by Jack Kessler, email@example.com
3.00 FYI France: Enewsletter and archive
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FYI France: Grandes Ecoles Symposium, May 27-30 -- part 1 of 3 Sophia Antipolis, France (pretty close to the beach at Cannes, but we are working -- really) This place, Sophia Antipolis, is the French Silicon Valley. UC Berkeley and MIT are holding a Symposium here this week, with a consortium of European engineering schools, and with the French Grandes Ecoles, the higher education schools which have trained France's engineers and political leaders since Napoleon. (We have Websites for the event at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/IS3/ and http://www.enst.fr/ura/IS3 .) The declared Symposium subject is, "A New Technological System for a Global Society". But for this read, "The Internet", "Multimedia", "Distance Learning", "The Future of Engineering Education and Research on Both Sides of the Atlantic", and -- last but by no means least -- "Shouldn't We Invite the Asians Next Time?" MIT's Vice - President, David Litster, is co - chairing one of the sessions, and he has brought with him Eugene Skolnikoff, Eleanor Westney, and others from his institution. The UC Berkeley delegation includes the Chancellor, Chang - Lin Tien, the Vice - Chancellor for Research, Joseph Cerny, the Dean for International and Area Studies, Richard Buxbaum, and a number of senior professors and researchers. The French have brought Ecole des Mines Director Jacques Le'vy, Bernard Sutter, an impressive array of French and other European professors, scientists and engineers, education administrators, researchers and writers, and other dignitaries, and even the "father" of Sophia Antipolis himself, French Senator Pierre Lafitte. There is at least one Nobel prizewinner on the list, and several names which decorate the firmaments of nearly anyone who is in attendance, or anyone who is interested at all in the Symposium topics. Despite the common interests, fundamental differences of approach are becoming evident, early on. These are differences between the US and Europe, but perhaps also between the US and the rest of the world in general. The Symposium is becoming a microcosm of all the possibilities, but also the problems, involved in "scaling up" local thinking and technology to international applications. I thought that a conference report posting here might interest anyone involved with France, Europe, higher education, the Internet, or really any things international. What follows contains not a compte rendu, but only a few highlights, intended to convey flavor rather than substance: for the full picture please see the Websites, mentioned above. 1.0 A Multi - Cultural, Multi - Disciplinary, International Agenda The agenda would interest any sociologist of international affairs: Day 1 includes a "Systems of Partnerships and Competition" session, about patterns of cooperative international research in the new hi - tech world, and an "Infrastructure of Basic Research" session, about the challenges facing basic research in the new R&D environment. Day 2 offers "Multimedia and Networks", with discussions of the social impacts of same -- the Internet and the World Wide Web will come in most directly here -- and "Bioengineering and Environmental Engineering", considering cutting - edge biomedical, bio - remediation and agriculture work, and its various international ramifications now. Day 3 promises a summing - up: panels of pretty interesting people -- scientists, journalists, political leaders, even a futurist and a Benedictine monk. Few leaves are being left un - turned. 2.0 Welcome -- Monday evening, May 27. Bernard Sutter has welcomed us this first evening. One can say among other good things of Sutter that he is tireless. The sheer energy which he devotes, to gathering together such a disparate group of high - powered individuals, leaves all of us who participate in the organizing breathless. Sutter began his career in India in the 1950's, he says, working with France Te'le'com consumers: using his considerable persuasive powers on potential consumers, no doubt -- the Symposium's success is due much to his abilities. Jacques Le'vy, Director of the Ecole des Mines and President of the host Confe'rence des Grandes Ecoles, addressed the group this evening, welcoming us and urging us on to collective understanding and action. Dean Buxbaum of UC Berkeley cautioned us that he himself is not a scientist, like most present, but an international lawyer. Buxbaum considers the law, though, an expression of "social and cultural concerns", and he wonders -- with, he says, Raymond Aron -- whether in science always "that which can be done, will be," or whether the "Technology Sector" might not cooperate more with the "State and Societal Sector". Buxbaum also mused briefly about employment -- a matter of great concern now to his European audience -- wondering whether the new knowledge - intensive technology industries might one day provide jobs, for the labor - intensive industries which they have displaced. There have been brief addresses by others. But the first evening has been devoted primarily to the problem of jet - lag recovery for most of the attendees. It is an international group, and issues of hotel check - in, time - zone negotiation, foreign currency transaction, and general multi - lingual reorientation -- "does this thing really say that it will take them _three_ days to do my laundry?" -- are the greatest initial concerns. 