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back to article US dominates tech R&D

The US remains ahead of the pack in science and technology, contributing 40 per cent of the world’s total research and development spend in the sector, according to a new study. Rand Corporation, a non-profit research group based in Santa Monica, California published the report today in which it claims that the US is not losing …

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Coat

As the joke says

Q: What is a Science department at an American University?

A: It is a strange place where Russian professors teach Chinese students in English.

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Where are all the jobs for us scientist?

Hmmm, I hold a Ph.D. in chemistry and frankly can't find a job in my field. So, the US needs more scientist to do what exactly???? Oh yes, to be the Mexicans (no disrespect intended) of academia. It all comes down to academia having a large supply of cheap labor to do the bullshit research which tax payers unfortunately pay for. And the great thing about the foreign students and post-docs is that if the can't find a company to sponsor their visa, the get sent back home after having busted their ass for some asshole boss. I say take some of that tax money, and invest it in building industries for all those scientist/engineers being pumped out by the universities.

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Dan

Yeah, and the Rand Corporation is not at all biased

An institution close to the US government claims US leads the way. Surprise, surprise.

Meanwhile, more realible sources show the US lagging far behind Scandinavian countries:

Spending on R+D, % of GDP (OECD Factbook 2006)

USA 2.7%

Finland 3.5%

Sweden 4.0%

Top 200 Universities per 1 million people (The Times 2005)

USA 0.18

Finland 0.38

Sweden 0.55

Scientific Literacy (OECD PISA 2006)

USA 499

Finland 538

Sweden 512

..."leads the way" my ass

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Good!

Put the limits even lower so we in Europe can take all nice skilled people! Thanks US!

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Gates Horns

Supposing they paid well for PhDs?

The industry says they can't get enough PhDs, so they lobby congress to increase the limits. A little problem, however: they don't pay the PhDs particularly well. This leads to a generation of students investing in law, medicine and 'real professions' instead of engineering. What American industry wants is "cheap PhDs". This is extremely short sighted.

Joe Kraska

San Diego CA

USA

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Not a shock

God knows Americans are idiots. Most of my colleagues can only count "1... 2... uhhh MANY!" They can't google an error message, their "solution" to a server issue is to power it off and back on w/o warning, they don't understand what a heap overflow or memory leak is in Java, and when asked to type in a simple command in bash, the result is total panic.

And no, I'm not posting anonymously, they're too stupid to read El Reg.

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statistics

Your very own Winston Churchill said that the only statistics you can rely on are the ones you make up yourself.

"Spending on R+D, % of GDP (OECD Factbook 2006)

USA 2.7%

Finland 3.5%

Sweden 4.0%

OK, but in this instance GDP doesn't equal GDP. The US GDP is considerably larger than that of Finland and Sweden combined, so the absolute amount of money spent on R+D in the USA is vastly larger than the absolute amounts spent in Finland and Sweden, even though their percentage is larger.

Hey, the up and coming People's Republic of Lower Yougaria spent 73.2% of their GDP on R+D, but their entire GDP last year was three dollars . . .

If you want to bash America, at least get your numbers right. You also might want to consider what (the remains of) your life might be like if the last remaining superpower was Russia, China, or Iran. You could do a lot worse, very easily.

Best Regards,

Miami Mike

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Go

@Gene Cash

"And no, I'm not posting anonymously, they're too stupid to read El Reg"

I beg your pardon?

There is no need to knock us all because of a few, er, "many", morons. I'm not university educated. But I do pride myself on being up and up on technology. When you have (whats left) of freedom, there's bound to be more idiots in a population because well, they can be. Not a good excuse, merely the truth. Everyone country has their issues. I'm sure you have yours.

"Can't we all just, get along?" - had to say it.

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Alert

So, by the numbers...

If we take Dan's numbers and apply a few additional facts (courtesy of the good ol' CIA), we learn that the 2006 US R&D budget was about 390 billion US$ (2.7% of a 13.3 trillion US$ GDP), making it larger than either Finland's or Sweden's entire 2006 GDP (176 billion US$ and 290 billion US$, respectively).

As for institutions of higher learning, a more interesting number would be the percentage of foreign students at said universities. Perhaps the US doesn't need as many because we're not actually going there. And as for scientific literacy, well, duhh. Enough said already, I think.

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Unhappy

++Joe Kraska

I've seen and heard exactly what you said, Joe. Tech Engineers aren't paid anywhere near enough to warrant the education. Students know it, which is why none of us went engineering. Not many were interested in PhD's, either. The few that did went to civil and the like. No one will touch anything tech related with a 10 foot poll. An intelligent student can control an entire department of foreign PhD's with an MBA.

