Re: “The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists” Pt 3

Back in July,  Julia Belluz, Brad Plumer, and Brian Resnick wrote up this beautiful thing, which you need to go read right now.   And I said at the time that I would reply.  And then I got lazy.  But then so this is me doing that, now.  In 7 parts, structured as their big beautiful article is.

Rough Draft as of Nov 16.  Will be updating with links and more careful thought on an irregular basis.

Part III: The Replication Issue

The problem here is relatively simple: replicating results is critical to science, but there is almost no incentive to do so.Read More »

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Sunday Night Science & Innovation Links, Nov 13, 2016

A lot of people talk about science and innovation.  Few of them talk to each other.  

Talk!  To each other!

“These giants don’t merely set standards for certain formats of semiconductors, glass, pharmaceuticals, and software. Their mastery over patents and markets empowers them to block or buy most any newcomer that might threaten their sovereignty. What technologies are developed, and how and where they are developed, is increasingly up to these small clubs of executives alone.” — Washington Monthly | Estates of Mind

“Our analysis uses 1.8 million U.S. patents and their citation properties to map the innovation network and its strength.” — Innovation Network

“Our results support theoretical arguments that IPR protection strengthens firms’ incentives to innovate[…]” — Intellectual Property Rights Protection, Ownership, and Innovation: Evidence from China

“Still, any major political transition is liable to bring about significant change in public science policy. As Kevin B. Marvel, the executive officer of the American Astronomical Society, points out, science research is pretty much always in peril since public science research budgets are subject to the whims of Congress.” — As president, Trump will shape the future of science. And scientists are worried. – Vox

“I often wonder whether there is any value in reporting very early research. Journals now publish their findings, and the public seizes on them, but this wasn’t always the case: journals were meant for peer-to-peer discussion, not mass consumption.” — This is why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study – Vox

“In its new role—nonprofit, Caltech-affiliated, NASA-funded, civilian-controlled—JPL became a center for the most insane, creative engineering on earth.” — Inside the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: NASA’s Crazy, Kooky, Legendary Research Facility

Annotated: “Want More Startups? Build a Better Safety Net”

Wherein I annotate things.

Today, responding to Noah Smith’s article, “Want More Startups?  Build a better Safety Net”:

Back in 2012, Daron Acemoglu — an economist I follow and greatly respect — wrote a paper along with James Robinson and Thierry Verdier claiming to explain why Scandinavian countries are (supposedly) less innovative than the U.S. Acemoglu et al. theorized that Scandinavia embraces “cuddly capitalism” — a strong safety net that prevents failure — while the U.S. goes in for “cutthroat capitalism.” The do-or-die nature of the American system, they said, causes people to try a lot harder at innovation than their European counterparts.

Bloggers were quick to point out that the paper’s entire premise was probably wrong. Scandinavia isn’t, in fact, less innovative than the U.S. Acemoglu et al. used patents as their measure of innovation, but the volume of patents is more about intellectual property law than entrepreneurial effort. Broader measures of innovation show that the U.S. and Scandinavian countries are about equal. Acemoglu et al. had constructed an elaborate theory to explain something that probably never existed.

Noah cites a Matt Yglesias post about how the innovation literature is (wrongly) obsessed with using patents to measure innovation.  And hey, it turns out we’re still doing that all the goddamn time (I still frequent academic econ conferences on innovation)!Read More »

Re: “The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists” Pt 2

Back in July,  Julia Belluz, Brad Plumer, and Brian Resnick wrote up this beautiful thing, which you need to go read right now.   And I said at the time that I would reply.  And then I got lazy.  But then so this is me doing that, now.  In 7 parts, structured as their big beautiful article is.

Rough Draft as of Nov 06.  Will be updating with links and more careful thought on an irregular basis.

Part II: The Incentives Problem

The problem is parallel to what Bill Barnwell railed against in football for years at Grantland – that incentives are set up to favor good outcomes, rather than good processes, which perversely affects real outcomes.

P-hacking is the most egregious example.  I think the key here is “they’re not always doing it consciously.”  Most researchers are not operating in bad faith.  But they are responding to incentives.Read More »

Sunday Night Science & Innovation Links, Nov 06, 2016

A lot of people talk about science and innovation.  Few of them talk to each other.  

Talk!  To each other!

Links for Nov 06, 2016

“But technology is not destiny: These trends and the magnitude of inequality are not solely determined by technology.” — Jason Furman, Obama’s Chief Economic Adviser, on Artificial Intelligence – The Atlantic

“Adobe continues on a mission it started a long time ago: to make it easier for creators to create. Letting the machines take over, just a bit, is the logical next step.” — Adobe’s Project Felix Uses AI to Help You Craft Hyper-Realistic 3-D Renderings | WIRED

“The federal budget devoted to new energy technology is on the order of $6 billion a year, less money than American consumers spend on potato chips.” — Big Question on Climate Crisis: How to Inspire Innovation – NYTimes.com

“That’s why it created Alias, the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System program. (Question America’s military might all you like: Its acronym game is fire.)” — Darpa’s Alias Program Turns Old Aircraft Autonomous | WIRED

““That’s the future, right?” she says. “There has to be this unfolding of a collection of things that are all connected, where the data that we can gather  all gets stitched together to create this very intense, high-fidelity structure that represents our world.”” — IoT 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Micro Drones

“So if the risk theory is right, a stronger safety net should lead to more entrepreneurial activity, not less.” — Want More Startups? Build a Better Safety Net – Bloomberg View

“A key role of standard setting organizations (SSOs) is to aggregate information on relevant intellectual property (IP) claims before deciding on a standard. This article explores the firms’ strategies in response to IP disclosure requirements—in particular, the choice between specific and generic disclosures of IP—and the optimal response by SSOs” — Patent Disclosures and Standard-Setting