2.0 Day 1 -- Partnerships and/vs. Competition, and "The Basics" The formal procedure today is to present the two sessions, "Systems of Partnerships and Competition", and "Infrastructure of Basic Research", one in the morning and one in the afternoon, broken by a lunch beneath the Provenc,al pine trees. Session 1: "Systems of Partnerships and Competition" The UC Berkeley Chancellor, Chang - Lin Tien, opened the first session by declaring his own personal connection. He lived as a child, he says, in the French "zone of influence" in China, in Wuhan and Shanghai. His command of the French language has disappeared, he admits, but not his affection for French culture, or his conviction that much can be gained from forging international links among different cultures. He has seen, Tien says, great international progress in this century both in his own professional field, science, and in democracy. He offers the strides made by the EC and NAFTA as examples. Today, he says, "Regardless of where you are in the world you can see the whole world as a whole...". His greatest hope for both science and democracy in general, and for the "Partnership and Competition" aspect of this Symposium in particular, is that more examples of "many different constituencies all working together" might result. Jean - Pierre Chevillot supported Tien's call, citing both progress and problems which have been encountered. He is a Conseiller to the EC's DGXII, and Directeur de Recherche for the French CNRS / Centre National de Recherche Scientifique. (The CNRS is sort of a combination of NIH, NIMH, and NSF, with several other US government agencies thrown in. Nearly all R&D done in France has some CNRS affiliation.) Chevillot has been active in European international R&D efforts for many years. Michael Gerlach, of UC Berkeley, described Japan - US business networks and practices. He speaks of markets, alliances, and firms, all three of which have increased recently, he says, despite earlier fears that each might make competitive inroads against the others. He describes two well - known differences between Japanese and US practice: domination of the Japanese effort by large business organizations, and the Japanese tendency to form cooperative business groups. His own research is in, he says, patterns of Japanese hi - tech business relationships. Gerlach's presentation has been the first example of a very interesting phenomenon generally in evidence at the Symposium. R&D cooperation, it has been observed by several speakers, may be both multi - disciplinary and international. Gerlach represents both. He is a business professor addressing an audience composed primarily of scientists: but the scientists seem to find his organizational behavior examples directly relevant to their own work. He also is an expert on Japan, speaking to a US / European audience: again, the audience appears fascinated by his Japan examples. This was only the first occasion on which I heard people asking, "Shouldn't We Invite the Asians Next Time?" J.S. Metcalfe, of the University of Manchester, spoke of the group selection involved in international cooperation, warning, "Different technologies require different amounts and types of cooperation." MIT's Eleanor Westney reinforced Metcalfe's points about the capabilities of the firm, suggesting that their enhancement, through technology and organization innovation, is a primary challenge. David Mowery, of both UC Berkeley and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, challenged misconceptions which he believes exist regarding cooperative R&D. Cooperation among universities and publicly - funded programs in both the public and private sectors has been successful, he says, but with consequences both intended and unintended. He suggests university patents as an example: such cooperation can establish an "innovation interdependence", which can interfere with declared institutional and governmental policies. At primary risk, Mowery says, are "welfare consequences" of recent technological change: health, education, environment, social equality. What will be the regulatory mechanisms, who will be the regulators, Mowery asks, particularly in an emerging era of international cooperation? He points to the general confusion which exists now, even within the US itself, over intellectual property issues. Trade negotiations have offered some regulatory help, Mowery said to me later in the corridor -- GATT, the WTO / World Trade Organization -- but these so far are at most only partially successful, and they only cover trade. [I am editing this on the day that the US Courts are rejecting a Congressional attempt to censor the Internet; I read today, as well, that the French legislature is considering making a similar censorship attempt -- and French courts do not have legislative review powers equivalent to those in the US.] The final panel for "Systems of Partnerships and Competition", ably chaired by the Ecole des Mines' Armand Hatchuel, discussed some of the real possibilities for cooperation. Eugene Skolnikoff of MIT cautioned us not to be too sceptical. Major societal change due to technology has happened before, he observes: the urban growth explosions of the 19th century, the birth of telecommunications then, the introduction of both horseless carriages and the electric light. We must preserve a sense of proportion in our discussions, Skolnikoff urges. This said, the "permanence of change" appears to be a distinguishing characteristic of the current era, at least as perceived, Skolnikoff believes. There is a continuing "alteration of factor endowments" now, yielding flexibility, choice and ultimately inter - dependence, he says. The nation - state, which used to provide a modifying force, essential for crises, has receded. Yet science and technology work still essentially are national. Skolnikoff warned against the growth of the view that universities are "just another interest group", among the many which now are "feeding at the public purse" for R&D resources. Lunch! (this is France) Lunch was held, as mentioned, beneath the Provenc,al pines. Sophia Antipolis is a place of recent architecture and almost unbelievable natural beauty in the Spring. Writers like Pagnol have described the Provence region almost entirely in terms of the profusion of herbs and blossoms which greet walkers