President Eisenhower on Innovation

96px-Dwight_D._Eisenhower,_official_photo_portrait,_May_29,_1959I came across this quote from 1961 that is worth pondering:

“Today the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists, in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research.  Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.”

This comes from Eisenhower’s Farewell Address, which is famous for its invocation of the “military-industrial complex.”  His point about research, though, is provocative.  Does this still describe the way research works?  What should we think about that?

In line with the new comment experiment, send me your thoughts.

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