dilluns, 9. de maig 2011

emerging research tendencies

european gatherings have a special twist to it: everyone is running: the one who has his project already in his pocket is running away from those who still need to reach a safe harbor. in between some lost souls who are new to the scene and members of the commission who are running towards one but also away, guess fearing that everything they say can be used against them, considered as gaining competitive advantage for what so ever. you are there, you are part of the game. pretty soon one understands/hopes: the real beef of content (and money if you wish) can be found behind closed doors, somewhere down the hallway. by invitation only.

this strange behavior and fissure between the "we know it all", "we know it better" and "we might know in the future" will even get worse as the commission initiated projects worth 1billion euros each, which should allow the labs to finance their work for the next 10 years to come, starting 2012. this sounds like a lot of money, but one has to be aware it has to feed a lot of mouths: the two final winners (build consortia) will have to enlarge their project team over the years to come. taking care about calls for proposals themselves, and select new partners - or vice versa. the official race has started these days in budapest - at fet11, yet has been going on behind the curtain for some time.

although this scientific cockfight has began the whole idea of creating european research projects by taking CERN as a role model has itself a long way to go: the european parliament has to agree as well as nation states, leaving aside that the consortia have to dig for industry money as well.

to convince all, the whole undertaking bears the danger to be designed like an army knife. robotics, brain research, internet of things, new materials, quantum, exascale, nano computing are somehow all mixed together. health applications, harvesting/scavenging energy, tracing and tracking, information retrieval and data mining, simulation and visualization, molecular research and memo morphing, you name them. ethical questions btw face all six flagship projects which entered the second round. let's hope that at least some scientists cool down and keep their original idea in mind and marketing on a digestible level. especially as exciting developments in the field of ict appear already on the screen: just to name a practical one: if indeed the whole field is heading towards exascale computing, the whole computing design needs to be thought through with a fresh mind. new materials, new hardware and software designs are needed just to make the whole thing even thinkable. every supercomputer his own nuclear power plant is not, nor is overheating of routers while streaming 4k video.

can't avoid the feeling that the whole process bears the notion of outsourcing project organizations from the commission to scientists and science marketing divisions, forcing the former not only to design "all in one" projects, but to become a "eierlegende wollmilchsau" by themselves.

furthermore, by trying to satisfy all and by tackling too many aspects the clear message of what they are all heading to gets lost. there is this tendency to combine far too many grand challenges into a single "über challenge", imho.

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