and picnickers here in April and May. We all walked a short way to lunch, up to a futuristic terrace - like building, with many skylights -- the conference center itself is equipped with one of Bucky Fuller's geodesic domes over its foyer -- and the much - anticipated and thoroughly - enjoyed French cuisine and good wine. The walk was enough to remind us that we were in "Provence in Spring": plenty of wildflowers peeking out from beneath the rocks, and the pines whispered. Sophia Antipolis has certain advantages, as a hi - tech conference center, over a Burger King lunch in Cupertino. Session 2: "Infrastructure of Basic Research" The afternoon of Day 1 was devoted to the hard - core: "Basic Research", normally defined in most academic settings as, "that which you will not understand unless you already do". At least several of us, perhaps many, came prepared to be awed or at least confused. UC Berkeley's Bernard Sadoulet introduced an element of awe at first. He works in "cosmology", he says. Such a term rings alarm bells immediately in the brain of this former philosophy student. The bells became thunderous, then, when Sadoulet proceeded to show a slide purporting to depict the history of the universe: "There, over at the left, is the beginning... there at the right is the end... and we are somewhere in the middle, just about...", he gestured, "there." This may be pedestrian talk in physics, but it truly is awesome in philosophy. Sadoulet's presentation itself, however, makes a literally more mundane, and for me intellectually much more manageable, point. He looks over his awesome slide and describes the work and data which have been contributed to it by a number of different international research groups. "There are the French... and this came from the British... that was an American contribution... ", etc. It is a dramatic illustration of Sadoulet's fundamental point, that physics today is conducted nearly always by large, cooperative, and usually - international teams. There were presentations made by Danielle Imbault, of France's CEA / Commissariat a` l'Energie Atomique, by Yves Petroff, Director of the European Synchotron (he fondly recalls his own student research days at Berkeley), by George Trilling (spelled "Georges" in the French program), physicist - extraordinaire from Lawrence Berkeley Lab, by Mme. F. Praderie, of the Observatoire de Meudon, and by others. The descriptions generally are of successes in international scientific cooperation, although session organizer Kenneth Smith of MIT offers the cautionary example of the Space Station projects, which are going ahead in the US although its international project has stalled. The reasons for all of this -- for successes as well as failures -- were not immediately apparent. It occurred to me, as I listened to the scientists, that success in funding might vary directly with the degree of obscurity of the project to be funded: the more the public and the politicians understood, the less likely the funding. David Litster put the question on a more elevated plane, in his summation: "Politicians are professionals regarding human nature," he warns, "we should listen to them about this." He acknowledges that currently there is a "diminished governmental interest in funding international research". "Political review is replacing peer review", in many research areas, he says: a prospect which alarms many scientists. Litster concludes with the warning that, "you never can know with research": he himself has seen many odd examples, including one seemingly - "useless" radio telescope experiment, which led to great improvements in cellular telephony, and the ability of "911 / emergency" services to locate callers. Next: Multimedia, Bioengineering, and a Summing - Up. (For a description of Grandes Ecoles Symposium II, held at Berkeley in 1993, see FYI France for November 15, 1993: locations shown below.) XXX FYI France: Grandes Ecoles Symposium, May 27-30 -- part 2 of 3 3.0 Day 2 -- Was ist "Multimedia"?, and "Bioengineering"? Session 3: "Multimedia and Networks" The second day began, after introductions by co - chairs Litster of MIT and Erich Spitz of Thomson, with my own non - demo demo of the Website which UC Berkeley's Roy Tennant, and the E.N.S. de Telecommunications' Jean - Pierre Tubach and Bertrand Serre mounted for the Symposium. A "non - demo demo" is a backup which you plan in case the official version doesn't work. I learned a lesson watching two masters, John Gage and Steve Cisler, long ago: always plan on three levels of "demo" backup in hi tech -- something to fall back on in case the "demo" doesn't work, and something to fall back on again in case of trouble at level 2. In our case we had no live Internet connection this morning at Sophia; but I had made printouts of the demo, and Roy had this slide of the homepage, so the talk actually went very well -- much favorable comment about it, and some resulting email since. People were impressed at seeing their own institutions "online" on the WorldWideWeb. One other note from my own presentation: I gave the audience copies of Oracle's very recent "NC / Network Computer" -- I call it "Non - Computer" -- press release, suggesting that this late news development could "blow away" the personal computer market as currently constituted. My own session role is to be what the French call an "animateur" -- to animate -- often blended with "provocateur", which has much the same ring as the "agent provocateur" of spy novels. My "NC" suggestion succeeded both in animating and in provoking: the vested interests of the personal computer industry are as strong in Europe as they are in the US -- a bit stronger, perhaps. It turns out that Oracle's President for World - Wide Operations, Ray Lane, was on this same Sophia Antipolis stage saying the same thing only last week. And the rumors, anyway, are that he was traveling with someone from Netscape named Jim