This will continue on until the government becomes more protectionist, or world job market salaries for the jobs increase.

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Boffin

@Dan

Multiply your % of GDP numbers by GDP, and your numbers tell a completely different story...

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@Gene Cash

"God knows Americans are idiots. Most of my colleagues can only count "1... 2... uhhh MANY!" They can't google an error message, their "solution" to a server issue is to power it off and back on w/o warning, they don't understand what a heap overflow or memory leak is in Java, and when asked to type in a simple command in bash, the result is total panic.

And no, I'm not posting anonymously, they're too stupid to read El Reg. "

You really are an ass hole.

As for your server solution pang, its not just Americans, its DEVELOPERS. I've worked with my fair share of developers from a variety of nations, and they are pretty much all ignoramuses (sp) when it comes to troubleshooitng a server side issue outside of code. Why? Because they aren't sys admins, thats why! I don't expect them to handle server side issues and they don't expect me to debug their code. Simple as that. Disparaging somebody because they don't share your exact 733t Java skill set is pretty moronic. Try coming out of your own self centered world once in a while and you might find that there is more to life than just you...

- John - a US citizen (because not everybody who lives in "America" is part of the United States)

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Anonymous Coward

factors

@Dan: and how many millions are there, exactly in Sweden or Finland? Finland by your reckoning has 2 top universities, Sweden 5, Uncle Sugar 54. Evidently RAND wasn't evaluating proportions, just quantity.

@Nathan: I notice that Japan is now having to import engineers. Eventually a country reaches a point where kids notice that managers a) get paid more than engineers, b) get to fire engineers, and c) didn't have to work as hard in school.

@Gene. Maybe you ought to find different colleagues.

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Obviously

We already know that in comparison European governments spend next to nothing on R&D, and therefore R&D has to rely on funding from private industry. The US on the other hand has a long history of properly supporting it's businesses with grants and research dollars. Not the piecemeal rubbish we have in the UK, but real numbers to the tune of 100s of millions of dollars.

The other thing is as well as getting decent support from their government, the US has large numbers of investors willing to take a gamble on up and coming tech companies. This is the fundamental difference in thinking between the US and Europe, ambition. In the UK we spend too much time complaining about the privileged few, instead of trying to make ourselves one of them. Entrepreneurial ambition just doesn't exist to the same degree. The Alan Sugars and Richard Bransons of the world are in too short a supply in Britain. There's too much of a "you'll never do it" attitude, whereas in the US you're actually encouraged to try.

@Miama Mike - please stop proving their point for them. If you really knew what you were talking about, then you would know that Russia's superpower status was bought on the back of an unsustainable arms race. They were always going to bankrupt themselves and would never have offered the threat to international peace that the US currently does.

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Gates Halo

Re: Gates

From: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080313-gates-to-congress-microsoft-needs-more-h1-b-visas.html (among others)

"Disputing claims that skilled immigrants would cost American jobs, Gates argued that Microsoft hires four Americans for supporting roles for every high-skilled H-1B visa holder it hires. He also cited a study by a Virginia-based group that found a similar pattern held in other American high-tech companies.

Gates singled out the timing of the H-1B process for particular criticism. Visas for the coming year become available each April, and immigrants are permitted to begin work in October. Because a college degree is required before a worker can apply for an H-1B visa, foreign students who graduate from an American university in May are forced to wait until October of the following year to begin work at an American company. Not surprisingly, many highly skilled workers choose to take jobs outside of the US rather than wait for 18 months for the opportunity to take a job in the US."

He also claims that Microsoft H-1B hires are paid in excess of US$100k per year ... almost US$60k more than the median household annual income in Washington State. That does not describe "cheap labor". When we're spending so much on R&D, we need lots and lots of researchers and developers. We're not churning out enough of them, and we need more of them simply to complete the works in-progress. I guess that's hard to fathom when you live in a country with near double-digit unemployment rates.

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Anonymous Coward

@Gene

Sorry we don't meet your lofty expectations, Gene. So do us a favor and boycott all things that were either developed by, designed by or mass produced by America, say in the past 150 years. That ought to teach us...

As someone else already put it, people going to college now are going to go where the money is, simply because business is trying to turn jobs, that require a high degree of math and science, into commodity type, low wage positions.

Engineering positions seem viewed with contempt by the bean counters and corporate bigwigs, simply because we're expensive and it's difficult to quantify how much we actually contribute to the success (or failure) to the organization.

I'm seeing it right now, in our corporation, by their insistance for us to document the hell out of everything we do and when a person gets old enough, they come up with some lame excuse to terminate the person and then replace them with a "college kid" at 1/3 the wage. They essentially hand him all the documentation that their predecessor wrote and tell them that responsibility is all theirs.

