned if science is to evade the calamity it now faces.

First, scientific knowledge advances most rapidly, and is of most value to
society, not when its course is determined by the “free play of free
intellects” but when it is steered to solve problems — especially those
related to technological innovation.

Second, when science is not steered to solve such problems, it tends to go
off half-cocked in ways that can be highly detrimental to science itself.

*Third — and this is the hardest and scariest lesson — science will be made
more reliable and more valuable for society today not by being protected
from societal influences but instead by being brought, carefully and
appropriately, into a direct, open, and intimate relationship with those


*​This sounds reasonable... think of the "space race" and the innovation
that spawned.*
*I would suggest that science's next and perhaps most important mission is
to help us save ourselves from ourselves.​*
*By saving science we save ourselves.*
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