Clark. This thing is developing fast. Camille Wanat of UC Berkeley then showed a real - life example of how the technology could help in daily work. Most of the conference attendees are educators -- professors, school administrators -- and all are interested in applying digital techniques at their institutions. Wanat showed her own engineering library's example of bringing IEEE publications to users online. The possibilities for their own libraries and schools were mouth - watering for many in the audience. The Grandes Ecoles are financially well - endowed, and have good - sized serials budgets, while other schools in Europe are not and do not, but all have increasing problems in providing information access. Wanat emphasizes the importance of mounting a "critical mass" of material of interest to users. She says this was the central success factor in her current project, and provided its decided advantage over similar predecessors. J.M. Chaduc of the Ministry of Industry, Post, and Telecommunications gave the historical and institutional contexts of my own and Camille's presentations. He mentions the Nora - Minc report, the history of Minitel, the project to "wire" all of France, the US and French "Information Superhighways", the recent Bangemann report calling for telecom deregulation, and the dawning problem of developing services to provide over all the infrastructure. Hundreds of suggestions were received, he says, in response to the 1994 call for "content" proposals. He reminds us of the difference between the US set of concerns in hi - tech -- private investment, competition, open access, flexible regulation, and universal service -- and the priorities of Europe -- privacy, intellectual property, individual rights, cultural diversity, global cooperation, and social implications. Patrick Purcell of Imperial College London addressed the "distance learning" topic which is of such great interest to the educators in the audience. All of them are worried about making effective use of the techniques, without allowing technique to become merely a stopgap panacea for education's currently - omnipresent financial ills. The University of Maine's Martial Vivet called for "evaluation", a crucial aspect of any learning approach, which thus far is remarkably absent from most distance - learning experiments. Hal Varian, Dean of the new School of Information Management and Systems at UC Berkeley, outlined the plans for his program. "Library / information" schools are under no less a state of siege and change in Europe than they are in the US. France's "E.N.S. des Bibliothe`ques" added "Sciences de l'Information" to its name only a few years ago. All of the schools represented in the Symposium audience, like schools everywhere now, are wrestling with the various problems of teaching and using "this new information thing". The Berkeley approach, as Varian outlined it -- see http://www.sims.berkeley.edu for full details of what is a very complex picture -- received much corridor - comment. The summary of Session 3 was offered by a stellar panel, which included researchers, writers, professors, and economists. Le Monde's Michel Colonna d'Istria outlined his work toward an online edition for his publication (imagine "Le Monde" on a Website! -- http://www.lemonde.fr) and presented his conviction that online and print publication will work hand in hand in the future. This view was challenged by Serge Soudoplatoff. He just has accepted a position with "WANADOO" (http://www.wanadoo.fr) the French national Internet service of France Te'le'com. (Note: as of May 5 the Internet may be reached, from anywhere within the country, via dialup to a single number at a uniform rate -- 36.01.13.13 is the cheapest, and other numbers will be announced on October 10 -- all this is per the mandate of France's national president, at a meeting held last Fall). Soudoplatoff feels that print's former emphasis on "product" now has been shifted to "information", that "print will vanish". Colonna disagrees: he is a fan of the Internet, he says, but he offers the very reasonable reminder, and warning, that, "everything real cannot be put online". Colonna quipped, in English, that the challenge which he and other journalists nevertheless face is, "to turn our trademark into your [Netscape] bookmark". The outstanding star of this stellar group, I think -- I am a little biased, here -- was UC Berkeley's Stephen Cohen. He literally rattles off -- in a great challenge to the excellent simultaneous translation which was going on -- a number of "relevant considerations" which he suggests a "Multimedia and Networks" group might want to think about. These were fascinating. The economics are mysterious, he says: "marginal costs are declining", "there are network economies" -- "the more use there is, the more use there is". Pricing is in a quandary: the "free" Internet pricing model needs revision -- local network use predicated upon 6 - 7 minute sessions does not scale up to the WorldWideWeb which sees users logged in for 6 - 7 hours. Cohen warns against abstracting hi - tech applications elsewhere from the Silicon Valley model. California's Silicon Valley even has significant differences from Boston's "Route 128", he points out. He tackled the Colonna - Soudoplatoff discussion of print and reading: there is a place for variety, he says -- Danielle Steele novels perhaps always will appear in print, other things won't. The copyright and privacy concerns are serious, Cohen says, but he points out that laws themselves change to accommodate new realities: "it's just not good policy to have lots of people in violation of the law". Cohen is concerned about information inequality: universal service was a good idea for telephony, but what does it mean for the Web, he asks. Work patterns are changing: our urban / office building structure perhaps is giving way to a more rural / telecommuting idea. There could be some room