Tuesday, December 14, 2004

What Have You Invented For Me Lately?

Erich Kunhardt, a Physics professor writing in the Times, says academics should be required to invent things, in addition to doing research and teaching.

Start filing patents, people!

Or not.

2 comments:

Suresh said...

That's patently silly (forgive the pun). First of all, I fail to see the huge distinction between "research" and "invent". There are clearly inventions that are not research, and vice versa, but overall one of the goals of good research *is* to innovate.

Secondly, the US patent office procedures are a mess. Pretty much anything can get patented, and thus the value of a patent is highly questionable. If someone's six year old child can get a patent for a swing, then the system is definitely broken (this was an NYT article some time ago).

I work in a Bell-Labs style research lab in a company and filing patents is encouraged in my line of work. However I can't see what benefit a professor can get from filing patents, even if there are incentives to do so. It takes time away from research for one, and makes a researcher focus on separating himself/herself from others artificially, rather than trying to unify and distill knowledge.

Suresh said...

sorry for the double post. More thoughts here