When college kids get too expensive, they'll offshore it to places where employees are thrilled at the prospect of earning 1/10th the wage that their contemporaries were earning, in the company's home country.

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Why engineers are underpaid

"Engineering positions seem viewed with contempt by the bean counters and corporate bigwigs, simply because we're expensive and it's difficult to quantify how much we actually contribute to the success (or failure) to the organization."

That description fits the beancounters and corporate bigwigs far more closely than the engineers. With the engineers you can point to the products that exist, or not. With the sales team you can point to the sales, or not. Most of the gripes above seem to be saying that engineers aren't expensive *enough*. The impact of administrative and managerial positions are *much* harder to quantity, but at the senior levels they certainly cost a pretty packet.

No, I think the truth is much simpler. The accountants and the senior managers, between them, control the allocation of money.

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Dumbing down - Deliberate and by Design

Systematic purging and cleansing of educated people is the first step in weakening the public and paving the way for dictatorship. An un-educated and mis-informed population is much easier to control than a well-educated,intellectual public.

The US is heading for a 2nd Great Depression where engineers will be of less use than labourers.

Five years from now the US will be unrecognizable.

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Coat

@John

"As for your server solution pang, its not just Americans, its DEVELOPERS. I've worked with my fair share of developers from a variety of nations, and they are pretty much all ignoramuses (sp) when it comes to troubleshoo[ti]ng a server side issue outside of code."

John, let me be the first developer to say:

You really are an ass hole[1].

For managing to lower yourself to Gene's level. Well done sir.

[1] Does splitting it into two words make it bigger?

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Jobs Horns

@Gene, John, and Robert

Many technologists suffer from an innate tendency to compare their intelligence to that of the people around them and assume that they're inferior and stupid. After all, those people tend to have pesky minds of their own, and don't always agree with a technologist's obviously brilliant and superior point of view. It MUST be stupidity, right? He couldn't be... WRONG...

And when someone else makes a gaffe (like accidentally suffering a memory leak in Java, where garbage collection has a mind of its own, perchance?) it's easy to snipe at them and point the finger. "LOOK!" a sysadmin might say. "His code has a memory leak! He's obviously incompetent! Fire 'im!" When the sysadmin's boss tells him to STFU and get back to work, the sysadmin writes it off by saying the boss is an idiot. Of COURSE! It can't be that the sysadmin is being a psycho about something that can be fixed in a short debugging session.

Maybe -- just MAYBE -- the answer is to accept that you, individually, are not the be-all, end-all of technology. It could be that people choose different career tracks based on their preferences, not their ability or lack thereof. It might surprise you, GENE, to realize that there are 300 million Americans and you've only worked with a few, so generalizations are likely to fail. And John, you might be humbled to realize that developers' jobs are to write and debug code, NOT work on server-side issues outside of their purview.

I'm sure that when your next memory leak comes up, if you ask NICELY, your developers will be happy to throw their code on the debugger and track it down for you.

Here's an idea:

How about we all just do our jobs, treat our colleages with respect, and develop a little healthy humility, hmm?

And Robert? There's a bit of irony in your post. I leave its detection as an exercise for the reader.

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Flame

You know...

if other governments would just drop the price of oil, and keep their criminals in line (instead of exiling them so they can become terrorists), maybe the US can go back to being the tech leader and get the human race off this rock before we self-destruct as a species.

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@Phillip Perry

Ya, I agree. Maybe it came off incorrectly, in the above post, but I wasn't using the term ignoramus disparagingly. I am an ignoramus when it comes to C#, Java, etc (actually, I would call myself an idiot!). Its not my thing. And actually I DO go to my delvelopers often to look for answers to issues that are not system related. It's called colaboration! Here at work we are a .Net shop. We use Avicode to dig deep into the happenings of our site when ther are problems (and to find issues before they become problems). It gives us TONS of info, that frankly, I can't make sense of half the time. Where do I go when I get stuck? The developers. And conversely, when there are questions about how the code performs on the server side, they don't bother guessing, the come to our team and ask, because it is not their thing. Happy all around.

Oh, and I wouldn't fire the developer for the memory leak - somebody has to fix it! :D

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Stop

@Philip Perry

"How about we all just do our jobs, treat our colleages with respect, and develop a little healthy humility, hmm?"

Absolutely. Well said.

Yes you're right, my post was slightly ironic, I shall beat a retreat behind the 'I'll get my coat' icon.

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Dan

Yes, in absolute terms...

the US leads the way in research, but that is only because of its sheer size. But what matters more is the *per capita* research output. Why? Because "competitiveness" doesn't just affect a small elite of a nation, it affects every individual citizen too.

Also, the Nordic examples shows that the US could do a lot better.

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