Michael Nielsen talks about Open Science

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Via two independent mailing lists I have now received two references to a TEDxWaterloo talk by Michael Nielsen about Open Science, so I guess it should be interesting?

The talk is commented on The Guardian and available on YouTube.

As a successful example on Open Science Michael Nielsen points to Timothy Gowersss blog and his Polymath project spawned from his question Is massively collaborative mathematics possible?.

Micheal Nielsen points to Qwiki as a “failure” (@4:01) of Open Science. It is a wiki for quantum computing started in 2005 and now “essential dead” according to Michael Nielsen (@5:36). Qwiki has 994 content pages, while my Brede Wiki started in 2009 has 1,813 content pages. So am I approximately a double failure?

While not related to Michael Nielsen biologically-wise (not that I know of) I may be related in terms of the visions for Open Science. I do see some problems though.

  1. Michael Nielsen states “It is my believe that any publicly funded science should be Open Science.” (@13:15). In publicly funded strategic research researchers may be ask to consider the possibility for commercial application and patents in their grant application. How can such considerations be accomodated with Open Science? A nation funding research would like the fruits of the research benefit the nation rather than some company based in a foreign country.
  2. While programming and mathematics may be entirely done collaboratively – because the “proof” is ready at hand, sciences that rely on experiments and observations need to have a researcher that vouches that the experimental setup and measurement were done correctly.
  3. In science involving human subjects there is the issue of privacy. With modern scientific instruments, brain scanners and genome testing devises, you get personal identifiable data. I believe such data should have restricted circulation. (Although this hasn’t stopped the fMRI Data Center from distributing brain scans after removing the face from the brain scan).
  4. It is still not clear (to me) why we choose to collaborate or not, e.g., why is Wikipedia successful and Qwiki not?

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