here for answers to Dean Buxbaum's Symposium - opening question about Internet - based job opportunities. Cohen concluded -- or just "stopped", as he put it -- with the point that sheer speed has become paramount in information technology: "first to market" now is more important than many things, including quality -- he suggested the "qwerty" typwriter keyboard as an example of an approach which was able to predominate by being not best but simply first - to - market. Cohen also had the opportunity to display his talents telegenically. French television interviewed him about the Symposium: "they only gave me 1 1/2 minutes", he said -- so the Symposium faced the realities of the "sound - byte culture" which it is discussing, directly. There was an interlude, then, for an impressive panel to present an impressive project. Within the local Sophia Antipolis area, "Te'le'com Valley" is being established as more than just a name. A 155Mbs ATM platform is being set up to provide service to the entire Co^te d'Azur area, with eventual extensions elsewhere around the Mediterranean. Jean Paul Michel, who directs IBM's nearby La Gaude laboratories, and is President of "Telecom Valley", described the project. Other speakers -- one from Italy, another from Spain -- spoke of their own local efforts and of how these might be linked soon to that of the French. Outstanding among the presentations was that of Senator Pierre Lafitte. He is known in France as the "father" of Sophia Antipolis. Now he is providing the impetus and vision for the "Telecom Valley" project as well. Lafitte casts the project in very general terms: a triple convergence, he says, of, 1) digital technology, 2) information content, and 3) community and regional development -- a "globalization" of all three, Lafitte urges, "we must have the will to develop all of this." Lafitte is a senior French politician, a man of some standing in both his home territory in Provence and in Paris. But when he heard about the Symposium Website his reaction was immediate and very personal: "Let me have the Web address, I will try it from my office!" "Where is your office?", I asked him. "Why, in the Luxembourg Palace, of course!" How many senior US senators really are _this_ "online"? Session 4: "Bioengineering and Environmental Engineering" The session this afternoon has provided some of the best sparks. The program officially was devoted to three workshops, entitled "Biomedical", "Bioremediation", and "Agriculture": difficult areas, for anyone not fully - initiated. The whole assemblage was engineered ably and energetically by UC Berkeley's Kent Udell and the E.N. du Ge'nie Rural des Eaux et des Fore^ts' Claude Millier. (Someone, sometime, must tell me how the French think up the names for their schools?: "Ponts et Chause'es", "Ge'nie Rural des Eaux et des Fore^ts"!?) I am severely out of my depth in these subject areas, myself. I gather that all three contain some element of dynamic tension between those who would change things and those concerned that change disrupts various environments. Session 4 participants were to include Emmanuel Clair of Soletanche and Boris Rubinsky of UC Berkeley. But I confess that I had to spend much of the time in a nearby computer lab, exploring the Web with several people from the morning session. So I did not hear all of the Session 4 presentations myself. Hopefully some versions of these will get installed on the Symposium Website soon. I did get back just in time to watch some of the best controversies of the Symposium, though. UC Berkeley's Jennie Hunter - Cevera was standing, eyes and intellect flashing, defending US bioengineering against European environmental worries. A couple of European questioners were very concerned about work which has been done with California tomatoes, and the Hunter - Cevera defense was pungent and to the point. Of this more below. UC Davis' Lee Baldwin, somewhat more sedately but ultimately just as forcefully, made a very reasoned presentation of both facts and issues on similar work done on American cows. As with the tomato controversy, there was muttering from the audience: the use of hormones to increase milk production plays well to very different audiences on each side of the Atlantic. Of this more below, also. It did occur to me generally as an outsider, though, both how odd it is that such specialized and seemingly - remote areas can stir such deep passions, and how rare and wonderful that the passions might be aired and discussed this way, freely and openly in an international Symposium, rather than simply in newspaper disaster headlines. 4.0 Day 3 -- Summing Up: "The most famous phrase in science is not 'Eureka', but 'Gee, that's funny...'" (I. Asimov) The extraordinary panels assembled, on the third day, to try to wring conclusions from these wide - ranging discussions, enjoyed the exceptional abilities of an extraordinary moderator. Axel Krause has an established reputation as a journalist and editor at the International Herald - Tribune. His fine stage presence -- resounding deep voice, telegenic presence, and infinite yet firm patience with his charges -- make him a superb conference chair. It was obvious that he has done this before: the Web says that he does it often. Krause frames the questions of the Symposium as, 1) "What training is needed for scientists and engineers in a global economy?", and, 2) "What should we be looking at and preparing for?" UC Berkeley's Chang - Lin Tien was the first to respond. He enumerates three hard financial realities of the last 3 - 5 years in education: a) budget restructurings, with reductions in state aid to education, b) the uncompleted shift from Cold War military / space to new civilian / commercial emphasis, and, c) the "information" / telecommunications explosion. Tien says that integration, rather than differentiation, is needed in education: integration of a) theory / analysis / design / experiment