Information Access Seminar

Intellectual Property and Other Information Policies in a Small Country

Friday, February 13, 2015
3:10 pm to 5:00 pm
Seán Ó Nualláin

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. 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; controversies in mainstream biology with its .central dogma. and why neuroscientists urgently need to master physics techniques like the harmonic oscillator.

Thirdly, we look at conventional issues of "orphan" IP like books and drugs. The talk then briefly segues into issues of personal privacy.

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.

Seán Ó Nualláin is lead IP adviser for the Reboot Ireland political party in the Republic of Ireland. He holds an M.Sc. in psychology from University College, Dublin, Ireland & a Ph.D. in computer science from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. He is the author and editor of 12 books. In recent years, he has published several papers on the foundations of biology and the monograph One Magisterium.

Last updated:

March 26, 2015