Taking the boat over the mountain

Yoon Seok Jin
The creator is the president of the Korean Institute of Science and Expertise (KIST).

I not too long ago attended a convention to debate countermeasures to the escalating US-China struggle for technological hegemony. The opinions offered had been nothing new. Members addressed the artistic and difficult analysis surroundings, an modern ecosystem to foster unicorn corporations, and issues with legal guidelines and methods that can’t sustain with new applied sciences.

All agreed on the necessity to cut back intervention and enhance autonomy. However extreme prudence interrupted the dialogue. Some expressed concern that “the boat may find yourself within the mountains”. I could not take it any longer and needed to say: “Now the boat of science and expertise should additionally have the ability to climb mountains”.

After two years, the distancing measures had been abolished. We nonetheless have the inconvenience of sporting masks, however the Covid period has reached a turning level. Within the free time that I lastly regained after a very long time, I watched the historic drama “Vikings”, a narrative concerning the legendary Viking lord Ragnar Lothbrok, who dominated what’s now Denmark and Sweden within the early to mid ninth century.

Among the many adventures of many Vikings, the episode “Portage” concerning the assault on Paris was probably the most memorable. As Ragnar Lothbrok’s forces are blocked by fortresses and currents within the slim channel of the River Seine and needed to retreat, he stops the ships at a location surrounded by cliffs. When his advisers suggested him to search out one other place to loot, he says: “It isn’t Paris. Let’s raise the ships over the cliff and cross the mountain. Let’s go to Paris.” As Paris didn’t anticipate the bottom assault, it was besieged in the long run.

In 1966, President Park Chung Hee established the Korean Institute of Science and Expertise (KIST) for scientific development. As Korea was one of many poorest nations on the earth on the time, the selection might appear to be a ship to the mountain within the eyes of economists at house and overseas. However half a century after selecting the longer term over fixing rapid famine, Korea has gone from being a resource-poor nation to the Tenth-largest financial system, larger than Russia and Australia. Korea additionally turned a cultural powerhouse, nearly realizing the dream of Baekbeom Kim Gu (1876-1949), a revered activist and statesman for Korean independence. As we speak is superb. However is it sufficient?

The longer term technology that’s afraid of changing into poorer than their mother and father’ technology might imagine that as we speak is a dystopia. Late final 12 months, the Ministry of Science and ICT selected 10 key strategic applied sciences for Korea’s restoration. These are the unique applied sciences that we have to not solely enhance but in addition stand out so we do not get left behind within the competitors for expertise.

The issue is that, apart from secondary batteries, Korea is about 60% of probably the most technologically superior nations in most areas, together with AI, protons, house and aeronautics. If we do not change, the one means is down. Step one in direction of change is enabling our researchers to pursue challenges that appear unwise as we speak however pending for the longer term. The way in which to open a brand new horizon is to permit limitless concepts and assist for them.

KIST is now in search of innovation to interrupt the risk-averse R&D mannerism, as seen by its “98 p.c success charge”. Notably, the “Grand Problem” is a problem to far-fetched concepts. Chosen duties are evaluated based mostly on course of excellence. This system helps researchers who aren’t afraid of failure and have the conviction to pursue the required research.

The grading system through which a grade is set by one or two factors has been abolished. Researchers can now request deferral of particular person assessments to problem bigger analysis tasks. The rivals of researchers who purpose to develop breakthrough applied sciences aren’t colleagues within the lab subsequent door, however the world-class teachers who’ve devoted their lives to the subject. To pals who say, “We’re doing properly sufficient” and advocate a cushty path as an alternative of pursuing innovation, I wish to say, “Our objective is to not turn into one of many developed nations. We wish to be a number one nation taking our science and expertise ship over the mountain.”
Translation by Korea JoongAng Every day employees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.