with b) knowledge and with c) communication skills. Change must be dealt with better by the campus, he thinks. Resistance to change in educational institutions, in curriculum as well as in other areas, is the greatest challenge: "At Berkeley now we all are experimenting," Tien says. Gilbert Frade, of the Ecole des Mines, distinguishes between, 1) the task of understanding what is happening now, and, 2) the task of reconciling technology with society. For the first, perhaps we need some adaptation of fuzzy logic, he thinks: inter - disciplinary studies and student exchanges must be encouraged -- in education today, he says, "disciplines separate more than nationalities do". For the second the emerging question, Frade believes with deliberate irony, is "what to do about human error, the human factor?". Engineers must become non - scientists as well, he thinks. There is a lack of critical thinking in the new media now: "politically correct" means simply "lack of imagination", Frade feels. Krause observed that one extension of this point might be the problem of defining who will set the goals going forward?: the old problem of "church and state", in modern guise. John Weiner, of the US NSF / National Science Foundation, described what his own, new, "Office of Multidisciplinary Activities" is going to try to accomplish. "A map to the traditional departments," is how he sees it developing, he says. NSF sees the need for new approaches, called for by Frade and Tien and others, and is trying to respond. "Education needs to be better - integrated with research," Weiner says, "the time to degree is getting longer and less flexible." Funding is going into non - academic research, while education is aimed at training. His office will support university programs, he promises. Dom Hugues Minguet is "Responsable du Centre Entreprises" of the monastery of Notre Dame de Ganagobie, in Ganagobie, France. Just _try_ finding that on a map: Durance valley, high in the mountains -- the Web found it at http://www.imaginet.fr/apollonia/monasteries/mona04.html ("Benedictine, Priory founded around 950, Daily mass chanted in Gregorian", and, "Hostel for retreats: 14 rooms", and, "Crafts: jams, honey, perfume essences"), or you might try http://www.hh.se/stud/d95ms/skivor/ALBUM5F58.html [out of date as of 990925: try instead -- http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0000015GZ/qid%3D938260342/002-0250514-3768018 ] for their CDROM of Gregorian chant (St. Benedict decreed self - sufficiency). Both Ganagobie and Dom Hugues are aspects of experience as much outside of my own California upbringing (Jerry Brown, maybe?), as was any of the earlier bioengineering talk. The "take" of Dom Hugues and the monks of Ganagobie on all of this is simple: there is a need for "Ethical Management", he says -- Ganagobie teaches this now, through retreats at the monastery and workshops held inside large French corporations. There is a "need for community to deal with the current speed of change", he believes: is Howard Rheingold listening? The four - part program of the monks of Ganagobie emphasizes: 1) "a sense of self - direction -- science will close in upon itself without a notion of self - direction" ["sens"], 2) "an idea of complexity", 3) ethical humanistic ideas, and 4) some idea of individual spirit or conscience. How remarkable, I thought, in my California innocence, that Dom Hugues and the monks of Ganagobie even are invited to such a gathering, much less are taken seriously by decision - makers such as the others here assembled. There could be few more dramatic illustrations offered by this Symposium of the differences between what interests most Americans in these fields and what interests so many Europeans. [And others? Think of Moslem countries, Latin America... the US is the exception rather than the rule in this, I myself think.] Next: Controversies, and Conclusions? XXX FYI France: Grandes Ecoles Symposium, May 27-30 -- part 3 of 3 The next speaker, German Nobel prizewinner Rudolf Mossbauer, could not have been better - chosen as a foil to the subdued and generalist monk who preceded him: one senses at least an idea of drama in the design of the session, on the part perhaps of Krause, or others. Mossbauer's message was as simple as was that of Dom Hugues, but the German was far more direct: "No more humanities, no more social science, no more applied science, forget 'business and management'... laboratories need less generalism and better hard training and quality!" There is a "noblesse oblige" which accompanies the receipt of a Nobel. At Berkeley this takes the form of mundane things: one Nobelist there joked that, "At last I can get a central - campus car parking permit!" But all Nobelists have been known to speak their minds, openly and freely and on any occasion and on nearly any subject: and with impunity -- there are a few heights reached which are beyond reproach for almost anything. I tackled Mossbauer later, as a few others did immediately during the session (including one student - observer, who pointed out to the professor that in today's economy a student needs training for "more than just one job"). To my great surprise, as austere and forbidding as he seems on the platform, Mossbauer is very cordial and accommodating and enthusiastic in person. Yes, he does think that science needs more rigor, Mossbauer says, and no he would not modify what he had said on the stand. German education offers a "technology - hostile" environment today, Mossbauer asserts, because it has too many interfering rules, regulations, bureaucrats, and lawyers. "You in the US cannot imagine", he insists, "what we in German education have had to put up with since 1968 -- quality is dropping, enrollment is dropping, we have more professors than students". Krause tried to get him to concede, during the session, that German universities' arcane and restrictive admission procedures have