Complementarity in the 21st century

The late Gordon R. Dickson wrote a series of books in a (mostly) future history termed The Childe Cycle. I’ve read a substantial number of the books in this series, and it’s rather uneven. On the whole, I would say that the earlier books are better than the later works. Dickson died before he could complete the series, but I don’t think that’s really that big of a deal, because the books are only loosely connected. I read the novels and short stories of the series all out of order, and it wasn’t a problem.

One of the interesting aspects of the universe is that there are separate human cultures/ethnicities that inhabit different planets and specialize in different economic tasks. If you look closely, the system doesn’t make economic sense, but that’s OK, we’re talking a setting for space opera.

Of the “splinter cultures,” two of them inhabit planets very close to each other in the same solar system, Newton and Cassida. Newton is home to pure scientists, while Cassida is a world of applied engineers. In Young Bleys┬áit is stated that the engineers of Cassida admire and envy the scientists of Newton.

My point in posting about this is to a great extent I imagine that the United States of America will be the “Newton” of our world for a while longer. But, other nations will be will Cassida (you can guess which), and others the Friendlies. I don’t know who the Exotics or Dorsai might be, and the analogy might breakdown there.

3 thoughts on “Complementarity in the 21st century

  1. China may overtake the US in “Pure Science” research impact by 2025, that is just 8 years from now. China’s impact in the sciences is growing at 5% per year, while the US’ impact is falling by ~2%. China may never match the US in terms of per capita output, but it is almost there in absolute terms. China’s population advantage is turning out to be very useful, e.g more people means more data for machine learning.

  2. OW, i know those stats/projections. i think tbh chinese groups know how to ‘game’ some of these things and so it overrates their impact. in areas of science i know (genomicsy) chinese groups have made a substantial contribution, but on average american groups are still ahead in overall quality.

    i think one signal of quality parity is more and more non-chinese picking chinese post-doc positions. china has enuf ppl this isn’t needed, but it will happen if the quality attraction gets high.

  3. Assuming China converges to the per capita performance of Japan and South Korea (whose figures are very similar) on the Nature Index, which is a good proxy for high quality research, its total research output will end up around 50% higher than that of the US. Since China’s development has closely tracked Korea’s but with a lag of 20 years, I expect this to happen by 2040. This is assuming that the US doesn’t continue to decline, as it has for the 5 years since the Nature Index has been getting compiled – an optimistic assumption. OTOH, the US will almost certainly continue to dominate in per capita terms for the foreseeable future.

Comments are closed.