James Boyle: What is the economic and social harm to over 1 billion people from hampered research?
Every year the monsoon season kills hundreds and
causes massive property damage in South East Asia. This year, one set
of monsoon rains alone killed 660 people in India and left 4.5 million
homeless. Researchers seeking to predict the monsoon sought complete
weather records from the US and from Europe so as to generate a model
based on global weather patterns. The US data was easily and cheaply
available at the cost of reproduction. The researchers could not
afford to pay the price asked by the European weather services,
precluding the “ensemble” analysis they sought to do. Weiss asks
rhetorically “What is the economic and social harm to over 1 billion
people from hampered research?” In the wake of the outpouring of
sympathy for the tsunami victims in the same region, this example
seems somehow even more tragic.
- James Boyle