Saturday, November 22, 2014

Open science, academic freedom and paradigm change Sunday, 30 Nov 2014 3:00 PM Omni Commons 4799 Shattuck Berkeley

Open science, academic freedom and paradigm change

Sunday, 30 Nov 2014 3:00 PM Omni Commons 4799 Shattuck Berkeley

SundayS,  3:00 PM Omni Commons 4799 Shattuck Berkeley
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The syllabus for the subsequent course  is at

Science and society

Even in the depths of the recent recession, smaller and economically challenged countries kept scientific research programs that attempt to replicate the NSF and NIH running. The current bloat in scientific journals allowed the system to be gamed to make this appear a reasonable step. The first part of this talk focuses on three burgeoning areas of research; cancer, computational semantics and immunology to show how this game is implemented. The conclusion is that, with the possible exception of the USA, these national programs are a waste of taxpayers' money.

The second part of the talk attempts to find gaps in knowledge that small, economically distressed countries could exploit, It is argued that limits to “big data” and other brute force statistics approaches have been found. What is needed, at a time, when the word “ontology” has become to mean no more than a hierarchical inventory/taxonomy, is approaches to algorithms that honour distinctions in levels of being. This part of the talk looks at how the elision of syntax and semantics have caused an asymptote in performance both in genomics and natural language processing; why neuroscientists urgently need to master physics techniques like the harmonic oscillator; and, finally, why the description of subjective states need to be eliminated wholly from science in order to allow them be done justice in other processes in society. We can talk of science asserting the existence of the subjective through QM; its characterizations is the focus of the arts.

In the last section, we look at the current state of universities. It is argued that their disciplinary structure mimics the departmental weights assigned by science funding research after WW2. This has led to anomalies whereby popular subjects like cognitive science are relegated to the “interdisciplinary” category; indeed, in this vein, computer science was not taught as a major at Caltech until the 1980's. This opens up opportunities for the creation of online universities that use the myriad excellent freshman and sophomore foundation courses freely available on the web to create low-price majors in subjects currently ignored in the science, arts and humanities. The talk concludes by envisaging a way to do world-class education and research at a fraction of their current cost both to the student and taxpayer.