Employment: Be in a tech-limited field

Mathias Kirk writes:

Biotechnology sounds to me much like computing in the 60’s. The first real applications of the field are being brought to life in large industries, but are still many steps removed from the consumer. Like computer science, this will rapidly change. This decade might bring cultivated meat to my local store. Who knows what the following decades will bring.

He’s not entirely correct. He believes the field is limited due to technology. No. It is limited due to monopolies. For example, reagents the basics of science experiments are controlled by a handful. Machinery, animal labs etc all require money and won’t be replaced by “simulations” and “artificial intelligence”. The reason science (or biotechnology) won’t make rapid progress is because it has stagnated in ideas and the reproducibility crisis has made matters worse.

Science needs diverse ideas and teams and break down the silos. Only integrative approaches will work forward.

I remember speaking to a group of scientists in a conference; it was a closed discussion and I was dismayed that they weren’t willing to engage with the clinicians. The oncogenomics for brain tumours has made remarkable progress (especially around diagnosis and subclassification systems) but we are still dealing with the basics of MGMT/IDH and possibly p53. What will it take to “improve the outcomes”? Survival hasn’t improved unless you factor in the wires on the head which is not being “released to the developing world”.

Tech limitations don’t always translate into “glorious opportunities”. Science moves forward on the strength of curiosity.

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