something to do with it, but Mossbauer demurred: "The basic problem," he insists, "is that there is too much politics". Francesco di Castri, of the CNRS and UNESCO, differed with Mossbauer. There is not a single, ie. economic, globalization, he says, but a very complex one occurring in several spheres: technical, information - oriented, even biological -- consider the problems of evolving gene pools for the latter, he suggests. Di Castri feels that not only is a more broad - based humanistic education needed, but some inclusion of Asia now must be made in discussions, and some consideration of any who will be left out of an information - based society. Introducing the morning's second panel, moderator Krause said that he believes there has been a demise of old global trading patterns and the emergence of a singular global technology: "What is it?" he wondered, "And who will finance it?" Former French Minister of Research Pierre Aigrand gave very entertaining and illuminating answers. With a nod to Dom Hugues, he noted Santayana's comment that, "a man who has forgotten his ends and redoubles his efforts has become a fanatic". The question of what / who will determine these ends is paramount, Aigrand contends: administration, rules, and laws do this, he reminded us. Stephen Cohen put the question on a very practical level. "Companies don't finance 'R&D'," he said, "Companies finance 'D'. Someone else has to do the 'R'." This "someone else" used to be the national governments. Now this financing has become diffuse, and certainly unregulated. One certain thing remains, though, according to Cohen: "If left solely to a competitive market, there will be no 'R' / research". Cohen paraphrased Schumpeter: "We put brakes on a car so that it can go faster, not slower": we must re - think support and regulation. Krause commented that an historical change has contributed much to support Cohen's idea: the 70's and 80's were eras of high prosperity, he reminded us, but the 90's are an era of unemployment, and of outright recession in places such as Germany -- changed approaches, such as those advocated by Cohen, are mandated by a changed reality. Josef Rembser called for, "free, non - directed, non - technology - specific research", observing that, after all, "today's technology will change". His German - American Academic Council is designed to foster cooperation in such a direction, he says. Krause also commented, at this point, that "Asia" really should be included to contribute to such efforts. UC Berkeley's Charles Shank said that he thinks that "governments do a poor job of creating wealth, although a good job of redistributing it", Krause pointing out that this represents a distinctly - American point of view. Kenneth Keller of the US Council on Foreign Relations identified, 1) financial support of science and technology, 2) defining the global technical system, and, 3) redefining the role of government in all this, as being primary challenges. Since the demise of the unifying Cold War, differing national values have emerged, Keller observes, on issues such as the environment, hormones, tuna / dolphin hunting, nuclear power, and drug approval. "Protectionism grows from differences," Keller warns: he believes that the scientific community must push for standards, themselves an international unifying force. Bertrand Schneider, current Secretary - General of the Club of Rome -- they published the highly - influential "The Limits to Growth" in the early 70's -- noted that "3/4 of the world is absent from this Symposium". Of this recurring issue see more below. He wonders when technology globalization really will become a reality, and, when it does, whether both the rich and the poor will be included? 5.0 Conclusions? Conclusions which might be drawn from such a wide - ranging and international Symposium are many. There was much which was very technical. These people all were specialists, some of them world - famous in their particular arcane specialty, and none of the attendees shied from debate about technical details. I sat through several fascinating fights in which I was much out of my personal depth. Arguments about whether or not to bio - engineer milk production. A slide which purported to show both the beginning and end of the universe, and even, "where we are now". There were dramatic confrontations -- I gather that these are long - standing, but they still spark wonderfully -- between the "big science" espoused by a theoretical physicist, and the "small science" called for by an optometrist. "On behalf of human eyes everywhere", I practically could hear the latter saying, "who needs physics when we can't see?" "...But who knows what breakthroughs in sight and other things may one day stem from 'big' physics?", came through clearly as the message of the other. I could hear the funding pies being sliced up, in Paris and Washington D.C., as the two of them argued. There was a wonderful moment in the computer lab when the French technical staff surprised one of the Americans who had "hacked" their elaborate ATM setup so that he could read his email. "But it was just sitting there, and the other machines are not working," he insisted; "But that is not what this one is for!", the technicians protested. There even was some tough talk about tomatoes. It seems that we in the US "bio - engineer" ours, and that the Europeans don't theirs. A leading Berkeley researcher defended the US meddling with nature. She said that California tomatos had been bred to bounce off the back of a truck and back in again without being hurt, but had lost their flavor in the process, and that the engineering simply had put a little taste back in. Outraged Europeans felt that they were on "Nature's" side. All this tomato problem frankly was news to me. The old international trader in me sensed a financial / import - export issue lurking in here somewhere. Having eaten California tomatoes myself for many decades, I confess that I have been blissfully unaware of the issue: I will view all tomatoes -- Californian and European -- a little more suspiciously, if a little more knowledgeably, from now on. But the many fascinating details were not what have made this Symposium significant, the generalities have: 1) The European questions and presentations, even in technical areas, nearly always have concerned decision - making structure and authority. Those of the Americans nearly never. Krause alluded to this in his reaction to Charles Shank: Europeans look to -- perhaps have been forced by historical circumstance to look to -- their governments for far more than Americans do. 2) The unease with which the Europeans eye one another -- the French the Germans, the Germans the British, the British the Spaniards, all of these the Czech and the Hungarian and they in turn the rest -- has been palpable and striking, to this US observer. Some of the best floor fights have taken place between Americans themselves. But these have been over technical issues, or the results of fun rivalries: such as MIT and Berkeley occasionally teasing one another -- or the UC Berkeley Chancellor's easy reference, at one point, to the little rival school at a place called "Stanford" which just might, he allowed, know a bit about these things. The more serious issue, surfacing occasionally in formal presentations and more frequently after hours and in the "corridor chat", was whether certain Europeans trust other Europeans -- qua Europeans -- even in these scientific and technical areas. A point made forcefully several times -- Berkeley student Rose - Marie Haas said in her Day 3 presentation that it is supported by research -- was that while cooperative research across disciplines works, cooperation between academic researchers and commercial firms works poorly if at all. This appears to be particularly true in Europe. How much more difficult is cooperation made if national suspicions intrude as well. One clearly has the impression -- even after decades of work on this -- of national unity on the US side but of persistent international fragmentation among the Europeans. I am a great admirer of European variety. But I also feel privileged to have been admitted to their Symposium's effort to, among other things, bridge this basic gap. 3) "Shouldn't We Invite the Asians Next Time?" The speaker from the Club of Rome made the point forthrightly that he saw no representatives of Japan or the rest of Asia in the audience or on the podium, and that they really should be present now in any discussion of "global" society and technology. Several other speakers alluded to this Asian absence, throughout the three days. Even in highly technical areas, the subject of Asian advances was raised. MIT's Litster says that physics work in India which he has seen personally is not only interesting but is being pursued at world - class research levels, and really ought to be considered. UC Berkeley's Tien offered the Europeans a toast at the final day's luncheon. He has a personal interest in all three, he says -- his own background in Asia, his own interest in Europe, and his work in the US -- and he long has dreamed of providing links which would draw all three more together. If it truly is of interest to the Europeans, he says, he would be happy to assist in including the Asians in future discussions. The world is a shrinking place, as even the current Symposium's success proves, and we all would do well to learn more and more about each other, Tien concludes. It was Robeinson Jeffers who called the Pacific Ocean, "The Eye of the Earth." My wife and I have children in California public schools, and can attest from personal experience to the increasing importance of Asia at least in our little local San Francisco world: our children's schoolmates are Asian immigrants, Asian business is becoming a bigger and bigger factor in the San Francisco economy, the languages which one hears spoken on the streets throughout California increasingly are Asian. This Symposium has provided a wonderful microcosm of much that is happening in US - European cooperation. If the French and the Europeans now are interested in seeing a microcosm of what is happening internationally with regard to Asia, they might do well to consider the US West Coast, as the Chancellor suggests. Such a multi - cultural occasion might be a mutually - beneficial undertaking for all parties: Vaclav Havel recently mused, "If Europe wishes... it can become a model for how different people can work together in peace without sacrificing any of their identity."
FYIFrance (sm)(tm) e - newsletter ISSN 1071 - 5916 * | FYIFrance (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic newsletter, | published since 1992 as a small - scale, personal, | experiment, in the creation of large - scale | "information overload", by Jack Kessler. Any material / \ written by me which appears in FYIFrance may be ----- copied and used by anyone for any good purpose, so // \\ long as, a) they give me credit and show my e - mail --------- address and, b) it isn't going to make them money: if // \\ if it is going to make them money, they must get my permission in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their permission. FYI France archives are at http://infolib.berkeley.edu (search for FYIFrance), or via gopher to infolib.berkeley.edu 72 (path: 3. Electronic Journals (Library-Oriented)/ 6. FYIFrance/ , or http://www.univ-rennes1.fr/LISTESfirstname.lastname@example.org/ (BIBLIO-FR econference archive), or via telnet to a.cni.org , login brsuser (PACS / PACS-L econference archive), or at http://www.fyifrance.com . Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison - pen letters all will be gratefully received at email@example.com . Copyright 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.
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